Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett Maintains Points Lead For Eleventh-Consecutive Round at Steel City
Irvine, Calif. (September 2, 2012) – At Round 11 of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Steel City Raceway in Delmont, Pa., Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett put together two solid motos to finish fourth overall aboard his KX™250F, with a 4-4 moto result. With just one round remaining in the series, Baggett continues his domination of the 250 class points standings for an 11th-consecutive round. In the 450 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer went 7-3 to secure fourth overall on the day while teammate Tyla Rattray battled through the pack to finish fifth overall with a 6-9 result. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle salvaged points finishing 12th overall after a 32-5 moto result. JWR Kawasaki's Josh Grant scored his first outdoor podium of the season aboard his KX™450F, taking third overall with a 4-4 moto result.
Eleven Down, One to Go
Since taking the first 250 class overall win of the season at Hangtown, Baggett has fought hard to maintain the championship points lead, refusing to relinquish the coveted red plates for a single round. In Moto 1, Baggett got a great jump off the gate, nailing the holeshot aboard his KX250F. With a 24-point lead in the championship standings, Baggett knew he had to play it smart and didn't need to force risky passes on the rutted track and settled for fourth place. In Moto 2, Baggett got pinched off on the start and rounded the first lap in eighth place. He was able to work his way into fourth place by lap eight, where he would finish. Baggett currently sits atop the championship points with a 14-point lead over second.
"It was rough out there," said Baggett. "The first moto started out good. I got the holeshot, but just couldn't get into a rhythm and let a few riders get by. The track got rutted pretty quickly, which made it tough to pass. In the second moto I didn't get the start I needed and had to fight through the pack. I'm not too happy with today's results, I lost a few points in the chase, but I am still leaving with the points lead. I'm really looking forward to the last round at Lake Elsinore. The track is not far from my home in California and I've got a 14-point lead on second, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. The track out there can get pretty hardpacked too, which I think will play to my advantage."
Weimer started the day on the right foot, setting the third fastest qualifying time aboard his KX450F. In Moto 1, he got funneled to the back of the pack going around the first turn and found himself in 15th place. He started picking off riders and advanced through the field to seventh place before crossing the finish line. In Moto 2, Weimer got a better jump off the gate and was able to maneuver into third. Throughout the first five laps of the moto, Weimer battled back-and-forth with fellow Kawasaki rider Grant for third, but on the sixth lap Weimer was able to get the pass to stick and spent the remainder of the moto fending off Grant. Weimer finished fourth overall with a 7-3 result and currently sits fourth in the championship points, only six points behind third.
"I got a bad start in the first moto, but was able to turn it around the second moto," said Weimer. "Sometimes when you have a bad first moto it makes it hard to switch gears and get it figured out. I'm glad I was able to turn that around and finish third in the second moto. The rain in the second moto really made things tricky. My wheels were spinning the whole time and it made the jumps super sketchy. Overall, I'm happy to leave Steel City on a high note. I made up some points in the standings and hope to get on the podium at Lake Elsinore and finish the season third in the points."
After the gate dropped for 450 Moto 1, Rattray got forced to the middle of the pack and came around the first lap in 11th place. He immediately put his KX450F to work and began picking off riders. By lap twelve he had maneuvered into sixth place, where he would finish. In Moto 2, Rattray got caught in the pack again and came around the first lap in 12th place. Rattray started pushing forward, but a mistake on the second lap would send him to the ground and drop him to 25th place. Undeterred, Rattray got back on his bike and put together an impressive charge, passing 16 riders before the checkers to finish ninth. The impressive effort earned Rattray fifth overall on the day. He currently sits 14th in the points standings.
"Every weekend I feel stronger on the bike," said Rattray. "We've been putting in a good amount of testing and I felt solid coming into Steel City. I just didn't get the starts I needed and it really cost me. This morning the track was tacky and choppy, but after it rained in the second moto the track got really greasy. You can only push so hard when it gets slick like that, but I was still able to go from 25th to finish ninth in the second moto, so I was happy about that. This week I'm really going to work on my starts and hope to get on the box at Lake Elsinore."
After finishing third at Southwick and second at Unadilla, Tickle was hoping to keep the ball rolling with another podium at Steel City. In 450 Moto 1, Tickle got a mid-pack start and came around the first lap in 13th place. He started picking off riders and by lap five had moved into eighth place, but a few laps later he was forced to pull off the track. In the second moto, Tickle got a better start and after the first lap was riding in seventh place. By lap four, Tickle had worked his way into fourth place, but a few laps later he made a mistake on the rain-slick track and dropped to fifth, where he would finish. Tickle earned 12th overall on the day and currently sits fifth in the points standings.
"I have been feeling great the last few rounds," said Tickle. "I have just been focusing on having a good time, but still working hard, and it's been paying off. After taking third at Southwick and second at Unadilla I really wanted to win this race. I like the track at Steel City; it's a fun track with the off-cambers and ruts. The first moto started out alright, but I had to pull off the track because of mechanical issues. Even though I knew I couldn't take the overall, I still gave it everything I had in the second moto. I was actually happy when it started raining during the second moto, because I like it when it's muddy, but the rain didn't last long enough."
While Kawasaki legend Jeff Ward's race team is still in its first season, JWR Kawasaki is already proving a force to be reckoned with in the outdoors. Currently, their riders Grant and Kyle Chisholm hold sixth and ninth in the championship points, respectively. Grant was looking stronger than ever aboard his KX450F at Steel City, never falling outside the top-ten in both motos, and finished third overall on the podium with a 4-4 result.
Kawasaki launched a new social media campaign in cooperation with partners Pro Circuit, Thor and Parts Unlimited at Steel City called #socialcross. The program's goal was to increase fan interaction via social media channels. Throughout the week leading up to Steel City, prizes were awarded to trivia winners via Twitter. During the event on Saturday, fans following Kawasaki's Twitter page were given the opportunity to take a VIP tour of the Monster Energy Kawasaki transporter as well as a special meet & greet with Pennsylvania-native Darryn Durham.
Down To the Wire
Next weekend, the AMA Pro Motocross Championship heads to Lake Elsinore, Calif., for the final round of the series. While the 450 class championship is already a wrap, the 250 class championship is coming down to the wire. Baggett continues to maintain the points lead and is hungrier than ever for his piece of championship pie, but Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia have moved within striking distance of the title as well, which should make for some exciting racing action at the newest track on the circuit.
2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship – Round 11 of 12
Steel City Raceway – Delmont, Pa.
September 1, 2012
450 Class Results
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (1-1)
2. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki (3-2)
3. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., JWR Kawasaki (4-4)
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, MONSTER ENERGY Kawasaki (7-3)
5. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, MONSTER ENERGY Kawasaki (6-9)
6. Nico Izzi, Rochester, Mich., Yamaha (8-8)
7. Davi Millsaps, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha (5-11)
8. Phil Nicoletti, Cohocton, N.Y., Honda (11-6)
9. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda (2-32)
10. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Honda (12-10)
450 Class Championship Standings
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 530
2. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 409
3. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 333
4. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, MONSTER ENERGY Kawasaki, 327
5. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., MOnster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, 309
6. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., JWR Kawasaki, 262
7. Justin Brayton, Ft. Dodge, Iowa, Honda, 222
8. Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., JWR Kawasaki, 198
9. Davi Millsaps, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha, 176
10. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 163
250 Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (1-1)
2. Ken Roczen, Apolda, Germany, KTM (3-2)
3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (2-3)
4. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (4-4)
5. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (5-5)
6. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda (9-6)
7. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Honda (8-9)
8. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki (7-11)
9. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., KTM (6-12)
10. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Honda (11-10)
250 Class Championship Standings
1. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, 472
2. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda, 458
3. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda, 454
4. Ken Roczen, Apolda, Germany, KTM, 427
5. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM, 368
6. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda, 282
7. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki, 239
8. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M, Suzuki, 222
9. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda, 205
10. Travis Baker, Temecula, Calif., Honda, 177