TONI ELIAS AND YOSHIMURA SUZUKI START MOTOAMERICA SUPERBIKE TITLE DEFENSE THIS WEEKEND

 Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias begins his MotoAmerica Superbike title defense this weekend, April 13-15, at the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. (Brian J. Nelson photo)

Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias begins his MotoAmerica Superbike title defense this weekend, April 13-15, at the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. (Brian J. Nelson photo)

Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Toni Elias begins his MotoAmerica Superbike title defense this weekend, April 13-15, at the Suzuki Championship at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Teammate Roger Hayden, who finished runner up in last year’s championship, is also looking for a strong start to the 2018 season on one of the circuits he grew up racing at with his brothers.

Both riders will be aboard the potent 2018 Suzuki GSX-R1000, the latest generation of the all-time winningest motorcycle in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Championship history.

In addition to the start of a new racing season, Yoshimura R&D and Suzuki Motor of America are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their formal partnership. Launched in 1978, Yoshimura Suzuki became the all-time winningest team in MotoAmerica/AMA Superbike Championship history. The pairing of Suzuki and Yoshimura has resulted in a series leading 14 championships and a remarkable 189 wins for the team.

Yoshimura Suzuki is coming off a highly-successful 2017 campaign, winning 13 of the 20 rounds and finishing first and second in the championship. Elias, scored 10 of those victories and even wrapped up the title before the final round!

The friendly Spaniard comes into the 2018 campaign with the No. 1 plate on his machine, which he said he understands is a big target.

“I know everyone is trying to knock me off the top spot,” Elias said. “The competition has stepped up and is even deeper this season with more strong teams and riders, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Our team works very well together and we will do everything we can to keep Yoshimura Suzuki on top.”

Roger Hayden was the MotoAmerica Superbike Superpole master in 2017, winning a series-leading seven Superpoles, in addition to his three race wins. Hayden was also a title contender all year. This year the popular Kentuckian is hoping to lift the championship trophy at the end of the 2018 season.

“I was right there in most of the races last year,” Hayden explained. “We’ve always had the speed in qualifying and to be able to run up front most of the race. This year I’m looking to improve my speed in the closing laps to give us an opportunity to win more races.”

In addition to watching great racing, longtime fans of the series will have even more of an incentive to be on hand this weekend. Two-time AMA Superbike Champion and Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wes Cooley will be a special guest at the Suzuki Championship as part of Yoshimura Suzuki’s 40th Anniversary celebration. They’ll also get to see his historic 1979 Yoshimura Suzuki GS1000 Superbike, the machine he rode to the 1979 AMA Superbike Championship.

For additional information visit: www.motoamerica.com

You can keep up with the team’s progress by visiting yoshimura-racing.com and www.suzukicycles.com/Racing and  via YouTube at www.youtube.com/SuzukiCycles

Team Yoshimura Suzuki is grateful for the support of their sponsors: Yoshimura R&D, Suzuki Motor of America, Motul, Dunlop, Tucker Rocky, Team Suzuki, Shorai, Sunstar, MWR Racing Filters, NGK Spark Plugs, RK Racing Chain, Zeta High Performance Products, and Chicken Hawk Racing.

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. Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Automobiles, Outboard Motors and related products. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has business relations with 201 countries/regions. For more information, visit www.suzuki.com.

About Yoshimura R&D of America: Yoshimura is “The Leader in Performance” and has been for more than 55 years. With unmatched skills, knowledge, and passion for racing, Yoshimura is on the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry. Yoshimura pipes are race bred and feature the same legendary performance, fit and quality that has been their trademark for more than five decades. To learn more about Yoshimura and view their wide variety of performance products, visit www.yoshimura-rd.com.

 Roger Hayden was the MotoAmerica Superbike Superpole master in 2017, winning a series-leading seven Superpoles, in addition to his three race wins. Hayden was also a title contender all year. This year the popular Kentuckian is hoping to lift the championship trophy at the end of the 2018 season. (Brian J. Nelson photo)

Roger Hayden was the MotoAmerica Superbike Superpole master in 2017, winning a series-leading seven Superpoles, in addition to his three race wins. Hayden was also a title contender all year. This year the popular Kentuckian is hoping to lift the championship trophy at the end of the 2018 season. (Brian J. Nelson photo)

Autotrader / Yoshimura / Suzuki Factory Racing Team Report: Seattle Supercross

Photo Credit: Brown Dog Wilson

The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team traveled to the Pacific Northwest for round 13 of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. Mother Nature wreaked havoc on CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA, with a barrage of rainstorms battering the open-air stadium. That didn’t deter the 55,407 enthusiastic fans, who watched Phil Nicoletti earn his first ever 250 Heat race victory on his Suzuki RM-Z250. Teammate Justin Hill slogged through the mud to score a top-ten finish. The hard-charging efforts of Weston Peick on the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450 resulted in a top-ten.

In what was one of the most challenging and wet Supercross races in history, defending 250 West Champion Hill wasn’t deterred from giving it his all. Hill placed fifth in his heat race, and was in position for a solid result until he was caught up in the melee following the first turn of the main event. The RM-Z250 rider pushed hard to make up time, eventually working his way up to ninth place. Hill is sixth in the point standings with two 250 West rounds remaining.

No matter the conditions, Peick isn’t afraid to hammer the throttle of his RM-Z450 and go for broke. He used consistency in the Seattle mud – his lap times were only a few seconds apart on the treacherous track – to finish tenth. Peick is within striking distance of fifth place in the overall standings with four rounds to go.

Nicoletti, a native of Cochecton, NY, looked extremely comfortable in the mud. The lap chart of the opening 250 Heat race was a telling sign, as Nicoletti moved from 12th on the opening lap to first at the finish. It marked his first ever 250 Heat race win. Nicoletti looked great early in the 250 Main, moving up to fifth place on the second lap. While trying to pass for position, he darted off the track and was temporarily stalled by the quagmire. He recovered to finish 11th on the night, and is 11th in the standings.

Malcolm Stewart looked poised to improve on his career best finish at Indianapolis two weekends ago. It’s obvious that the Haines City, Fla. native is gelling well with the RM-Z450, as he logged the second-fastest 450 qualifying time. Stewart moved from 20th on the opening lap of the main event to 11th, positioning himself for another top-10 finish. Unfortunately, several mistakes dropped him back to 17th. Stewart sits 10th in the overall standings.    

Justin Hill [250 Class, 9th Place] “I had press day on Thursday, which was a lot of fun. I did everything from live television to radio, Skype and every interview in between. I even had the chance to catch a fish at the world-famous Pike Market. I also played an open mic night, which was a cool experience.”

“As for the race, it was a complete mess. I haven’t ridden anything that difficult in years. In hindsight, I should have flown home to Oregon before the race and ridden in the mud to brush up on my mud skills. I’ll do that next year if they’re predicting rain in Seattle. The hardest part of the track was the whoops, but then they cut them down. The switchback section before the finish line was gnarly. Everyone had to race the track, but I’m rusty in the mud.”

Weston Peick [450 Class, 10th Place] – “It was a rainy day schedule, which is always difficult. I went into the heat race with 10 minutes of practice. It wasn’t enough track time, but given the situation I didn’t need a whole lot of time in the mud. I felt off in the heat race and did the best that I could. The track was a complete mess by the time the main event came around. It was one big rut. I made sure I didn’t crash and get hurt, with the goal of moving on to the next weekend. Being from California, I don’t have a whole lot of experience in the mud, so getting a top 10 was fair given the situation.”

Phil Nicoletti [250 Class, 11th Place] – “Practice went okay for me. The unseeded 250 session was faster, because the track hadn’t broken down by that point. I had a decent start in my heat race, but crashed in the first turn. Then I tipped over again, but told myself to ride normally and not rush anything. I picked off a bunch of guys and won my first 250 Supercross heat race, which was cool.”

“I had the second gate pick for the main event and the same mentality that I did in my heat race. I had a good start and put myself in position for the best result of my 2018 season. While pressuring for fourth place I pushed too hard, went off the track, and ended up getting stuck in the mud off the side of the track. I used a lot of energy. It was like I was bench pressing 550 pounds of weight, and doing it 50 times. I was spent. It wasn’t what I wanted to happen, considering I knew what I was capable in those difficult conditions.”

Malcolm Stewart [450 Class, 17th Place] – “It was good to be the second fastest qualifier in the practice session. I struggled in my heat race a bit, because I haven’t used goggle roll-offs since 2012. Still, I rode well and knew what I was capable of. Then, in the main event I went down in the second corner. I pretty much came from last place to eighth, made a mistake, and remained inside the top ten until the last lap. I lost my clutch, due to the difficult conditions, but that was the case for most riders. We’ll move on to Minneapolis and the final Triple Crown event of the series. Overall, I had fun at Seattle. I sure am sore from racing in the mud! I used every single muscle in my body. Even though the race was shortened up it felt like I was out there forever.”

Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager] – “Nicoletti’s last to first effort, where he won his first 250 Heat victory, was the highlight of the day. Everyone qualified well, despite the conditions. The guys made a lot of little mistakes in the main events that held them back in the final standings. Hill stalled his bike, and Stewart got stuck with some people. Peick rose to the occasion in the mud, which was great to see.”

“In terms of races that I’ve been to over the years, Seattle was up there with being one of the most difficult I’ve been to. The Hangtown National in the 1990s was worse, but it was harder than Daytona in 2008. Even though there wasn’t as much standing water, the dirt was extremely sticky and rutted.”

The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team will travel to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN on Saturday, April 14th for round 14 of the series.

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. Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Automobiles, Outboard Motors and related products. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has business relations with 201 countries/regions. For more information, visit www.suzuki.com.

About Autotrader: Autotrader is the most visited third-party car shopping site, with the most engaged audience of in-market shoppers. As the foremost authority on automotive consumer insights and expert in online and mobile marketing, Autotrader makes the car shopping experience easy and fun for today's empowered consumer looking to find or sell the perfect new, used or Certified Pre-Owned car. Using technology, shopper insights and local market guidance, Autotrader's comprehensive marketing solutions guide dealers to personalized digital marketing strategies that grow brand, drive traffic and connect the online and in-store shopping experience. Autotrader is a Cox Automotive™ brand. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. For more information, please visit http://press.autotrader.com.

About JGRMX: Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross (JGRMX), based in Huntersville, NC, was founded in 2007 by Coy Gibbs, son of NFL Hall of Fame head coach and multi-time NASCAR Championship winning team owner Joe Gibbs. JGRMX competes in both the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series as well as the Monster Energy Supercross series with support from Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. aboard Suzuki RM-Z250 and RM-Z450 race machines.

About Yoshimura R&D of America: Yoshimura is “The Leader in Performance” and has been for more than 55 years. With unmatched skills, knowledge, and passion for racing, Yoshimura is on the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry. Yoshimura pipes are race bred and feature the same legendary performance, fit and quality that has been their trademark for more than five decades. To learn more about Yoshimura and view their wide variety of performance products, visit www.yoshimura-rd.com.

Autotrader / Yoshimura / Suzuki Factory Racing Team Report: Indianapolis Supercross

Photos Courtesy of Brown Dog Wilson

The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team journeyed to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. for round 12 of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. While a snowstorm raged outside, Malcolm Stewart wowed the 60,873 diehard fans inside by scoring his best premier class Supercross result of his career aboard the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450. In the 250 class, Kyle Peters and Phil Nicoletti posted strong results on their Suzuki RM-Z250s in securing top-ten finishes.

A banged-up shoulder didn’t hold Stewart back on a technical track that broke down over the 27-lap 450 main event. The Haines City, Fla. native powered through the field on his Suzuki RM-Z450 in effortless fashion. At one point he was positioned in fifth place, but a bout of late-race tightness held him to sixth on the evening. It was a smart and gutsy ride by the ever-popular Stewart, moving him up to 11th in the championship standings.

Indianapolis featured the first of two 250 East/West Showdowns, which brought the best 250 class riders from each coast together. Peters was ready to face the deep field, rocketing out to the holeshot on his Suzuki RM-Z250 in the heat race. He brought that level of intensity to the main event. Logging consistent laps, the pride of Greensboro, NC scored eighth place. Peters sits sixth in the 250 East championship standings.

After a long hiatus, Nicoletti was back in action. The New Yorker looked sharp all evening long, mixing it up with the front-runners and giving no quarter. Early in the 250 East/West Showdown he gained four positions in a single lap. Nicoletti’s efforts earned him ninth – which ties his best result of the series. “Filthy” is 11th in the 250 West championship standings.

Weston Peick was well on his way to another heroic ride after finishing fifth in his heat race. Peick worked up to seventh in the main, but a crash ended his night early. He is still within striking distance of fifth place in the overall championship standings.

Defending 250 West Supercross Champion, Justin Hill, came down with an illness earlier in the week that prevented him from racing in Indianapolis. Hill will undergo further evaluation, and an update on his health status will be released when more information becomes available.

Malcolm Stewart [450 Class, 6th Place] – “I’m getting better every week. I still have to improve my fitness, but I am happy to finish the night in sixth place. It was my best career 450 result so far, so I’ll take the positives from that. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction. There are five more Supercross races to go, and I’m going to make the most of them.”

Kyle Peters [250 Class, 8th Place] “I felt good in practice, but I didn’t have the intensity when the night show came around. I was flat. I had a good start in the heat race and my shift points were good, but I rode tight in the heat race. For whatever reason I felt fatigued going into the main event. The team worked really hard, and we made progress. The shootout deal was cool, because I never get to race the West guys. As far as the points go, it could make for a big swing either way. I’m sixth in points and want to climb the ladder.”

Phil Nicoletti [250 Class, 9th Place] – “I don’t know what happened with my start in the main event. There were a few bumps in front of my gate, and I lined up to the inside in the hopes of getting a good jump and controlling from there. I saw quite a few riders going deep into the first turn, so I hit the brakes. Some of those riders got tangled up, and I went around them. I had my work cut out for me, but I made quick passes. I came up to ninth place, which was decent. I rode better in the main event than I did in practice.”

“It was interesting racing other 250 class riders, but it doesn’t really matter. The track was really brutal, but my Suzuki RM-Z250 handled well and I got inside the top ten for the shootout.”

Weston Peick [450 Class, 22nd Place] – “The day was tough. I struggled, because the track was super tacky and rutted. I was trying to find comfort. We went into the heat race with a major change, and the track was very rutted. Then we went back to how we were in practice. I rode well in the main, but was making a lot of mistakes. I had a couple of close calls. I was hitting this quad in the center of the track, and one lap I hit it from the opposite side. The face was a bit smaller, and I came up short on the landing and went into an endo. I got pretty banged up, and that was my night. I’m sore, but I have some time off to get ready for Seattle.”

Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager] – “I was happy with Stewart, because he gave everything he had. He was moving through the pack well. He could have possibly earned a podium, but he tightened up with five laps to go. He will be able to work on that intensity throughout the week and finish off the series strong. Peick was riding better once we got into the night program. He made a mistake in a big rhythm and crashed. He is banged up, but that won’t stop him from coming back strong after the off-weekend.”

“Peters rode great all day. He wasn’t flowing in the main like he was earlier in the day. Regardless, he was steady. Nicoletti saved his best racing for the main event. It was a bummer that Hill couldn’t ride, because that track would have suited his style with being so technical and challenging. He was hoping to feel better all day, but we had to make the call that he wasn’t going to be able to race.”

“In my years of racing I have seen snow on the ground in Indianapolis before, but it never fell all day long like it did on Saturday. Every time we came out of the truck there was another half of an inch of snow on the ground. Peick was doing donuts in the snow on his RM-Z450, and his mechanic did some in the Textron Stampede. Everyone made the best of the situation since the pits were closed to fans, which was a bummer.”

The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team will have next weekend off, before traveling to Centurylink Field in Seattle, WA on Saturday, April 7th. It will mark the 13th round of the series.

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. Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC), based in Hamamatsu, Japan, is a diversified worldwide manufacturer of Motorcycles, ATVs, Scooters, Automobiles, Outboard Motors and related products. Founded in 1909 and incorporated in 1920, SMC has business relations with 201 countries/regions. For more information, visit www.suzuki.com.

About Autotrader: Autotrader is the most visited third-party car shopping site, with the most engaged audience of in-market shoppers. As the foremost authority on automotive consumer insights and expert in online and mobile marketing, Autotrader makes the car shopping experience easy and fun for today's empowered consumer looking to find or sell the perfect new, used or Certified Pre-Owned car. Using technology, shopper insights and local market guidance, Autotrader's comprehensive marketing solutions guide dealers to personalized digital marketing strategies that grow brand, drive traffic and connect the online and in-store shopping experience. Autotrader is a Cox Automotive™ brand. Cox Automotive is a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. For more information, please visit http://press.autotrader.com.

About JGRMX: Joe Gibbs Racing Motocross (JGRMX), based in Huntersville, NC, was founded in 2007 by Coy Gibbs, son of NFL Hall of Fame head coach and multi-time NASCAR Championship winning team owner Joe Gibbs. JGRMX competes in both the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship series as well as the Monster Energy Supercross series with support from Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. aboard Suzuki RM-Z250 and RM-Z450 race machines.

About Yoshimura R&D of America: Yoshimura is “The Leader in Performance” and has been for more than 55 years. With unmatched skills, knowledge, and passion for racing, Yoshimura is on the forefront of the aftermarket exhaust industry. Yoshimura pipes are race bred and feature the same legendary performance, fit and quality that has been their trademark for more than five decades. To learn more about Yoshimura and view their wide variety of performance products, visit www.yoshimura-rd.com.