The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship went to its fourth round at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, over the July 12th through 14th weekend. The Mid-Ohio track is a well-worn part of the AMA Pro Road Racing calendar, and most riders have ridden the course numerous times. Also, a warming trend was on for the three days of competition, with Sunday seeing a ten degree rise to nearly 90F compared to Friday and perfectly dry. This made for excellent conditions for all-out motorcycle road racing.
With the full stable of MotoSport.com supported riders in attendance at the event, fans certainly had their opportunities to enjoy watching some of the best riding against the rest. In fact, the weekend saw yet again the factory-level skill of "Aussie" Dave Anthony on display as he challenged the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship. In the same class, series rookies, and MotoSport.com/EBR teammates, Dustin Dominguez and Cory West went on to have some of their best outings so far this season, both earning points from the weekend's racing. MotoSport.com/EBR rider Stefano Mesa unfortunately ended up with mixed results from the two AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship races, but only dropped slightly in the standings. However, rookie Brandon Cleland enjoyed taking a big step up in the same class and brought home points in both races for the first time this season.
All in all, the cadre of riders which MotoSport.com stands behind managed to perform admirably against the competitors each faced. Though there were certainly problems to be overcome, everyone succeeded in improving throughout the three days they spent at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire, and it should bode well for round five, which is to be held next weekend during the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
MotoSport.com / MOTUL/ FLY Racing
The most recent round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, the round three doubleheader Triumph SuperBike Classic, MotoSport.com / MOTUL/ FLY Racing Racing's premier rider, "Aussie" Dave Anthony, racked up two top-ten finishes on his way to securing 8th overall in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike series. For much of the season, Aussie Dave has been among the top finishing privateers, and he was ready to do continue this streak when he arrived at Mid-Ohio for the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend.
Mid-Ohio's track is well-known to fans of American motorcycle road racing due to the many events held there in its 51 year history. Aussie Dave Anthony has himself taken many laps of the circuit during his career owing to AMA Pro Racing's long-term relationship with the location, so he came in with some familiarity. In his first Practice in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike class on Friday, Anthony had his Suzuki lapping in the 7th overall position, already running quickly due at least in part to his track knowledge. When it came time for the first Qualifying session later that same day, Anthony was lapping faster, but it was only good for 10th overall as other riders were also beginning to push for position. Gaining even more speed for Saturday morning's Qualifying was not enough either, even though he did maintain his position in 10th for a mid-level grid spot for the first race on that same day. Anthony lined up to start form the tenth slot, took the sighting lap, and then got away well at the start. However, while running with the front half of the pack in Lap 5, he was forced to ride into his pit. This cost him his position and nearly 3 minutes of race time. Once Anthony returned to the race proceedings, he was at the very back in 18th position and that is where he finished. He still earned 3 points for his effort, though, and was fortunate to not have a zero-point DNF. With the first Sunday practice mostly being about getting warmed up, Anthony used it for this and did not push too hard to come away in 11th overall.
The structure of this series allows the final qualifying time on Saturday to determine the starting position for both races, thus Anthony started Sunday's Race 2 in 10th yet again. This time, he repeated his Race 1 start and was with the lead group through much of the first lap. As things began to spread out, Anthony held firm in the top-ten maintaining solid lap times throughout. When the 21-lap race entered into its last lap, Anthony was holding out in a lonely 9th place. So, when the final flag fell, he once more captured a top-ten finish and earned 12 points for it. Anthony's 15-point trip to Mid-Ohio brings his point total to 85 for the year so far, but it dropped him one position to 9th in the 2013 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship. Even with the first race problems, Aussie Dave Anthony had the speed and the pace to run in the top-ten, and he demonstrated that for all. He has six more races to earn points for the Championship, and the first is next weekend's Laguna Seca round. Look for Aussie Dave over the July 21 - 23rd U.S. Grand Prix weekend where he will again put on a show and display for everyone who watches that he can run with the factory teams on a privateer's budget.
Dustin Dominguez is in the midst of his first season in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship, and is riding for the MotoSport.com/EBR team in the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship. The last time we saw him riding was at the Triumph Superbike Classic some two weeks ago. Over that weekend, Dominguez earned his first points of the season and secured himself a slot in the overall standings at 23rd. In his first practice at Mid-Ohio, Dominguez came out a little slow, and was only able to lap in 17th. However, later in the day, once the first Qualifying Practice began, he had put some fire in his tires. Dominguez pulled himself up to finish the session with the 13th quickest lap, and he was not done. Saturday morning held the final Qualifying Practice, and brought with it an even quicker Dominguez as he landed one slot above Friday's best and slotted his EBR 1190RS to start both Races in 12th. The afternoon of that same day, Race 1 started and Dominguez leapt out of the Start/Finish with a purpose and ran with the top half of the order. As the race dragged on, he began to experience some issues with his bike. By the penultimate lap, it became too much, and he slowed somewhat. Fortunately, as Dominguez had riders who had a more difficult race behind him, he was credited with 16th place and the 5 points with which it comes. Sunday morning SuperBike Practice is often more of a warm-up and shake-down for changes made since the first Race, and Dominguez took advantage of his time there recording the 10th fastest circuit.
Starting Race 2 in the same place as he did the previous day's event, Dominguez again managed a good start so to run with the top half of riders. Through all 21 laps, he stitched together a series of quick laps and held his position. When the checkers flew at the end, Dominguez registered a 12th place, his best result so far this season. His weekend at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend in Ohio earned him 14 points and moved him into 18th overall in the Championship standings. Dustin Dominguez has improved at nearly every round thus far, so keep an eye on him next weekend at Laguna Seca; it is entirely possible that he will climb even further!
After moving up from the Daytona SportBike class, Cory West is now riding in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship for the first full season in this 2103 edition of the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship. Racing for the MotoSport.com/EBR team, West slipped a little last week at the Triumph Superbike Classic by finishing 11th and 13th in Race 1 and 2, respectively. Arriving at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at Mid-Ohio, West would have to step up some if he is to do the same in the overall Championship standings. West's first practice session was a bit slower than the previous round but, at 15th quickest, he was not far away from where he finished there. Friday's SuperBike Qualifying Practice only witnessed West moving up one spot, but he had shaved nearly two full seconds from his lap times. He further reduced his time around the track in Saturday morning's Qualifying and jumped up one more slot to qualify to start in 13th position for both of the weekend's Races.
Race 1 began later that same day, and West pulled off a good start to put himself and his EBR 1190RS into the top half of the order. By working hard to improve his position, West passed a few of the riders he was behind in practice and made it into the top-ten. When the checkered flag fell on Race 1, West had achieved 10th place to grab an important 11 points and equaling his best finish so far this year. Sunday dawned and West went into the final SuperBike practice of the weekend. In it, he ran just under his race pace and finished the session in 13th overall. As he had already qualified in that same spot, it is also where he started Race 2. His second race was very similar to his first; same riders, different day. In it, he managed a decent start and again was about mid-pack for much of the contest. By the time he ran all 21 laps, West very nearly again took a top-ten finish, but this time he landed in 11th. The final tally for West's trip to Mid-Ohio was 21 points, giving him a total of 64 for the year and 13th place overall in the Championship race. Cory West may not have moved up in the chart, but he demonstrated solid consistency this weekend. When he gets to Laguna Seca next weekend, perhaps this confident performance will allow him to move into the top-ten and stay there!
Leaving the Triumph SuperBike Classic round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, MotoSport.com/EBR star Stefano Mesa was still holding out in first place in the overall AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship standings. His results at that stop were fair, but his class competition was gaining on him. Thus, when Mesa arrived at Mid-Ohio for the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend, he had something for which he had to work. He started out in the first SuperSport practice doing exactly what was needed and proceeded to turn laps which granted him third on the overall list, only .077 seconds behind first. Qualifying Practice came later that same day, but Mesa was off his pace and could only earn the 5th best lap time of the session. In what was a short session for Mesa in Saturday's final Qualifying Practice, Mesa upped the ante somewhat and was able to take over the 4th quickest slot for a position at the front in Race 1 that afternoon. In the race he was turing good laps, but a problem forced him to only complete 15 laps and finished with a 23rd place ranking and no points. Sunday's morning practice is essentially a shake-down and warm-up event, and Mesa seemed to be sure of what he had for the second race; he ran 6 laps and had the 7th quickest lap of the session. Whatever issues he had the day before appeared to be gone.
Race 2 was a better experience for Mesa. He got away at the start very well and had his Yamaha YZF-R6 running with the front group. Once the field stretched out, Mesa was in the second group of three fighting for the final spot on the podium. When he passed the Start/Finish in his last lap, Mesa had 5th. After last week, it was an improvement and earned him 16 points that he very much needed after Race 1's zero-points result. Missing the top-20 cost him his position atop the SuperSport East chart, and Mesa now occupies 3rd overall with 137 points, just 5 shy of 2nd on that chart. Next for the AMA Pro Road Racing Championship is the U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, scheduled for July 21 through 23rd. For Stefano Mesa, however, we have to wait until August and the final round of the SuperSport East series at New Jersey Motorsports Park. When he arrives there, he will have a mathematical chance of capturing the Championship crown - you don't want to miss that!
MotoSport.com/EBR rider Brandon Cleland may have wanted to forget the Triumph SuperBike Classic round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship after the mechanical issues he experienced during that weekend. At least he managed to bring home one point after his run-in with misfortune. The only good part of facing adversity is what can be learned from it, and judging by what Cleland did at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at Mid-Ohio, he took it to heart. In the first AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship practice, Cleland posted the 17th fastest circuit, placing him far above where he was at that point in the previous round. When the first Qualifying Practice session went down later that same day, Cleland managed to improve on even that and was 16th quickest. In what would be a pattern all weekend, Saturday morning's final Qualifying Practice again witnessed Cleland move upwards as he took 15th overall in the session and cemented his grid spot for the start of both races. When Race 1 began, Cleland shot off the line and immediately took a few positions ahead of him. His ride had him about mid-pack, but as the race wore on, the gap both in front of and behind him grew. When he crossed the Finish line, he was almost alone and he took 14th place.
It was an improvement that earned him 7 times the points he picked up from Race 1 the last time he finished a race. The next morning's SuperSport practice, usually used for mere warm-up or testing changes, had Cleland riding in 15th position, again demonstrating supreme consistency in place even if his lap times were a bit down. Later on Sunday, the field lined up for Race 2 and Cleland was again starting from 15th on the grid. Once more, Cleland had an excellent start with his Triumph Daytona 675R, and he went into the early laps with the top half of the order. He was not done there as throughout the race he kept turning quicker and quicker laps. He passed riders and ended up finding a home in the top-ten. When the checkered flag was finally out after 17 laps, Cleland had finished the highest he had all year with a 10th place result. It is safe to say that Brandon Cleland had a good trip to the Mid-Ohio track. He earned 18 points for his efforts and moved up to 15th overall in the SuperSport East Championship standings from the 24th slot he occupied after the last event. Unfortunately, in order to see if Cleland's determined drive to the top will continue, fans will have to wait until the New Jersey Motorsports Park round of the series is held in early August. Did Brandon Cleland "rise to the challenge" as we asked last week - Yes, definitely yes!