The 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship made its eleventh stop at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, for the Built Ford Tough Utah National on August 17. It was the first AMA Pro round held at the relatively new track making the round a new experience for everyone. Again, the weather was cooperative, but it was hot, very hot!
After Miller, only one more round remains. The season is coming to a close, ten rounds are done, and in the Utah dirt Championships were decided. The 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship was awarded to Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto which he earned by going 1 - 1 on the day's races and making it impossible for anyone to catch him at the next event. Over in the race for the AMA Pro 250MX Championship, GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac clinched his very first crown by doing the very same thing in his two races.
Now that the laurels have been awarded, what remains is a fight for position, a hard-nosed scramble for a ride next year, and the important accomplishments which accompany a racer throughout a career. The season isn't over until it's over.
At this stop, the MotoSport.com family had several riders come back to the action thanks to a welcome return to health after each suffered his own impediment. For the Rockstar Energy Racing team, Ryan Sipes arrived to contest the 450 Class again after having a nasty get-off a few weeks back. He rejoined his healthy 250 Class teammate Jason Anderson and a new arrival, Michael Leib, on the team for Utah. Unfortunately, neither Dominic "Nico" Izzi nor Blake Wharton, both competing in the 250 Class, was on the track in Utah.
Another rider returning to the fray was MotoSport.com supported rider Nick Wey, just now coming back from a spectacular crash he suffered at Washougal. He lined up with MotoSport.com's Derek Anderson, who has managed to remain upright and healthy all season, in the 450 Class. We did not get to see new Canadian Motocross Champion Brett Metcalfe, though, as the MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing team did not make the trip to Utah.
This is it; only one more day of racing for the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is left. That final will be held on August 24th at one of the most historic locations on the schedule, Lake Elsinore, California. Though it may seem that it will be a bit anti-climactic, to the riders, it is nothing of the sort; each will ride their heart out and do what they love - race.
Now, let's take a look back at the Built Ford Tough Utah National to understand exactly how the weekend transpired for the talented riders which MotoSport.com supports.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
At the last week's round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship, the Unadilla National, the only rider on the track for the Rockstar Energy Racing team was 250MX competitor Jason Anderson. Unfortunately, that was not a great day for him or the team, and the Miller round did not go much better in the overall, either. Ryan Sipes made his way back to the team and, in his first race since his crash, came on strong, but his overall was seriously mixed. Newly minted Rockstar Energy rider Michael Leib, a class veteran, mirrored the finishes of his pit mates with a good first race followed by a DNF in the second. In fact, there is a certain eerie quality to the way the weekend went down for the Rockstar Energy Racing team; see below.
The first race of the Washougal National, the ninth round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, was disastrous for Rockstar Energy Racing's Ryan Sipes. He ran into trouble and did the correct "save" procedure only to end up on the ground in a hard fall. It broke a knuckle, which had to be operated on, and forced him out of the succeeding round at Unadilla. Riding at the Utah National, Sipes had a difficult task on his hands - return from injury and get back on the track like he never left. The first session of Qualifying Practice began well for a comeback, as Sipes landed the 9th quickest lap. He managed a quicker lap in his second session of Qualifying, but so did others, and Sipes rode to the 10th best. This set him up for a top-quarter gate selection for the day's first race.
When the gates were opened for Moto 1, Sipes pulled off a good start and pushed up into the lead group in the first few bends. He quickly advanced at the beginning of the race and held on to a top ten slot for the entire race. By the end, Sipes had secured himself a comfortable existence in 7th place and that is where he was when the checkered flag came down at the Finish. The result indicated a very good return and boded well for his second race, especially since he moved up somewhat in gate choice. The second race began fine for Sipes as he launched fairly high and insinuated himself into the lead grouping through the first lap. However, Moto 2 ended all too early for him; with only 9 laps completed, Sipes finished the event holding a lowly 26th place. This was not a result the Rockstar Energy rider would have liked to bring home, but it was better than not participating. The Utah trip netted Sipes an overall finish of 13th and a take of only 14 points. Oddly enough, even with the drop-off in points, Ryan Sipes maintains 16th place in the overall standings for the 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship with 132 points. So, it was not the day that Sipes would have wished to have, but it did get him back on the track and back to the sport he loves. The next round is the final, and Sipes will not be satisfied with another result like this one. Tune into it and you can expect - as you always can - to see Sipes put it all on the line against the best the world has to offer.
Rockstar Energy Racing's Jason Anderson, running in the 250 Class of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, experienced a DNF in his second race at the Unadilla National last week. This was after pulling two come-from-behind runs in the first race to net 11th. It was surely a weekend which Anderson would like to forget - all of it but what he learned, anyway. Thus, when he arrived at the Utah National he was anxious to get out and record better finishes. His first try at Qualifying Practice was quite acceptable as he pulled into the pits after running the 7th quickest lap. However, when he went out for the second session of Qualifying, he pushed a bit harder. When the outing wrapped up, Anderson had advanced into the top five with the 4th best lap, thus setting him up for a good race start.
Well, that start was decent, just not great, and Anderson actually lost some ground in the first laps. As the race wound on, he found more speed and did get past some riders, but it was not enough to return him to where he began the race. When the checkered flag concluded Moto 1, Anderson was holding 13th place. This also had the effect of pushing him backwards for the second race start. At the line in Moto 2, once the gates dropped, Anderson pulled away a little better than he had in his first race. He improved his laps during the first few and ran at a similar pace to Moto 1. However, Anderson could only get around nine times in Moto 2, and was credited with a 28th place finish in the race. In the overall ranking, Anderson's Utah National position was 19th with only 8 points credited to him. The end result is that Jason Anderson now resides in 8th place in the 2013 AMA Pro 250MX standings with 256 points. That means that he dropped one spot from last week and he is 8 points behind 7th. This was the second uncharacteristic finish in a row for Anderson, so not one which he was happy with. The next - and final - round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the Lake Elsinore, California, stop, is less than a week away, so Anderson again has his work cut out for him. At the very least, Anderson will be hungry for redemption, so do yourself a favor and tune in!
Michael Leib joined the Rockstar Energy Racing team for the Utah National round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship as a replacement rider due to the number of team members injured on the team during this season. At least once this year, the team has been down to only one race-ready competitor, and that simply cannot stand. Leib is a veteran racer who has competed all over the world - in various AMA Pro off-road disciplines and FIM World Championships. However, with the Rockstar ride, he essentially came into the 2013 season cold to ride an unfamiliar machine. We quickly learned that he can compete after his first outing in Qualifying. In that session he was slotted with the slower Group B, and he was by far the quickest of them. Overall, that translated into the 19th best lap. He managed to go even quicker in the second Qualifying Practice, but so did everyone else, and landed the 20th quickest lap overall to secure the 20th gate selection for Moto 1.
At the race 1 start, Leib pulled off a good start and ran up with the top half of the order in the first few laps. In rather short order, he passed some of those in front of him and made up position. He continued to run laps at a pace consistent with the riders near him in the middle. This allowed him to hold onto a top half slot and helped him to make it into 16th place by the time the checkered flag fell on Moto 1. It was not a result that Leib enjoyed but it was an improvement on where he began so that he had a better gate choice for Moto 2. When that race was finally under way, Leib was not. He ended up with a DNF for Moto 2 and no points. In the final overall ranking, Michael Leib left Utah with 21st place and 5 points. Since he has only now entered the series, Leib is far down on the season standings chart and now has 38th place with those 5 points. He promises to have the issues which held him back at this round fixed by the time the series hits its final round next week at Lake Elsinore, California. Watch out for Michael Leib when he races again on August 24th.
There is little doubt that the Rockstar Energy Racing team has faced some harsh circumstances during the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season, and this round had an especially strange result with all team riders having difficulties with their second Motos. However, it is just as easy to argue that the team has done as well as can be expected when faced with such difficulties. Now that Ryan Sipes has returned, and the team has brought on Michael Leib to contest the 250 Class along with Jason Anderson, they finally have three riders to fly the flag. At the final round next week at Lake Elsinore, California, it is hoped that all three of them will have better fortune than each experienced on the Miller track. Whatever does happen, the Rockstar Energy Racing team always makes things interesting and entertaining, so don't miss out - tune in and watch your favorites compete on August 24th!
MotoSport.com and Mafia Moto Crew's Nick Wey has been missing in action from the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship for a few rounds now due a nasty crash he experienced back at the Washougal round in July. This being his first time in competition in a month, he was surely anxious to get out and leave some tracks in the dirt. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, Wey eagerly went to work. His first outing ended with him securing 19th position; a fairly decent start. In Wey's second outing for Qualifying, he improved on his times somewhat, along with nearly every other rider, and was able to grab 20th overall and the 20th gate choice for Moto 1.
In the first race, Wey pulled off a decent start to get away with the top half of the order and held there through the opening laps. As he ticked off completed laps, he began to gain some speed and passed some riders. By the time Wey reached the checkered flag at the end of Moto 1, he had advanced three slots and claimed a 17th place finish. This did set him up slightly better for Moto 2, and it was a better race, too. Though Wey did not get the same start he did in the first race, he was still well within the top half after the first lap. The going was a bit slower than Moto 1, but this seemed to help Wey. As the race went on, he picked up spot after spot. When he came around for his final lap, he was quite comfortable in 13th place and held it right through the checkered flag at the Finish. Wey's overall ranking in 15th was easily his best result all year, and it brought him 12 much needed points. Even after missing two rounds, Nick Wey moved up one slot to 25th in the 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship and has a total of 40 points, giving him a virtual tie with 24th position. Hopefully, now that he is healthy and has picked up some momentum, the next round at Lake Elsinore, California, will be an even better trip for Wey!
MotoSport.com's 450 Class rider Derek Anderson has been healthy throughout the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship season and has competed at every round this year. Last week, at the Unadilla National, he had a decent result in one race which earned him a much needed 3 points. It was not his best weekend, but one of the few that netted him some points, even if he dropped a few slots in the overall picture. At the Utah National, Anderson would need to turn up with some momentum if he wanted to climb the chart back to where he had been. His first trip out in Qualifying Practice was a good indicator that he may just succeed. There he earned a 24th quickest lap. The second session was quicker overall, but Anderson was slower compared to his competitors and could only bring in the 29th best lap, relegating him to the 29th gate choice for Moto 1.
When the race finally began, Anderson jumped off the start and immediately advanced. He even had enough room to turn in laps nearly equal to his best Qualifying time. Eventually, though, he settled into a rhythm and held on to finish Moto 1 in 19th place - 10 spots ahead of where he began and setting up the second race for an even better beginning. It was that. When the gates dropped on Moto 2, Anderson did not get the same great start as he did in the first race, but it was good enough to keep him in the top half. During the race, he decreased his lap times and moved forward bit by bit. Near the end of Moto 2, he had found a groove and held to it. When they dropped the checkered flag, Anderson blasted through the Finish with a 16th place, his second best individual race finish of the year. In the overall results from the Utah National, Anderson registered an 18th place and earned a total of 7 points for the weekend's hard work - equaling his best overall point total to date. Derek Anderson now sits in 29th position overall in the 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship standings with 23 points, only three away from moving up. Anderson's weekend in Utah was a very positive one for the rider, and we are very much looking forward to next week's round at Lake Elsinore, California, to see if he can again step up and end his season with the best round all year!