LEWIS AND MCFADDEN EARN PODIUM FINISHES FOR TEAM HAMMER IN VIRGINIA
Published: May 18, 2017
Team Hammer backed up its victory-laden weekend at Road Atlanta with a three-podium trophy haul in Round 4 of the 2017 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship at Virginia International Raceway.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Jake Lewis and the all-new 2017 GSX-R1000 took center stage for the squad in Virginia. The talented Kentuckian followed up his Atlanta Superstock 1000 win with a pair of third-place performances despite the relatively early state of development on his new machine.
A lack of dry track time prior to Saturday's race didn't do Lewis any favors, but he came back even more competitive on Sunday, dicing for a runner-up result right to the checkered flag.
Lewis has registered five podiums in six races and only expects to improve going forward. As a result, he sits third in the STK1000 championship (and seventh on the combined Superbike/STK1000 order).
"It was a good weekend," Lewis said. "We're still a little bit off where we can be -- it's a new bike so we still have some development to do but we're getting closer each weekend. That said, it's nice to be battling up front. We just need to keep working hard, and I feel the race wins are there to be had. We made a change for Race 2 which improved on Race 1, but a little issue prevented us from fighting for the win."
While Lewis is eagerly anticipating the upcoming Road America round -- a track he loves and a venue where has excelled in previous years -- he's grateful that the team will first enjoy two days of testing at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
He said, "I feel like the test is really important for us with this new GSX-R1000. We had one test prior to the season at COTA, but that simply wasn't enough time. We haven't really had time to try new things because we've been doing all of our testing during race weekends. Having a dedicated test is a big deal for us."
M4 medAge Suzuki's Nick McFadden also backed up his victorious Atlanta weekend with a Superstock 600 podium aboard his GSX-R600 in Virginia. Saturday's race saw him finish in fifth, albeit less than a quarter second off a runner-up result. He fought back on Sunday to come home in third.
McFadden is currently second in the early Superstock 600 championship standings on the strength of two wins, a third, and a fifth. He also ranks seventh in combined Supersport/STK600 points.
"Sunday was a good day for us. We struggled on Saturday with a lack of dry track time, but the M4 medAge Suzuki crew worked hard overnight and gave us a lot better bike for Race 2. We made the most of what we had and salvaged a decent amount of championship points. We've got some tracks coming up that we really like, so look for us to move a couple spots up on the box."
Unfortunately, the VIR weekend was not kind to Valentin Debise. Debise entered the round leading the Supersport championship and made himself the race favorite with a stunning lap in qualifying to secure pole position.
However, he crashed out of Saturday's race at the start of lap 2 after coming together with his rivals while battling for the lead. And on Sunday, he crashed out in the same spot on lap 3 after making a move into first.
The uncharacteristic weekend marks the first time in the Frenchman's MotoAmerica career that he leaves a race meeting without a podium, bringing to a close a most remarkable streak.
Despite scoring no points at VIR, Debise still sits fourth in the points chase.
M4 The 22 Project Suzuki's Brandon Paasch guided his GSX-R600 to the 4th best Supersport-spec machine in Saturday's race and backed it up with fifth in class on Sunday.
As a result, the gifted 16-year-old finds himself tied for fifth in Supersport points, one spot back of teammate Debise.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Brandon Cleland rebounded from a non-points scoring Saturday with an eight-place STK600 ride on Sunday. He's now ranks tenth in the class championship.
Team Hammer will head directly to Pittsburgh International Race Complex for a two day test this Wednesday and Thursday. After that, the long straights of Road America await when the championship travels to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, on June 2-4.
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