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By July 9, 20232023 News
Richie Escalante (54) with another strong finish in Race 1.

BREA, CA – July 9, 2023 – Suzuki Motor USA and Team Hammer were key players in a dramatic day of racing as the 2023 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship resumed at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. All four of the team’s riders earned top five results, with Tyler Scott in third aboard his Suzuki GSX-R750 Supersport machine and celebrating on the podium.

Race Highlights:

  •  Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki
    • Superbike
      • Richie Escalante charged from the back of the field to score another fourth-place result.
      • Brandon Paasch landed inside the top-five in his team debut. 
    • Supersport
      • Tyler Scott earned another podium result after finishing third.
      • Teagg Hobbs led early and was rewarded with the fifth spot.

The on-form Richie Escalante took a circuitous route to secure his fourth fourth-place finish in his last six MotoAmerica Superbike starts on Saturday. The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki pilot was a popular pre-race pick to claim his maiden premier-class podium after earning a front-row qualifying position aboard his GSX-R1000R. Richie was able to slot into third early on before a red flag brought the proceedings to a temporary halt. Escalante’s podium hopes took a big hit when his tire cover warmer melted to his brake disc during the red flag, forcing him to miss the sighting lap and therefore line up in last position for the restart. Escalante immediately carved his way up the field and joined the tail-end of what turned out to be a race-long, multi-rider fight for the podium. That battle ultimately ended early when a second red flag ended the race and awarded Escalante another fourth-place finish.

“It was a crazy race,” said Escalante. “I am the only rider at the front who chose the Dunlop R7 tire compound, so I wasn’t happy when I saw the red flag. Then when I was leaving the pits, we had an issue with the tire cover warmer, which caused me to start at the back of the grid. I tried to make up as many positions as I could. I’ve been feeling good this weekend, and my confidence has been strong but I made a couple of mistakes in the race and would lose ground and then make it up. I couldn’t advance any further. In the end, I am happy about getting good points, but I am really glad there are two more races. A big thank you to not only the team and everyone who supports me but also to all the fans.”

Brandon Paasch, meanwhile, had a stellar race debut as the newest member of the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team. Despite the young rider’s history of success across several different classes, he’s still new to a full-blown Superbike. But that inexperience did not show. Paasch, still recovering from a broken back, did well to fight up to sixth on the team’s GSX-R1000R and then defended the position all the way to the red flag. He was ultimately awarded a fifth as a result of the final red flag.

“For the first time out, it was a pretty good result,” said Paasch. “I didn’t know what exactly to expect, this being our first race on the bike. So far, the lap times are getting closer every time out so I think we are making good progress. In the race, we didn’t have any issues and I was happy with the lap times we were turning at the end. I felt I got stronger and definitely faster so it was a good first race.”

The Supersport class saw a return of a sole 38-lap “long race” with a mandatory pit stop this weekend in California. Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Tyler Scott ran a strong, measured race to earn third on his next-generation Suzuki GSX-R750. Ensconced in the top ten early, Scott emerged in podium contention after his strong pit stop on lap 18 and ran as high as second on the repaved track. 

“We started this weekend behind,” Scott said. “The Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team did a great job step-by-step all weekend. We got a really good setup going into the race and I felt good. I dropped back when I made some mistakes but then I started becoming more consistent with good times. The pit stop was great and I pushed until the end. It was a great race.”

Teagg Hobbs led the race early and gained valuable experience at the front of the Supersport pack. Hobbs was the first of the Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki racers to pit, entering on lap 16 and emerging with a clean stop. Hobbs then chased his teammate Scott inside the top three before eventually earning fifth on the day.

“It was cool to lead and it felt good,” said Hobbs. “We had a strong qualifying and there are tons of positives to take away. But we chose the wrong tire for the race and that made for a long day and kept us from getting a better result. I am looking forward to going to Brainerd, which is one of my favorite tracks.”

While the weekend is now complete for the MotoAmerica Supersport contenders, Vision Wheel M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Superbike pilots Escalante and Paasch will have two more shots at the podium on Sunday as the premier-class racing continues at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

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