Brea, CA (October 26, 2020) –Suzuki Motor of America, Inc., and Team Hammer closed out a memorable 2020 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing season in just about the most epic way imaginable at Laguna Seca, scoring wins and podiums up and down the order.
The weekend served as the farewell performance for 2017 MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elias with M4 ECSTAR Suzuki, and the Spaniard delivered. After entering the three-race finale with just a single podium under his belt this season, Elias reminded the paddock of his immense talent and drive, notching up a pair of runner-up finishes and a third-place on the weekend.
Elias saved his best for last, slicing his way up through the top five aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 to arrive in second in 2020’s final race. That result elevated him to fourth in the final MotoAmerica Superbike standings by a single point.
Afterward, he said, “I’m really happy to finish the season like this. Thank you so much to my M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team to work hard all the way up to the end. Today they gave me the best bike and the best feeling of the entire year. I was able to overtake easily the riders in front of me and once I got into second I was able to make a gap. For us, this is like a victory. I’m very happy. Right now my future is like a question mark. If this is my last ride, I had a blast. I’m happy I was able to give a little present to my team and Suzuki.”
Elias’ final pass for position was on his M4 ECSTAR Suzuki teammate, Bobby Fong, who ended his breakthrough Superbike season with a fourth. The weekend didn’t live up to the Californian’s expectations or potential, as he crashed from second on Friday and struggled to tenth in mixed wet and dry conditions in Sunday morning’s Race 2.
Still, Fong ended his outstanding premier-class campaign ranked third in the championship on the strength of three victories and eight podiums. The Californian backed up his championship season earned last year in Supersport by proving he is also a contender on a Superbike.
Meanwhile, Sean Dylan Kelly came up huge in the MotoAmerica Supersport finale. “SDK” escaped to a breakaway victory on Friday and then won what was likely the race of the year on Sunday courtesy of a final-corner block pass and subsequent sprint to the checkered flag to beat the reigning class champion by 0.073 seconds.
The Floridian’s Laguna Seca double upped his win tally to five for the season to go along with 15 top twos and 16 podiums in all.
The Supersport championship runner-up said, “I wanted to finish off the last race of the season on the best note possible, and getting the double is the way to do that!
“I want to dedicate this race to the entire M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team. The last two years together have been amazing and helped prepare for the future. I’m just really proud of the work we’ve done all season long. We had some tough times, starting the year with a broken leg. But we came back and showed even an injury like that won’t stop us. It was an amazing season — quite a few wins, lots of podiums, and second in the championship. We have a lot to be proud of.”
Kelly’s Supersport teammate, Lucas Silva joined him inside the championship top five. The native Brazilian earned his fifth-place Supersport ranking due to his remarkable season-long consistency. He finished sixth on Saturday and then ended the season in 13th — his only result outside the top ten the entire year.
The prodigious Rocco Landers was yet another rider on a Team Hammer racebike to enjoy his season’s highlight at the finale. The 15-year-old SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki ace had already locked up the Twins Cup championship but remained motivated to close out his season with an astonishing eighth straight victory aboard his Suzuki SV650.
It didn’t come easily, as he waged a multi-rider battle for the victory throughout. Ultimately Landers demonstrated his skill, outdueling his rivals to win in the last dash to the stripe by 0.112 seconds.
Landers said, “It was great. The guys kept me honest. Oh man, I can’t thank my SportbikeTrackGear.com Suzuki team enough for working all weekend. We weren’t on top of basically any session all weekend. It’s been pretty hard and we didn’t get the best start, but I just tried to work my way up. I’m stoked.”
South African Cameron Petersen put the finishing touches on what has to go down as the best season of his career to date. The recently crowned Stock 1000 champ guided his Team Hammer-built Altus Motorsports Suzuki GSX-R1000 to the eighth win of his championship-winning season.
He then added the Superbike Cup — which serves as a championship-inside-a-
Reflecting on his season, Petersen said, “This is everything — I’ve been working for this my whole life. To win again is such a good feeling. It’s been a great season. I’ve got so many people I need to thank — I won’t be able to thank them all. First of all, my team for believing in me. My family for all the sacrifices they made for me — it’s pretty special and we finally did it. And the M4 ECSTAR Suzuki team as well — they played a big role in my success so a massive shout out to them as well.”
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Alex Dumas again demonstrated that he’s fast returning to full strength after suffering a midseason injury. The young French Canadian was Petersen’s stiffest competitor in the Stock 1000 class at one point in the season aboard his similarly outfitted GSX-R1000. Dumas scored a close fourth in the finale, hinting that he’ll be back in the hunt for race wins and championship victories in 2021.
In addition to the numerous wins and podium finishes, Suzuki Motor of America Inc. was presented with the MotoAmerica Manufacturers Championship trophy for the 2020 season. Thank you to all the riders and teams who helped contribute to Suzuki winning this prestigious award.
Photos by Brian J. Nelson.