SONOMA — Cameron Beaubier resurrected his hopes for a fourth Superbike title by winning at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday at the MotoAmerica/Cycle Gear Championship of Sonoma, but only after appearing to bury his chances in the dirt of Turn 4 on Saturday.
On Sunday, Beaubier led all 22 laps of the race and ran away to a five-second lead over teammate Garrett Gerloff, Saturday’s race winner in the Superbike class, to claim his 34th career win in the series.
“I wanted to come back and rebound well,” said the Roseville resident. “It feels good to get a win, especially in front of my hometown fans.”
The win marked a turning point for the Yamaha factory rider, who has struggled during the midseason. “I feel like we’ve been in a rut,” said Beaubier, who now has three Superbike wins on the season but hasn’t seen the victory stage since May in Virginia.
Beaubier was undefeated and seemed unbeatable on the twisty Sonoma course, sweeping all four races over the last two years. But he beat himself Saturday with an aggressive move on race leader and his championship rival, Spanish rider Toni Elias.
“I felt I had a good pace and wanted to get to the lead early. It was a tight spot,” Beaubier, the weekend’s fastest qualifier, said of his move to the inside of Elias, “and I think I asked too much of the front tire and lost traction.”
The move sent Beaubier sliding across the track while his bike bounced through the dirt like a trampoline act. Elias rode out the race to finish second, building what seemed like an insurmountable 59-point lead in the championship standings.
“It’s unfortunate that I crashed yesterday, but it was good for me,” Beaubier said after winning on Sunday. “It made me just put my head down and focus on winning races.”
On Sunday, Elias, the former Moto2 World Champion and 2017 Superbike title holder, returned the favor that Beaubier gave him the day before by crashing in Turn 7 on the third lap, ending his race early and erasing the points lead he had built on Saturday.
Elias said the team had stiffened the front suspension, making the bike bounce when he hit a bump and causing him to lose control.
Gerloff’s win on Saturday and runner-up finish Sunday marked the 10th and 11th podium finishes for the two-time SuperSport class champion and moved him to third in the Superbike title chase.
With six races over three weekends remaining in the season, the Superbike championship chase looks like a mirror of last year. Like last year, Elias got off to a hot start this season, winning six of the first 12 races and finishing on the podium in every race but one. Last year, Beaubier went on a tear at the end of the season, winning the title by a mere 30 points after winning eight of the last 14 races.
Also on Sunday, Napa rider Roi Holster finished 12th in the Stock 1000 class to mark his final race as a full-time professional at Sonoma Raceway as he closes out a 10-year career road racing motorcycles. The 55-year-old Holster will finish out the MotoAmerica season in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Virginia before moving his race bike to the rear of the shop for occasional racing in the future.
“I want to go off and do some other things,” said Holster, who recently also retired as a sheet metal worker.
This marks the second retirement from racing for Holster, who raced Motocross professionally for 15 years before injuries forced him to leave the sport at the age of 32.
“Motocross is a young man’s sport,” Holster said.
But after a 10-year layoff from the sport, Holster discovered road racing almost by accident – which opened another decade of professional racing.
“I always had street bikes and a friend invited me to a “track day” at Sonoma, and I was instantly hooked,” recalled the 30-year Napa resident.
After starting on 600cc motorcycles, Holster moved up the ranks over seven years in regional series to earn a license to race in the premier Superbike level of road racing, which features 1,000 cc bikes and nearly 200 horsepower.
For the last two years, Holster has raced as a privateer in the second-fastest level of the MotoAmerica series after his Superbike engine went up in flames in Atlanta, two weeks after he broke his foot in a crash.
Holster said Sonoma Raceway is a special place for him after introducing him to what is his second act in racing. He also doesn’t rule out returning to Sonoma on occasion.
“I may do one or two races now and then,” said Holster, who was the oldest rider on the track Sunday. “I love to race, and that’s not going to change.”
Rutherford Ranch Winery, Vinoce Vineyards and Napa Valley Distillery sponsor Holster's NapaValleyRacing.com team.