Team Hammer scored big at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, leaving the Northern Californian circuit with first-, second-, and third-place MotoAmerica trophies to add to the squad’s extensive hardware collection.
Twins Cup pilots Alex Dumas and Joseph Blasius closed out the weekend in supreme fashion, producing a double podium in the final race of the weekend.
Dumas put the Roadracing World Young Guns Suzuki SV650 on top of the podium following a 12.521-second blowout victory. The youngster appeared destined for a race-long scrap for the win, but his primary opponent developed a mechanical problem early and Dumas promptly set sail at the front.
Dumas now trails the Twins Cup championship lead by a single point. “I had so much fun,” he said. “I saw a puff of smoke from the bike in front of me and then saw him pull off track. I just took home the win, and I’m really happy.”
Blasius more than earned his first MotoAmerica podium by finishing third. He was forced off course by another rider while battling over second, and had to fight hard just to stay upright during his off-course excursion. Despite dropping to fifth place and several seconds back, he channeled his anger at the incident, transformed it into sheer speed, and ran the group back down.
He looked likely to deliver Team Hammer a 1-2 result, but his last-lap plans were foiled by an unfortunate run-in with a lapper who blocked him a few corners from the finish.
After the race Blasius said of his off-track detour, “The door was shut on me, and I had to brake check myself. He almost hit my front tire. I went all the way out by the Airfence and almost lost the front moto-crossing it out there. At that point, I just got really mad and started super-late-braking in every corner. Sure enough, I started catching back up, and was like, ‘I think I can do this!’
“Team Hammer gave me a great bike today. I’m so excited to be on the podium — I’ve been wanting this all year.”
Meanwhile, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong extended his MotoAmerica Supersport championship points lead with yet another strong, consistent, and smart ride. Just as on Saturday, the Californian sprinted out into an early lead before being passed for first approximately a third of the way in.
Fong refused to give in, throwing down the fastest lap of the race (1:38.512) aboard his GSX-R600 racebike on lap 11 of 19 while in pursuit. Ultimately, however, Fong thought better of it, and accepted second-place points since his chief title rival was several positions back.
The result was Fong’s ninth top-two finish of the season, and his seventh in succession, giving him a 20-point advantage with six races left to decide the 2019 MotoAmerica Supersport Championship.
“I’m really happy about how the weekend went,” Fong said. “We learned a lot, and I’m still building with the team. It was a good race today, but it was strange. This morning in the warm-up session, the track had superior grip, but then the temperatures went up and when I got out there for the race, I couldn’t do the times.
“When I was passed for the lead, I just tried to latch on. I actually felt like I was catching a little bit, but I was so on the limit it was too risky. I decided to think about the bigger picture and back it down to collect my points.”
Sean Dylan Kelly suffered a double-whammy as a result of Saturday’s opening-lap incident when he was punted off the track and hit a tire wall. To add to his Race 1 disappointment, Kelly was forced to start from the very back of the 25-rider grid, with Sunday’s start positions based on Saturday’s best times in the race. Since Kelly wasn’t able to complete a lap before being loaded in an ambulance and taken to the medical center, he found himself facing a steep climb in Race 2. He was fortunate to be able to start at all, after being transported to a local trauma center where a cut on his chin was stitched up and he was scanned and checked for internal injuries. Once treated and released, he passed a MotoAmerica concussion test at the track Sunday morning, was quick in the warm-up session, and gridded up for the race in last place.
Kelly made the most of the challenge, storming up through the field on his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R600, matching the lap times of the leaders and fighting all the way up to sixth position, with a top-five finish in his sights when he took the checkered flag.
Superbike runner Jake Lewis closed out a weekend to forget with a second DNF. He again got an outstanding start aboard the team’s fire-breathing GSX-R1000R, holding down fourth position early.
However, the former Superbike Rookie of the Year crashed out of fourth while working lap three, leaving him to wonder what might have been if things had gone just a bit differently in Sonoma. “I got a really good start again and tried to hang on to the front three guys but crashed on lap three while giving it my all. It feels nice to be making progress with the team and actually get back up to competitive speed. I can’t wait for the next race!”
Team Hammer is now looking forward to the next round of the 2019 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season, August 23-25 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex.
About Team Hammer
The 2019 season marks Team Hammer’s 39th consecutive year of operating as a professional road racing team. Racebikes built and fielded by Team Hammer have won 76 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National races, have finished on AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National podiums 222 times and have won five AMA Pro National Championships, as well as two FIM South American Championships. The team has also won 135 endurance races overall (including seven 24-hour races) and 13 Overall WERA National Endurance Championships with Suzuki motorcycles, and holds the U.S. record for mileage covered in a 24-hour race. The team also competed in the televised 1990s Formula USA National Championship, famously running “Methanol Monster” GSX-R1100 Superbikes fueled by methanol, and won four F-USA Championships.