WAMPUM, Pa. — It wasn’t the weekend the Robem Engineering team had hoped for in its first time racing the Aprilia RS 660 at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Yet, Saturday’s Twins Cup race featured the team’s newest rider have a promising debut and its championship-leading rider recovering from an early setback to maintain his lead in the points standings.
Though he wasn’t able to pad his championship lead with one of his usual podium finishes, rider Kaleb De Keyrel finished the MotoAmerica Superbikes at Pittsburgh round with a 53-point advantage– the same margin he’d started the event with. And the team’s newest rider, Max Toth, of Belmont, Calif., finished sixth in his first time racing on the 2.78-mile Pitt Race circuit.
The team had a slower-than-usual start to the weekend. De Keyrel and Toby Khamsouk finished Friday morning practice in eighth and ninth place, respectively, and Toth and Carl Price were 14th and 18th. Later Friday, De Keyrel finished Qualifying 1 as the eighth-fastest rider. Khamsouk was 10th fastest, Toth was 17th and Price 24th. The second and final qualifying session of the weekend on Saturday morning ended with De Keyrel having secured 6th, Toth 10th, Khamsouk 12th and Price 22nd on the starting grid for the lone Twins Cup race of the weekend.
Saturday afternoon’s race saw De Keyrel get a good start but drop to seventh in the running order for the first three laps. In his first race aboard an Aprilia RS 660, Toth struggled a little in the early part of the race – falling from 10th to 12th by Lap 2. Khamsouk and Price had good starts to the race, as Khamsouk advanced to eighth and Price moved up from 22nd to 20th on the first lap.
De Keyrel was running in seventh place on Lap 4 when he ran off track and rejoined the race in 17th place. Having fallen out of the points-paying positions, De Keyrel rallied to make up as many positions as he could. He moved up two positions before the end of Lap 4 and was running in 14th at the end of Lap 5, 13th on Lap 6 and 12th on Lap 7. De Keyrel made up one more position before the conclusion of the race to cross the finish line in 11th.
Newcomer Toth led the team’s effort in the race, moving up three places in the last three laps of the 11-lap race to cross the line in seventh. One of the riders he passed was his teammate Khamsouk, who crossed the finish line in ninth to score his ninth top-10 finish of the season. Price’s pace improved as the race progressed, and he crossed the line in 18th — four places ahead of where he’d started.
A post-race disqualification of another Twins Cup rider moved all four of the Robem Enginnering riders up one place in the results. Toth was re-classified in sixth place, Khamsouk in eighth, De Keyrel in 10th and Price in 17th.
Next up on the Robem Engineering schedule is the penultimate round of the 2021 MotoAmerica season, which takes place Sept. 10-12 on the 2.25-mile Thunderbolt circuit at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J.
Kaleb De Keyrel / No. 51
“Unfortunately, we had a technical problem on Lap 4 that caused me to run off-track. I got the problem sorted enough to continue racing and get as many points as I could. Obviously, the championship is on the line here, so every couple points really helps. I made the best of it and rode as good as I could. I’m looking forward to having things sorted out for New Jersey and getting back on the podium there. I think setup is going to be huge there, as it’s a very technical track with several left-right corner combinations.”
Max Toth / No. 58
“It was a really tough weekend with a lot of ups and downs. We had technical problems for the first two sessions that set us back a bit. I didn’t finish where I wanted to, but we made some big improvements from where we started. It’s going to be an all-new experience racing at New Jersey and Barber – just like it was here – but I think we can go into the next round with a lot more confidence.”
Toby Khamsouk / No. 27
“We started the weekend OK in Friday practice, but we spent a lot of the weekend trying some things with the rear of the bike to get me more comfortable. We made a change in the race, and it was a step in the right direction. We still have some things to figure out, but the whole team is working very hard on it. I’m looking forward to the next round. New Jersey Motorsports Park is a fun track.”
Carl Price / No. 532
“It was a great weekend and it was so much fun to be back out racing a motorcycle. The Robem Engineering team put in a Herculean effort to get this Aprilia RS 660 together for me. I can’t say enough good things about the Aprilia, and I did my fastest lap of the race on the last lap. I won’t be back on the bike at New Jersey, but I’m hoping to race the last round of the season at Barber.”
Robem Engineering’s technical partners for 2021 include Aprilia Racing, Piaggio Group Americas, The Center for Plastic Surgery, Velocity Calibrations, Bitubo Suspension, Dunlop, Woodcraft Technologies, Dymag, Vesrah, DNA Filters, Magura USA, Sara Chappell Photos, NGK/NTK, Blud Lubricants, Millennium Technologies and SC-Project.
Header photo credit: Sara Chappell Photos