Suzuki rookie gets the holeshot, leads for two laps; finishes second in his first professional supercross race
HOUSTON (February 15, 2004) ¿ Saturday night was a dream come true for 17-year-old Suzuki rookie Broc Hepler. Amid high expectations, the Kittanning, Pa. native made his professional supercross debut at Reliant Stadium. Hepler not only took home second place honors, but he also made history. His performance rivals James Stewart¿s second place pro supercross debut in 2002. Overall, it was an amazing performance for someone who has practiced less than a dozen times since mid-October.
¿I have had a few injuries that have kept me sidelined for the last few months,¿ explained Hepler. ¿I injured my back at the US Open in October and my rehab kept me off the bike until January. Then, three weeks ago, I crashed while I was practicing and separated my shoulder. I just got my doctor¿s clearance to ride last Friday, and I decided to race my first race in Houston as planned. I had a lot of help this weekend. Lee McCollum had my bike running perfectly, and Rick Johnson and Broc Glover gave me a lot of good advice. It¿s a real advantage having people like that in your corner.¿
Hepler¿s weekend did not start smoothly. He crashed in Friday practice, exacerbating the pain in his already tender shoulder. In his Saturday evening qualifier, he was denied a qualifying position when he collided in the air with KTM¿s Josh Woods. Fortunately, Hepler regrouped and won his last chance qualifier.
When the gate dropped in the main event, it was Hepler¿s RM-Z250 that snagged the $1,000 Butterfinger Holeshot Award from an outside gate.
The O¿Neal outfitted rider led for two laps before James Stewart, 2003 125cc West Supercross Champion & 2002 125cc Motocross Champion, passed him.
¿I knew (James) Stewart would be coming up behind me and I knew he would pass me. I¿m just going to have to get a little faster every week and hopefully I can eventually catch him,¿ said Hepler.
Hepler rode a smooth, smart and controlled race, catapulting himself to second place in the 125cc East point standings. He also posted the best and only podium finish this season for Suzuki¿s new RMZ-250.
¿I¿m really happy with my results, since it¿s my first pro supercross race. Knowing I can go out there and run at a good pace when I¿m not 100 percent gives me a lot of confidence for the future,¿ said Hepler.
Broc Hepler is sponsored by Suzuki, O¿Neal, Shoei, Scott, Alpinestars, UPMC Sports Medicine, Airtrix, Asterisk and Allsport Dynamics.
Traction Enterprises represents Broc Hepler and is a sports marketing agency specializing in the unique needs of motorsport athletes and companies involved in motorsports. For more information on Broc, contact Denise Conroy-Galley at 412-980-2336 or at email@example.com.