The 35th Annual ChaplinKawasaki.com Moto-X 338 National, round six of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, was held over the weekend at the legendary Moto-X 338 track. It will go down in history as the final AMA Pro MX event to be hosted at the circuit, but it only serves as the halfway point of our current season. Hopefully, racing will once again return to the New England track, someday. For now, the focus is what went down on June 29th.
As six rounds are now wrapped up, only six more remain in the 2013 season. The mid-season point totals mean a great deal now since those which have amassed Championship points and have climbed to the top of the order are now far ahead of riders with less consistent finishes. The race from here onwards is between those at the top. However, the riders not as fortunate still have plenty to play for - final standing, contracted bonuses, and next season. Don't expect anyone to relax, that won't happen with these athletes.
MotoSport.com will certainly be here for the remainder - we love everything about this sport. Our supported riders will always get the best from us, and they work hard not only for themselves, but for their team, the fans and because that is what they do. At the Moto-X 338 National, our riders encountered a varied series of results, some good and some not so, but not one of them gave up; they kept racing like the battle-tested riders they are.
The Rockstar Energy Racing team had some of the more difficult issues. Ryan Sipes, who has done well all year for a class rookie, ended up with the worst showing so far this season. Blake Wharton too found himself in a position he is not used to and scored his fewest points of 2013. Jason Anderson, however, fared far better than both of his pit partners, and finished the weekend with solid gains; a welcome positive to an otherwise forgettable trip to the northeast.
MotoSport.com supported rider Nick Wey had some of the same issues, but he was able to come back in one race and score more points. Derek Anderson found something new in his game and stepped it up here at the Moto-X 338 track, taking the highest finish he has had all year. WMX rider Jessie Wharton, unfortunately, found the circuit a bit of a challenge and also had her worst results of the year here.
We also have a new rider to report on for this round, series veteran Brett Metcalfe. He comes back to the U.S. after having ridden in the Canadian National Motocross series for the better part of this spring and summer. He arrived, suited up, and then went on to impress everyone!
Ups and downs are part and parcel of this sport, and the Moto-X 338 National this past June 30th will stand as an example of how it can go so right for some, and so wrong for others. With that intro in the bag, let's have a look at the individual results from each rider.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
To this point in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the riders on the Rockstar Energy Racing team have been fairly consistent. They could usually be found up the order, with occasional hints of landing on the podium at virtually every stop on the tour. The trip to the ChaplinKawasaki.com Moto-X 338 National, however, was not a good example of this. Unfortunately for the team, both Ryan Sipes in 450MX and Blake Wharton in 250MX suffered atypical finishes in their first Motos, neither of which earned points, and that set both up for bad starts, and thus bad finishes, in the subsequent Moto. 250MX rider Jason Anderson found himself on the other side of that fortune and was able to have his best weekend so far this year. Time to see what happened to the Rockstar team in the Southwick, Massachusetts, dirt.
Southwick, and the Moto-X 3338 National, brought bad tidings for Rockstar Energy Racing's Ryan Sipes in 2013. His first season in the 450 class has been somewhat of a surprising debut. When he nearly landed on the podium in his first two races, it looked as if this would be a break-out year. Unfortunately, Sipes has encountered the fickle nature of racing and had a few finishes which earned him no points. Even so, his improving results through the first five rounds indicated a positive trend. This took a hit in Southwick. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, Sipes wound up just below where he did last week with an overall 12th quickest time. His second session was a bit slower - everyone went around a little less quickly as the track bedded in some - and he could only pull in with the 17th best lap. It is the overall best time which counts here, though, so Sipes landed the 12th gate selection for the first Moto. That first race for Sipes is where it went from so-so to bad.
Starting Moto 1, Sipes was involved in a first turn pile-up which severely damaged his bike. Coming around in the seventh lap with his battered machine, Sipes could no longer continue; he pulled off - something he hates! - and collected himself for the second Moto. The incomplete first race had him finish officially in 36th position, giving him a far back gate choice for the second event. Fortunately for Sipes, Moto 2 was slightly better. Having to fight his way up from near the very back, Sipes was able to move forward throughout and he pushed himself all the way up to 7th. It was all going very well until a tip-over and hard-to-fire bike ended up relegating him to 22nd place at the finish. It was outside the points, and his combined overall finish of 31st earned him nothing here in Southwick. Thus, at the mid-point of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Ryan Sipes sits in an overall 13th position, a fall of 6 from last week, with 95 points; five more would move him into 12th. Not the best results for Ryan Sipes at this round, unfortunately, and we all know he is capable of much more. Next week, when the series arrives in Michigan for the Red Bull RedBud National, he will be anxious to get out and prove that this weekend was just a fluke.
Blake Wharton, riding for the Rockstar Energy Racing team in the 250MX series, has had his fortunes follow closely with those of his team - some weekends are great, some good, and some not so good. Last weekend, at the Budds Creek National, Wharton redeemed himself somewhat from the issues which plagued him at the previous round, and he earned solid points. On the Moto-X 338 circuit, though, he again had serious problems to overcome. In the first session of Qualifying Practice, Wharton came out swinging and finished the outing with the 8th quickest lap. The second session was down on the first, but only barely, and most other riders were also a little off of their best times, but Wharton still managed to be 15th best. This effort landed him the 9th gate choice for the first Moto.
Unfortunately, for Wharton, that first race of the day was not one he enjoyed much. After getting a bad start, he found himself riding with the last group going into the first lap. Then, along came a nasty crash - an end-over which cart-wheeled his body and hurt him pretty bad. He spent the entire break between Motos recovering. His misfortune led him to have the second-to-last gate selection in the final Moto, but without the rider slotted after him, who did not start either race, he was at the very back. Once again, the race did not start very well, and Wharton was once again at the rear. With a powerful urge to overcome his bad luck on the day, he started to take on his fellow competitors. One by one, he moved forwards, slowly moving up the order each lap. By the end of the Moto, Wharton had passed his way beyond the middle of the group and he took the checkered flag in a very respectable 15th place. Wharton was able to salvage 6 Championship points, but he fell some in the standings. Currently, in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross 250 Championship, Blake Wharton holds 14th position overall with 85 points, thus slipping one spot but only four points behind where he was last week. After another weekend which you can be assured Wharton would like to delete, he has an uphill battle for the remainder of the year. We hope that Wharton has left all of his bad luck at this track and will be in much better shape for the Red Bull RedBud National next week.
Jason Anderson, Rockstar Energy Racing rider in the 250MX class, had a far better trip to the Moto-X 338 National than his teammates. Throughout the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross, Anderson has been consistent to consistently improving. His results show a gradual climb each week. Last week, at the Budds Creek National, Anderson reeled off a 4th place finish in Moto 1, but followed it with an 11th. Even with the lower finish to that week's second Moto, his finishes allowed him to maintain his overall standing. At the Moto-X 338 round, it sure looked as if he could easily repeat - or improve on - that result. It started out well in the first session of Qualifying Practice where Anderson was 8th fastest. He backed this up in the second Qualifying session by lapping 5th quickest. This earned him an overall result of 8th place for the eighth gate selection in the first Moto.
In that race, Anderson pulled away with the lead group once the gates dropped, and moved into the top 10. He held himself there, rode hard, and managed several passes on his way to finishing in 6th place. It was a result his team was certainly grateful for on this day. That set him up to begin Moto 2 in a slightly higher slot. And, it was another great start for Anderson in the second Moto, as he again launched with the top riders, this time in the top 5. Throughout the race, Anderson held off challengers and maintained a solid pace. In the end, when the checkered fell on Moto 2, Anderson had made it all the way up to 4th position, and just narrowly missed the podium. The two great results combined to earn Anderson 33 important Championship points, and it gave him 5th overall for the weekend at the Moto-X 338 track. Jason Anderson now holds 6th overall in the 2013 250MX Championship with 161 points. That's only 14 points shy of top-5 and, though he is in the same slot, represents a major leap over last week's final standings. It's only half way through the season, and a crown may be out of the question, but Anderson is showing his fans why he is at this level of the sport.
So, the weekend visit to the ChaplinKawasaki.com Moto-X 338 National round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship did not go to plan for the Rockstar Energy Racing team. The team did everything it could to be ready, but bad luck strikes without regard to preparation, determination or even skill - it just happens, this is racing. Ryan Sipes has been impressive for much of the year, but these results were completely out of character for the rider. He encountered the dreaded 'two-fer' here by having his problem in the first Moto so that it continued to affect him in the second; that's the nature of this competition. This was the same for Blake Wharton in the 250MX class but, like Sipes, he managed a very positive come-from-behind finish in the second Moto. Jason Anderson, on the other hand, had a much better weekend and even improved on his results enough to gain some in the overall 250MX Championship standings. The next round for the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki team will be the Red Bull RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan, scheduled for July 6th. After a weekend like this, we can expect every Rockstar team member to be working non-stop to ensure we do not see a repeat. See you next week!
MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing's Brett Metcalfe
MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing had the good fortune to land rider Brett Metcalfe to ride for the team in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at the ChaplinKawasaki.com Moto-X 338 National on June 29th. It was a great 'get' and was only possible due to Metcalfe lacking a ride in this year's U.S. national series. Up until now, he has been tearing up the 2013 Monster Energy Motocross National, the Canadian pro motocross series. A break in the action up north allowed Metcalfe to come to America, and the fans are very glad he did. Starting out in his first session of 450MX Qualifying Practice, everyone knew he came to race. His first run earned him the 16th quickest time. When he went out in the second Qualifying session, he improved on his first by making the 8th quickest circuit. When the overall was calculated, Metcalfe had qualified for the 16th gate choice in the first Moto. He did not stay there for long, though.
Once the gates dropped on Moto 1, Metcalfe was away like a shot with the front group. He was turning fast laps and moving up the field. By the time the checkered flag flew, Metcalfe had climbed to 5th place! It was a great race for the Australian and it set him up perfectly for the second Moto. Moto 2 opened and again Metcalfe got through to the front. Though not taking positions as aggressively as he had in the first race, Metcalfe did manage to hold out at the front against riders who have been in the series all season long. When he came to the Finish Line for that second Moto, Metcalfe was in 6th position. It would not be possible to look at what this talented veteran accomplished coming into a Championship series so late in the game and not have respect for this rider. It was an impressive display and bodes very well for the one or two more times we will see Metcalfe fly the MotoSport.com colors. With his work at the Moto-X 338 National, Metcalfe earned 4th overall on the round and 31 points. Though he cannot challenge for the crown, he currently resides in 22nd place on the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro 450 Motocross Championship standings chart with those 31 points; only one point separates him from 21st. We all hope to see Brett Metcalfe come out again for his fans in the U.S. and elsewhere, just to see how much better he can get!
A week ago, at the Budds Creek National, MotoSport.com supported rider Nick Wey had mixed results. His first Moto was an improvement over what he has done for much of this season, but he was unable to finish the second due to mechanical issues with his bike. This cost him one position in the overall 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship standings. Coming into the Moto-X 338 National, Wey most assuredly wished to move up some to make up for the lost points. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, though, he was not on the pace. At the end of his first trip out, he could only net the 28th quickest lap. That was to be his quickest run based on overall time alone, even though in the second session of Qualifying he brought in the 22nd best lap. Once all the riders' top times were calculated, Wey was relegated to the 30th gate selection in the first Moto. Given such a bad spot starts a rider in the hole. Wey, however, used it.
When the gates dropped on Moto 1, he pulled away very well and had his Kawasaki in the middle of the action going into the second corner. He held his spot at first, but quickly began to reel in the riders in front of him. Lap after lap, he moved up, and took one spot after another, until he found himself in 19th place when the flag fell on the race. That set Wey up for a better start in Moto 2. In that second race of the day, Wey had trouble when the gates fell, and he ended up near the back of the pack in the first lap. In the second lap, he pushed hard to make up for the bad start, and he was able to pull ahead of some riders throughout the remaining laps. However, once he reached the Finish Line, Wey had only achieved 25th. Even though he only earned 2 points, the overall finish in 23rd was much better than the week before. Nick Wey now holds down 27th on the 450MX Championship board with 18 points. He is in a virtual tie with 26th, but it is two positions behind where he was at the end of the last round. We are all rooting for him, and we all hope that we see him do much better when he races at the next round on July 6th at the Red Bull RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan.
Derek Anderson, MotoSport.com sponsored rider taking on the 450MX Class of in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, experienced a good race at the last round, the Budds Creek National. There he landed his second points-earning finish of the year. It was an improvement over every race he has had this year save the first Moto at Thunder Valley, where he picked up 4 points with a 17th place showing. In the dirt at the Moto-X 338 National, Anderson was working to change all of this. His first session in Qualifying Practice did see him show a slight improvement over the previous round with the 29th quickest lap. The second session was slightly slower overall, but still better than last week, giving him the 28th quickest time. In the overall, he ranked 31st and thus Anderson had the 31st gate pick for the first Moto.
After managing a great start in Moto 1, Anderson jumped out with the top half of the field. He had to fight to hold onto this high slot, and he did just that throughout the race, and held on to take the checkered flag in 14th position - his best result of the year so far! This gave him a far better gate choice for Moto 2. Anderson's start in the second Moto was not as good as his first, but he did get out of the gates at about mid-pack. This helped him gain position and he held on to it very well, passing several riders in the process and climbing to 20th place. However, in the final lap, Anderson experienced a get-off and he could only recover to bring home 26th place. The combined results earned Anderson 7 points and 19th overall for the Moto-X 338 round. This nearly doubled the overall points for Anderson, taking the total to 13, and moved him into 28th place in the current 450MX Championship standings. Derek Anderson would earn the title of 'most improved' of the week if it were offered, and he is certainly ready to do what it takes to do so again. Make sure you tune in July 6th for the Red Bull RedBud National at Buchanan, Michigan, and watch Anderson ride hard all over again.
The final round of the 2013 WMX Triple Crown Championship was held during the sixth round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship held at the Moto-X National in Southwick, Massachusetts. On June 29th, the women participating in this series lined up for their final battle of this season and went all out to gain final placement in the overall standings. MotoSport.com supported Jessie Wharton was in attendance, and on the same mission. In her first session of Qualifying Practice, a full house, she went out and grabbed the 25th quickest lap, earning her a trip to the first Moto right off the bat. The second session of Qualifying was a little worse, though, and she could only lap 29th best. Wharton's overall finish in Qualifying earned her the 26th gate selection for her first Moto.
When she lined up for that first Moto, she immediately started having mechanical issues. Her bike died right as the rest of the field was taking the warm-up lap, so she missed that. When the gates dropped for the start, her bike again failed her, and she spent the entire first lap catching up with the field of riders. Wharton had herself up in 23rd position in the 5th lap, but when attempting a pass, her bike again stopped running. She had to push it off the field and thus ended Moto 1 with a DNF and 39th place. Once Wharton had her team look over the machine, her crew determined that the fault was somewhere in the ignition, but they could not get it repaired in time for the second Moto. She had to sit it out. Since she did not earn any points this day, she finishes the 2013 WMX Championship in 21st place with a total of 20 points. This is what happens when they only give a competitive athlete like Jessie Wharton only three rounds to earn points - all it takes is one bad weekend to move you way down the order. It is really too bad as we all wanted to see her do very well in 2013. At least she picked up more valuable experience and learned a great deal. Look for Jessie Wharton to return in 2014 with an even fiercer disposition and many more hours of practice under her belt. We can't wait! Good Luck Jessie!