BREA, CA – May 20, 2023 – Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer returned to the 2023 MotoAmerica competition on Saturday at Barber Motorsport Park. The team faced a challenging day in both Superbike and the special extended Supersport race. Tyler Scott earned sixth in Supersport while Richie Escalante was a very competitive seventh in his Superbike contest.
- Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki
- Tyler Scott won pole with an all-time track record but was caught out by tire strategy in the wet-dry race and eventually earned sixth.
- Teagg Hobbs followed his teammate closely securing seventh place.
- Richie Escalante held strong during a race-long battle for sixth, coming up just short to earn seventh.
- Toni Elias earned 12th in just his second race weekend after returning to active competition.
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Tyler Scott started from pole position for a unique MotoAmerica Supersport race at Barber Motorsport Park. The 37-lap extended race paid double points with one mandatory pit stop and was the first of two planned extended races this season. The 17-year-old Scott described the event as “a short endurance race”, longer than a normal sprint event but shorter than the Daytona 200 he raced in March.
Scott earned the holeshot but settled into fourth just ahead of his teammate Teagg Hobbs as the rain began to fall. After one restart due to an accident on the track, more crashes resulted in a second red flag and a shortening of the race to 28 laps.
The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R750 pilots chose to start again on wet tires. Unfortunately, other rivals had chosen dry tires for the second restart, and both Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki riders quickly pitted to switch to dry Dunlops as the track dried rapidly, with Scott and Hobbs coming in on successive laps. Despite fast stops, Scott and Hobbs were left far behind the lead group. They fought to collect the double points for sixth and seventh in the weekend’s only Supersport race.
“We made a mistake by going with rain tires in the last red flag”, said Scott. “We would have been fine and contended otherwise. We shredded the tire pretty well in the race so that last stint was not easy, and we couldn’t make up the gap. Still, we gave it our best effort and set the track record in qualifying.”
Teagg Hobbs was seventh, just behind Scott on the circuit. Twenty-year-old Hobbs qualified on the second row, and had a strong start to the race but found himself in the same position as Scott.
“The race was tough. They introduced the extended race, and the weather played more of a factor than we hoped.” Hobbs said. “After the second restart, Ty came in the first time around and I had to do another lap in the dry on wet tires before I could come in. We lost a lot of ground and weren’t in good shape. But qualifying went well and we’ll look to get a better result in Wisconsin.”
Richie Escalante backed up his strong performance during qualifying in the first Superbike race of the weekend. Starting fourth, Escalante battled for third in the first portions of the 16-lap contest, eventually settling into a battle for sixth position on his Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R1000R. That fight for position turned out to be the most hotly-contested battle in the race, with Escalante appearing to have the quicker pace but was unable to make a pass stick over his rival due to the tight confines of Barber Motorsports Park. Escalante came up short in his bid to take the spot but once again showed his development as a Superbike pilot.
“I have been super happy with how things are going so far. I did well here last year, and I like the track, so I felt fine about the weekend,” said Escalante. “We made small changes only and they were in the right direction. I had qualified well and finished P4, so I was happy about that. With the rainy and cold conditions this weekend the tires have not been working as well as normal. It was a last-minute decision for us, and we chose a different tire than most of the others in the top ten. In the race, this choice made it harder for us to maintain a good pace. It was a good race, though, and I believe we have a little bit more. I need to be more aggressive off the start and pass more aggressively. The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team is working great, and I feel we are making progress.”
Former MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elias began his second weekend in his return to racing by qualifying tenth. Elias finished the race in 12th but gained more valuable track time. The Spaniard is now eighth in points.
“It was one of the toughest days in my racing career, both with the result and the feeling from the bike in this race,” said Elias. “It is what it is, and we expect more. We tried really hard on both days, but it just wasn’t there. Tomorrow is another day. We are motivated to work hard and fight and I want to thank the team for working hard with me.”
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki will return to action at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama tomorrow.