LAKEWOOD, CO (June 4, 2012) - Despite gusting winds and severe lightning that were daunting enough to delay some of the racing, the Rockstar Energy Racing teams prevailed at round three of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championships at the Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, CO, on Saturday.
Topping out the 250 class was Rockstar Energy Racing's Blake Wharton. Because of the inclement weather, the first 250 moto was delayed. Although the track didn't suffer too much, the holdup was mentally tough on the racers. Yet Rockstar's Wharton came through. Scoring sixth and ninth in the motos, Wharton finished the day in seventh overall.
"The track was very technical," said Wharton. "Add in the weather, and it made for some wild conditions. I was happy with the first moto, but I didn't ride the way I should've in the second. I fell down twice. I know I can be way further up there, but I guess you have these weekends where you learn. But I'm already looking forward to next weekend. I like High Point. It's a neat track and it suits me."
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Jason Anderson turned in a concentrated effort in the 250 class, but suffered get-offs. Doing his best to rally, Anderson wound up 13th overall, via 12th- and 15th-place moto results.
"I struggled quite a bit and had a couple of crashes," said Anderson. "It was kind of a bummer. But I know we'll come back strong for next weekend. I raced at High Point last year and I like the track, so it should be a good weekend."
For Rockstar Energy Racing 250 rider Hunter Hewitt, the Lakewood race was one in an ongoing series of motocross growth experiences. Every round so far, including this one, has seen Hewitt's results improve. Finishing 15th in the first moto and 16th in the second, Hewitt ended up 15th overall.
"This weekend was definitely another step in the right direction," said Hewitt. "In the last few races, I've been around 17th or 18th. But this weekend, I ended up 15th so I've been progressively building each weekend. It's been a long time since I've raced motocross and it's slowly but surely getting better. I'll go home and train and be ready for High Point, which is a track I like."
Rockstar Energy Racing's Martin Davalos did not race this weekend as he's recovering from a mid-week crash. Davalos hopes to return to racing within the next few rounds.
Rounding out the Rockstar Energy Racing effort is WMX veteran Jessica Patterson. Racing like the multi-time champion that she is, Patterson celebrated two moto wins to take the overall victory in the WMX class.
"The first moto was good," said Patterson. "I got about a second-place start and I passed right away. The track was really gnarly and the ruts were crazy. But I rode a decent race and I felt comfortable. In the second moto, I got a horrible start but, luckily for me, a couple of riders made mistakes and I was there to capitalize on them. I'm just pumped to go to High Point off of a one/one."
Leading the 250 charge for the Star Valli Yamaha team was Kyle Cunningham. Because Cunningham is still nursing an injured ankle, he lacked time on his bike during the week. Even so, Cunningham pushed hard and brought home ninth- and 10th-place moto finishes for ninth overall.
"We had two good motos," said Cunningham. "In the first, it took me a little bit to get going. I felt like I rode more like myself for the last six laps. In the second moto, I got a decent start but I couldn't push out of my comfort zone. But I'll continue to work on getting my ankle better during the week, and then push through it on the weekends. I'm looking forward to High Point. I've had some good motos there and it's another weekend to improve."
Star Valli Yamaha 250 teammate Gareth Swanepoel saw progress this weekend. After missing the last few rounds of Supercross due to illness, the South African has worked hard to get back on pace. This weekend, he carded his best results yet: 13/13 in the motos for 12th overall.
"It was a tough weekend," said Swanepoel. "But my results are getting better. I've just got to get better starts and be stronger in the first few laps. By the time I get going, the race is pretty much over. I just have to keep working. Now we go to High Point, which is a tough track, but it should be good."
For Star Valli Yamaha 250 rookie Kyle Peters, the tricky Colorado track took a toll. Peters put in some impressive laps early in the first moto and ran with the top five. He eventually settled into eighth, but crashed with two laps to go and couldn't re-start his bike. Peters struggled in the second moto and finished 17th, for an overall result of 19th for the day.
"I ran in the top five for a little bit in the first moto," said Peters. "So I was happy with that. In the second moto, I got a bad start and was working my way through the pack when I had some bad luck and fell over. Now I'm just trying to get ready for High Point. It's new to me and it should be fun."
In the premier 450 class, Star Valli Yamaha's Nico Izzi celebrated an excellent weekend. Carding his best result of the season so far, Izzi captured fifth-place finishes in both motos to take an outstanding fourth overall for the day.
"Today was a great day for me," said Izzi. "It couldn't have been any better. Practice was pretty good and I qualified fifth, then I got about a ninth-place start in the first moto and rode my way into fifth. And then we had some crazy weather between motos and that made things a little nerve-wracking. But I started in the top 10 again for the second moto, and I made some moves and got into fifth. My goal was to complete two solid motos for a good overall, and that's what I did. Now we go to High Point and I love that track. I grew up racing there, so it'll be nice to go there and run with the top dogs."
Star Valli Yamaha 450 teammate Ryan Sipes put in an admirable effort, especially considering he was riding with a broken hand. In spite of the nagging injury, Sipes picked up a solid sixth-place result in the first moto. In the second, however, he tweaked his hand and couldn't hold on to the bike. He wound up finishing 26th, but still managed to land 15th overall.
"I feel like I'm getting better every weekend," said Sipes. "I just need to push past my comfort zone, get a little wild and make some mistakes. In the first moto, I started way back and moved all the way up to sixth. I felt strong the whole moto. The second moto started better - I was around 10th - and I was moving up, but I hit a post and went off the track. After that, I was still moving up, but I crashed and tweaked my hand. It was a tough moto. But next we're at High Point and it's one of my favorite tracks. I'm ready to break out some more speed, but it put it up there for both motos."
Star Valli Yamaha's Bobby Kiniry did not race at Thunder Valley because he's contesting the Canadian Nationals. Kiniry will be back racing stateside at the Red Bud National in July.
Finally, Rockstar's Brett Metcalfe had a great first moto, picking up a podium finish thanks to a third-place result. In the second moto, he got a good start but got caught up with some riders who crashed in his path. As a result, the Australian had to work his way through the field to 10th. Overall, Metcalfe finished the day in a very respectable fifth overall.
"The first moto was intense early on," said Metcalfe. "But I started picking guys off and I moved up to third. It was good to get the first podium of the year. In moto two, I got a decent start, but on the first lap I got tangled up with some guys who came together and I had to really charge through, but I was able to get up to 10th. Now we go to High Point, which is a good track for me. I just need to focus on getting up front and staying in attack mode."
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the fourth round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, June 9th, at the High Point National in Mt. Morris, PA.
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