TEAM HAMMER OPENS 2017 MOTOAMERICA SEASON WITH DOUBLE PODIUMS ON SATURDAY AT COTA
April 23, 2017
Team Hammer came out swinging in a pair of podium performances on the opening race day of the 2017 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season on Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Valentin Debise led the charge, storming through on the final lap of the MotoAmerica Supersport race to claim a hard-earned runner-up finish.
That bold maneuver was the final piece of an impressive bounce-back effort after the Frenchman crashed out of the fight for the lead early in the race. Shortly after his fall, Debise benefited when a red flag flew to signal a complete restart.
He proved himself a factor up front once again; while the leader escaped, Debise took full advantage of his GSX-R600's sweet-handling characteristics, making a number of creative line choices and launching attack after attack to keep a rival within striking distance throughout.
By doing so, he gave himself an opportunity to make one last-gasp bid to steal away second on the brakes and made the most of it.
After the race, Debise said, "Unfortunately, I didn't choose the right tire. I was pushing maybe a little bit too hard early and the wind had changed from yesterday. I made a mistake as a result, but lucky me, the red flag came out. My team did a fantastic job and fixed the bike perfectly before the restart.
"After the second start, the tire worked even less well and I had to rebuild my confidence after the crash. I knew right away I couldn't fight for the win, but I thought I might be able to hang on and fight for second if I managed to slow down the pace. Going into the last corner, I braked as late as I could and used a lot of rear brake to get the bike stopped. It was hard to get the bike turned, but I managed to great a great drive.
"Overall, it's been a great weekend. We are much closer to the front compared to last year, and if I had chosen the right tire, we could have battled for the win. Considering this track is not one of the better ones for our bike, I have a lot of confidence looking forward to the rest of the year."
Debise was joined by a pair of Team Hammer teammates in the top 10 of the Supersport race; M4 medAge Suzuki's Nick McFadden piloted his Superstock 600-spec GSX-R600 to sixth place, while 16-year-old Brandon Paasch came home 7th in his Supersport debut aboard his M4 The 22 Project Suzuki GSX-R600. Unfortunately, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Brandon Cleland did not finish, crashing out of the race after qualifying inside the top 10.
Following the conclusion of the Supersport race, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki's Jake Lewis backed up Debise's podium by claiming a trophy of his own in the Superstock 1000 category.
Despite having extremely limited time aboard the all-new 2017 Suzuki GSX-R1000 prior to the season opener, Lewis immediately demonstrated its immense potential by guiding it to third in class (sixth in the combined Superbike/Superstock 1000 order).
Lewis said, "My start wasn't too good and I lost a few positions right away. I had to work my way back up to the front. I had a little trouble getting by some guys but finally got going pretty good about six or seven laps in. I chased down second in the Superstock class but ultimately just ran out of time. We were struggling with a few things, but we'll get them adjusted for tomorrow's race.
"I'm super happy with the new bike. This result shows just how much potential the new GSX-R1000 has. Obviously, it's a great platform and the team has been working hard. We still haven't had much development or seat time with it, so to start off on the podium is a great indication of what it will be capable of... not to mention that it also went 1-2 in the Superbike class!"
Lewis will be back in action on Sunday for the second half of the weekend's MotoAmerica Superbike/Superstock 1000 doubleheader.
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