The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, kicks off the second half of the 2012 season on Saturday from Spring Creek MX Park. The Bob’s Cycle Supply Spring Creek National, from Millville, Minn., will challenge the world’s best riders on one of the most renowned tracks on the schedule.
Last weekend at Michigan’s RedBud USA, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey continued his dominant run by once again sweeping the day’s motos and capturing his fourth consecutive victory. Additionally, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett took his third win of the season and established his own two-race winning streak in the 250 Class.
Red Bull KTM
Dungey put forth arguably his most dominant effort of the summer at RedBud. He went virtually unchallenged in either moto and won each by a combined lead of over one minute ahead the field. As a result of his fourth win of the season, Dungey now holds nearly a three-moto points lead in the 450 Class and now heads to his home race in Millville, where he has not lost in four years.
Mike Alessi’s day at RedBud could have been disastrous after a crash in the first turn of the opening moto. However, showing the resiliency of a veteran, Alessi battled from the back of the field to salvage an impressive 11th-place finish. In Moto 2, Alessi asserted himself back at the front of the field, leading early and eventually following Dungey across the line. By virtue of his strong second moto, Alessi finished fifth overall, missing out on the overall podium for just the second time this season.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Jake Weimer was hoping to rebound from a tough outing at Budds Creek last weekend and got his day off to a strong start by finishing second to Dungey in Moto 1. However, misfortune struck Weimer on several occasions in Moto 2, ultimately relegating him to 20th. In the end, Weimer settled for 10th overall, losing a little ground to Alessi in the standings. He’ll be eager to turn things around on Saturday.
“Millville is usually really good,” said Weimer. “I was in California for a few weeks and went back to Florida after RedBud. It was good to train and ride laps in the humidity and get used to it again. I’m looking to come out swinging at Millville, get some good starts, and keep myself out of trouble.”
Tyla Rattray made his racing debut for Monster Energy Kawasaki at RedBud. After suffering a broken hand during practice at Hangtown, Rattray’s inaugural 450 Class race on U.S. soil was memorable considering he had yet to race a single lap prior to then. Rattray showed his trademark determination in the first moto, finishing fourth, and backed it up with another solid effort in Moto 2, finishing fifth. In the end, Rattray just missed out on the overall podium, but is already looking to keep it going this weekend at the site where he claimed the 250 Class victory one year ago.
“I won last year at Millville,” said Rattray. “I’m looking forward to going back on a KX450F this year. It’s a nice track with good dirt and some humidity. I’ve been getting acclimated to it down in Florida, so it should be a good weekend.”
Team Chaparral Honda
Despite an up and down day, Andrew Short still posted a top-10 finish for at RedBud, helping maintain his hold on fourth in the championship standings. The veteran rider started off the afternoon with a 12th-place finish after getting caught up in a crash in the first turn, but bounced back well in the second moto with a sixth-place finish that ultimately vaulted him to ninth overall.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
After a career-best finish at the previous round, Broc Tickle was hoping for more of the same at RedBud. While he didn’t replicate his efforts, Tickle maintained his season-long consistency, posting 5-9 moto scores to finish sixth overall. Tickle now sits fifth in the championship standings and hopes to challenge up front at Spring Creek.
“I’m ready to get on the podium again,” said Tickle. “Millville is one of my favorite tracks. I worked on my speed and starts this week, so I’m ready to get out there and battle at the front.”
Team Yoshimura Suzuki
James Stewart made his anticipated return to competition at RedBud and while he wasn’t’ able to bring Dungey’s dominance to a halt, he still posted a hard-fought podium effort. Stewart put himself in position to challenge Dungey early in the opening moto, but an early fall followed by stalling his bike hurt his results, falling to sixth in the end. However, in the second moto, Stewart position himself into third place early on and stayed put through to the finish. Third overall helped get Stewart back into the rhythm of competition and he’ll look for more improvement on Saturday.
“It was an eventful day (at RedBud),” said Stewart. “I was second fastest in practice, but in the first moto, I realized I wasn’t quite 100 percent. But, I still wanted to try and have a decent moto. After one crash and a stall, I ended up sixth. In the second moto, I came from 10th and made my way up into third and just sat there. It was good to be racing again. The Yoshimura Suzuki team was working hard and the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was running great. The fans at RedBud were awesome and I was happy just to be back racing. Now I’m looking forward to Millville this weekend. I like that track and won there the last time I raced there.”
Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki
As a former winner at RedBud, Josh Grant had high hopes for a strong outing. Grant continued his consistent efforts en route to eighth overall, finishing ninth in Moto 1 and seventh in Moto 2, further solidifying his possession of eighth in the points.
Kyle Chisholm just missed out on a top-10 finish yet again at RedBud. The veteran rider finished 15th in the opening moto and improved his performance in Moto 2, finishing 11th. In the end, Chisholm secured 12th overall but worked his way back into the top 10 in the championship.
Team Honda Muscle Milk
After a slow start to the season, Justin Brayton is starting to turn things around. This was evident by his season-best outing at RedBud in which Brayton finished second overall (3-4). Brayton’s confidence continues to increase with each moto and he’s begging to make a gradual climb up the 450 Class standings, now sitting in ninth.
“Finally being up on the podium where I feel I belong is awesome,” said Brayton. “I got good starts in both motos (at RedBud) and just focused on staying consistent and riding strong. The heat was a big factor too; I have been practicing in the same weather at home, so it didn’t bother me too much. I knew mentally that I was strong in those conditions, which I think really helped.”
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Perhaps no rider is working harder for his success than Blake Baggett. At RedBud, Baggett posted back-to-back come-from-behind efforts in order to claim the win. After a start outside the top five in Moto 1, Baggett pushed his bike to its limit to make a late pass for the lead. In Moto 2, Baggett moved into the front early, but a crash forced him to overcome a deficit, which he appeared to do with relative ease. With a growing points lead, Baggett will look to keep the ball rolling at Spring Creek, where he finished third one year ago.
“Last year I went 3-3 at Millville,” said Baggett. “This year, I’ll be looking to turn that around into a 1-1. I’ve been training down in the Florida heat, riding with Rattray and Weimer, and learning some things from them. I’m looking to keep the momentum going to stay up front.”
Justin Barcia was in position to win both motos at RedBud, finding himself at the front of the field for most of the afternoon. However, Barcia was unable to fend off the hard charges of Baggett and settled for a runner-up finish. He maintains control of second in the championship standings and will be one of several riders looking to stop Baggett’s momentum.
“I am always looking to win, so (RedBud) wasn’t exactly what wanted, but overall it was a good day,” said Barcia. “Like I have said, consistency is key, so being on the podium another week is awesome and is keeping us in the hunt for the championship. I’m excited to head to Millville since that is one of my favorite tracks.”
Eli Tomac helped give GEICO Honda two of the three spots on the podium at RedBud, quietly putting together a pair of strong runs to finish third overall (5-3), despite some misfortune in the opening moto. Tomac now has sole possession of third in the points and is the only other rider in the 250 Class to earn more than one victory this season.
“I was happy to be on the podium (at RedBud), especially after falling over in the first moto and considering the start I got in the second moto,” said Tomac. “After I fell over in the first race, I lost the front runners and wasn’t able to get back up to them. In the second race, I didn’t get the best start but rode good and was able to get by Musquin towards the end of the moto to grab third.”
Wil Hahn continued his impressive 2012 season, once again battling for a top five finish. After 6-5 moto results, Hahn secured sixth overall and is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career to this point.
“The season is halfway over and I am finally starting to get the consistency I have been looking for,” said Hahn. “I have been getting some good finishes, but need to focus and staying up with the front pack in the beginning of the race so I can be in the mix. I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Red Bull KTM
While he was battling at the front of the field, Ken Roczen missed out on the overall podium for the first time this season at RedBud. After a third-place finish to start the afternoon, Roczen wasn’t able to duplicate his efforts in Moto 2, finishing sixth and missing a podium result by just one point.
Marvin Musquin had one of his best runs of the season at RedBud and is looking to battle at the front of the field more in the second half of the season. Musquin’s 4-4 moto scores tied him for third overall, but he missed out by virtue of the second-moto tiebreaker.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
Blake Wharton led the way for Rockstar Suzuki at RedBud, posting a solid top-10 effort. Wharton finished seventh in the opening moto, and followed it up with a 12th-place finish in Moto 2. His finishes ultimately landed him eighth overall.
“Overall, it was not a bad day (at RedBud),” said Wharton. “I had a few falls that I’d rather not have happened, but that’s racing. Now, I’m just looking forward to Millville and having some good battles.”
Jason Anderson experienced a tough day at RedBud, hindered by misfortune. After starting the day with a 10th-place finish in Moto 1, Anderson had to settle for 17th in the second moto, which resulted in 13th overall.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda
After a solid day at RedBud, Jessy Nelson broke into the top 10 in the 250 Class points standings. Last weekend, Nelson improved upon his 12th-place finish in the first moto with a ninth-place effort in Moto 2. His pair of finishes helped him finish ninth overall for one of his best efforts of the season.
Jake Canada had a tough outing at RedBud, but battled his way to a solid finish that helped him stay inside the top 10 in the championship standings. Canada’s 13-19 moto scores landed him 15th overall, but he’ll look to turn things around on Saturday.