Picture: Steve English
Debuts rarely go better. JD Beach triumphed in the Superprestigio Superfinal in his first appearance at the event, after winning out in a tight 16-lap battle with fellow American Briar Bauman.
The two flat-track regulars starred in an action-packed evening that saw MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elias and grand prix regulars Fabio Di Giannantonio, Albert Arenas and Remy Gardner qualify for the Superfinal.
Previous winners Marc Marquez and Brad Baker may have been absent through end-of-season fatigue and injury respectively, but the continual scrapping between Beach, Bauman and Spanish flat-track star Ferran Cardus gave the evening added spice.
Although Beach is a regular in the MotoAmerica Supersport class, he entered through the ‘Open’ category, designated for off-road talent. He duly dominated the ‘Open’ finals, winning all three heats before the ultra-competitive Superfinal.
In the 16 lap showcase, Elias – runner-up here last year – got the hole-shot in the tight first turn, while Remy Gardner tangled with Spanish flat-track star Guillermo Cano. The former Moto2 world champion’s stint at the front didn’t last long, as Beach pushed past with an aggressive move at turn two the second time around.
Cardus and Bauman were soon past Elias too, and with the veteran Catalan running wide on the run to the finish line on the seventh lap, the fight for the outright win came down to three men.
It was a case of Beach holding his nerve, and the former Red Bull Rookie held firm in the face of relentless Cardus pressure. There was little in it starting the last lap, with 0.8s covering the trio.
Any hopes of a late Cardus reverse were dashed there and then, as Bauman – impressively precise and aggressive when overtaking throughout the evening – slid under at turn one, handing Beach some breathing space on the final circuit.
Ultimately, Beach came home 0.8s clear to take his maiden triumph at the event, and become the second American winner, after Baker’s two victories in 2014 and ’15. Bauman – sixth in the ’17 American Flat Track series – was content with second and Cardus can take great heart with a major improvement on last year’s showing in third.
Elias strolled to fourth with Di Giannantonio, Arenas, Cano and Gardner completing the top eight.
MotoGP sensation Johann Zarco enjoyed mixed fortunes through the evening. The Frenchman qualified for the ‘Superprestigio’ class final with a somewhat fortunate win in the ‘Last Chance’ heat when leaders Marcos Ramirez and Xavier Pinsach collided at the final corner, allowing the Tech 3 rider through to take the chequered flag.
Although Zarco was runner up in the second of the three ‘Superprestigio’ final heats, a crash early in the third put paid to his hopes of making the Superfinal.
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