News Racing

Freeman, Yaakov among Saturday winners in Birmingham

Nation’s best amateur road racers compete in 2019 AMA Road Race Grand Championship

By Michael Marino

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Six racers won AMA No. 1 plates Saturday on the rain-soaked first day of competition at the 2019 AMA Road Race Grand Championship at the Barber Motorsports Park.

The nation’s amateur road racing championship kicked off with 42 entries from 14 states and one Canadian province taking to the track, although two classes were unable to race due the incredibly wet track conditions late in the afternoon.

Among the day’s winners were Tyler Freeman of Dawsonville, Ga., and Kayla Yaakov from Biglerville, Pa., each taking a win and a second place in the AMA Lightweight Twins races.

Other riders who won class titles were Connor Funk of Glendale, Calif.; Will Ray of Etowan, Tenn.; Aden Thao of Fresno, Calif.; and Rodney Vest of North Topsail, N.C.

Tyler Freeman. Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Yaakov took the lead early in the AMA Lightweight Twins Superstock Expert race, but Freeman picked up his pace about halfway through the race. He passed Yaakov and built a lead, beating her to the finish line by 13.268 seconds.

“I love riding in the rain,” Freeman said. “I pray for it every time. It’s the great equalizer.”

In the AMA Lightweight Twins Superbike Expert race, Yaakov got back to her winning ways. She got a good start and pulled away from the field despite more difficult track conditions than the first race, finishing 6.356 seconds ahead of Freeman.

Yaakov said she didn’t make any changes to her Honda before the second race and credited advice from her father, David Yaakov, with helping her earn the victory.

“I was a bit discouraged after the first race,” Yaakov said. “When the rain really picked up in the first race, there were so many puddles in the corners and my bike kept hydroplaning. My dad told me to go out and push and have fun. I got a great start was able to pull away.”

The 12-year-old Yaakov was named the AMA Youth Road Racer of the Year in 2017 and the AMA Novice Road Racer of the Year in 2018.

Kayla Yaakov (No. 31). Photo by Brian J. Nelson

Three of the day’s four scheduled AMA championship races took place, but the AMA 600 Superstock race was shortened to three laps after a crash.

The AMA 1000 Superstock race was postponed to Sunday.

As the rain came down heavily in the afternoon, areas of standing water formed on several parts of the track.

Eighteen of the day’s 60 entries did not start races they had registered for.

Riders also were getting reacquainted with the 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course, which was repaved in August.

The event is being run concurrently with WERA Motorcycle Roadracing Inc.’s 47th Grand National Finals. Both events conclude Sunday.

Eight AMA competition classes are scheduled to take to the track on Sunday, and three AMA Racing Awards will be handed out after the day’s racing has concluded.

2019 AMA Road Race Grand Championship Saturday Results

Lightweight Twins Supestock Expert

  • Tyler Freeman, Dawsonville, Ga.
  • Kayla Yaakov, Biglerville, Pa.
  • Kevin Boda, New York, N.Y.

Lightweight Twins Superstock Novice

  • Rodney Vest, North Topsail, N.C.
  • Aden Thao, Fresno, Calif.
  • Chris Jokisch, Raleigh, N.C.

AMA 600 Superstock Expert

  • Connor Funk, Glendale, Calif.
  • Nicholas M. Johnson, Indianapolis, Ind.
  • Colin Gast, Nolensvile, Tenn.

AMA 600 Superstock Novice

  • Will Ray, Etowan, Tenn.
  • Andy Rudolph, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • T. Christopher Jackman, Fayetteville, Ga.

Lightweight Twins Superbike Expert

  • Kayla Yaakov, Bigerville, Pa.
  • Tyler Freeman, Dawsonville, Ga.
  • Trevor Standish, Roswell, Ga.

Lightweight Twins Superbike Novice

  • Aden Thao, Fresno, Calif.
  • Chris Jokisch, Raleigh, N.C.
  • Rodney Vest, North Topsail, N.C.