AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike Recap
Daytona Beach, FL.-July 3, 2012-AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike at Barber Motorsports Park saw Cameron Beaubier of YES/Graves/Yamaha have his breakthrough event as the 19-year-old won his first class pole and both races. Beaubier simply swept the weekend and put in a masterful performance in what was a physically challenging weekend with the heat and the twisty nature of the Birmingham, Ala. circuit.
After running up front in this year's races following his recovery from a broken knee cap resulting from a scooter crash, which sidelined him at Road Atlanta and one of the Sonoma races, it certainly looked like Beaubier winning a race this season was inevitable. He fulfilled the promise in Alabama and earned Yamaha's first GoPro Daytona SportBike win since Joey Pascarella won the season-opening DAYTONA 200 in March.
"It feels awesome to get my first win and then back it up the next day," Beaubier said. "I'm super happy."
And the young standout did it despite some remaining surgical metal in his leg that irritates him when he rides and causes swelling. The wire won't come out until August.
Tommy Hayden #22 leads the rest of the field during one of the AMA Pro Go Pro Daytona SportBike Serie races at Barber Motorsports Park in June 2012. AMA Pro Road Racing photo by Brian J. Nelson.
"That's the biggest thing bothering me right now," he continued. "It's hard to keep the swelling down."
In the first race, Beaubier battled with another rider having a breakout weekend, Dane Westby of the M4 Suzuki team. Westby had been showing good form this season, but bad starts kept him from really cashing in. Between Road America and Barber, Westby prepped hard by spending a day with drag racer Ricky Gadsen working on his starts as well as honing his skills leaning off the bike at a riding school. He was able to quickly apply what he learned, as good racers do, and earned two second place results.
Beaubier was able to hold him off both days, though. On Saturday, the end came down to a fight between Westby, Beaubier and his Yamaha teammate Tommy Hayden. With a couple of laps to go, Beaubier retook the lead from Hayden, who was also passed by Westby. The Oklahoman took a shot in turn four on the last lap, but couldn't make the move stick. Beaubier won by 0.241.
"I felt really comfortable leading today. I tried to stay out in front as long as I could," Beaubier said. "I felt like I had a little more in the first few sectors of the track than I did at the end, so I just pushed really hard. I'm at a loss for words. I was so happy to get pole position and a win. It felt really good," he said. Westby said he made a slight mistake on the last lap that kept him from getting one more chance to make a pass in the final corner.
"It was pretty slick out there and the guys were riding well," Westby said. "The M4 Suzuki was going really good for me. It was getting the traction even though it was really greasy out there. We decided to go with the soft tire at the last minute by group decision and it turned out to be the right decision. I think they would have got away in the beginning and I don't think there was enough time in the medium tire to catch back up once their tires went off, so that was a good decision." Hayden was back on the podium on Saturday. "It felt good to lead the race and I thought, with three or four laps to go there, I had a pretty good chance to win," he said. "I just need to get a little bit more of an edge."
Jason DiSalvo (Latus Motors Racing Triumph) was fourth, less than six seconds back after running in the lead pack early on. He was well clear of points leader Martin Cardenas (GEICO Suzuki) who had rear brake issues and couldn't make his patented charge to the front. Bobby Fong (Meen Motorsports) was sixth, just ahead of Benny Solis on the Kneedraggers.com Yamaha. Jake Zemke (Ducshop Ducati) had a lonely ride to eighth. He was well clear of J.D. Beach (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull), who started from the fourth row but moved up to ninth. Michael Beck (Team Beck Racing) just pipped Cory West (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki) for the final spot in the top ten.
On Sunday, Beaubier was able to clear out over Westby late to back up his Saturday win with a 2.163 second win after 21 laps.
"It was kind of weird because my first lap wasn't very good at all," Beaubier said of his Sunday win. "Then I got through a few guys and got out front and I felt pretty good out front. I didn't feel very good in second because it was super easy to get shuffled back. Out front I felt really comfortable, I tried to save my tires as much as I could, and towards the end I put my head down and pushed really hard to get away." Westby made his bid a little too early, he thought. He tried to take the lead with four laps to go but couldn't hold it. "The racetrack was hot and greasy," Westby said. "I just tried to carve through a couple guys and get to the front. I just didn't quite have what was required to win this one. I got in front for a bit but they studied where I was strong and weak and made the most of it. I fried the tire up in the beginning stages when I was pushed back a little so I didn't have a real good tire to make a charge at the end. That's just how the cards played out." Westby moved into a tie with DiSalvo for second place in the GoPro Daytona SportBike points. Cardenas rebounded to take third, but said he was playing catch-up all weekend and never could quite get over the hump.
"I did what I could this weekend," Cardenas said. "It was an okay result. Third place is enough to make me happy. I finished ahead of DiSalvo today so we made back the points there and that was the most we could ask for. I didn't have the speed to catch Dane (Westby) and Cameron (Beaubier) towards the end of the race. The bike was just a little off all weekend. We tried some new things Friday and Saturday and they didn't work the way we had hoped, so they switched back to what we knew today and it was better. Not perfect, but better. In the end, we gained points so we are pleased."
Hayden finished right on Cardenas, the GoPro Daytona SportBike points leader, tailpiece to take fourth. Bobby Fong scored another fifth in what has been a very good season for the Stockton, Calif. rider on a smaller team. Fong was able to handle DiSalvo and relegate him to sixth. Beach improved on Sunday to earn seventh, ahead of Zemke, Solis, and Jake Gagne (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull).
Next up is Mid-Ohio, a similar tight, twisty course. Cardenas will surely be back to form and it will be interesting to see if Beaubier and Westby can keep up their momentum, too.
Year-End Awards Update:
Benny Solis currently leads the Saddlemen "Rookie of the Year" points chase over fellow GoPro Daytona SportBike riders Jake Gagne and Jeff Wrobel.