The following is from American Racing…
The most demanding weekend of the season so far is done and dusted for the American Racing Team, taking a decent points haul and valuable lessons away from Argentina.
For Cam, Termas de Río Hondo presented an opportunity to build momentum heading into ‘the big one’ next weekend in Austin, while for Sean Dylan Kelly, it was another learning opportunity and a time to celebrate his family’s Argentinian heritage before and during the event.
Freight issues for the MotoGP paddock led to a dramatically changed schedule compared with a normal Grand Prix weekend, with all Free Practices and Qualifying sessions condensed into Saturday alone and normal service resuming on Sunday.
The reduced track time presented an extra dynamic to the already tough challenge of riding another all-new circuit. But, straight out of the blocks, the improvements Cameron Beaubier, Sean and the team have made to their riding and the bikes was evident with Sean setting his closest time yet to pole position on Saturday, and Cam once again making it to Q2 ready to battle for the top ten positions in the race.
Come Sunday, however, the tougher side of racing showed its face for Sean – a coming together on the opening lap with VR46 Racing Team’s, Nicco Antonelli, took him out of the race. The work put in throughout the rest of the weekend assures Argentina was still a worthwhile Grand Prix ahead of the reigning MotoAmerica Supersport Champion’s return to racing on U.S. soil.
Cam’s result didn’t quite meet his expectations, but the smaller regular objectives of making it to Q2 and improving the speed of his adaptations to new circuits were all ticked off, as well as competing for the top ten throughout the race. His opening three rounds of the year with his consistent speed in all sessions has set him up nicely for COTA next weekend.
Sean Dylan Kelly #4 – DNF
“Overall it was a very positive weekend, I think the number one thing is it’s the closest to the front that I’ve been in qualifying, I was 1.3-1.4 seconds from pole position, it shows that the speed has improved. It was my first time on track here yesterday, so being able to learn the track quickly is something I’ve been taking from the other weekends this year and improved on well. Something we worked really hard on was how we work as team, adjusting the workflow from Indonesia in how I communicate between the mechanics and others around me during the sessions themselves, and I’ve found it easier for us to be clear on what we need and don’t need.
This weekend has been the best I’ve felt on the bike so far, but I don’t think that’s reflected in the positions just yet. If we look at the small objectives in between, the laps and times, we’ve improved a lot, so that’s really important for us to take forward.
In the race it was a big shame that it only lasted five corners after a coming together with Antonelli in turn 5. I know this is racing, it’s unfortunate but we take the positives onto Austin. I went over to his team after and said sorry to him and his crew. As we know in racing, especially first laps, anything can happen with different lines and braking zones. But at the end of the day, I was the rider that went into him, so saying sorry is always the right thing to do. Roll on Austin!!”
Cameron Beaubier #6 – 11th
“Well that was kind of an interesting weekend with the condensed schedule and brand new track. I put in a lot of laps yesterday! Almost full race distance and one run of each in practice, which was good to just learn the track. I really enjoyed the layout, it was awesome. Unfortunately, after a solid FP1, I ended up going through Q1 but still made it into Q2. In that second session, I struggled to put a good lap together so ended up in not the best spot on the grid for Sunday.
I felt like we were making some progress with both my riding and the bike. I was going into the race thinking I was going to have a real good ride. I rode as hard as I could but wanted a little bit more than what I got, which would have been a finish deeper inside the top 10. First lap I got jostled around a little bit amongst the carnage. Struggled with rear grip pretty bad, actually, and was taking some chances on the front brake in those harder braking zones, which gave me a few moments on the front. So, by the end, I had to back off a little bit, which was a bummer, but hey, got some more solid points!
It’s funny because if you look on paper, my first couple races last year, I was around the top 10 and it’s the same this year. But, I am happy that I’m a lot more consistent in practice and qualifying. I really struggled bad with qualifying last year, and that’s definitely improved in 2022, but I really think continuing to improve on Saturday afternoons is a key for me in making that next step.
I’m happy, though, that I stayed on the bike, added more points and mainly kept a positive attitude all weekend – given how much this class puts you through the wringer! I definitely would’ve liked to be going into COTA with a little more speed, but I rode good and we improved continuously all weekend.”
John Hopkins – Sporting Director
“It’s a disappointing end to race day in terms of the result compared with potential, but both Sean and Cam have been up against it this weekend having never raced here before, so the fact that they had only a day and a half certainly had an impact.
Having said that, seeing Cam going on to race against Sam Lowes the way he did, who has had two podiums here, that’s an amazing effort. For Sean. it was disappointing and a shame with his crash on the first lap because he needed the track time and more race situation experience. But that’s racing and it happens! It’s not about where we start the year with Sean, it’s where we finish it and that’s always in the plan. Yesterday, by the end of the first day, he was within 1.5 seconds of the fastest guy. So we have a lot of positives to take from this weekend for both guys.
We’re in a great position heading into COTA, knocking on wood, I think Austin will give Cam that next boost he needs to be a consistent top-five guy!”
See y’all in Austin!