Round five of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship was held over the July 19 to 21 weekend at the world-famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Salinas, California. The Red Bull United States Grand Prix hosted the FIM MotoGP Championship alongside the AMA's finest on the historic track. This limited the AMA teams to only one race during this stop, but it was - and always is - one of the most thrilling events on the calendar.
As you would expect, the riders supported by MotoSport.com were all in attendance - some, just barely - and were excited to be at the venue while the entire motorcycling world was focused on this event. Not only were the TV cameras there from such far flung nations as China, Dubai and Spain, but the fans had arrived in droves from those places and others. It's a true international event, and at Laguna Seca, it has a long and storied history.
What we have come to see, though, are the stories of the racers.
The MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing team owner, leader and rider, Aussie Dave Anthony had some issues making the trip (more below), but he overcame them and managed to once again show why he continues to race - he's talented and he doesn't give up. Riding in the same series, the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship, the avid newcomers on the MotoSport.com/EBR team, Dustin Dominguez and Cory West, had a slightly better arrival and each managed to put on an impressive performance on a challenging circuit. MotoSport.com/EBR's skilled AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship rider Stefano Mesa rode his way to the top-five yet again, earning more for his hopes of capturing the crown. Fellow competitor Brandon Cleland, also riding for MotoSport.com/EBR in the SuperSport class, has continued to have a reliable machine with which to campaign and pulled off another good result.
Getting to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track for the fifth round - the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix - of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Racing Championship turned into a bit of an issue for the MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing team. While on the road from Mid-Ohio, the tractor pulling the team transporter died in Nebraska, stranding them. They put out a call for help, and within hours had a brand new truck to haul the lot to the track. Aussie Dave Anthony is a lucky man, apparently, and the generosity of the transport company which assisted him will not be forgotten. Motorcycle racers have a very solid sense of community despite how aggressively they compete against one another on the track.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is over 55 years old, but is not slowing down, and the world-famous Corkscrew (turns 8 and 8A) always entertains both fans and racers. It is also the favorite circuit of riders the world over. MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing's Aussie Dave Anthony may or may not consider it among his preferred venues, but he acted like it was at least as well loved as any other stop on the calendar. With the massive operation of the FIM MotoGP Championship dominating proceedings at the U.S. Grand Prix, AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike was limited to one race. Anthony made it a good one. Starting out in Friday open practice, Anthony was on pace and doing well. He would land in 11th overall this session, right up near the remaining "factory" teams. When the first Qualifying Practice on Saturday wrapped up, he had improved his lap times, though he finished in the same slot as the open ride, 11th. Later that same day, within the final Qualifying session and the one which counts, Anthony came up a bit short and was slower than his earlier attempt. He ended it with the overall 13th quickest lap time and thus knew exactly where he would start the following day's race.
On Sunday, the first ride for the SuperBike class is the morning practice, but Anthony eschewed this activity; most teams only use it for warm-up and simple testing, anyway - Anthony didn't need no stinkin' warm-up...The race came later that day, and starting the race well, Anthony immediately found some room and moved up into the front group. Within a very short distance, he was running in the top-ten, something he should be used to by now. Throughout the race, Anthony ran remarkably consistent lap times and was able to hold his position and fend of usurpers by being steady and strong. When the checkered flag was waved, Anthony streaked across the Start/Finish in 10th place. Another top level performance from the racer which graciously earned him 11 points. Unfortunately for Aussie Dave Anthony, he slipped one slot on the 2013 SuperBike Championship overall chart to 10th place. He has a total of 96 points which puts him 2 points behind 9th. Anthony's next race will be at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, over the August 2 - 4 weekend. Be there or watch it, because MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing's Aussie Dave is guaranteed to impress as he always does.
Laguna Seca, a track known to bite even the best of the best at times, was kind to the MotoSport.com supported racers this round. That should help build confidence among them for when they return there with another world-level series, the FIM World Superbike Championship, in September for the final round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship. For now, though, we should spend time to look back on the weekend that was the 2013 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix.
The last time we saw MotoSport.com/EBR rider Dustin Dominguez on the track in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship was at round four of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, held at Mid-Ohio. There, Dominguez earned points in both races and had the best results of the season up to this point. When he arrived at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, he was under the influence of momentum. And, when he went out for the first SuperBike open practice, he demonstrated this by pulling in after 18 laps with the 12th quickest. Nicely prepared, he took to his first session of Qualifying Practice on Saturday morning and quickly shaved some tenths on his way to again landing in 12th overall. It was that afternoon, in the Qualifying Practice that would confirm his starting slot on Sunday, where Dominguez would have his only "bad" experience; after not even finishing one lap, he returned to his pit with mechanical issues. This relegated him to 21st on the race grid, the very last slot.
The morning "warm-up" SuperBike Practice saw Dominguez return to form somewhat. Even though he did not push himself or his bike, he still came away with the 14th best lap. However, it really did not matter as everything he had done thus far was intended for the race later that afternoon. Dominguez lined up at the rear for the race. At the start, he pulled away well and moved up the order right then to find himself about mid-pack. While he was running laps a bit off of his best in Qualifying, he held steady and remained consistent throughout much of the race. This carried him right up to the checkered flag, and he crossed the Start/Finish in 13th place to earn 8 very important Championship points. That moved him up one spot in the 2013 AMA Pro SuperBike Championship overall standings to 17th with 31 total points. Another fine weekend of racing for Dustin Dominguez with a consistent performance and a step up in the Championship resulting. What's next? Well, Dominguez will be out there again during the August 2 - 4 weekend at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, so make sure you watch!
Cory West's performance at Mid-Ohio, the fourth round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, in his AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike class was an improvement over what we saw from him at the previous stop. It indicated for all paying attention that the MotorSport.com/EBR rider was on an upward trajectory, if only a slight one. Given that this is his rookie campaign, it bode very well indeed. Thus, when he arrived at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round, he came in with some energy. When he took to the first SuperBike open practice on Friday, though, this urgency seemed to be slipping. After putting in 27 laps, he could only lap with the 15th quickest time. He would have to up the pace if he wanted to qualify well. That is exactly what he did in the Saturday morning Qualifying Practice. His ultimate time went down significantly, and this helped West land on the chart in 13th overall. He wasn't done yet. In that afternoon's second Qualifying Practice, the one which counted for race grid placement, he again went faster and this time moved up to 7th overall - top-ten! This gave him his best start so far this season.
When the race day finally arrived on Sunday, West was ready. In the morning free practice, he only went around once and then returned to the pit. The race began that afternoon, and when it did, West pulled away with the front group and quickly settled into a solid pace. His consistency in the running allowed him to find his home with the top-ten riders throughout the event. After 23 laps, the checkered flag came out and West crossed the Start/Finish with an impressive 9th place. It earned him 12 points. Even given this, his best finish of the season, Cory West still holds 13th place on the 2013 AMA Pro SuperBike Championship chart, but he is now in a virtual tie with 12th with a total of 76 points. Perhaps, when West gets to turn a wheel again for points at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, over the August 2 - 4 weekend, his trend of better results will launch him up in the standings. No matter what happens, count on West to make the racing that much more entertaining!
When Stefano Mesa, riding for the MotoSport.com/EBR team in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship, finished up the fourth round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, held at the Mid-Ohio circuit, he was none too happy about the results. His first race there earned him a most uncharacteristic zero points for finishing 23rd. He did come back convincingly in the second race, but it was not enough to keep him from losing the front-runner slot in the overall standings. Mesa did not have to participate at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round as it was for the Western region, but he did anyway; practice in real racing situations is invaluable. In the SuperSport free practice session on Friday, Mesa seemed to be sand-bagging when he only made the 8th quickest lap. This was more evident when he entered the first Qualifying Practice the next day. In that session, Mesa managed to achieve 6th overall by cutting exactly 3 seconds off of his best free practice lap time.
Even if he could earn no pints towards his own Championship, Mesa was working hard. However, when it came to Sunday morning and the all-important second Qualifying Practice, Mesa was very slow - 6.5 seconds slower, to be (almost) exact. He could only qualify for the 13th slot on the grid for the afternoon SuperSport race. The race started and Mesa managed a great start and got away with the top half fairly easily. As the race wore on, Mesa turned up the speed, and was running quicker and quicker laps almost every time he went around. By the time he reached the finish, 16 laps later, he had made it to 5th place and that is where he was when the checkered flag fell. Top-five is an excellent result and we hope it is a good sign for his next points-earning round at New Jersey Motorsports Park in mid-September. Since this was a SuperSport West round, Mesa earned no points and remains in 3rd place overall with 137 points.
Brandon Cleland, rider in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship for the MotoSport.com/EBR team, enjoyed a high point to his 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship season at the Mid-Ohio round a few weeks back. In the two races held there, Cleland entered the top-fifteen in the first and top-ten in the second. This catapulted him up to 15th overall in the standings. With his new-found speed, it is no wonder that he and his team wanted to be on the tarmac for the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca round even if it would do nothing for his Championship ranking; when you are hot, and you want to stay that way, you have to keep the heat turned up. Thus, entering Friday's SuperSport free practice, Cleland had momentum to spare. When time ran out, he had secured the 11th quickest lap of the session, possibly predictive of better things to come. Saturday afternoon brought with it the first SuperSport Qualifying Practice, so Cleland suited up and went out.
In 25 laps, he cut over 2.5 seconds from his best Friday lap on his way to the 12th spot on the overall. Much like his teammate, Dustin Dominguez, Cleland's worst outing of the entire weekend came during the Sunday morning Qualifying Practice. After only putting in three laps, he could not even best his free practice times, so he finished the session by qualifying for the 16th grid spot for the afternoon race. When the race finally started, though Cleland was slotted in the middle of the field, he moved up to the front very quickly. Throughout the racing, Cleland maintained consistent lap times while passing several riders. Sixteen laps later, after a hard-fought battle, Cleland crossed the Start/Finish in 12th place. Not bad for a race which does nothing for his Championship aspirations. It was an excellent real-world practice for later. Understand that he is one of only two three-cylinder Triumph Daytona 675R's in a sea of Japanese inline-four 600's - and the highest finishing one as well. Since Brandon Cleland is in the East regional series, not the West where this race was held, he could earn no points. Thus, he still holds firm in 15th place with a total of 19 points. We are all hoping this is a trend and we simply cannot wait to see him in his next points paying race at New Jersey Motorsports Park in mid-September