Just when it looked like Disrupt Racing’s Hayden Gillim was going to make a battle out of the 2022 MotoAmerica Yuasa Stock 1000 Championship at Pittsburgh International Race Complex, it all went up in a cloud of dust. While in a heated fight for the lead with series rival Corey Alexander, the two made contact and Gillim crashed out of the race. And just like that, a 14-point lead is now a likely insurmountable 31-point lead with just 50 points left on the table.
With a victory on Saturday while Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC’s Alexander was plagued with mechanical ills and dropped to 10th,Gillim was just 14 points behind and in control of his own destiny. Three wins in the final three races and the title would be his. Not anymore.
With just a single race at both New Jersey Motorsports Park and the series finale at Barber Motorsports Park, Alexander’s lead looks solid but as Sunday proved, anything can still happen.
Royal Enfield Build. Train. Race – Buyck Again
Sunday’s races began in the morning with Royal Enfield’s Build. Train. Race. seven-lap sprint taking place on a slightly damp track that was the result of rain that had fallen earlier in the morning. It looked like Kayleigh Buyck, who had won all the BTR races thus far going into Pittsburgh, was going to have her winning streak snapped by Jennifer Chancellor. Unfortunately, Chancellor crashed out of the lead in the final turn of the final lap, and Buyck, who was in second, took the checkered flag once again. Second place went to Crystal Martinez, who was a little more than eight seconds behind Buyck, and third went to Chloe Peterson, who was only .083 of a second behind Martinez.
“Everyone thought I was going to go down,” Buyck said. “The bike was crazy. Coming down off the hill in the back, it was very wobbly. Dirt bike experience helps. I felt like I was on a Superbike when they always get crazy. I still had my rain gearing on, so it was completely off. I was hitting the rev limiter everywhere, so I was trying to balance that and be able to try to keep up with her. So, that set me back. Josh Hayes told me when he used to race that if his mechanic wrote “skirt down” that meant he was riding like a lady, and skirt up meant he was giving it hell. So, I just kept saying “skirt up” the whole time and I was able to catch up. I don’t want to take this win. That’s not how I want to get it. Hopefully (Chancellor is) all right. I saw it happening, and I was hoping she wasn’t going to go down because I think I may have had her. But with my gearing, she had way more drive than me so I think she would have gotten it either way. So, it was definitely a good race by her. Happy to be back up here with the blonde trio. They deserve it. Someone’s going to get me one of these times. I’m not ready for it, but it’s going to happen.”
Yuasa Stock 1000 – Alexander Wins, Gillim Crashes
In Yuasa Stock 1000 race two, the fortunes of the two main protagonists in the championship went in opposite directions. Tytlers Cycle/RideHVMC Racing BMW rider Corey Alexander started from the pole and looked to have the victory well in his grasp until Disrupt Racing Suzuki’s Hayden Gillim chased him down and took the lead. Alexander managed to overtake Gillim for the lead, and then, the two made contact, which resulted in Gillim crashing out of the race. Alexander prevailed with the win, and his teammate Travis Wyman inherited the runner-up position, which he maintained to the checkered flag. Altus Motorsports Suzuki rider Brandon Paasch finished third to complete the podium.
“First of all, it’s a bummer, for sure,” Alexander said. “I wanted Hayden to be up here. I want to win more than anything, but I don’t want to win like that where he has no chance of making another pass back or anything like that. I hope he’s all right. I think he is. I pulled over (after the race) to see if he was there still, see if he needed a ride, see if he was okay. Like I said, it’s not how we want to win, but it is a championship battle, and it was the last lap. I had a couple opportunities there through that section previously that I knew it was going to be tight if I wanted to do it and it wasn’t worth it on those laps, but on the last lap I needed to do something. He made a move through there on me that was pretty aggressive early on at the beginning of the race. It might not have appeared from the angle, but we had a little bit of contact there. It kind of put me in a predicament. Hayden rides hard. I knew that’s how it was going to be coming down to that last lap if we wanted to have a shot at the win there. So, I think I passed him clean. From my perspective, I was fully ahead of him. I think he just was trying to line me up for that next left like he had before and was going to kind of just block pass me. I think he just leaned on me a little bit too hard, and it took him out, unfortunately. Getting through Pittsburgh was always the challenge for me because I knew how good Hayden could be here. I know the last two rounds, I’m good at Jersey so I know we’ll get through that and then Barber will be a duel.”
SportbikeTrackGear.com – Wyman Pulls Clear
Alpha Omega Kawasaki rider Cody Wyman, who won Saturday’s SportbikeTrackGear.com Junior Cup race one, got the double win on the weekend with a victory in Sunday’s race two. Wyman started from the pole and led every one of the 10 laps. Rodio Racing/Warhorse HSBK Racing’s Gus Rodio finished second in a race that was mostly processional for him. The battle for third place came right down to a photo-finish between SportTrackGear.com Kawasaki rider Max Van and Altus Motorsports Kawasaki rider Kayla Yaakov. At the stripe, it was Yaakov who grabbed the last spot on the podium with perfectly timed pass on Van.
“It was as good as it gets, really,” Wyman said about his perfect weekend. “I think I led every session and got two wins. Army of Darkness picked me up to do the endurance race here last weekend. I think just showing that if I can get some time on the track a little bit beforehand and just get in a flow, that this is the potential some weekends that we could have. I’ve really hit a rhythm in the middle of the year. Just enjoying riding motorcycles and working with my family. Things have been pretty good. Hats off to these two. These two are some of the smartest riders in the class, and I’m privileged to share the podium with them. I wish Kayla had some better luck in the middle of the year. I think all three of us are championship worthy. Really, overall, a great weekend. Probably the best weekend I’ve had.”
Supersport – Herrin Bounces Back
After winning the past three Supersport races in a row, the question was whether a surging Landers Racing Yamaha’s Rocco Landers could keep his winning streak going in Sunday’s race two. Well, championship leader Josh Herrin had something to say about that. The Warhorse HSBK Racing Ducati NYC rider put in a dominant performance and even withstood an unplanned off-track excursion to notch his eighth win of the season and stretch out his championship lead to a rather gaudy 76 points over Landers, who finished as runner-up. Third place went to Vision Wheel M4 Suzuki ECSTAR’s Tyler Scott, who reached the podium for the eighth time in this, the 17-year-old’s rookie year in MotoAmerica’s hotly contested middleweight class.
“After how good of a season we’ve had, to get beat three races in a row, and not just beat but get walked away from, it hurt,” Herrin said. “Brainerd, he smoked us. Yesterday, he did really well, but unfortunately, I just chose the wrong tire. I was just beating myself up from the start of the warmup lap. I really wanted to get it today. I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence coming into the race if it was dry. I had a lot going into it if it was going to be wet, just because this morning I had really good feel. But, I looked back coming over turn five and saw a big lead and just put my head down and tried my hardest to pull a little gap. The track was pretty green, I think. The lap times were mid 44’s to low 45’s. I felt like I was pushing harder than I was in qualifying. When I ran off in turn one, I was scared. I thought for sure I was going to go down, just because it was wet out there and there was a lot of little pot holes. So, I thought I was going to hit maybe a puddle of water somewhere. But I got really lucky that I chose a good line, I guess, through the grass and was able to pull it off. Hats off to my entire team. They’ve worked super hard all year. I’m just excited to go into New Jersey, which is our home race, with a solid chance at getting the championship wrapped up.”
REV’IT! Twins Cup – Ventura Saves His Weekend
The Pittsburgh race weekend concluded with REV’IT! Twins Cup race two, and MotoAmerica tuner class put a fitting crescendo on the event. In a class that pits riders aboard Aprilia RS 660s versus riders aboard Yamaha YZF-R7s, it was Yamaha that swept the podium with MP13 Racing’s Cory Ventura getting his third win of the year. N2 Racing/BobbleHeadMoto’s Blake Davis, who won Saturday’s race one, finished second on Sunday, while BARTCON Racing’s Dominic Doyle was third.
“Coming into today and rolling around in the wet out there, I’m like, ‘Gosh, I just want this weekend to be over,’” Ventura said. “But, I took it one step at a time, got some great starts today and put myself right up with the leaders. I know that, from yesterday, they weren’t that much quicker than me, and I needed to learn from them and evolve very quickly, and that’s exactly what I did.”