M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Bobby Fong claimed his eighth top-two finish of the 2019 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season to highlight a Saturday with its share of highs and lows for Team Hammer.
MotoAmerica Supersport championship points leader Fong sprinted out to the lead from pole aboard his GSX-R600. But the race was almost immediately red-flagged after his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate, Sean Dylan Kelly, was pushed off track by another rider, and crashed heavily. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was examined, treated, and released.
Fong ripped off another holeshot and led the opening four laps of the restarted race. Running a close second, he pressured the leader for the duration. The Stockton, California, native gave everything he had to deliver his home fans a final-corner victory, but came up just 0.102-second short in the final lunge to the flag.
“I was just doing my best to hang on,” said Fong, who has finished either first or second in the last six MotoAmerica Supersport races. “It was a cat-and-mouse thing; I would catch him in one part of the track pretty good, and then he would gap me pretty good in the next. I was always playing catch-up, so I could never get quite close enough to make a move.
“But we definitely had a wonderful motorcycle out there, so I have to give it up to my M4 ECSTAR Suzuki crew. We’re going to give it hell tomorrow and try to take advantage of having another shot at the win.”
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Superbike ace Jake Lewis got an outstanding start in Saturday’s Superbike Race and was running fourth, only to be rammed by another rider who crashed in an impossible attempt to dive up the inside in the race’s fourth corner.
Although the impact set off the airbag in his Furygan racing suit, Lewis somehow managed to keep his GSX-R1000 upright, but was forced far off course, losing time and positions. After finding his way back on circuit and eventually fighting from ninth back up to a top-five position, Lewis was black-flagged and disqualified for cutting the course.
Lewis said, “It was a tough race. I actually got a really good start and was in fourth up the hill. I felt good. Everyone was bunched up, and I got run into and knocked off the track. It was kind of a bonehead move. Everyone is in a group like that and we had a long race ahead of us. I thought I could do a good race because I usually do really well at this track.
“I re-entered where I felt was the safest and where my race wouldn’t be completely messed up because of another rider’s actions, so I’m definitely pretty bummed to get the black flag. I feel that penalty was pretty harsh for what I did.”
Meanwhile, Roadracing World Young Guns pilot Alex Dumas and Autovest Suzuki’s Joseph Blasius continued to rank near the top of the charts in Twins Cup competition on their identical SV650 racebikes. The on-form Dumas qualified second provisionally ahead of Sunday’s race, with Blasius just two positions further back in fourth.
Team Hammer will be looking to add to its podium tally before leaving Sonoma Raceway with the squad’s Supersport, Superbike, and Twins Cup pilots chasing after checkered flags on Sunday afternoon.
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 75 AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National races, have finished on AMA Pro and MotoAmerica National podiums 219 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.