BREA, CA, September 9, 2023 — Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer racked up three trophies across two MotoAmerica classes – including a first Superbike podium for Richie Escalante – in what proved to be a banner Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
- Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki
- Richie Escalante earns second to claim his first Superbike podium.
- Brandon Paasch crashed while fighting for sixth position.
- Tyler Scott increased his podium streak to seven with a runner-up finish.
- Teagg Hobbs carded his third podium of his rookie season in third.
- Torin Collins stuns with a fourth-place result in his Supersport debut.
After previously scoring nine fourth-place finishes in the premier class – including seven this season alone – Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Richie Escalante earned his first MotoAmerica Superbike podium with a runner-up result aboard his GSX-R1000R on Saturday. Escalante made his intentions clear with a front-row qualifying performance and then made good on that pace by running a close third in the race’s early stages. Escalante made a pass for a position on the third lap and subsequently held second for the remainder of the contest, overcoming the late-race pressure applied by a rival to cross the line with a breakthrough result.
“Finally, after a season-and-a-half, I finished on the podium,” Escalante said. “I’m thrilled. We are working so hard. My Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team has worked so hard with me and continued to believe in me. We’ve gotten a little bit better and more comfortable on the bike every weekend. Now I’m super happy, and I can’t wait until tomorrow. I’m going to go for another podium and try to win.”
Unfortunately, Escalante’s Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Superbike teammate, Brandon Paasch, fell while contending for sixth position. Unable to continue, the resultant DNF snapped a run of seven consecutive top tens for the talented rider since joining the squad midseason, despite suffering a broken back in March. Paasch will now look to start a new streak of solid results on Sunday.
Paasch said, “I didn’t have the best start and was pushing hard. I had a pretty easy low-side crash in Turn 8. We weren’t a million miles off, but I chose the wrong tire. I was losing grip and pushing to try to make up for it. I am okay and looking forward to another shot.”
Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Tyler Scott continued his recent run of front-running form, scrapping for Supersport victory right up until a red flag ended the race three laps prematurely. Starting from pole, the up-and-coming ace was embroiled in a dogfight for first from the start aboard his next-generation Suzuki GSX-R750. After leading for a stretch mid-distance, Scott settled into second and was calculating his late-race strategy when the race was stopped and ultimately called complete. Nevertheless, Scott’s second-place result represented his seventh consecutive podium effort as Scott further solidified himself in second in the Supersport championship standings.
“It was an incredible battle,” Scott said. “It’s really hot out here this weekend, but we got the bike dialed in. I had a really good start, but wanted to follow for a little bit. I got in front for a while, but once another rider got by, I just wanted to follow again and stay really close. I made a few mistakes, but we’ll move on and be stronger for tomorrow. We’re going to make a few changes overnight, but I feel really great with the team and the bike.”
Teagg Hobbs made it two Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki GSX-R750 machines in victory lane by reeling in a third podium of his rookie MotoAmerica Supersport campaign. Hobbs shook free of a thrilling multi-rider fight early to register a rather lonely ride to third. It was an impressive performance for Hobbs in his first-ever visit to the Circuit of the Americas.
Hobbs said, “It was a good race. Unfortunately, it was a little shorter than we expected. We have a little bit of work to do to catch the leaders, but I think we can do it. It’s a new track for me, so every session we’re making some strides. I have a few ideas about where I can make up some time. All we can do is go back, do our homework, and come out ready to race tomorrow. I’ve got to give it up to the whole Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team.”
FIM JuniorGP regular Torin Collins made an empathic MotoAmerica debut, completing a Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki 2-3-4 in what was both his first-ever race at the venue and his first-ever race aboard Supersport machinery. A quick study, Collins immediately adapted to the powerful GSX-R750 to outduel a pair of experienced veterans and secure fourth position. Now armed with MotoAmerica race experience, Collins aims to claim a podium in Sunday’s rematch.
“This was definitely a big step for me. I’m used to the Moto3 bike, which is 250cc and a lot lighter. This bike is a lot bigger and way more powerful, sliding around a lot on the gas. I’m not really used to that, but I’m learning quickly and that’s what is important. The series is amazing, and my first race was a difficult one. My launch wasn’t particularly good and the first few laps I was trying to be really aggressive. I had a good battle for fourth. We had a few love taps, which is good – that’s how I like it. I’m thrilled with the race, and I’m excited for tomorrow. I’m going to try to have a strong start, get the elbows out early, and try to fight for the podium.”
Team Hammer will compete again on Sunday at the Circuit of the Americas.