The weekly practice schedule for a professional rider in Southern California is fairly standard. If they aren’t wiped from the weekend at a round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, they’ll head to the recently re-opened Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park on Monday for a moderate warm-up. Tuesday calls for a trek to the High Desert and Competitive Edge MX Park, while the Milestone MX Park connects their main and vet tracks for a longer course on Wednesday. That leaves Thursday, the only day left in the week before catching a plane to the next round, which sees riders flock to Glen Helen Raceway for a true test of the outdoor settings. With so many bikes on the course, countless braking bumps develop in the soft soil and the heat of the Inland Empire gives a final test for their stamina and hydration. We made the trip to San Bernardino on Thursday morning to see Blake Baggett and Justin Hill of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, Weston Peick of RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki, and Fredrik Noren of Team Honda Muscle Milk testing, while Shane McElrath, Darryn Durham, and Adam Enticknap worked to reclaim the speed lost by their mid-season crashes.
The recently added sand section received plenty of attention from riders, since they will take on similar terrain this weekend in Spring Creek. After seeing Blake Baggett charge through this berm lap after lap, we think he’ll be running close to Jeremy Martin at the title rival’s home track.
After notching his season best finish at Budds Creek, Weston Peick is determined to carry the momentum through the final rounds of the season. Peick was the lone RCH/Soaring Eagle/Suzuki rider putting in laps, and the verdict is still out if he will return the team in 2015.
Glen Helen is Blake Baggett’s home away from home, and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider even has the code to the front gate so that he can privately turn laps earlier in the week. His mother, Leann, is always at the track to run the pit board and stopwatch during his motos.
Justin Hill is working back from a slight arm injury at Muddy Creek, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider has plenty of speed on the track. Hill’s results are much improved over what he scored last summer and is ranked ninth in the 250 championship standings.
A tibial plateau fracture put Darryn Durham’s return to the Nationals on hold, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider is back in the saddle. Durham has spent roughly a week at the track and plans for a return at Unadilla.
Now cleared to ride, the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda team gave Shane McElrath the call to action earlier in the week. McElrath has missed every round since Glen Helen with a back injury, but will line up at Spring Creek on Saturday.
Fredrik Noren is now in Southern California to work alongside the Team Honda Muscle Milk crew as they sort out settings for the CRF450R. The speedy Swede has about two weeks of riding on the factory bike.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda team manager Tyler Keefe joined McElrath at the track and is reportedly on the search for a new amateur rider to add to the team.
Hill’s time at the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team is coming to a close, but has already landed a ride for 2015. He will join Marvin Musquin as the second 250 rider on Red Bull KTM.
Pro Circuit has begun testing the 2015 Kawasaki model line for new suspension settings, and the amateur racer alternated much of the day between turning laps and waiting for team techs to make small changes.
Noren didn’t put many (if any) long motos in, but would go out for short sprints and then pull back to the Team Honda Muscle Milk mechanics for minor changes to his setup.
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Thursday Motos At Glen Helen Raceway