THREE PODIUMS FOR TEAM HAMMER IN PITTSBURGH
Published: August 26, 2017
Team Hammer kicked off its history at Pittsburgh International Race Complex in style, scoring three podium trophies across three classes as MotoAmerica made its series' racing debut at the venue on Saturday.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Valentin Debise rocketed into the lead early in the Supersport contest aboard his GSX-R600, but his advantage was short-lived; the Frenchman ran off track on the opening lap and found himself buried down outside the top ten in the early going.
Debise kept his wits about him, however, and methodically worked his way back up through the field. He ultimately slashed all the way up to second, and even pulled five-plus seconds clear of the fight for the final spot on the podium before it was over.
After securing his fifth runner-up or better finish of the season (his ninth podium in all), Debise said, "It's funny because I think that's the first time since I've been in MotoAmerica that I actually got a good start. I was leading the race until I made a huge mistake into the second corner. It was all my fault -- I got into the wrong gear and went sideways and I couldn't stop it.
"After that, I knew I had to put my head down and keep going because my pace was good. I tried to focus on my lines and my cornering. I just stayed consistent and conserved my tires. I caught back up to the riders battling for second. I waited one lap behind them to slow down and rest a little bit, and then I took second place from that. Tomorrow we'll stay on track and try to fight for the win."
Moments later, M4 medAge Suzuki's Nick McFadden finished with a runner-up result himself in the MotoAmerica Superstock 600 category. The Kentuckian clicked off his fastest laps of the weekend during the race to claim a clear second.
McFadden's sixth podium of the season saw him move to within two points of third in the STK600 title fight.
"The race went pretty well for us," McFadden said. "It's been a tricky weekend deciding which tire to race on. We had a good set-up for the hard rear which we ran in the race. We put in consistent laps the whole time and stayed up front. After getting into second and opening an advantage on third, we just managed the gap at the end. We'll get things dialed in tomorrow, make the bike a little better, and try to move one spot up the box."
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Jake Lewis got an excellent start after qualifying on the front row of the combined Superbike/STK1000 grid aboard his GSX-R1000. The led almost the entire Superstock 1000 race while hounding the front-running Superbikes deep into the contest.
Tire woes became a bigger and bigger concern, and ultimately bit him on the race's final lap. With just a few corners remaining, he was passed by a rival. An attempted counterpunch then opened the door for another adversary, and Lewis found himself third as the three took the checkered flag separated by just 0.314 seconds.
After claiming his 12th podium of his 2017 STK1000 campaign, Lewis said, "It was a good race. I got a good start and was right there with the three Superbikes. Eight laps in I was just sitting there and the bike felt good. But over the second half of the race, I started struggling a lot. The track tears up tires pretty good and, unfortunately, I think it affected my bike more than the others.
"I led it until the last lap. I got passed going into the chicane and tried to get back by coming out of the last corner. We were side-by-side coming down the straightaway, but he had the inside line. I had to get off the throttle because I was about to him, and that allowed another rider by as well, pushing me down to third in the end."
Meanwhile, Saturday came to an early end for M4 ECSTAR Suzuki Brandon Cleland and M4 Rickdiculous Racing Suzuki sub Francesc Perez. Spaniard Perez crashed at the start of lap 3 of the Supersport/STK600 race and clipped Cleland from behind, caushing the Texan to fall as well.
Team Hammer will be back in action on Sunday for the second half of the Pittsburgh International Race Complex doubleheader.
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