Round ten of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship was held in the hills of New Berlin, New York, at the Built Ford Tough Unadilla National on August 10th. Weather for this round was again decent, though the track was drying out from heavy rains which hit the area days before the event began. In fact, the temperatures were easily comfortable but, though the track was completely dry by the time riders lined up for the first race, it was a very rough and rutted race surface. Although some did experience this as an advantage, not everyone had the same feeling, as you will see.
Unadilla marks more than 80% of the season wrapped up, and only two rounds remain for 2013. This, of course, means that most riders in the hunt for the crown are at the top of their game, and those who cannot achieve a Championship are in it to secure rides and to earn experience against their competitors for next year. The season may be coming to a close, but the action only heats up at the end.
Yet again, though, riders supported by MotoSport.com were in short supply at this round. The Rockstar Energy Racing team is the most affected by injury. Out at this stop are 450MX rider Ryan Sipes, who suffered a hard fall at the Spring Creek National two weeks ago, 250MX rider Domnic "Nico" Izzi, lost to a crash at the Tennessee National in June, and fellow 250 rider Blake Wharton, who was hit with a serious viral infection in July. The only rider the team had on the Unadilla track was 250MX man Jason Anderson.
MotoSport.com sponsored rider Nick Wey also continues to recover from his rather hard crash at the Washougal round, so he was not racing at Unadilla. On the positive side, MotoSport.com 450MX rider Derek Anderson was healthy and on the dirt all weekend long. Joining him for the second time this year was newly minted Canadian MX Champion and MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing rider Brett Metcalfe. So, all was not "doom and gloom" for the talented athletes backed by MotoSport.com.
And so it goes in racing; victories are hard to come by and injuries accumulate. In a way, it is a race of attrition where only those who are not taken out survive to challenge for the overall Championship. No one ever said it was easy.
Two more rounds to go, and the series is tight. Let's look back at the 2013 Unadilla National to see just how this reflected in the results of your favorite MotoSport.com riders:
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
Last round, the Rockstar Energy Racing team was down to just two riders. At Unadilla, the team was left with only one competitor to fly their colors on the track. Yep, by all accounts, the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship has been a tough test for the Rockstar crew. Fortunately, even with this run of misfortune, they have a star in 250MX rider Jason Anderson, who continues to land top-ten, and often top-five, finishes. Anderson even stood on the podium back at the Spring Creek National. As Ryan Sipes, Nico Izzi and Blake Wharton are all sitting on the sidelines, the team put all of its support under Anderson. With track throwing up some difficulty, however, it was anyone's guess as to how Anderson would handle it. Let's see how that went:
Rockstar Energy Racing 250MX Class rider Jason Anderson arrived at the Unadilla National on a high. The last time he suited up, two weeks prior at the Spring Creek National, he took an overall 3rd place based on 3 - 5 Moto finishes for the day and stood on the podium after his first race. It was good enough for him to hold his place in the 250MX Championship overall rankings and to gain on a slot which would secure top-five for the 2013 running of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. He would need to repeat this performance to keep his place or advance; anything less would drop him down the order. At first, Anderson was a little slow compared to the competition and his usual standards, and his first session of Qualifying Practice resulted in him holding to only the 8th best lap. However, when the second Qualifying Practice was held, Anderson came roaring back in good form by taking to the circuit with the 5th quickest lap setting him up with a very nice gate selection in the first Moto.
At the start of Race 1, Anderson had a mediocre start which put him way down in the pack heading out of the first turn. He quickly began to notch positions by passing rider after rider, and had made it all the way up to the top-ten before the first lap was run. It would not hold, though, as Anderson collided with another rider and fell to the dirt. Though he quickly remounted, Anderson was hit again and had to pick up his bike one more time. He again found himself well down the order and had to work his way through riders all over again. After two falls, his second come-from-behind run was impressive, but the best he could achieve by the time the checkered flag fell was 11th, and so it was with Race 1. Anderson was eager to make his Moto 1 difficulties an anomaly even if he had to line-up for the Moto 2 start a little further back than he did in the first. The race itself started out well as Anderson made a good start. He found himself running in the top-five and it looked as if he would easily keep that through to the end. However, when Anderson came up short on a huge step-up, he went down very hard. Fortunately, for him and the team, he suffered no lasting injuries from this fall, but he did receive a DNF for the second race. The total points haul from Anderson's Unadilla run was only 10, and he was credited with 16th overall for the day.
This caused him to slip some in the Championship standings. Jason Anderson now holds down 7th overall with a total of 248 points, which is only one away from returning to 6th. Considering that only two rounds - and four Motos - are left in the 2013 season, Anderson has time to move up, but he is unlikely to advance through into top-five. Given the extended run of bad luck his team has seen this year, though, this is a very good place for Anderson to be. Next week, when the show moves on to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, nearly anything is possible for this class, but Anderson will be anxious to get back to the level of performance both he and his fans are accustomed to.
How could one not talk about Rockstar Energy Racing's time in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and not speak of the odd run of misfortune resulting in injuries to their best riders? It can't be done. However, the entire season has been filled with many on this talented team giving everything on the track to turn in results for the team. Even if some of those were unsuccessful, it demonstrates the determined front this team puts up each and every week. The next round should see some improvement as 450MX Class competitor Ryan Sipes is set to return to action when the series arrives at Miller Motorsports Park for the Utah National on August 17th. The team will also field a fill-in rider, Michael Lieb, as well. With this energy coming into the team, we all hope that Jason Anderson will also see some uplift. Don't miss it when the Rockstar Energy Racing team gets back to the track; with returning and incoming riders looking to prove their worth, it will be unpredictable excitement at its best!
MotoSport.com 450MX rider Derek Anderson ended up leaving the last round, the Spring Creek National, with zero points. It was a disappointment after having had such a good run at the Washougal round before it, and coming so close to earning points there. As the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship progresses to its inevitable conclusion, Anderson must put in serious effort to improve on his position as it gets more difficult with fewer points available. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, the going was rough. Anderson went out with his competitors and did his best, but could only come in with the 35th quickest lap. He had to improve. When the second Qualifying outing began, Anderson knew this and put his head down and pushed hard. When the session was done, he had pulled himself up the order significantly by landing the 25th best lap thanks to shaving more than 12 seconds from his first session's best time. Starting from behind mid-pack can be difficult for any racer but Anderson made the best of it in Moto 1.
When the gates dropped, he got away well and pulled in some riders in front of him right at the start. As the race went forward, Anderson also managed quicker laps. This allowed him to pass some more and gain position. By the time he rounded the last corner and passed the checkered flag, he had dragged himself into 18th place and into the points. This allowed him a better start to the second race. However, his Moto 2 would not be so successful. When the race began, Anderson had one of his best starts all season. He pushed far up in the top half and was lapping the track better than he did earlier in the day. About mid-way, though, he ran into trouble and lost his slot. He never could return to the speed he had during the first half, unfortunately, and finished Moto 2 in the same spot he started Moto 1, 25th. The trip to Unadilla netted Anderson 3 points and he took an overall 23rd for the day's work. This added to his overall point total, and Derek Anderson now sits in 31st on the 250MX Championship standings chart, a fall of two places, with a total of 16 points, only two points away from the position he held after Spring Creek. At least Anderson experienced improvement compared to previous results, but he must really turn up the heat if he wants to finish the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship higher than he is now. Next week at the Utah National, to be held at Miller Motorsports Park on August 17th, we are all hoping to see him climb that mountain and bring in more points!
MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing's Brett Metcalfe
Well, when we first reported on Brett Metcalfe, it was noted that he has been plying his trade up north in the Canadian Pro Motocross Championship, while merely taking a trip or two to compete in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Turns out that he was doing very well in the Great White North, and now he is the Canadian National Motocross Champion! Unfortunately, that does not buy him any advantage in the U.S.A., but it certainly helps his confidence here. The last time he made the trip, he came away from the Moto-X 338 National with a 4th overall in the day's 450MX Championship races, and that earned him the 22nd slot on the rider standings chart. It was an excellent finish, but could he repeat it at Unadilla? To be fair, it started out better for him this time. In Metcalfe's first session of Qualifying Practice, he came in with the 15th quickest lap time. In his second trip out for Qualifying, Metcalfe shaved more than 9 seconds from his best lap time and pulled himself up to 14th quickest, setting him up for a top-half start in the first Moto.
When the gates dropped on the first race, Metcalfe pulled out a good start and landed in the top quarter going into the first turn. Within the first few laps, he ticked off riders and advanced up the order. However, he ran into some trouble in his sixth lap and lost a few slots. He recovered quickly, though, and by the time the checkered flag came down on the proceedings, Metcalfe had made it all the way to 10th. Not only was this a great result, it set him up for a better starting position in Moto 2. That second race began as the first did, with Metcalfe getting away well at the start. Overall, this was a better experience for the rider, and he was able to keep himself within the top-ten throughout the event.