Monday Kickstart: Budds Creek MX 2012

Happy Monday! Yes, we know, it’s sounds oxymoronic. Thankfully we have some more recap action from this weekend’s race at Budds Creek. Another exciting 250 class race complemented a dominant performance from Ryan Dungey in the 450 class, and as we head into a short break in the series, we are already chomping at the bit for Red Bud.

Budds Creek 2012. Doesn't get much better than this.

 

The welcoming groomed soil of the Budds Creek track develops into a bumpy, rutted quagmire as the day winds on. With big up- and down-hills, a triple step-up, and triple step-down, and fast, choppy sections, the track succumbs to the horsepower of the four-strokes.

 

Short of the brief preview Ken Roczen got of Budds Creek on press day (Thursday), he had no experience with the track prior to Saturday. Considering that, we would say he studied up well and found his comfort zone quickly. With great starts both motos and some great line choices throughout the day, Roczen rode the Mechanicsville, Maryland, track as if he'd grown up down the road.

 

Blake Baggett has gained quite the reputation for coming on strong late in the moto and making up most of his ground after a bad start. Perhaps less noticed, but in quite similar fashion, Geico Honda's Eli Tomac has consistently started his motos outside the top ten, but has managed to claw his way back throughout the moto, and has chalked up two overall wins in the process. The Geico Honda team, and the Tomac family have hypothesized that his weight/stature may be a contributor to his lack-luster starts, as he is a bit heavier than a lot of the more slight 250 racers. He is by no means a big kid, but is taller and likely carries more muscle mass than others. Whatever the case, he just missed the podium this weekend at Budds Creek, but still scored solid points with fourth overall.

After an eleventh-place finish in the first 250 moto, Rockstar/Valli/Star Yamaha's Kyle Cunningham aggravated his ankle yet again in the second and was unable to continue racing. Kyle took to Twitter later with, "Well, yesterday was better until I caught my ankle again. Made some good changes with the @StarValliMX bike. Just have to get rid of these nagging injuries and get healthy. Hopefully I can't get my ankle feeling good for Red Bud, but need to get feeling 100 percent".

 

Honda Muscle Milk's Justin Brayton has had a less-than-stellar motocross showing thus far in the first half of the series, but he showed signs of life in the first 450 moto of the day. He jumped off the gate to win the holeshot in front of points leader Ryan Dungey and holeshot king Mike Alessi. Unfortunately, Brayton's lead lasted only the blink of an eye as Dungey immediately took over the number-one position. Alessi, Broc Tickle, and Jake Weimer eventually made their way past JB, but he did manage to hold on to fifth place at moto's end. He ended the day with an eighth-place finish in the second moto to secure fifth overall on the day.

 

Malcolm Stewart, as well as his JDR KTM teammate Matt Moss found themselves in the dirt more than they would've liked at Budds Creek this weekend. Stewart fell multiple times in the first moto, resulting in a last-place score on the leader board, while Moss, too, fell in the moto and ended it with 36th. Stewart's luck, or lack thereof, continued in the second moto when he fell in the first turn. Stewart, however, didn't let it get the best of him, and he fought back through the majority of the filed to finish 11th in the moto. Not bad considering the frustrating multiple tip-overs and stack-ups.

 

Alex Martin took a narrow holeshot in the first 250 class moto, but a fall in back of the track a few turns before the step-down triple chopped the legs out from under him. Martin, though, did keep his privateer Honda inside the top-20 both motos and secured 15th overall at the end of the day.

 

"Fast as Hell"

 

The Pro Circuit team has just three total riders on the track, only two of them chasing a 250 title. With Darryn Durham, Dean Wilson, and Tyla Rattray (who was filling in for RV2 at Monster Energy Kawasaki) are all sidelined with injury. With Blake Baggett making a lone charge for a 250 title (which would be the only one for Mitch in 2012), the PC squad is as focused and prepared as ever.

 

The step-down triple in the back at the back of the track proved to be one of the sketchiest sections during practice. The lip was sending riders toward the outside of the track, and with the incredible momentum they would have upon landing, the breaking bumps were dangerous at such high speed. More than a couple riders suffered the cavernous holes at the bottom of the triple before the single.

 

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett continued his late-race chases this weekend, pumping out his fastest laps consistently late in the 30-minute-plus-two motos. He did manage to secure decent starts in both motos, however, which have eluded him more often than not. His 2-1 finishes sealed the overall and added to his points lead.

 

Blake Baggett has gained quite the reputation for coming on strong late in the moto and making up most of his ground after a bad start. Perhaps less noticed, but in quite similar fashion, Geico Honda's Eli Tomac has consistently started his motos outside the top ten, but has managed to claw his way back throughout the moto, and has chalked up two overall wins in the process. The Geico Honda team, and the Tomac family have hypothesized that his weight/stature may be a contributor to his lack-luster starts, as he is a bit heavier than a lot of the more slight 250 racers. He is by no means a big kid, but is taller and likely carries more muscle mass than others.

 

Like most of the bikes in the pro motocross championship, the JDR/J-Star KTMs have a ton of trick parts. We would like to get our hands on this carbon fiber shield for our own test bikes. At least one editor a month burns a corn dog-shaped hole in their pants while they lean against their bike after a moto reminding the rest of the group how good they felt on the track.

Budds Creek is definitely a spectator-friendly track. Since the circuit winds up and down within a valley, there are plenty of high vantage points to watch all of the action, no matter where the riders are on the track. They take it a step further, however, with a double-sided jumbo screen at the center of the facility for even an better experience for the fans in attendance.

 

Brand loyalty at its finest…and most permanent.

 

Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen has consistently started well off the gate this season so far, and he continued his first-turn success in both motos at Budds. He led the majority of both motos as well, but Justin Barcia picked him off 25 minutes into the first moto and Blake Baggett did the same in the second. That first moto win has still eluded the German racer thus far, but he scored his best overall finish in his rookie AMA motocross season with second, so perhaps that top spot on the podium is coming soon.

 

With just one rider to accommodate, the Chaparral L&Mc Honda team can use a large portion of their truck awning to allow onlookers a closer, shaded look into bike prep.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle unleashed this weekend. Great starts in both motos and tenacious riding helped propel him to second place in both motos behind Ryan Dungey. By far his best showing outdoors, Broc's performance at Budds Creek is exactly what he needed to both boost his own confidence and prove that he deserves to be at the forefront of Mitch Payton's first race effort in the 450 class.

Starts are still evading Jeff Ward Racing's Josh Grant. He clearly has the speed to run up front, but his starts have forced him to play cath up most of the race. He can usually gain four to six spots over the course of the moto, so if he starts 15th, he can usually break into the top ten. That said, if he can get a top-five start, there is no question he could remain there to battle with the Weimers, Shorts, Alessis, and Tickles. In the second 450 moto, JG33 did get a bit better start than usual and eventually secured fourth place. Jake Weimer stuck with him, though, and a bobble in the rollers before the finish line from Grant allowed Weimer to sneak by and steal fourth from him. With a seventh overall on the day, Grant is clearly improving, but he still is not happy with his scores.

 

The first place trophies at Budds Creek were on display in the media tent for some time on Saturday, but despite there being two commemorative guitars, only one was handed out on the podium during racing.
The first place trophies at Budds Creek were on display in the media tent for some time on Saturday, but despite there being two commemorative guitars, only one was handed out on the podium during racing. Cool trophy nonetheless.

 

Budds Creek attracts a pretty strong New England crowd. It's almost a sport to just people watch. At times we found ourselves gazing into the crowd instead of watching the racing. Whether it's the hot girls or the mullet-clad dudes, moto crowds are the best.

 

The Red Bull skydivers descended onto the start straight to help jumpstart the racing action at Budds Creek. The aerial acrobats flipped and spun high above the crowd packed onto the hillsides before coming in hot onto the track. We are sure there will be a GoPro video on Youtube from the skydivers in no time.

Interesting tagline. No doubt a reference to Eli's former mountain bike legend father, the phrase still seemed a bit odd to be on a banner. How 'bout "fast as hell" in German?

 

Justin Barcia is having the best outdoor showing (in his own class and not filling in on a 450) of his professional career. He didn't get the win this weekend, but he is just 13 points back from Blake Baggett's lead. With the entire second half of the season yet to unfold, Barcia has a good shot at a title this year if he can continue riding consistently with good starts and keep his excitable riding harnessed.

 

Mike Alessi is still the best starter in the game, but it seems he is also paying a bit more attention to actually riding the moto as well. He is sitting second place in the points standings and is strangely humble. After an off-season of thoughts of retirement and a ring-less telephone, Alessi and his father have a found a home with MotoConcepts, and it appears to be continuing into next year. Mike announced that he has already signed for 2013 with the satellite team and that he is extremely thankful for the opportunity team owner Mike Genova has given him. Like him or not, Alessi is riding well, gaining points, and keeping it on two wheels.

 

Red Bull is the king of proprietary events, but this is their first go as official drink sponsor of the outdoors since Monster and Rockstar traded it for the last few years. And while their branding is more subtle, they are still providing a strong presence in the pits. There are VIP hospitality tents in the spectator areas, drink stations, tons of shading tents, and even a retail area in the vendors section.

 

Ryan Dungey heads into the break with three straight wins. Even if James Stewart does come back, Dungey's momentum is hard to argue with. He clearly has that KTM working exactly how he wants it, riding smoothly and effortlessly. He checks out early and makes no mistakes, and with such a giant points lead already, Dungey is the sure bet for KTM's first American championship.

See you at Red Bud!

 Budds Creek 2012 Race Report

 Budds Creek 2012 Practice