There are good weekends and then there are Rocco Landers good weekends. At Barber Motorsports Park, it was a Rocco Landers good weekend with the 15-year-old Oregonian winning four races and walking away with the Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship with two rounds (and four races) left to run.
Landers earned the Junior Cup title with his 11th win of the season on Sunday, pulling away to an insurmountable lead in the title chase over Dominic Doyle and Sam Lochoff.
Landers also won both Twins Cup races and is on the verge of taking that title as well. The young phenom basically only needs to finish the next race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to also capture that championship.
Stock 1000 – Petersen Rolls On
Sunday’s Stock 1000 race two was another command performance by Altus Motorsports Suzuki’s Cameron Petersen, who started from the pole and built a big lead until the race was red-flagged by a crash and restarted with a six-lap sprint to the checkers. In an effort to build another gap, Petersen was at the front again, but a mistake almost put him out of the race. The South African used his knee and elbow to lever the bike off the ground, and he continued on to take the checkers and record his seventh victory of the season with a comfortable gap of nearly five-and-a-half seconds at the finish line.
Second place went to Ride HVMC Racing Kawasaki’s Corey Alexander, who hoped to take the lead when Petersen looked to be down, but the New Yorker settled for the runner-up spot on the podium. Michael Gilbert Racing’s Michael Gilbert rounded out the podium in third place aboard his Kawasaki.
“My dad is here this weekend, and he came up to me yesterday and said that was probably the best he’s ever seen me ride,” Petersen said. “So, that means something to me. Just another great weekend. The race I had here last year was kind of the same. I came here and for whatever reason I just ride well on this track. When the team puts a machine like that underneath you each weekend, it’s fun. When you’re having fun, you go fast. I can’t thank them enough. I got to give this one to the team. They’re busting their butts. I honestly believe we have one of the best bikes out there in the paddock at the moment. I was saying a little bit different a few rounds ago. They put their heads down. They’ve gone to work. They’ve done their homework. The bike’s unreal. These guys, it’s super fun racing with them. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. Obviously, I have a little bit of a points gap now with two more races to go. Time to start thinking about the championship a little bit. Stoked to open up some eyes and see if I can catch a nice seat next year on a Superbike. Once again, thanks to everybody and looking forward to Indy.”
Liqui Moly Junior Cup – Landers Crowned
With his 11th win in Liqui Moly Junior Cup so far this season, Rocco Landers clinched the 2020 class championship, successfully defending the title that he won in 2019. And, he did it in dominating fashion aboard his Norton Motorsports/Ninja400R/Dr.Farr/WonderCBD Kawasaki. He started from the pole and, after scrapping for the lead, he got out front and eventually built a gap of more than three seconds by the time he took the checkers.
BARTCON Racing Kawasaki’s Dominic Doyle came back from a crash in Saturday’s race to fight for the lead early and finish second, while Quarterley Racing On Track Development Kawasaki rider Ben Gloddy finished third for his second podium finish of the weekend.
When asked about winning the 2020 Liqui Moly Junior Cup Championship, Landers said, “Honestly, after Road America 1, I didn’t expect this to happen. We didn’t think we would do the full season. We thought we would miss Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Then, all of a sudden, we couldn’t get a COVID test, so we were like, ‘All right, why not go to Atlanta and see what happens?’ After that race, we’ve had a really good year. Lots of wins, lots of lap records. It’s been so fun racing with Dominic and Ben, Sam (Lochoff), and everyone else all year. This is my last year racing small bikes. I’m happy to be able to come out with the championship.”
Supersport – Richie, Richie, Richie
HONOS Kawasaki’s Richie Escalante’s steamroller-like effort continued on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. In Supersport race two, Escalante mimicked the pattern that he has followed in almost every race this year. Starting from the pole, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly got a great jump off the line and took the holeshot by wheelying all the way down the front straight. Also, in the mix was Celtic HSBK Racing’s Brandon Paasch.
Escalante put his head down, raced clear of his rivals, built a lead, and took the checkered flag by nearly nine seconds over Kelly, who finished second. Paasch, who was nearly 10 seconds behind Kelly, finished third.
For Escalante, it was his 11th victory of the season.
“Very fun race again,” Escalante said. “My start, again, was so bad and then I needed to take recovery very fast. I looked this morning and Sean (Dylan Kelly) improved in the morning warmup and I said, ‘Maybe the race is more difficult to stay with him in the first laps.’ I know Sean is very strong in the first laps. I tried to pass very quickly and then tried to go. Sean is braking really good today. Then I passed and I pushed hard, and I see in my bike 26 (a 1:26 lap time). It’s really good. Thanks to my team. My crew chief and my mechanic gave me a very good bike this weekend. They’re all working hard to give this very good package, so we’ll continue. Two rounds more, four races more. The championship is not finished. Keep working and be ready for Indy.”
Twins Cup – Landers Closes In
The race weekend at Barber Motorsports Park concluded with Sunday’s Twins Cup race two, and Rocco Landers went a perfect four-for-four on the weekend as he followed up his two victories in Liqui Moly Junior Cup with two victories in the two-cylinder class. And, as he did with the season championship in Liqui Moly Cup, Landers very nearly wrapped up the Twins Cup title, as well. He is now only one point away from getting his second #1 plate.
With Landers winning Sunday’s race two by nearly six-and-and-a-half seconds aboard his SportbikeTrackGear.com Roadracingworld.com Suzuki, the rest of the podium was filled by 1-833-CJKNOWS Accident & Injury Law Yamaha’s Kaleb De Keyrel in second and Hayden Schultz Racing Yamaha’s Hayden Schultz in third. De Keyrel rebounded from a crash on Saturday to finish as runner-up on Sunday, and Schultz recorded his second podium result of the weekend.
“It’s funny because I’ve never really liked this place at all,” Landers said. “I’ve done well here, but I’ve never enjoyed the track. But, this year, I’m finally feeling good here. Perfect weekend. Lap record. Championship in Junior Cup, almost a championship in Twins Cup. Talking about the race, I knew Kaleb would bounce back stronger after his crash so I knew I had to just work as hard as I could for a few laps and try to settle in the low 31, high 30 pace. Just tried to do as well as I could. We’re happy with this weekend.”