BREA, CA – June 5, 2023 – Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer closed the book on an eventful weekend at MotoAmerica with a podium finish while saying a surprise farewell to one of the most accomplished riders in the series’ history.
- Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki
- Tyler Scott was rewarded for his efforts with a hard-earned podium finish.
- Teagg Hobbs’s chase of his maiden podium was cut short due to an electronics issue suffered before the start.
- Toni Elias returned to the top five in what turned out to be his swan-song Superbike performance.
- Richie Escalante suffered grip issues at mid-distance and still managed to post his fastest lap on the race’s final lap.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Tyler Scott issued a reminder of his more typical form on Sunday, collecting a trophy after what had been a challenging weekend for the talented Supersport rider and his crew. After making substantial changes to the set-up of his GSX-R750 overnight, Scott was significantly more competitive in today’s race. Scott shot out to the lead off the line. Even after dropping back to fourth place before the opening lap was complete – Scott continued to hang with the lead group deep into the contest. Scott made a successful push to take over third place with five laps remaining and then went about solidifying his podium position over the remaining laps.
“I have to give a big thank you to the whole Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team,” Scott said. “Usually when we come to a track, we’re a little bit closer to the front. But this weekend we were challenged all weekend, up until this morning. We made key changes to the setup, and today we had the pace to race at the front. It felt great to be battling with the leaders and put the GSX-R750 on the box.”
Scott likely would have been in a fight for the podium with teammate Teagg Hobbs if not for misfortune on Hobbs’ part. Unfortunately, Saturday’s fourth-place finisher didn’t have a chance to improve upon that result due to an electronics issue that ended Hobbs’ race before it began.
2017 MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elias looked like his vintage self on Sunday, throwing his Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R sideways, scrapping for position, and executing a last-lap pass to secure a top-five result. Afterward, Elias made a surprise announcement during his broadcast interview, explaining that rather than a promising sign of things to come, the race would serve as his farewell, as he steps back into retirement effective immediately.
Elias said, “Today was my last race. I want to thank John Ulrich, Chris Ulrich, Team Hammer, and everybody who helped and supported me during this period. The return has not been what I was expecting, but I had fun in this last one. I pushed hard, trying to hold on to the position today. It’s been a big effort, and it’s nice to finish like this.”
Richie Escalante was one of the riders who mixed it up with Elias as part of a three-rider battle for fifth. Escalante took over the spot a few laps into the contest, but it became evident he was suffering from grip issues, losing two positions on lap five, and later as he circulated the Road America circuit a few seconds off his earlier pace. Rather than give up, Escalante adapted and managed to make his final lap his fastest of the race, while collecting valuable points with an eighth-place finish.
“The most important thing is the feeling with the team and bike, and we are stronger and faster,” Escalante said. “We made some changes in the warm-up after finishing fourth yesterday. We were fast but then I had a strange situation in the race. I didn’t have a good feeling with the rear of the motorcycle, and I had a few moments early in the race. I lost some positions and didn’t run the pace I wanted. In the end, I had my best lap but the feel wasn’t there. We will analyze the data and figure out what happened, but we are making good progress. I really like the next two tracks we will race at, and I look forward to competing there.”
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki will next head to Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington, on June 23-25 for the next round of the 2023 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing season.