BREA, CA – March 12, 2023 – Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki left the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing season opener with a top-ten result and a heavy dose of tough luck after missing a potential victory late in the running of the 81st Daytona 200.
MotoAmerica Superbike regular and former MotoAmerica Supersport champion Richie Escalante orchestrated a flawless performance as he negotiated the equally prestigious and arduous race. He guided the Mission Foods Suzuki GSX-R750 at or near the front of the pack deep into the contest, including leading into both scheduled pit stops.
Seemingly locked in a two-rider race for victory with less than ten laps to go, Escalante was taken out in a collision that occurred when his opponent attempted a tight inside pass in Turn 1 that resulted in a penalty. Despite the ruling in his favor, the incident still instantly erased Escalante’s excellent shot at the victory.
Escalante said, “First of all, I want to thank the team for everything they did for me, from pre-race testing, to qualifying and setting the lap record, to the amazing pit stops during the race. The Mission Foods Suzuki GSX-R750 was fantastic. I thought we performed well in the race, running a particularly good pace. It came down to the last ten laps, and I was trying to separate. There was a racing move, another rider touched my bike, and I crashed. I have a lot of respect for Josh Herrin. He is a former Superbike champion and has won a lot of races. I thought I was the fastest today, but sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes you crash. We didn’t win so I am not 100% happy. I thought we did well all week, but it did not work out the way we wanted in the end. It’s back to work on Monday to get ready for Superbike in Atlanta.”
A couple of short laps later, Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Teagg Hobbs came together with a lapped rider while running inside the top five. A resultant red flag provided the team with a shot at redemption after facing complete disaster, and Hobbs took full advantage.
Hobbs battled with the lead group in the 10-lap shootout for a victory that followed the stoppage, even leading in its early stages. He gradually lost touch with the drafting war for victory, securing an eventual sixth-place effort in his maiden race aboard the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R750.
“I came together with another rider, and race officials made me go to medical,” said Hobbs. “I was getting checked out when I saw the team putting my bike back together in pit lane on the screen. After they said I was okay, I put my gear back on and started limping back to the pits, then I borrowed a golf cart and made it back just in time. I was able to get up to the front and lead two laps but the bike and the rider both had some issues resulting from the crash. We got a good result at least. Over the weekend, we made nice progress and got the bike sorted.”
Unfortunately, Tyler Scott’s bid for the win from the front row never really materialized. The prodigious pilot encountered technical issues early and ultimately retired just 14 laps into a scheduled 57 (and actual 62) laps.
Scott said, “For the start in Turn 1, the bike was good, but we soon had electrical problems. I tried to do the best I could. Eventually, I had to pull off due to safety concerns. It didn’t go the way we wanted but I’m really looking forward to racing the 200 with the team next year and can’t wait for our next race in Atlanta.”