The third round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship - The Triumph SuperBike Classic presented by America's First Federal Credit Union - took place at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The location is one of the safest and most modern on the entire racing calendar, though its popularity as a destination may have more to do with the natural beauty in which it is set, or the world-class museum which resides on the circuit's grounds. No matter, as the reason we care about it has everything to do with racing, and world-class racing is exactly what you can expect at this track. During the weekend of June 21 to 23, it was here that AMA Pro Racing finally returned to action again after nearly three weeks of silence.
MotoSport.com supports a cadre of riders in the AMA Pro Racing ranks, and all were competing during this weekend. First, we have "Aussie" Dave Anthony, he of the MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing team, campaigning in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship as the standard bearer for the effort. Also in that same series, but on the MotoSport.com/EBR team, we run with class rookies Dustin Dominguez and Cory West. In the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship, also on the MotoSport.com/EBR team, young phenom Stefano Mesa is leading in the East, and rookie Brandon Cleland is riding in the West region. It is a wide ranging group, made up of many different personalities and riding styles, but they all have the same ultimate goal - to win!
We could spend all day simply discussing each of these talented riders in their off-bike lives and the variety of ways each arrived in the sport, but that is not what we are here for. What we want to know is how each did at the Triumph Superbike Classic, so let's learn that now.
MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing:
In our last check-in with Aussie Dave Racing, the team had just wrapped up their trip to the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader and were readying for the trip to Barber. On the Road America circuit, team principal "Aussie" Dave Anthony again demonstrated a first-rate performance by taking a 6th and 7th place in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike series races over the weekend. He arrived in Birmingham with a seat in 9th on the overall chart and anxious to move up.
Aussie Dave came into Barber with the 9th overall position.
Running at Barber Motorsports Park is akin to staying in a five-star hotel; the facilities are second-to-none as are the amenities. Aussie Dave Anthony, though, already had all he needed with him in his bike and himself. Taking to the first Qualifying Practice on Friday, Anthony quickly reeled off his quickest time of the test in his eighth lap and finished the session in 8th overall, an odd bit of numerology. Come Saturday and the most important second Qualifying Practice, Anthony repeated his first performance with another 8th overall, thus solidifying his grid position for the first SuperBike Race of the weekend later that same day. Starting from the outside of the second row, Anthony pulled away with the leaders and took to the battle at hand. What is surprising is how his lap times in this first race kept getting quicker, and his best was his final. That last lap brought Anthony and his Suzuki home in 8th place; yet another top-10 result!
Dave snagging the 7th quickest lap time in practice.
Sunday dawned to morning practice for the SuperBike riders, and Anthony quietly went even faster, netting the 7th quickest lap of the session. As the starting grid for all races is determined by the second Qualifying on Saturday, Anthony already knew he would start from the second row for SuperBike Race 2. This was to be a different set of circumstances, and Anthony found that some of his competitors had also located a bit more get-up. In the end, when the checkered flag fell, Anthony rounded out his weekend with a 10th place finish. The results earned Anthony 23 points for his effort and he was able to advance one spot on the overall AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship standings to the 8th position with a total of 70 points. Aussie Dave Anthony leaves Barber with two more top-10 finishes, and has earned himself another promotion against some of the best riders in the world. What could be next? Well, tune in to the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during July 12th to 14th and we will all find out!
MotoSport.com/EBR sponsored rider Dustin Dominguez is new to the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship having moved up from the AMA Pro SuperSport class. Last round, at the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader on the Road America circuit, Dominguez had a run of bad luck, suffering mechanical failures in both of his races and receiving two DNFs for the weekend. He was hopeful that his ride at the Triumph SuperBike Classic at Barber Motorsports Park would be a far different experience. It started well in the first Qualifying Practice, where Dominguez rode his Erik Buell Racing EBR 1190RS to the 11th quickest time, a good start. The following day, in the second and most important Qualifying session, Dominguez repeated his Friday performance garnering the 11th slot on the grid. This meant that he started SuperBike Race 1 on the inside of the third row.
In short, Dominguez was having a good day as long as his bike kept on going, and it did. When he crossed the Finish for the final time in the race, he was in 14th place. He surely wanted to finish higher, but just finishing was a result. On Sunday morning, Dominguez again went out for practice and, since he could earn nothing here, managed to be the 19th best - after all, it's just a warm-up. However, SuperBike Race 2 was a little worse than the first event and his practice seemed to indicate his finish here; he came home with a 19th place. The two races earned Dominguez his first points in the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, a total of 9 for the round. This also stands as his cumulative total presently and he holds 23rd slot in the overall for the AMA Pro SuperBike Championship. Now that Dominguez can count on his bike finishing his races, he should finally start seeing results, and those finishes can earn him more points. See if Dustin Dominguez can maintain his newfound fortune at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during July 12th to 14th, we'll see you there!
Cory West, riding for the MotoSport.com/EBR team, is in his first year of the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship as he came up from the Daytona SportBike class, where he competed in 2012. In his trip to the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader a few weeks back, he doubled up on 10th place finishes in the races, an impressive set. Thus, West arrived at Barber looking to build on this work. In his first Qualifying Practice, he managed a decent start on it by being the 12th quickest rider. The following day, when the placement counted, the second session of Qualifying Practice witnessed West slip one spot to 13th, securing him 14th overall and a start in SuperBike Race 1 on the inside of row four. Fortunately, this was just his start. When the first SuperBike race got under way, West had to duel with several series regulars for his position. It worked out well for the young rider as he took his EBR 1190RS across the Finish in 11th place.
Cory took his 1190RS across the finish in 11th spot for SuperBike Race 1.
Sunday morning brought with it the final SuperBike practice session before Race 2. West used it, as most riders do, as a warm-up for the main event and only managed to be 15th best. Then came the second SuperBike race, a different day with the same cast and crew. West had his work cut out for him as he already knew what he would face. This time, even though he was turning quicker laps, he could only finish one spot above the place he began, and he took 13th place. When combined, these finishes earned West an important 18 Championship points. He now occupies the 13th slot on the overall AMA Pro SuperBike Championship standings chart with 43 points. Even if this round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship did not see a significant improvement for Cory West, it did display some consistency. We all know that it is that trait which can separate the best from the also-rans. See West continue his rookie AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike season when everyone returns to action between July 12th and 14th at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
This must be said once again simply because it sounds so good - MotoSport.com/EBR rider Stefano Mesa is in first place in the 2013 AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship. Last week, at the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader held at Road America, Mesa again impressed fans everywhere with two 2nd place finishes. It was simply a question of whether he could maintain the momentum at Barber for the Triumph SuperBike Classic. In his first Qualifying Practice on Friday, it looked like the answer to this was going to be "No". His best lap could only garner him 18th overall against riders he dominated the round previous. The following day, Mesa went into Qualifying Practice with the need to seriously improve. He did that, but still had issues and brought home only the 9th quickest time leading to an overall Qualifying finish of 9th. This slotted him on the outside of row 3 for SuperSport Race 1.
Mesa struggled through qualifying landing 9th overall.
Starting so far back can have an adverse effect on a racer's finish; working through other riders takes effort, rubber and time. It did this for Mesa, and though he ran a good race, his finish in this first race was 8th. He still finished within reach of his toughest competitors, but behind them means fewer points. When Sunday came on and the morning's practice was done, he had only finished 17th best. It stands to reason that Mesa was likely taking his time to warm up and test out changes made from the day before. Launching from the same slot on the grid as in the first race, Mesa took off with the leaders and got away clean in SuperSport Race 2. When the checkered flag dropped, though, Mesa was the 8th rider past the Start/Finish, an identical result to what he had on Saturday, but it was a come-from-behind charge which granted him this result. The combined finishes earned Mesa a total of 26 points, giving him 121 for the season so far. Now three rounds of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship are completed, and Stefano Mesa remains atop the overall standings. He has at least one rider hot on his heels, though. At the next round, scheduled for July 12th through 14th at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mesa will have to turn up the heat if he wants to hold onto #1!
Riding in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship for the MotoSport.com/EBR team, Brandon Cleland is new to the AMA Pro Racing circus this year. At the previous round of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, the Subway SuperBike Doubleheader held at the Road America circuit last month, Cleland finished in 30th and 26th in the two races that weekend earning no points. Given the chaotic time it was, most were simply happy to have survived. However, Cleland needed to get on the gas at the Triumph SuperBike Classic and start finishing in the points. If that was indeed Cleland's goal, his first Qualifying Practice on Friday did not go to plan as his quickest lap time only earned him 26th overall. However, when he came to Saturday's Qualifying, he started to attack the track in earnest. There he managed to lap the circuit as the 22nd fastest rider, a fair improvement on both Friday and his positioning back at the last round. This gave him an inside spot on row 6 for the first SuperSport race later that same day.
In the race, Cleland again was able to improve, and his lap times enabled him to bring that Triumph Daytona 675R of his home in 20th place. Bringing that momentum with him to Sunday, Cleland took to the morning's SuperSport practice with ferocity, and he was the 11th quickest rider, another positive indicator even if most in the series use this session primarily for a warm-up. When SuperSport Race 2 arrived that afternoon, Cleland gridded in the same slot as he had in the first race. He got away OK at the start, but his fortune did not hold. Before the end of the first lap, Cleland had to pull in and pick up his backup bike due to mechanical issues with his primary ride. Then, come the fifth lap, his backup was not performing well and appeared to have handling issues, so he brought it back to the pits. His race day was finished, unfortunately, and he earned no points from it. Thus, he only picked up 1 point for his work on Saturday, giving him a total of 1 and 24th position on the overall standings. Brandon Cleland can take away from this weekend some important improvements along with his first point of the 2013 season. However, he will need to get busy moving up. Hopefully, at the Buckeye SuperBike Weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, to be held July 12th through 14th, we will witness Brandon Cleland rise to the challenge!