In the six years since MotoAmerica took over the AMA Superbike Championship, two riders have dominated: five-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier and 2017 Champion Toni Elias. Those two combined to win 83 races, or 72 percent, of the 116 races run under the MotoAmerica umbrella. That’s right – 72 percent. And 100 percent of the Superbike Championships with Beaubier taking the aforementioned five titles and Elias one.
And now the dominating duo is elsewhere.
Beaubier is already three rounds into his rookie Moto2 Grand Prix season and Elias is still without a ride for the 2021 season. What’s left in their wake is a hungry horde of wannabe champions licking their lips as the season gets ready to start at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, April 30-May 2.
With Beaubier and Elias out of the picture, the winningest rider in the HONO Superbike field is Fresh N’ Lean Attack Performance Yamaha’s Josh Herrin, the 2013 AMA Superbike Champion with eight wins on his resume – four pre-MotoAmerica and four during the MotoAmerica era.
Herrin comes into the 2021 season after a year on the Scheibe Racing BMW, and he realizes this is his best shot yet of winning a second Superbike Championship. Herrin rejoins forces with Richard Stanboli and the Attack Performance team, and he will be armed with the same YZF-R1 and technical support that dominated the series last year in the hands of Beaubier. No pressure, though.
The second-highest win total going into the season opener is three, held by M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong. Fong, who won those three races last year in his Superbike debut on the team, started his season on a high with an early win in round two at Road America (after Beaubier crashed out of the lead) and ended it with two wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (where he won fair and square), the second to last round of 2020. Fong has also shown his ability to win a title by emerging from a heated scrap with the Supersport title in 2019.
The only rider other than Herrin and Fong with AMA Superbike wins under his belt is Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz, the South African scoring two wins in his MotoAmerica career. One of those came on a wet Circuit of The Americas track (on a Superstock 1000 Yamaha) in 2017 and the other in the rain at Barber Motorsports Park in 2018. Like the rest, Scholtz realizes there’s no time like the present to win races and a title, and he’s hellbent on showing people that he can win on a dry surface as well as a wet one.
Naturally, the six “factory” riders start the season as the favorites. Those six would be the aforementioned Herrin and Fong and their respective teammates, Scholtz and a Frenchman by the name of Loris Baz.
Herrin’s teammate is Jake Gagne, the runner-up in last year’s MotoAmerica Superbike Championship to Beaubier. Gagne didn’t win a race, but he was close on a few occasions and many believe he starts the season as the favorite to take the title. Gagne can be ultra-consistent and only a fool would bet against him winning his first Superbike race in 2021. A lot of those in the know also believe Gagne could be a lot like Garrett Gerloff… after he wins his first, he’ll win a lot.
Fong’s teammate is 2020 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 Champion Cameron Petersen. The South African is a natural talent and there doesn’t seem to be anything with two wheels that he can’t ride and ride well. He moves from the Stock 1000-spec Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike, and that should be a fairly easy transition. Petersen showed up at the COTA test with a limp that slowed him, but he was still fast, and he’s expected to be healthy for the opener.
Then there’s Baz. Fast and French, Baz will be armed with a “factory” Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati New York Panigale V4 R, and he’s hot off a solid season of World Superbike racing where he ended the season eighth in the championship. Baz didn’t come here to finish second, and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adapts to life in the MotoAmerica paddock, the Dunlop tires and the American racetracks. Very few expect him to struggle.
If there is a level just below the five already talked about, then it’s just a tiny little bit to Kyle Wyman Racing’s Kyle Wyman. After all, the team owner/rider landed on the podium twice in the second of two rounds held at Road America last season, and he ended the year ranked seventh – and just two points behind Herrin, who was sixth in the title chase. Wyman runs a first-class team, brings unique sponsors to the paddock, and knows how to ride a motorcycle. His 2020 season featured some highs and some lows, and he will be shooting for more of the former and less of the latter in 2021.
Steve Scheibe went to the 11th hour before finding a rider for his Scheibe Racing BMW S 1000 RR, and that rider is Héctor Barberá, a Spaniard with gobs of racing experience in different classes all over the world, including MotoGP. Barberá, like Baz, will have circuits and life in the U.S. to adapt to.
David Anthony is another team owner/racer in the HONOS Superbike class. Anthony will be joined on his FLY Racing ADR Motorsports team by Jayson Uribe, with the Northern Californian set for his first full season of Superbike racing. Both men will be armed with Suzuki GSX-R1000s.
Max Flinders will again be ready to go for the season opener with his signature yellow Thrashed Bike Racing Yamaha YZF-R1. Flinders ended last year’s championship in 13th and will be giving his best to improve upon that in 2021.
The list of those hoping to take home the $25,000 in the Superbike Cup on their Stock 1000-spec motorcycles is long and talented. With Petersen moving to the HONOS Superbike class, last year’s winner won’t be there to defend, and that makes it a wide-open affair.
Among the favorites are last year’s runner-up Corey Alexander on the HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki ZX-10RR, Petersen’s replacement on the Altus Motorsports Suzuki Jake Lewis, Travis Wyman Racing’s Travis Wyman, Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates (on the all-new Honda CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP, Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Wyatt Farris and Tecfil Racing Team’s Danilo Lewis.
In total, the season opener in HONOS Superbike at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta will feature a grid of 26 riders.
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