There are two things that seem to be predictable in the 2021 MotoAmerica Series: Sean Dylan Kelly and Richie Escalante will battle in every Supersport race and Tyler Scott And Ben Gloddy will do likewise in the SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup. It was no different today at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Supersport: Kelly Wins Another Battle
One thing that has been a consistent theme in the Supersport class over the past two seasons is the friendly, but also red-hot, rivalry between HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante and M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly. In Saturday’s race one at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Kelly started from the pole, and while he did lead every lap of the race, he was also challenged in virtually every lap of the race by defending class champion Escalante.
For Kelly, it was his sixth win of the season and third in a row to match the three-race winning streak with which he started the season. At the checkers, Kelly prevailed by just .099 of a second over Escalante. Third place went to CV28 Racing Yamaha’s Cory Ventura, who also podiumed last year at Laguna Seca, which was also the last time he raced in the MotoAmerica Series.
“It’s been a change of types of races compared to last year,” Kelly said. “I need to adjust a little bit how I’m racing and how I’m thinking. I was kind of in the opposite role last year. I was mostly behind and having to study and having to see where to pass. Today, I think he only got by me one time for a little bit. It’s definitely much different riding up front the entire race and hearing him right behind me in certain sections of the track. I knew that he was stronger in some areas – quite a lot stronger. I saw his wheel a few times. He passed me coming out of Rainey Corner. I knew he was going to save up for the end. But it feels really good to win again at Laguna Seca. I’ve been waiting. We needed to do our homework. The pace wasn’t as good as I was expecting. My bike is good. I’m feeling good. I just need to change some things up for tomorrow to get a better base from the beginning and maintain a little bit better. I had some different decisions compared to the morning, but all good. Really happy that we got the win today. I had to play it as smart as I could the last couple of laps. I expected Richie to go by, so I just pushed really hard, as hard as I could and then just defended the few last corners. It worked out well. Definitely feels good to pass first at Laguna.”
SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup: Great Scott
In SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race one, Scott Powersports KTM rider Tyler Scott started from the pole, got the holeshot, and appeared to be headed for a dominant win. However, Landers Racing Kawasaki’s Ben Gloddy chased down Scott and overtook him on lap eight, but he was unable to make it stick. Scott retook the lead and crossed the finish line .216 of a second over Gloddy. Meanwhile, 24 seconds behind the leaders, Veloce Racing Kawasaki’s David Kohlstaedt and Rodio Racing Kawasaki’s Gus Rodio were waging their own war for the final spot on the podium. At the checkers, Kohlstaedt secured third place.
“I kind of expected to create a gap off the start,” Scott said. “I was trying to do that, and I kept looking back, and it was the same distance. Then, I think it was about halfway, I made two or three mistakes in one lap. That’s all he needed to catch back up to me. In the end, it was a really good battle, and I’m happy with the championship points.”
Twins Cup: De Keyrel Over Mazziotto
The final race on Saturday was in Twins Cup, and Robem Engineering Aprilia’s Kaleb De Keyrel seems to have WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca absolutely dialed.
Despite starting fifth on the grid, De Keyrel progressed quickly to the front, taking over the lead on the first lap and holding off polesitter and Veloce Racing Aprilia rider Anthony Mazziotto to notch his third podium in a row at Laguna Seca and his second win in his past three annual visits to the venue. At the stripe, Mazziotto was just .217 of a second behind De Keyrel, while third place went to Righteous Racing Aprilia’s Jody Barry to complete an all-Aprilia RS 660 podium. Barry, incidentally, overtook De Keyrel on lap five, but he was unable to make it stick.
When asked if he felt pressure from the riders behind him, De Keyrel said, “To be honest, I didn’t feel a whole lot of pressure just because I didn’t know where everybody was. So, I was just like, well, I’m going to push as hard as I can. I kept seeing plus zero on the board and I’m like, come on. What’s going on here? I was just pushing as hard as I could. It was pretty greasy, so it was kind of sketchy because we were pushing really fast and the bike definitely kind of wasn’t liking it for a while there. Then towards the end I was just like, well, I’ve got to put in as hard as I can possibly go. The lappers always kind of come into play here at Laguna. It’s always that last lap. Last year, I kind of got the short end of the stick on that so I had to keep the momentum rolling up that hill. I was coming up behind them and it was either go inside or outside, but there was only like two feet or not even. They were coming out and I’m like, I’m going. I’m committed. So, I’m on just the curbing. There’s sand here and a guy right here, and I’m squeezing through the outside. It paid off. I figured either one, they were going to follow me through that little hole, which I was like, that would be really sketchy. But even I had to go pretty tight coming into six. So, I knew I had to get around them as fast as I could. I had to kind of do a little bit of a sketchy pass to make that happen, but then again, if I would have killed all my momentum, they would have sucked right back up onto me. So, I knew I had to do it. It paid off. It was a super fun race. Just kind of got out there and got in a groove. I was surprised I was able to click off 31’s I think pretty consistent, so that was good. Just felt pretty comfortable. Hopefully, we can just keep the momentum rolling to Brainerd, the hometown.”