By Michael Antonovich
Photos by Brendan Lutes
This weekend marks the end of the 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, with the final round taking place at the new Lake Elsinore Motocross Park. The track, which has been opened to the public for nearly a year, recently closed so that the track crew could build an all-new layout worthy of the fastest racers in the US. After a short press conference, a select crew took to the track for the first laps on Saturday’s course.
Check out our video coverage of the day:
Press Conference : http://motocross.transworld.net/1000135254/news/lake-elsinore-mx-2012-press-day-press-conference/
Track Preview: http://motocross.transworld.net/1000135250/news/lake-elsinore-mx-2012-press-day-track-preview/
The layout is completely revamped from what Lake Elsinore's normal circuit, as the track now runs in the opposite direction and has added numerous drop offs and "elevation changes."
The short-course racing track plays a huge part in the design, as it houses the starting gate, a spectator viewing area complete with bleachers, and an uphill section of rollers.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda's Tarah Geiger was the first racer to speak at the press conference, where she discussed her position in the point standings and how the year has progressed. Just ten points down of leader Jessica Patterson, this is the closest Geiger has come to claiming the WMA championship.
Ashley Fiolek was the next to address the media, and the Team Honda rider discussed about overcoming the injuries and setbacks she faced this season in Colorado. She sits second in the overall point standings, just five points shy of rival Jessica Patterson. No other mention of Fiolek's status for next season has been released or discussed since Hangtown.
Rockstar Energy Suzuki's Jessica Patterson is in control of the WMA championship, and with only two motos remaining, she looks to claim another title. It has been a rocky season for Patterson, as she has been plagued by injuries that have her riding at "75 to 80 percent." She sported a fresh wrap around her left ankle and a noticeable limp after a practice crash earlier in the week.
This weekend is Justin Barcia's last chance to claim the highly coveted 250 National title. The GEICO Honda racer's outdoor career has been rather inconsistent, but has shaped up this season to be in the running. Even if this weekend does not go to plan, his future is secure with a multi-year contract with Team Honda Muscle Milk.
Eli Tomac has stepped up his consistency and pace in 2012, and in the latter part of this season has moved within striking distance of Blake Baggett for the championship. Tomac has won five of the ten motos run since RedBud, the halfway point of the season.
After battling all last season with teammates Dean Wilson and Tyla Rattray, it is Blake Baggett's chance to add a number one plate to the door of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rig. With a 14-point advantage over Tomac, Baggett stated he likes the position he is in and despite the pressure of "having something to lose," he would rather be lead than follow.
When the year started, there were many doubts cast onto the MotoConcepts Racing team and its marquee rider, Mike Alessi. As we enter the final round, both team and rider have silenced the critics and converted many in the general public into fans. With no factory support, Alessi claimed a moto win and finished second to Ryan Dungey in the outdoor championship, with only one DNF thus far. Alessi credits the success to the support from the team's owner, Mike Genova, and the guidance of his father, Tony Alessi. Already locked into another term with MCR, Alessi and the team will begin working on next year's program the Monday following Elsinore.
Another rider that entered the year amid doubt from the public was Ryan Dungey. With a new team and all-new bike, many claimed that Dungey had hindered his career by signing with the unproven combination. Dungey and the Red Bull KTM crew have proven they have what it takes to be more than just competitive, as they claimed a number of Supercross and outdoor wins, and scored the Austrian brand its first US 450 title.
Page Two: Riding The New Track