Aprilia USA 2 Wins SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Race at Road America ELKHART LAKE, WI (July 8, 2007) -- The final lap of Sunday's three-hour SunTrust MOTO-ST Series race at Road America provided drama, jubilation and heartbreak for several of the ...
Aprilia USA 2 Wins SunTrust MOTO-ST Series Race at Road America
ELKHART LAKE, WI (July 8, 2007) -- The final lap of Sunday's three-hour SunTrust MOTO-ST Series race at Road America provided drama, jubilation and heartbreak for several of the contending teams. When all was said and done, Aprilia USA 2 team rider Ty Howard took the checkered flag on his No. 6 Aprilia Tuono 100R. But the Weatherford, TX resident rode a roller coaster of emotions during the final two minutes of the race, before claiming the victory.
Brian Parriott (No. 46 San Jose BMW / R1200) led the first half of the race and took the white flag to start the 68th and final lap around the four-mile, 14-turn road course just 2.130 seconds ahead of Howard. Entering the first turn, Howard felt his bike sputter in turn 1 -- almost out of fuel -- leaving him dejected as he struggled to re-fire his engine. Somehow, he coaxed his bike back to life and set about chasing Parriott, who hails from Calistoga, CA.
Parriott was also in dire straits with regard to his fuel situation, but he couldn't have imagined how close it would be. With four laps to go, he and the San Jose BMW team made the decision to stay out on track and go for the win. Entering the 14th and final turn, Parriott's engine started to miss. By the time he turned onto the front straight, his engine was completely silent and he realized his race was done, given that he was literally facing a long, uphill climb along the Road America Straight to the finish line.
Howard's Aprilia blasted past Parriott en route to the checkered flag earning a spot on the top of the podium for he and teammate Troy Green (Dallas, TX), adding to their Buell Motorcycle Company SuperSport Twins (SST) points lead in the process.
"Late in the race, we were in second -- in good shape -- and I was running consistent lap times, not really pushing it very hard," said Howard. "My crew told me I was gaining on him [Parriott] and were telling me they [San Jose BMW] had to pit. But I didn't care. I couldn't count on that, so I started pushing it. When we came by to start the last lap, I was within striking distance. But going into turn 1, my bike just died. I almost came to a complete stop, but it fired up and I took off. He [Parriott's bike] died coming out of the last corner and he couldn't make it up the hill. He got halfway up and stopped. We screwed up in the pits last race [at Virginia International Raceway], but we got it back this time."
Following the race, Parriott discussed his team's decision to stay out, and the heartbreak of coming so close to the win. "With four or five [laps] to go, we decided we had to go for it. I asked my guys if we were going to make it. I heard a bunch of 'maybe', 'possibly' and 'we hope'... but never a 'yes.' But they felt confident about it and we came up an eighth of a mile short."
Asked about the sinking feeling he felt when his BMW began to coast within sight of the checkered flag, he said, "If I wasn't so particular about the paintjob on my helmet, that thing would still be rolling down the road. I was furious. I don't get upset, but that was really bad. I felt it [his engine] popping before coming to the last turns, and I knew I wasn't going to make it." Tom Montano of Berkeley, CA was the other rider of the No. 46 BMW.
San Jose BMW's misfortune turned into a dream finish for the Aprilia USA outfit as their No. 5 Aprilia Tuono 100R came across the line next, earning second place for riders Henry Wiles (Blanchard, MI) and Jon Francis (New Braunfels, TX). "You can't beat a one-two finish on the Aprilia; we're really stoked," said experienced flat track racer Wiles, who did all but 12 of the 68 laps during the race. "This is about my third road race but I'm starting to feel comfortable on the bike and with a little more seat time, I know I can get the job done."
The third and final podium SST podium spot went to the No. 21 Team Florida Ducati 749 ridden by Armando Ferrer (Sunrise, FL) and Gustavo Laya (Miami, FL). "It was an unbelievable race and especially the last lap," said Laya, of the team's first SunTrust MOTO-ST Series podium result. "We stopped three laps before the finish line. When I exited the pit, the third-place Aprilia [No. 5 Aprilia USA] was with me. I passed him and then he passed me. I stayed with him and he passed me by like half a wheel by the start / finish line. I'm very happy with the result."
The No. 18 Roadracingworld.com Suzuki team of Chris Ulrich (Lake Elsinore, CA) and Mark Junge (Union Grove, WI) was originally scored in third-place, but after a review of the scoring, they were found to have finished behind the No. 21 Team Florida crew. Nonetheless, fourth-place was a very respectable outcome for the Roadracingworld.com Suzuki team as they battled to overcome engine trouble throughout the weekend at Road America, changing two motors on their Suzuki SV1000S during their stay. "I have to hand it to my crew for us even being here," said Ulrich, after the race. "Everybody helped." Rounding out the top five finishers was the No. 46 San Jose BMW, ridden by Parriott and Montano.
Following four rounds of the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series, Aprilia USA 2 leads the standings with 134 points. Despite their troubles on the final lap, San Jose BMW sits second with 110 markers. The No. 32 Vallely Racing Suzuki of Mike Himmelsbach (Quaker Town, PA), Frank Trombino (Toronto, ON) and Tom Vallely (Flagler Beach, FL) are third with 102.
In the BMW Grand Sport Twins (GST) class, the No. 8 Richie Morris Racing team of Shawn Higbee (Oconomowoc, WI) and Dan Bilansky (Waukesha, WI) took their Buell XB12 to a comfortable win over the No. 70 James Gang Racing Buell XB12 of Paul James (Waukesha, WI) and Jeff Johnson (Minneapolis, MN). At the finish, the gap between the top two GST bikes was one lap.
"Everything went surprisingly smooth in the race," said Bilansky. "We only had a little bit of practice time yesterday and we didn't even end up using that bike because we had mechanical difficulties with it. The Pirelli tires were just unbelievable. We haven't done a tire change at any of these races, yet. We've finished all of the races on the tires we started on. And I have to thank Shawn [Higbee] for going out and laying down the laps and letting me bring it home pretty easily without any fights."
Following a pair of disqualifications for bikes found to be too light in post-race technical inspection, the No. 38 Touring Sport Ducati II team of Frank Shockley (Greenville, SC), Brad Phillips (Greer, SC) and Pete Friedland (Columbia, SC) was elevated to third-place after crossing the line in fifth.
On the strength of their third win in four outings, the No. 8 Richie Morris Racing team leads the GST standings with 135 points. Next is the No. 77 Touring Sport Ducati team with 122, followed by the No. 70 James Gang Racing team with 116.
Earning the victory in the Sport Twins (ST) for the second event in a row was the No. 87 Speedwerks.com team of Brian Kcraget (Danville, VA) and Scott Ryan (Lemont, IL). Recording another dominant performance on their Suzuki SV650, Kcraget brought their bike home three laps in front of their closest rival, the No. 50 Eagle Racing team of Eric Konigsberg (Kalamazoo, WI) and Ryan Hall (Goodview, MN).
"This is the longest race I've done, by far, other than the Daytona 200," said Ryan in victory lane. "Everybody out there rode extremely well. The series is put on really great; I haven't seen anything this professional in a while."
Said Kcraget, "I ride the best bike here in the ST class and I'm really fortunate to be racing with Speedwerks.com. This track is a lot of fun; it's the first time I've ever been to Road America. It was very challenging... I got some tips from Scott [Ryan] and he goes really well around here. I'm glad to have him as a teammate."
The #79 GoBigRacing Suzuki team of Ross Millson (Hamilton, ON) and Paul Glenn (Keene, ON) overcame a lap 52 crash in turn 12 to claim the final podium position in ST, thanks to tenacity and the post-race technical disqualification of a team that had originally finished in front of them. Millson and Glenn were 10 laps back of the class winner at the finish.
Despite dropping out of the race with mechanical trouble on lap 40, the No. 9 Pair-A-Nines Kawasaki Ninja 650R of racing legends Jimmy Filice (Modesto, CA) and Jay Springsteen (Lapeer, MI) will leave Road America with the ST class lead. They have 128 points after four events. The No. 79 GoBigRacing team is next with 122. Sunday's race-winning No. 87 SpeedWerks.com team is tied for third with No. 23 Edge Racing (with 102 points) after four events.
Following this weekend's race, the SunTrust MOTO-ST Series will head to Iowa for the Iowa Speedway 500k on July 12-13. The season concludes with the 8 Hours At Daytona Finale, October 19-20 at Daytona International Speedway.