From Donington WorldSBK to Double MotoAmerica Champion - Yamaha's Stateside Star Beaubier Talks 2016
2015 witnessed 22-year-old Cameron Beaubier crowned the inaugural MotoAmerican Superbike Champion aboard his YZF-R1 in only his second year competing in the top class at national level. 2016 saw him return, determined to defend his title, which the young Californian did with style. Standing on the podium in 13 out of the season's 18 races, eight of which victorious on the top step, Beaubier clinched his second consecutive MotoAmerica title by six points over his Monster Energy Graves Yamaha teammate Josh Hayes.
While his concentration remained firmly on the task at hand throughout his defence, a mid-season trip across the Atlantic gave the 'future star' a glimpse of what life is like on the world-stage as he joined the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team at its home round at Donington Park, in the UK.
Cameron, firstly congratulations on winning your double title! How did it feel coming back into the series with the number one on your bike and was there added pressure to repeat your success in MotoAmerica?
"Thanks! I actually feel a bit of relief really as this year I have been trying to have more fun to take the pressure off a bit. Last year I feel like there was a lot of pressure on me from others and also myself to get my first title. This season hasn't been so much like that but I still wanted to get that second championship more than anything! It's the best feeling in the world."
You interrupted your home season to travel across the pond for the British WorldSBK round. How did you find the experience?
"When I first got the call about racing in the UK as part of the Superbike World Championship I was a bit nervous but excited at the same time. I was just really thankful that Yamaha gave me the opportunity even though I was in the middle of my own title-fight back in the US.
"I really like the atmosphere of the WorldSBK paddock, everyone is really friendly and there are so many fans showing support. I also saw a lot of riders I haven't seen in a long time. The talent is really high and the field is deep, don't get me wrong, the guys I'm racing against at home for sure are world class riders but there were just a lot more of them at Donington!"
How difficult was it to adapt to the WorldSBK-spec machine?
"I wasn't expecting the bike to feel much different to the YZF-R1 I race at home, so that took a bit of adapting to! I feel like the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team and I worked really well together, they did everything they could to get me up to speed quickly and feeling better and better on the bike every session."
How did you feel after completing your first WorldSBK race and getting to mix it up in the top-ten on your debut?
"It was a good feeling to be in the fight with the main group and a relief after the first race. I would have liked to finish a little further up but I feel like I missed out more than I thought on some valuable track time crashing out on the first lap of the first race. Those extra 22 laps of experience would have really got me in the rhythm for Sunday."
Donington's race weekend came directly before two back-to-back MotoAmerica rounds, how did the increased schedule impact you and your performance/focus?
"If anything I think racing at Donington was a good thing, as it keeps you focused. Sure it was a busy month but it was nice to add another weekend under my belt and the more you are on the bike the better!"
The world championship headed to your back-yard in July, how do you feel the YZF-R1 suited the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit and did you enjoy the two championships coming together?
"I really enjoyed the WorldSBK event at Laguna. It was interesting for us to be able to compare lap times even though our equipment is different and it was good to see the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK guys again too. I think the YZF-R1 suits that track well, especially in the last flowing part of the track, and it was great to get a double win that day with the extra support!"
Do you think there is a call for WorldSBK to visit America separately to the MotoAmerica event, to allow for wildcard opportunities?
"It's hard to say. Nicky Hayden and PJ Jacobsen are both going good in the WorldSBK and WorldSSP Championships. I think it would be really good for more of us to get back over there and mix it up but it's nice to see MotoAmerica running alongside them as well."
Do you see your future in the WorldSBK paddock and what are your goals and ambitions for the next couple of years?
"I would love to be racing at the world stage full time someday for sure! For now I am just concentrating on being the best I can be in MotoAmerica and then we'll take it from there."
Beaubier and Hayes will both return to the MotoAmerica Championship with the Monster Energy Graves Yamaha Team to challenge for the 2017 title.