Altus Motorsports’ Jake Lewis wrapped up the 2021 MotoAmerica Stock 1000 title with a relatively stress-free victory while Robem Engineering’s Kaleb De Keyrel finished second later on a sunny Saturday to earn the 2021 MotoAmerica Twins Cup Championship at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly, meanwhile, took a giant step toward capturing the 2021 Supersport title with a .001 of a second victory over his championship rival Richie Escalante.
SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup Championship leader Tyler Scott also scored a victory on Saturday to turn his nine-point lead over Benjamin Gloddy into a 21-point lead going into Sunday’s race two.
Stock 1000: Lewis Crowned
Ask any motorcycle road racer, and pretty much all of them will say that the best way to wrap up a championship is to win the race when you clinch. And that’s exactly what happened for Altus Motorsports Suzuki rider Jake Lewis in the weekend’s only Stock 1000 race.
Lewis had the best day of his MotoAmerica career with the win and the championship, but his closest rival Corey Alexander unfortunately had one of his worst days. Aboard his “Engine 23” HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki – which featured special fire engine-inspired livery in remembrance of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 – had a technical issue with his bike on the grid and was unable to start the race.
Second place went to Jones Honda’s Ashton Yates, who led a large portion of the 15-lap race until Lewis ultimately passed him and went on to the get the win. Meanwhile, the surprise of the day was third-place finisher Mike Selpe, who put his Markbilt Racing Yamaha on the podium in his first-ever MotoAmerica race.
“I wanted to get it done at this round and go out with a win, but, unfortunately, I didn’t get to race with (Corey Alexander),” Lewis said. “Hats off to Ashton (Yates). I honestly wasn’t expecting that at all. I think he had some problems with his bike overheating yesterday and this morning he was fast, but I didn’t know what his pace was going to be like. I just let him do the lead. It’s tough to lead around here. It was kind of a longer race. I wanted to see how he managed his tires. He actually had a pretty good little gap there midway. I made a mistake going into turn seven and ran a little bit wide, but then after that I was like, ‘I’m not going to let him win.’ I wanted to go out and get the championship up on top of the step, so that’s what we did. Hats off to the whole Altus Motorsports team for giving me the opportunity this year. Like I said on the podium, I was sitting on the couch last year, was over 200 pounds, and kind of hit a tough spot. Thought about quitting racing. They gave me the opportunity and I worked my ass off to get back in shape. I went out and got my butt kicked at the first round. I was off the podium both races. I was like, ‘It’s time to get going now,’ and I’ve been on the podium ever since. Like you said, five wins and three in a row. So, in a good spot right now. It feels good to get the championship this weekend.”
Supersport: Kelly On The Verge Of Title
In Supersport race one, the expected battle between points leader Sean Dylan Kelly aboard his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki and defending champion Richie Escalante aboard his HONOS HVMC Racing Kawasaki manifested itself in a big way during the 19-lap event. But, before that, it was Kelly’s teammate Sam Lochoff who had the best race of his MotoAmerica career so far. The South African led the race multiple times and mixed it up with both Kelly and Escalante. On the final lap, Kelly and Escalante established themselves at the front, and the battle was on. The season-long rivals swapped the lead at least four times on the final go-around, and Kelly ultimately prevailed by a scant .001 of a second to notch his 11th win of the season thus far and move even closer to clinching the season championship.
“It’s been a special weekend,” said Kelly. “Coming in with the chance to win the championship without even having to win a race, it goes through your mind. A lot of people have been talking to me about the weekend and what I have to do, what I don’t have to do. At the end of the day, I’ve done I think the right thing all season long, so why change it? I focused on not overthinking, coming here, and doing the same job as every other weekend. I’m really happy with today’s job. It was honestly on the harder side of those races, really tough. It was awesome to see Sam (Lochoff) up there. He’s really competitive and a new rider to fight with throughout the race. I tried to play it a little smart, not get too crazy with him and do unnecessary moves. I had to do some thinking in the middle of the race and just leave it for the end and it played out well. I knew Richie (Escalante) was going to be there towards the end as well. It worked out well. Fought until the end. I think I made a little dumb mistake. I actually thought it was the last lap with two to go, so I celebrated for a second until I realized that it wasn’t the last lap. So, that was a first. I had to gather myself up in about five seconds once Richie went by me again. I’m really glad that I was able to do some close moves. Richie was definitely closing the door in some places, but I still did it. The door was still big enough. It was a close one, but happy with the job and just focus on tomorrow.”
SportbikeTrackGear.Com Junior Cup: Scott In Control
In SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race one, Scott Powersports KTM rider Tyler Scott and Landers Racing Kawasaki’s Ben Gloddy were expected to continue their season-long fight for the championship, but a fractured wrist suffered by Gloddy a couple of weeks ago prevented Gloddy from finishing higher than fourth, and he was more than eight-and-a-half seconds behind race-winner Scott when the 13-lap event concluded.
While Scott tallied his eighth win of the season, the rest of the podium was a battle between Rodio Racing Kawasaki’s Gus Rodio and Bauce Racing/Cybersafe Solutions/JL62 Racing Kawasaki’s Joe LiMandri Jr. At the finish line, Rodio prevailed in second place by just .024 of a second over third-place finisher LiMandri Jr.
“I tried to break away early thinking there was going to be a pack of riders, definitely these two,” Scott said. “I thought Ben (Gloddy) was going to be there. I broke away and I saw on my pit board two seconds, so I just tried to keep it at two seconds because I was really pushing the limit the first couple laps. I got kind of close to the track record. I just stayed at the pace I was going and did what I needed to do to win.”
Twins Cup: It’s Title Time For De Keyrel
The Twins Cup class has seen an influx of new riders all season long, and for round eight of the championship, Aprilia test rider Tommaso Marcon raced for Robem Engineering, while Cory Ventura, who podiumed twice in Supersport at Laguna Seca in his only other appearance this season, competed for Veloce Racing.
It was a case of bad news/good news for the pair of Aprilia RS 660 riders as Marcon crashed out of the 14-lap event, while Ventura won the race. And while Ventura celebrated on the top step of the podium, second-place finisher Kaleb De Keyrel celebrated the class championship that he clinched aboard his Robem Engineering Aprilia. Also celebrating was De Keyrel’s teammate Max Toth, who got his first Twins Cup podium finish in only his second race in the class.
After his race win, Ventura said, “All weekend long I’ve been facing issues with my shifter. I’m not good when it comes to downshifting. I’ve had years in the past where it’s been a huge struggle of mine, and once I got on (a Kawasaki in Supersport), I didn’t have that issue anymore. Here we are again. It kind of caught me by surprise. As soon as I go to focus on racing and what’s in front of me, I forget about making positive shifts. So, tomorrow I need to make sure I get that dialed in and figured out. But to be honest, I don’t think I was riding too well. I think there was a lot of time out of the racetrack and so a lot of battles to be had. Tomorrow we’ve got to come back swinging because there’s no way what I did today is going to win tomorrow’s race.”
“Half of me wanted to win and half of me wanted to play it safe,” said championship winner De Keyrel. “I was definitely going for the win. Cory was riding awesome. Max got by me, and he was riding really good. Definitely stepped it up from last weekend, so that was cool to see. All three Robem Engineering bikes were up front, so that was really good for us. There were definitely some points in the race where I was like, I really want to win, but we’re pushing really hard here. Then Tommaso threw it away. Something happened to Mazziotto, I think. I was like, okay, there’s a lot on the line here, so I was kind of trying to plan my move where I could. I really did want to win. Like I said, the whole race, half of me wanted to win, half of me wanted to just play it safe, but I gave it everything I had out there. Cory was riding awesome, so congrats to him. We’ll hopefully work on the setup a little bit and come out swinging for tomorrow.”