Teammates are supposed to root for each other. If one can’t win, they pull for their colleague. Cameron Beaubier admits that wasn’t the case with Monster Energy/Grave Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes.
Beaubier, 23, a Lincoln resident who was born in Carmichael and raised in Roseville, was in position Sept. 11 to claim his second consecutive MotoAmerica Superbike crown at the New Jersey Motorsports Park. He finished fourth in the first race and held a 23-point lead going into the finale. All he had to do to claim the title again was to finish the race.
And then a near-disaster struck.
Beaubier’s Yamaha YZF-R1 broke with nine laps remaining. Beaubier could only watch the final eight laps from behind the safety wall along turn four. He knew a Did Not Finish meant zero points in the championship chase. If Hayes won the race, he would grab 25 points and the title.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
“I know you not supposed to root against your teammate, but when I saw (Yoshimura Suzuki’s Toni) Elias and (Roger) Hayden go by in front of Hayes I was much happier,” Beaubier said. “That was the first time all season that my bike broke like that. We still don’t really know what happened.”
Hayes finished third in that final race and Beaubier secured the title.
“I was joking with Josh after the race about hoping he didn’t win and he said to me that I deserved the championship and to win it that way, with me off the track, wouldn’t have been right,” Beaubier said. “That’s the kind of guy, and teammate, he is.”
Beaubier put together a fantastic 2016 season with eight victories, which duplicated his 2015 win total. He also stood on the podium 13 times. That consistency gave him enough wiggle room to withstand a DNF in the final race.
Beaubier said he’ll take a couple of months off to savor the victory and then resume testing for his team. Rule changes to the MotoAmerica Superbikes allow for significant improvement in technology, Beaubier said, which means the bikes will be much different to handle and acclimate. That’s where testing comes in.
There’s still a chance Beaubier may sign with a MotoGP team for 2017. The world’s best superbike riders compete in MotoGP, and Nicky Haley is the lone American riding in the grand prix. He’s also in last place.
Beaubier said that while MotoGP is still the goal, he wants to make the full-time ride across the pond when the timing and the money is right. He’s had a couple of feelers from small MotoGP teams, he said, but why leave a good thing with Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha for a poorly funded outfit in MotoGP?
“I like my team, I like my teammates and everyone has been good to me,” Beaubier said. “I want to go for a three-peat.”
More racing deaths
Two riders were killed in separate races last Sunday at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa during the Santa Rosa Mile, an American Motorcyclist Association-sanctioned flat-track pro race.
Killed were Charlotte Kainz, 20, of West Allis, Wis., and Kyle McGrane, 17, of Gap, Pa. Both raced in the GNC2 division, which is one level below the grand national championships.
“I don’t know of this happening in the living memory of our sport,” AMA Pro Racing CEO Michael Lock told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “We’re all in complete shock.”
Michael Braxton is the CEO of Impact Safe-T Armor and sponsored Kainz. Braxton’s North Highlands-based company makes special armor plates that absorb and distribute the kinetic energy of a crash evenly throughout the armor to lessen the impact and hopefully save the lives of riders.
He said the AMA has not revealed cause of death for Kainz and he’s unsure how she died and whether or not his product, on which he said he owns eight patents, could have prevented her death. But at the speeds flat-track riders travel – often more than 130 mph on the straights – there is little any protective equipment can do if there’s a significant impact with a railing or a motorcycle, he said. The hope is to lessen any damage to the torso’s organs such as the heart and lungs so emergency personnel can concentrate on any head injuries.
“I wish we knew more because every time there’s a death we seem to make improvements to rider safety,” said Braxton, who also outfits Beaubier and Hayes.
Civil War series
Roseville’s Sean Becker completed a second consecutive Civil War Sprint Car series victory last Saturday in Petaluma. Two weeks ago the driver known as “The Shark” won in Marysville after leading from green to checkered.
The win last Saturday night completed the season sweep with the series at the Petaluma Speedway. Becker became the winningest Civil War Series driver at the Speedway with his seventh win.
Auburn’s Andy Forsberg is in a tight battle for the Civil War title with Chico’s Mason Moore. Just 16 points separate the two drivers with only the Nov. 5 Tribute to Gary Patterson race at the Stockton Dirt Track left in the 2016 season.
Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @editorwriter001.