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AMA Pro Road Racing Hits Miller Motorsports Park

The 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship took the show to the Utah desert and the beautiful Miller Motorsports Park in Toole over the August 2nd to 4th weekend for round six of the series. The weather was appropriate for the locale – highs in the 90’s (F) and extremely low humidity. It’s not terribly difficult on riders, but it is less than ideal for tires as track temperature often exceeds the ambient by a large margin. This put the focus on conservation of grip and rider strategy, a game of the mind.

The Miller round may not have had the international focus of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, but the circuit more than makes up for this with a great location, an almost perfect track, world-class amenities for both race teams and fans, and it is one of the best tracks for actually watching in person – sight lines other circuits envy. It’s not hard to see why the FIM held World Superbike races at this venue up until this year, and will certainly return.

MotoSport.com was fortunate to have a full corps of riders on hand to compete in the weekend’s scheduled events.

“Aussie” Dave Anthony and the crew from the MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing team continued their impressive run in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship at Miller with an overall result the very model of consistency. This helped them take yet another step up the order. The same class witnessed MotoSport.com/EBR’s Dustin Dominguez ride the best combined races he has done all year continuing his own upward trend in the standings. However, his MotoSport.com/EBR teammate, Cory West, experienced a somewhat less outstanding trip to Utah, leaving with points from only one race.

Over in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship, MotoSport.com/EBR rider Stefano Mesa experienced the roller-coaster ride that can be motorcycle racing at the Utah stop with a high first race finish and then an uncharacteristic mid-pack conclusion in his second outing. MotoSport.com/EBR Racing’s Brandon Cleland almost mirrored his teammate by pulling off his best result all year, and then following it with his worst since Daytona. This is racing.

And, racing is what they did at Miller Motorsports Park, so let’s look a little deeper at the round six proceedings of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship.

MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing:

The MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing team had a much better trip from California to the Tooele, Utah, location of Miller Motorsports Park than they did driving to Laguna two weeks ago. This time it did not involve a call for help. That Aussie Dave Anthony could deal with such issues at the last round and still go on to log consistent top-ten finishes is no less than incredible. This time he had nothing extraneous to distract him from his purpose, and Anthony went on to ‘level up’ on the Miller circuit.

Miller Motorsports Park is a relatively new circuit, having only started hosting motorcycle racing since 2006, but this has allowed the proprietors to take lessons learned at other tracks and apply them, thus making Miller a true top-level racing venue. MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY Racing’s Aussie Dave Anthony knows Miller well, and he demonstrated this knowledge in round 6 of the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Racing Championship. The first practice was held on Friday, and Anthony quickly established himself as a contender by riding the 5th quickest time there, even besting riders holding spots above Anthony in the overall standings. Of course, it only begins to count in Qualifying, and the first one was held later that same day. This first session finished with Anthony posting another good time, the 8th best lap of the outing. Qualifying Practice’s second run was on Saturday morning, and with cooler temps and slightly denser air, everyone was doing better. All this served to do was cement Anthony in 8th overall, thus giving him a second row start for the weekend’s SuperBike races.

In the race, Anthony shot off the start letting only a few riders get away in front of him. Throughout the running, Anthony had to fend off challengers and really had to duel with Yamaha YZF-R1 mounted Larry Pegram – it was dogfight that Anthony made Pegram work hard to win. In the end, Anthony brought home his Suzuki in 7th place, less than two-tenths of a second behind Pegram, equaling his best finish so far in the 2013 season (SuperBike Race 2 at Road America). That was a good omen for Sunday’s race. On Sunday morning, Anthony took to the warm-up practice with less urgency as all he needed to do was check out a last minute engine swap. The second race for the SuperBike class at Miller nearly turned into a carbon copy of Saturday’s run. Anthony again had a decent start and pulled himself into the front grouping in the first lap. Though it was another ride with little room for error, things were not as tight in Race 2. Anthony had to work hard for his position, but he was not threatened as often. When the checkered flag finally came down, he (AGAIN!) had established a 7th place showing. Anthony’s trip to Miller netted him 28 points, the largest sum to date this year and yet another indicator of why he should be riding on a factory squad. Aussie Dave Anthony now sits in 9th place on the overall 2013 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship, moving up one slot over the previous round, and holds 124 points. Overall, it was a great weekend at Miller Motorsports Park for the MotoSport.com/MOTUL/FLY racing team and Aussie Dave. Watch him school the competition at the next stop for the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, the New Jersey Lottery Devil’s Showdown to be held over the September 13 to 15 weekend.

Dustin Dominguez:

At the Laguna Seca Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, MotoSport.com/EBR rider Dustin Dominguez had one of his best races so far in the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, one only surpassed by the second race of the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship when the show was at Mid-Ohio. Dominguez has seen a bumpy, but definitely progressive, season thus far. At Miller Motorsports Park, Dominguez used this energy to climb even further. In the first open practice, though, this did not appear to be likely. Dominguez was nearly seven seconds off the top rider’s pace and could only net the 20th quickest lap. When it came time for the all-important Qualifying Practice later that day, Dominguez had found more speed, but his best lap was only enough to give him 17th overall. However, it was better, and he was not done. The second session of Qualifying Practice was held on Saturday morning, and again Dominguez pushed harder. Bringing in a time more than four seconds better than what he had in the open practice, Dominguez managed to move up to the 15th quickest slot, giving him a fourth row start for the weekend’s racing.

At the race start, Dominguez launched very well and found himself around the middle of the field by the end of the first lap. His lap times became progressively quicker at the beginning of the race and this allowed some passing and some much-needed defense of position. When he rounded the last bend and passed the checkered flag, he had put himself in 14th place, yet another step up. On Sunday morning, in the ‘warm-up’ practice, Dominguez ran in 17th place, thought he was still faster than he was in the first session of Qualifying. The second race began later that afternoon. Dominguez did not get the same decent start as he had in the first race, but he did get away well enough to land in the middle of the action. This was to be a different experience. Dominguez pushed hard, passed several riders, and kept his position safe. When he had finally completed all 16 laps and crossed the Finish line, he was in 10th place – his best finish all year. The combined finishes netted Dustin Dominguez 18 points, another new high, and now he sits in 16th place overall with 49 points; that’s a virtual tie with 15th and one spot above where he was after the last round. The trip to Miller serves as encouragement for Dominguez, and we all hope it will mean that his next race weekend - the New Jersey Lottery Devil’s Showdown to be held September 13 to 15 – will be just as exciting for the class rookie!

Cory West:

Cory West, riding for the MotoSport.com/EBR team in the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship for the 2013 running of the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship, had a fun trip to the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. There he had his highest finish of the season so far, bringing his EBR 1190RS home in 9th. At Miller Motorsports Park, West took this emotional high into the first open practice with the desire to improve even more. That first time on the track on Friday morning was good to him, and he landed the 11th quickest lap. This productivity followed West into the first session of Qualifying Practice. There he improved on his times, even if his best effort that afternoon could only give him the 12th best lap. When the second session of Qualifying Practice was held on Saturday morning, West again found more speed, shaving more than a second off of his best time compared to Friday. He was not alone, though, and he finished the session by taking 13th overall and landing a fourth row start for the races. The first race began later that same afternoon and West lined up in his slot. Unfortunately, he did not get beyond the sighting lap and suffered a mechanical failure which forced him out of the running. Thus he registered a DNF for Race 1 at Miller and collected no points.

For the Sunday morning warm-up practice, West had to get out and prove that his bike could withstand the next race. He did and rode to the 12th quickest of the outing. At least he knew he could get 7 or 8 laps done. West began the second Race form the same spot he started the first, but this was different as he actually got away from the Start this time. For the first few laps, West was running in the top half. At the mid-point, though, he began to encounter issues which slowed his pace dramatically; the remaining laps were all slower than his first half times. By the end of the Race, he found himself at the back of the pack. When the checkered flag came down, West held the 17th and final slot. Fortunately, that final result came with 4 points. Cory West now sits in 14th overall, two down from the last round, with 80 points, only one away from advancing. The Miller Motorsports Park round of the SuperBike Championship certainly was unkind to West, and not due to anything he did wrong, just the usual mechanical issues which many racers face. Hopefully, the MotoSport.com/EBR team can resolve the problems in time for the next race to be held September 13 to 15 at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

Stefano Mesa:

MotoSport.com/EBR rider Stefano Mesa began the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship well enough back at Daytona by winning the first race of the 2013 season of the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship. It was a brilliant start to the year. At the recent Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix round, held at Laguna Seca, Mesa came back from a low starting slot to register a 5th place finish. So, even though Mesa has experienced ups and downs this season, he still has what it takes to get to the front. In his first open practice at Miller Motorsports Park, Mesa could not make the top-five, but he did register the 8th quickest circuit of the track. When it came time for Qualifying Practice later that same Friday, Mesa picked things up somewhat and secured the 5th quickest lap in that session. Saturday morning’s Qualifying Practice proved to be more difficult as Mesa could scarcely improve on his lap times from the previous day. Knocking only 0.3 seconds off of Friday’s time only netted him the overall 9th best lap, though it did give him 5th best against his Eastern region competitors. Fortunately, that meant beginning the afternoon’s first race in the top half even if he was gridded on the third row. This proved beneficial, and when the race began, Mesa shot away at the start and into the top ten rider group. In quick order, Mesa hunted down some riders and took away their slots. He held on to defend his progress, and when the checkered flag fell on the race, he was securely in 5th place, and was the highest finishing East rider.

Oddly, on Sunday morning, in the ‘warm-up’ open practice, Mesa seemed to be taking his time as he only lapped 27th best overall in that outing. This did not have any bearing on that afternoon’s race, though. Due to some riders sitting out, he started from the second row in Race 2, and Mesa again had a good start. However, throughout the race, his lap times were down compared to those he had on Saturday. All riders were equally set back by a mid-race red flag and the subsequent re-start, but Mesa could not find much to gain afterwards. When he crossed the Finish at the end of the race, he was credited with 17th place. In the end, Mesa’s trip to Miller Motorsports Park helped him pick up 20 points towards the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport Championship. Unfortunately, the crown for 2013 has already been awarded to RoadRace Factory Yamaha’s Tomas Puerta as he has been mathematically proven to be untouchable, so Mesa cannot earn it this year. Currently, Stefano Mesa holds down 3rd place in the overall East and West SuperSport rankings with 188 points, just 12 shy of making 2nd. Mesa remains a force to be reckoned with in his class and looks to be ready to threaten for the Championship nearly every weekend he races, just not this season. The next round, the New Jersey Lottery Devil’s Showdown to be held between September 13 and 15, is an official Eastern regional and the final one for 2013. If Mesa can put together a good pair of races over that weekend, he could claw his way into 2nd overall and land the runner-up slot for 2013.

Brandon Cleland:

Competing in the AMA Pro Motorcycle-Superstore.com SuperSport East Championship for the MotoSport.com/EBR team, Brandon Cleland has been improving all throughout the 2013 GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro Road Racing Championship. At the Laguna Seca round, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, he nearly cracked the top-ten for what would have been the second time this year. That result allowed him to maintain his position on the overall chart and added precious points. Thus, coming into Miller Motorsports Park, Cleland had something to build on. In the first open practice on Friday, Cleland managed to achieve the 15th quickest lap, placing him firmly in the top half of riders. When things began to count, in the first session of Qualifying Practice, he upped the pace more and found that he could lap his Triumph Daytona 675R 7th best. Saturday morning’s second session of Qualifying Practice was very similar, and with improved times, Cleland cruised to 7th overall in that session, but landed in 8th overall in the combined rankings. This gave him a second row start for the first race that afternoon.

At the start, Cleland pulled away well if not perfectly, and did get into the top half of the order in the first lap. Throughout the event, he found the running tight, but he held onto his position. When he passed the checkered flag at the end of Race 1, Cleland was in 9th place, his highest placement all season. This would surely give him momentum for Race 2 on Sunday. The morning ‘warm-up’ practice was OK for him as he lapped 13th best; nothing special, but then no one tries very hard at this point. Race 2 is where everyone’s focus resides. At the start of that event, Cleland was relegated to begin the race in 33rd position, so a good start would be exceedingly difficult. Unfortunately, after posting lap times similar to what he was doing in the first race, Cleland crashed out after the fourth lap and ended up recording a DNF. Thus, Brandon Cleland only earned 12 points at Miller, and currently holds 19th place overall in the combined East and West standings in the SuperSport Class with 49 total points. The next round, the New Jersey Lottery Devil’s Showdown to be held September 13 to 15, is an official Eastern region event, so his points will be more important. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, Cleland can recover and get back to the improving results he has demonstrated for much of 2013.

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