Round five of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship was held in Mechanicsville, Maryland, at the 24th Annual Red Bull Budds Creek National on June 22. The weather was perfect for racing, and through the previous week had only briefly dampened the track, thus providing excellent track surface conditions for all riders. Of course, this played well for those in the series who are trying to cement their leads or gain on opponents.
As only seven rounds remain this season, that plan became the script for everyone. This is the time to earn points and score position because time is running short. Championship racing always has this increasing excitement, and holding a high slot at the mid-point can help to reduce the distractions which come with it and allow a rider to focus on riding his own race. For those who do not achieve this, the rest of the season is an endurance marathon which will only truly reward outright genius performances; anything else will move you backwards.
As anyone who reads these reports knows well, MotoSport.com has a host of riders competing in the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and most were on the track at the Budds Creek National. The Rockstar Energy Racing team was missing one rider, though, as Nico Izzi suffered another tear to his ACL at the High Point National and will sit out the remainder of 2013. However, Ryan Sipes was tearing up the dirt in the 450MX series, and 250MX regulars Jason Anderson and Blake Wharton were doing battle as well. We also had Nick Wey and Derek Anderson in attendance and in the fight, both in the 450 Class.
One more round done, and seven more to go. We say it over and over again, but each race is important and every event brings with it the chance to make some progress towards the primary goal of every racer out there - the Championship crown. MotoSport.com is after the same goal for the riders we support, and we want to provide for them everything we can in this pursuit. This is why we are here, to support the racer. For now, let's have a look at how each of these unique talents finished up at Budds Creek and where each currently stands on that long list of who will taste the ultimate victory.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki:
Coming into the Budds Creek National in Maryland, the Rockstar Energy Racing team has been relatively consistent in their results throughout the season if viewed in the overall. There have been many ups and downs thus far, to be sure, but the general trend is upwards. One of the bigger "downs" this year has been the loss of Nico Izzi for the remainder of the season. He re-injured his ACL and will likely be required to go into surgery yet again, and then go through the accompanying recovery process, so his year is done. In the 450 Class, Ryan Sipes finished with disparate results, leaving him overall just about where he ended last week. In the smaller displacement series, Jason Anderson and Blake Wharton both made better finishes out of their races, and each advanced some in the overall Championship standings. Now we take a closer look:
Though it is continually written of here, we must not forget that Rockstar Energy Racing's Ryan Sipes is in his debut season aboard 450MX machinery. He took over from team veteran Davi Millsaps when the latter decided it was best to sit out the outdoor season to fix his knee, which was in dire need of being straightened out. And, in this new role, Sipes has impressed teammates and fans alike. Coming into the Budds Creek National, Sipes was sitting in 8th overall for the Championship. In his first practice session in Maryland, Sipes was 10th quickest, slightly off the pace he set last week. In the second session of Qualifying Practice, Sipes did take almost two seconds from his best lap time, but he still ended the session in 10th position, thus giving him 10th overall and the 10th gate selection for the first Moto.
The night's first 450 Moto was where Sipes would excel. Once the gates dropped, Sipes was away quick and managed to get his Suzuki into the front group of riders. In the first part of the race, he had to ride smart and do everything he could to keep his position. Nearing the end, Sipes found a comfortable pace and held on to it so that in the final lap he had himself safely in 5th place, where he finished. This set up Sipes for a good start in the second Moto. Again, after the gates fell, Sipes grabbed a spot with the lead group, though at the back this time. This race proved to be a bit more difficult for the Rockstar rider as he slowly fell down the order. Towards the end, his lap times began to drop off further as he fought through backmarkers. When the checkered flag dropped on Moto 2, Sipes could only secure the 22nd spot. The combined finishes led to a 15th overall for the weekend at Budds Creek, earning the rider 16 points, all garnered from the first race. Fortunately, Sipes did not drop any from his 8th place overall standing in the Championship points race. He now has 95 total points and sits in a virtual tie with 7th place on that chart. One thing can be said for certain about Ryan Sipes' trip to Maryland; he wanted more. The 5th place showing is his best so far this season, and it follows a pair of 6th place finishes from the previous round, so there is more in him. Ryan Sipes is poised to step up higher, here's to seeing that happen very soon!
After last round's unremarkable first Moto, Rockstar Energy Racing 250MX rider Blake Wharton would probably like to have a do-over. We can all understand that. For the rider, such a result could serve as motivation or discouragement. As we all know, Wharton usually takes the former path and uses whatever happens to him to motivate him to do better. At the Budds Creek round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, he had some difficulty with this in the first session of Qualifying Practice; he wound up in 16th place. However, along with all riders, he improved his times in the second session of Qualifying, and this brought him all the way up to the 11th quickest slot.
Into the first Moto he went in with the 11th gate selection. When the gates dropped on Moto 1, Wharton managed a decent start, but could only tag on to the tail of the leading group of riders. Throughout the contest, he had to duel for position, but he held his own for the most part, only seeing slower lap times late in the race. By the time he came around for the final lap and the checkered flag, even with all the work, the best he could do was 15th place. So, he started Moto 2 a little further back than the first race. Again, after the gates dropped on this second race got away well, and Wharton landed in the middle of another positional fight, but this time he did better. In fact, Wharton had very similar lap times throughout the event, and his consistency paid off as he ended this one ahead of Moto 1 by finishing in 14th position. The finishes added up to a 15th overall at Budds Creek, and a total of 13 points earned. Once the points were totaled, Wharton moved up one position on the overall chart, and now holds down 13th position with 79 points, only 10 adrift of 12th. Blake Wharton's weekend was certainly better than his trip to the High Point National, but you can safely assume that more and better is to come!
Jason Anderson has, so far in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, done fairly well. As of the previous round, he sat in 6th place overall, a position reflecting his almost regular finish in the top-10 at every event - he had only finished below 10th three times to this point. The Rockstar Energy Racing 250MX rider arrived at Budds Creek with the intention of continuing his consistency, but at a higher level. That was his aim going into the first session of Qualifying Practice, and he came very close indeed. When that first time out was done, Anderson had achieved the 6th quickest lap, which was about where he was two weeks ago. The second Qualifying Practice was better for Anderson, and after lapping a little less than a second quicker, he finished this session with the 4th best time. The overall landed him the 5th gate selection for the first Moto.
Sitting pretty for the first race was all well and good for Anderson and, when the gates dropped on that Moto, it allowed him to get away with the top group of riders. As the race wore on, the top three gapped the field and this left Anderson with the lead of the second group. He held onto this position, though he had to fight for it, and he managed to bring his Suzuki through the Finish line in 4th place, narrowly missing the podium. That helped him get a slightly better start for Moto 2. However, he was unable to capitalize off of the great start. When the gates dropped, Anderson did not get as good of a start as he did in the first race, and he came around the first lap in about mid-pack. Consistency paid off again for him, as he ran nearly identical lap times up until the penultimate go-round, but it was not enough to give him the finish he had earlier in the day. When the checkered flag dropped on Moto 2, Anderson finished in 11th place. Thus, with these two results added and averaged, Anderson walked away from Budds Creek with 6th place overall and 28 all-important Championship points. He now sits in the same spot he held after last round, 6th place, now with 128 points. He needs 21 more points to move up one place on that chart. All things considered, Budds Creek advanced Jason Anderson, and he had a positive weekend. Will he be able to use this at the next round? We don't know, but we are looking forward to finding out!
The Budds Creek National round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship for the Rockstar Energy Racing team may not have moved the team up much, but at least no one lost position either. The riders are demonstrating consistency as well; it is only unfortunate in the fact that it is not higher up the order. Ryan Sipes had a great first Moto, but experienced a bit of a let-down in the second contest. He kept his overall position, nevertheless, but he will have to do more of what he did in the first race if he wishes to move up. Jason Anderson has continued to show fairly predictable top-10 finishes, though Blake Wharton has been up and down all year, but both will have to do better if they want to get closer to a Championship. The loss of Nico Izzi cannot be helping much; rest assured, though, the Rockstar Team is doing everything it can to ensure that he will be racing again soon...probably not this season, though. The next round, potentially the very last Moto-X 338 National, is to be held in Southwick, Massachusetts, on June 29th, so stay tuned to this station - Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki will be out there racing against the best this sport has to offer and you do not want to miss that!
At the last round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the High Point National, Nick Wey had a fairly decent weekend - his second successive. When he arrived at Budds Creek, he came in holding 23rd overall in the Championship points tally. Wey needed another solid weekend if he was to move up on that chart. Starting out in his first session of Qualifying Practice, Wey had a little difficulty improving over the previous race weekend, and could only ride the 26th quickest lap. Once he got into the second session, though, he found more speed and a quicker line, and he ended that Qualifying Practice in 18th overall, and this served him his gate selection for the first 450MX Moto.
When the gates fell on that first Moto, Wey pulled out with the top half of the order going into the first corner. He had to work hard for his position, though, with a group of riders who were determined to take his slot. In the end, Wey came away unscathed, but he finished one step behind where he started in 19th place. Thus, he began the second Moto in almost the same place he started the first. Unfortunately for Wey, that was the only commonality between his first and second race. Perhaps due to damage his bike suffered in the first Moto, he found himself seriously short of power in the second race. Eventually, his machine simply slowed and stopped, leaving Wey with a DNF for Moto 2. Wey's overall finish for Budds Creek was 24th, which is not bad considering the Moto 2 finish, and he earned another 2 points. Nick Wey now holds 25th overall in the 2013 Championship standings, meaning that he lost one position, and he has to capture another 15 points to make top-20.
Derek Anderson rolled into the Budds Creek National round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship with 4 points and holding 29th place in the overall standings. To advance, he would have no choice but to earn some points here. That meant finishing above 20th position, something he has only done once so far this season. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, his quickest lap only ranked him in 33rd position, which was not indicative of progress. The second session was no better, and though Anderson knocked nearly 2.5 seconds from his laps, he finished in the same spot. For his overall Qualifying position, he ranked 34th, giving him that very same gate selection for the first Moto.
The first Moto started and Anderson took off with the latter half of riders and went into the first corner about three-quarters down the order. He held steady here, but managed a few good passes and moved up. If it were not for an incident during the 14th lap, he may have advanced even more. When the flag dropped on Moto 1, Anderson pulled in with a 28th place finish - six up on where he began and setting up a better start to Moto 2. And, it was a better race, too. The gates dropped on this second event and Anderson made a very good start. He pulled away with the top half this time, and his lap times were better than Moto 1. This helped him move up and he worked his way forward bit by bit. By the time the flag fell on the final race of the event, Anderson came home in 19th place. When everything was tallied, that handed Anderson an overall finish at Budds Creek of 23rd place and he earned 2 more points to bring his total to 6. However, even with the points, he still sits in 29th place overall in the Championship standings, a full 3 points back from 28th. Derek Anderson certainly wants much more, and results like what he had in the second race at this round show he is capable of just that. Next week, at the Moto-X 338 National in Massachusetts, he has an opportunity to demonstrate this for everyone.