South African rider Mathew Scholtz, who now makes his home in Acworth, Georgia, capitalized on his opportunity to race in front of friends at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. The Westby Racing Yamaha Superbike rider recorded his third runner-up finish in a row and showed poise, patience, and talent as he closed the gap on the race leader but made sure that he didn’t jeopardize his position or the ultimate result.
Starting from the inside of row two in fourth, Mathew moved up to third on lap five, and then second place on lap six where he held tenaciously to the runner-up spot and even made a strong run at the race leader. He couldn’t quite get himself into position to take the lead, however, so he brought himself and his Yamaha YZF-R1 home safely in second place.
“Once I got past Cam (Petersen), they had about a second or two-second gap. I just tried to push harder to try to catch up. I was over-charging corners, pushing the front everywhere. In our morning practice, it was probably about 68 degrees, and we’re racing in like 85 degrees now. So, the setup just kind of seemed a little bit off. The front end was pushing everywhere. I didn’t see how Cam crashed, but exactly where (Jake) Gagne crashed, I had a lot of front-end moments there, too. I think it was just with the heat and the softer-compound front tire, it just wasn’t working well.
“I could kind of see that I was catching Danilo (Petrucci) slightly, but then I would run wide in one or two corners. He might have done something wrong, and I’d catch him. I don't think I would have caught him before the end. Maybe with four laps to go, one of the back markers kind of held him up going into corner five, which I kind of thought, ‘Maybe I can do something here.’ But then, unfortunately, going into corner six, I had a massive front-end moment, and I kind of ran out wide there. So, I just had to settle for second place. I feel like the mid-race pace is pretty good. Just need to maybe sort out the first couple of laps and see if we can be a little bit closer to the front guys there, so I don’t have to work so hard and maybe over-push trying to catch up.
“Otherwise, I’m pretty happy to be up here in second place. Our pace was a hell of a lot better than it was last year here. We seem to be making steps forward. Closed the gap a little bit. Kind of sucks being second place for the third race straight, so hopefully tomorrow, try to go one better. But Danilo is riding awesome. The bike definitely seems to have legs on us. So, we might have to look at trying to get out of the corners better. Just looking forward to going back to the pits now and working on setup and just trying to figure out how to come off corner seven and the final corner better so we’re not losing so many bike lengths. Well-done to these two guys. It was a long 19 laps out there. Hopefully, tomorrow goes a little bit better for us.”
Mathew and the team have a solid plan to adjust the setup for Sunday’s weekend-concluding Superbike race two, which starts at 3:10 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2 (FS2) Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. ET.
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