The following is from Westby Racing…
Mathew Scholtz celebrates his second-place finish. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.
Superbike Championship Leader Scholtz’s Saturday Runner-Up Finish In Virginia Extends His Points Lead
To win a motorcycle road racing championship, consistently finishing on the podium is critical. And, on Saturday at VIRginia International Raceway, Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz took another important step towards achieving his first MotoAmerica Superbike title when he finished second in Superbike race one. It wasn’t a win, but he and the team will take it, especially at this early point of the season when there are so many races left.
Starting from the front row, Mathew got a good jump off the line, and he immediately went to work and overtook Loris Baz, who started from second on the grid. Running his fastest circulation of the 14-turn, 2.25-mile natural road course on the second go-around of the 20-lap race, Mathew solidified his second-place position, which he maintained all the way to the checkered flag.
“Obviously, after winning in the first race, we were confident that we should be at least challenging Jake (Gagne) all the way through until the final lap,” Mathew said. “I just kind of feel like we have more to gain, and Jake is definitely stronger than us now. So, we just need to try and figure a couple things out. I was able to kind of follow him for the first four or five laps and already figured out where we could recover a couple of tenths and where I was catching him slightly. So, it’s not like we were miles off. We just have to fix one or two things and we should be challenging Jake. Overall, I’m happy to finish second and carry on as the championship leader. Everyone keeps talking about being championship leader, but it’s way too early on to be thinking about that. It’s always nice to be the one that you don’t have to risk everything at every single corner, every single lap. You can settle for those seconds sometimes. I know Jake is definitely coming. I know Josh Herrin, Cameron Petersen, (Loris) Baz, all those guys are picking up their pace. So just going to go back to where we were losing time and try to focus on getting a stronger pace towards the end and not worrying about being in front every single corner. I want to say thank you to my team. They’ve been great. Like I said, we need to maybe try and challenge Jake and get in front of him the first couple laps. He’s setting a really crazy pace, so just try to get it up the inside of him.”
Sunday’s Superbike race two is at 3 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports 2 (FS2), as well as streamed on MotoAmerica Live+.
In Saturday’s Junior Cup race, Jack Roach started from the front row after going third-fastest in final qualifying earlier in the day, but unfortunately, his bike developed a technical issue in the race, which forced him to retire on lap 8 of the 12-lap event.
“It was not the race we wanted,” Jack said. “But I’m starting on the front row in P3 again tomorrow, so that will be a big advantage and, for sure, you’ll definitely see me up front. Thank you to Shiloh (Salopek) and the whole N2 Racing team for working hard to get my bike race-ready for tomorrow. I can’t wait for race two.”
Junior Cup race two is at 2 p.m. ET and will be streamed on MotoAmerica Live+ as well as broadcast via tape-delay on FOX Sports 2 (FS2) this Tuesday, May 25, beginning at 9 p.m. ET.
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The following is from Yamaha…
Jake Gagne on his way to victory in Saturday’s Superbike race one at VIR. Photo courtesy of Yamaha.
Gagne Dominates Superbike Race One at VIR
Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne led from start to finish to earn his second-consecutive MotoAmerica Superbike victory in today’s Race One at Virginia International Raceway. Teammate Josh Herrin came out on top in a hard-fought battle for third to give the team their second double podium at round two of the championship.
Gagne has been on fire in the hot conditions in Alton, Virginia, leading every session and breaking more track records aboard his Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha R1. Earlier in the day, he threw down a 1:23.594 on the 2.25-mile track to take his second-consecutive pole position and then backed that up with a flying start to grab the holeshot. From there, Gagne never looked back, setting the fastest lap of the race on Lap 2 and then stretched the gap to cross the finish line with an 11.8-second lead.
Herrin got off to a good start from the second row to match his qualifying position in fourth. He soon found himself in a three-rider battle that continued to heat up as the race wore on. Before the halfway mark, one of the frontrunners dropped back through the field, making it a fight for the final podium spot. Despite the pressure, Herrin was holding down third until five laps to go when he was passed on the inside and shuffled to fifth. He then lost a bit of ground on his competitors, but as their battle intensified, Herrin closed the gap back to within striking distance. The 2013 Superbike Champion made his move on the final lap to reclaim third and keep his podium streak rolling in 2021.
Gagne’s win moves him up to second in the MotoAmerica Superbike Championship, with his teammate Herrin right behind in third. The Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha Racing duo return to action tomorrow for Race Two at the Virginia International Raceway on Sunday, May 23, and look to keep climbing up the points standings.
Richard Stanboli – Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha Racing Team Manager
“It was another great day and a podium sweep for the Yamaha R1 and Attack Performance products. Jake rode great, winning by nearly 12 seconds, and Josh is starting to get more comfortable with his return to Yamaha. Mat and the Westby Racing team did a great job to finish second. We are looking forward to putting both of our riders at the top tomorrow.”
Jake Gagne – Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha Racing
“We knew it was going to be a hot one which makes this track pretty tricky and greasy. We had a great setup with the R1 and got off to a great start, so I was able to click off my laps and be smooth and consistent. Hats off to the team for giving me a winning machine. It’s great to notch another win, and we’re ready to try again tomorrow!”
Josh Herrin – Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha Racing
“Today was a great day for Yamaha and the Fresh N’ Lean Attack Yamaha team! Jake and I both got on the podium, and it was another Yamaha sweep with Scholtz joining us too. I am content with a solid finish on the podium, but I won’t really be happy until I am fighting for the win. Every time I get on the bike, I feel like I am getting more and more comfortable and confident. Hopefully, tomorrow we can make another step forward and be closer to the leader at the finish.”
The following is from Team Hammer…
Sean Dylan Kelly has had a perfect start to his season, earning both podiums and winning all three Supersport races thus far. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly Wins Fifth In A Row In Virginia
Team Hammer’s Sean Dylan Kelly continued his winning ways as the 2021 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season picked back up for Round 2 at Virginia International Raceway.
Despite suffering from illness and a resultant hit to his fitness between rounds, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki ace Kelly continued to build and carry his momentum in the MotoAmerica Supersport class. ‘SDK’ kept his early 2021 record unblemished, upping his pole record to two-for-two and his wins mark to three-for-three on Saturday at VIR.
Kelly took the holeshot aboard his GSX-R600 only to see a rival dive up the inside just a few corners into the race. The Floridian immediately retaliated to reclaim the position and defended it resolutely from that point forward.
Despite a tight lead pack comprising four to six riders, Kelly never gave the opposition an opportunity to stick a wheel underneath him. With four laps to go, SDK upped his pace and subsequently opened up enough of a gap to seal his hard-earned victory.
Kelly now boasts a five-race win streak dating back to the end of the 2020 season. He said, “It feels amazing to be in the P1 spot. Thank you so much to my team, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki and all my guys. We’ve been working so hard since the end of the 2020 season. Already two poles and three wins this season. “I got sick between Atlanta and here, and it doesn’t help not training and not being my 100%. But it’s all good — no excuses and we’re pushing hard. We’ll keep on working and do our homework; I think we have a good chance of coming back stronger and faster tomorrow.”
Kelly’s M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate, Sam Lochoff, was one of those aforementioned riders also battling in the lead group of the MotoAmerica Supersport contest. The South African erased a gap to the front and joined the fight for the lead a handful of laps into the 19-lap affair.
His race took a turn for the worse when he ran off track on lap 14, dropping to near the bottom of the top ten in the process. Undeterred, Lochoff fought his way back up to eighth and came up just 0.381-second short of chasing down sixth at the checkered flag.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Superbike duo of Bobby Fong and Cam Petersen both showed podium potential aboard their GSX-R1000s on Saturday and will be motivated to make good on that undeniable speed come Sunday’s rematch.
Fong was well clear in third and looking for a way into second when a electronics issue sent him off the track surface and plummeting down the field. Despite the problem, the Californian soldiered on to log 12th-place points in the end.
South African Petersen, meanwhile, waged a back and forth dogfight for third right to the checkered flag. Petersen powered from fourth to third at the stripe on several occasions as the laps counted down. However, any last-lap assault plan he’d formulated was foiled when a third rider dropped him to fifth with two laps remaining. Petersen ultimately finished in fifth, less than a second off the podium and a scant 0.006-second out of fourth.
Meanwhile, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Wyatt Farris improved upon his qualifying position of 12th to finish eighth in the Stock 1000 race won by Altus Motorsports Suzuki’s Jake Lewis aboard his Team Hammer-built GSX-R1000.
Team Hammer will be looking for more tomorrow as the VIR MotoAmerica weekend concludes on Sunday.