Round nine of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Washougal MX Park in Washougal, Washington, saw Team Honda HRC's Cole Seely put on an impressive performance en route to fourth overall with 3-5 marks, equaling his best overall result in the 450MX class. Teammate Christian Craig struggled to find his groove on the hard-pack track, scoring ninth in both motos for eighth overall.
In moto one, Seely launched off the line to a fourth-place start but swapped positions multiple times on the hectic first lap. On lap four, the Californian made an exciting pass to take over third. He continued to lay down good lap times through the remainder of the race but was unable to close the gap on the leaders, taking the checkered flag in third, which matches his career-best moto result. Meanwhile, Craig started the race in seventh but swiftly worked his way into sixth. He maintained that position until the halfway point, when he began to fall off pace, relinquishing spots to finish ninth. During the second race, Craig started in fourth but quickly dropped to sixth, while Seely was close in tow in seventh. Seely continued his charge forward, making his way around Craig before moving into fifth a few laps later, which is where he finished. Unfortunately, while battling for position, Craig came together with another rider, suffering a fall and losing multiple spots. He remounted and managed to work his way back to ninth by the end of the race.
- During the morning's qualifying practice, Craig was sixth-quickest with a 2'13.388" time, while Seely was seventh at 2'13.684". Precision Site Work TiLube Honda's Fredrik Noren was impressive in practice, posting the fourth-quickest lap at 2'13.322".
- It was an exciting day for GEICO Honda's RJ Hampshire as he scored his career-best moto result of second in moto two en route to fifth overall. Teammate Jeremy Martin had a tough outing, finishing seventh overall with 9-6 results, while Chase Sexton was 13th with 13-12 marks.
- With three races remaining, Seely has moved up to fifth overall in the championship standings with 228 points. "I'm pretty happy to be fifth in points considering how this season has gone," Seely said. "Obviously I wish I was fighting for the championship but at one point I had actually fallen outside the top 10 so to be back in fifth after some solid finishes is awesome. I'm hoping to finish out the season strong and would really like to get a podium."
- Following their final break of the season, the Red Riders will return to action on August 12 for the Unadilla National in New Berlin, New York.
Cole Seely 14
Today was great. I feel like I've finally been seeing a lot more forward progress since starting my new training program, especially in the past two weeks. Things are starting to click. I didn't feel great in practice and was just trying to hammer out laps to get a good time, which didn't work too great. When the moto came around, I felt way better. I was flowing really well and finding good lines on the track, as well as mixing up my lines each lap if I knew something had changed or gotten blown out. I've always struggled with that and normally take the same lines, so I felt good. Third in the first moto ties my best result, so that was great. I was really trying to go after an overall podium in the second moto but it was just out of reach. I didn't want to push it too much and go down because the track was gnarly, but I still felt strong and am happy with fourth overall.
Christian Craig 48
Washougal didn’t go as I'd hoped. I felt awesome in practice but couldn’t find a good flow during the first moto. I'm usually pretty good on that track so I’m not sure why I wasn’t able to put it all together. The second moto went a lot better after we made some bike changes. I had a pretty decent start but tangled with [Dean] Wilson and went down. I was able to work my way back up to ninth and ended up eighth overall on the day. I'm looking forward to this weekend off and getting back to where I should be in a couple weekends at Unadilla.
Even from the first morning practice, I thought Cole looked really strong. He seemed confident and aggressive, which could be because he has more confidence in the bike after our recent changes. His first moto was really solid and probably the strongest I've seen him ride this whole outdoors season. I was hoping he could start a little closer to the front in the second moto but he made moves early and his times stayed pretty consistent. I definitely see progress and think things are going in a positive direction. He gave 100% and that's all we can ask for. Christian struggled in the first moto so we made some adjustments before the second moto and he said it was a lot better. We're still figuring some things out with the new bike but it's getting better and I think the guys are making progress.
It was a good day. This is kind of what both Cole and I have been expecting from him with the work that he's been putting in. I think a lot of it was his start too. When you get a better start you obviously put yourself in a position to get a better result. I also think his fitness and speed were better throughout both motos and his line choices were good. He just needs to have more confidence in himself but I think that's starting to come.
Christian struggled a little bit today. He wasn't able to get comfortable on the hard-pack track in moto one and seemed to be just fighting the bike. We made some internal changes to the fork to make it a little softer for the second moto and he was riding much better. Unfortunately, he came together with [Dean] Wilson and went down. He lost some spots but still put some good laps together to finished ninth again.
THE FOCUS: Exclusive Unveiling for the Red Riders
On Sunday following the Washougal National, American Honda Brand Ambassador Andrew Short continued his duties by heading straight to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, for the unveiling of the 2018 CRF250R during the AMA Amateur National Championship. The all-new motocross model, which features a more powerful DOHC engine with downdraft intake and completely separate exhausts (header to muffler), is based on the meticulously developed chassis that helped make the 2017 CRF450R the best-selling motocross model of the year. The CRF250R was unveiled during a special Red Riders Appreciation Dinner that was held at Loretta Lynn's Ranch for Honda racers who had qualified for the event, as well as their families.
"The CRF250R will obviously be an important model for our amateur motocross riders, so we figured it made sense to hold the global unveiling here," said American Honda Motorcycle Sports Assistant Manager Brandon Wilson. "We appreciate all the hard work these riders put into qualifying for Loretta Lynn's, and it seemed like they enjoyed being the first ones to get to see the bike in person."
The Honda Red Riders Rewards semi will be at the ranch all week, assisting Honda riders at no cost.