Several dominoes fell in the right direction and former Moto2 world champion Toni Elias will remain with Yoshimura Suzuki in the MotoAmerica Superbike class for the remainder of the season.
Jake Lewis, the rider Elias replaced when Lewis suffered a pre-season injury, will switch to Team Hammer, riding an M4 Suzuki GSX-R1000 in the Superstock 1000 class, while Elias, currently second in the standings, one point behind his teammate, Roger Hayden, will stay on the flagship Superbike team. The Team Hammer opening came about because veteran rider Chris Ulrich has been dealing with a shoulder injury for a long time. At Road Atlanta, it prevented him from racing, and he decided to retire.
Lewis is expected to return to racing not this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, but at the next round at Virginia International Raceway, May 13-15, according to a news release from Suzuki.
This three-way deal solves Yoshimura Suzuki's problem of what to do with three riders and two bikes when Lewis was ready to return to racing. There are several reasons to think this is a good solution.
- Elias has injected new excitement into the series with his fierce competitiveness (three wins and a crash so far) and his cheerful personality, so nobody wanted to see him leave.
- Suzuki is hungry for wins and a championship after watching Yamaha win everything in 2015, and the pairing of Elias and Hayden gives them two good chances, instead of one. Even if Lewis came back and was strong, he is too far behind to have any hope of being a factor in the championship.
- The pairing of Hayden and Lewis was the traditional combination of experience and a young and promising rider — someone for today and someone for the future. The Superstock 1000 ride is an equally good way to bring Lewis along. He should be competitive in the class, and since Superbike and Superstock 1000 run together, he'll still have his chance to dice with the top riders.
- Lewis was given a contract extension for one more year, to sweeten the deal.
This has to be seen as good news for the series.