Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing's Toni Elias scored a pair of come-from-behind runner-up finishes on his 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 Superbike in MotoAmerica's return to Sonoma Raceway in California wine country. Elias actually extended his championship lead to 70 points, in part owing to a tough weekend for his teammate Roger Hayden.
After qualifying on the front row, Hayden scored no points at Sonoma after being taken out by another rider in Saturday's race and then crashing again on his own in Sunday's race. The end result was that Hayden dropped to third in the standings and is now 80 points out of first.
For Elias both races saw him using the power and precision handling of the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 to slice his way through the field. The former Moto2 World Champion methodically made his way up to second in both races with passes on a slew of top-notch riders.
It marked the first visit to the hilly and scenic Sonoma Raceway for the championship in five years.
Even though for the first time in four rounds Elias didn't experience victory , he was still happy he was able to work through heavy traffic in both legs and extend his series lead.
"I am very happy that I was able to get second in both races, even though I had to work very hard to get there," Elias said. "On Saturday's race I was pushed wide in the first turn and fell many positions. Sunday things went better early in the race and I was able to get into second much faster. My hope was to gain on Cameron (Beaubier), but he was riding very well and it was not possible.
"For the championship the weekend was very good. I now have a 70-point lead and am in a very good position. I was sorry that Roger had a bad weekend, but in our sport sometimes these things happen. We still have a lot of racing, so I hope to continue with strong finishes to make the championship possible. My team is doing a great job and we are working all towards the goal of winning this title."
After his disappointing weekend in Sonoma, Hayden now looks forward to getting back on track in the coming event.
"We had a tough weekend here at Sonoma," Hayden explained. "In race one another rider ran into the back of me and knocked me down. In race two I was just pushing a little too hard and went down early in the race. We qualified well and made some progress on the bike. I'm glad we only have one weekend off. I'm looking forward to Pittsburgh."
The series now moves to Pittsburgh International Race Complex, for the Championship of Pittsburgh on August 25-27.
For additional details on the upcoming event visit www.MotoAmerica.com
You can keep up with the team’s progress by visiting http://yoshimura-racing.com and http://www.suzukicycles.com/Racing/Road%20Racing.aspx and via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/SuzukiCycles.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki is grateful for the support of their sponsors: Yoshimura R&D, Suzuki Motor of America, Motul, Tucker Rocky, Dunlop, Shorai, Sunstar, K&N Performance Filters, NGK Spark Plugs, RK Racing Chain, Chicken Hawk Racing and Zeta.
About Yoshimura R&D of America: Yoshimura is "The Leader in Performance" and has been for over 60 years. With unmatched skills, knowledge and passion for racing, Yoshimura is on the forefront of the aftermarket. Yoshimura exhaust systems are race bred and feature the same legendary performance, fit, and quality that has been our trademark for six decades. To learn more about Yoshimura and view their wide variety of performance products, visit www.yoshimura-rd.com
About Suzuki: Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. (SMAI) distributes Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Outboard Motors and Automotive Parts and Accessories via an extensive dealer network throughout 49 states. SMAI’s supplier, Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Automobiles and Outboard Motors. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has 147 distributors in 201 countries. For more information, visit www.suzuki.com.