MotoAmerica returned VIRginia International Raceway again this year as professional motorcycle racing continues to rebound in the United States. The 2.25 mile North Course at VIR was the site of the 2017 Superbike Championship of Virginia.
Set within the lush countryside of Alton, VA, VIR is one of the premier road courses in the country.
Adding to the excitement and anticipation entering the weekend was the verbal back and forth between Spaniard Toni Elias and defending MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier. In the post-race press conference at Road Atlanta, the 2 riders had a difference of opinions on Elias’ aggressive style and on track professionalism. Elias was the Motul Superbike points leader coming into the weekend with 3 wins already under his belt.
Mother Nature provided an additional challenge on Friday as practice and qualifying sessions took place under wet, soupy conditions.
Roger Hayden captured his first Superbike win at VIRginia International Raceway on Saturday. Toni Elias crashed out on lap 1, and the veteran Yoshimura Suzuki rider would battle Josh Herrin for the lead shortly thereafter. He then held off two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion Cameron Beaubier to win the opening-round race of the Championship of Virginia.
In race 2 on Sunday, Josh Hayes, who also suffered a crash the day before, took his first Motul Superbike race win of the 2017 MotoAmerica season.
Both Supersport races featured battles between Monster Energy/Yamalube/Y.E.S./Graves Yamaha teammates JD Beach and Garrett Gerloff. They finished 1-2 each day, with each rider capturing the top spot on the podium. First Beach, then Gerloff. Victory circle turned into party central, with the young riders showering their loyal following of fans with celebratory champagne.
Neither rain, nor cool temperatures, or even the celebration of Mother’s Day on Sunday would prevent fans from turning out for the double header race weekend. Aside from some of the most exciting racing in recent memory, fans were able to experience stunt shows, demo rides and autograph signings.
all photos by Kevin C Cox, CORE360 Sports
Simon Pagenaud won the Desert Diamond Phoenix Grand Prix Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway. The 1 mile desert oval was the site of the 3rd race on the 2017 IndyCar schedule.
For the second straight year, Helio Castroneves would start from P1. He set a new track record of 194.9 mph and captured the King of Speed crown award Friday evening.
The Brazilian finished 4th after leading a total of 73 laps in the No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevy.
Pagenaud took advantage of a mid-race caution on lap 138 as Takuma Sato smacked the wall exiting turn 4. His teammate, Will Power, who was leading at the time, was caught in the pits and at that point the Frenchman was able to snag the lead, and seemingly cruise to the victory.
However, in a post-race comment, Pagenaud would proclaim, “Those were the longest 50 laps of my life.” He continued, “I have a button on my wheel that tells me how many laps were left. I kept pressing it. It was stressful. The car was phenomenal.”
With his 10th victory, and the first oval track win of his career, Pagenaud, who also took the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship title, would leave Phoenix with the series points lead.
For team owner Roger Penske, the victory marked the 450th of his career spanning all of his motorsports affiliations.
Sebastien Bourdais, the series points leader coming into the weekend, was involved in a first lap wreck that also collected Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Max Chilton, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Marco Andretti were also involved.
In addition to fans’ excitement surrounding renovations and remodeling taking place at PIR, drivers and team officials echoed those sentiments all weekend and were already anticipating next year’s race weekend.
Gallery: all photos by Kevin C Cox/ Core360 Sports