The second annual Red Bull Lake Elsinore National, held in the same Lake Elsinore, California, area as countless historic off-road motorcycle races, marked the 12th and final round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. As it has been for most of the season, the weather over the August 24th weekend was mostly favorable - no rain - but it was the HOTTEST round all year. The high temperatures averaged more than 100 degrees (F) throughout the event!
Championships for all classes have already been decided and this round did nothing to change that, but it was nevertheless just as exciting as the racing has been all year long. The athletes which achieve this level of competition are a dedicated bunch and never give up trying to out-ride their fellow competitors.
At the Lake Elsinore National, MotoSport.com was well-represented once more with a capable and talented group of racers. First up, the Rockstar Energy Racing team had its full late season contingent on the track. This consisted of 450MX rider Ryan Sipes, regular 250MX rider Jason Anderson, and "fill-in" rider Michel Leib, also competing in the 250MX Class. Unfortunately, there was no last round return for either Dominic "Nico" Izzi or Blake Wharton, who both rode in the 250 Class for 2013.
Also on the Lake Elsinore track this past Saturday was MotoSport.com rider Nick Wey. He appeared to have completely banished his nasty fall at Washougal to the past now, and he put on one of his best performances all season at this final stop. Derek Anderson, riding for MotoSport.com in the same 450 Class, experienced a decent weekend as well by earning points in both Motos. MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing team rider Brett Metcalfe also made the trip; the 2013 Canadian MX Champion recorded good finishes here as well, cementing his top-twenty position in a season where he only raced three of twelve weekends.
This is the last report for some time now that the racing year is done, so please take a look at how the many great riders MotoSport.com puts its support behind fared at the final round of 2013.
Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki
The previous round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the Utah National held at Miller Motorsports Park, provided strangely consistent results for the Rockstar Energy team. Unfortunately, they were not positive in their relationship as all riders did fairly well in the first Moto, but then suffered disappointing results in the second race. As similar as last week's finishes were is about how much this week's were different. Ryan Sipes earned very consistent results in the top-fifteen here, while Jason Anderson had mixed finishes and newcomer Michael Leib ended up at the bottom in both of his Motos. When viewed from a distance, it seems that the Lake Elsinore National was a microcosm of what the Rockstar team dealt with all season long; ups and downs.
Ryan Sipes, riding in the 450 Class for Rockstar Energy Racing, had a rocky experience at the Utah National, the 11th round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. There he placed well in the first Moto, only to finish near the rear in the second. Arriving at Lake Elsinore, Sipes knew he had to do better so that he did not finish the season the same way. In his first session of Qualifying Practice, he started out fairly well by lapping the track with the 11th quickest time. His second attempt was even better, personally, as he shaved nearly 6 seconds from his lap time on his way to landing in 12th overall. This qualifying result gave him a decent gate selection for the first Moto and provided some much needed optimism. Sipes needed this to carry over in to the first race. At first, it did not seem that it did as he was a bit delayed at the Start, putting him somewhat back in the order. This forced Sipes into passing mode, and he had to fight for each position as he worked his way back towards the front. By the time he came around the final corner in the last lap and passed the checkered flag marking the end of the race, he had climbed up to 13th place. Of course, that set him back one position for the second Moto start.
In this second race, Sipes once again had difficulty at the Start and he left the gates near the back as he did in the first event. Thus, he was back at the hard work of advancing past his competitors in order to make up position. Improving his lap times each lap, he succeeded in gaining those slots and almost made it back to where he began the race. When the checkered flag fell on the final race of 2013, Sipes was sitting in 14th. The combined finishes placed Sipes in an overall 13th and he earned 15 points from the day. Ryan Sipes ended the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship in 16th place with a total of 147 points. Granted, it was not the weekend for which Sipes had hoped, but it was a definite improvement considering that he was still on the comeback trail from the injury he encountered at the Washougal round. This was the rookie season for Sipes in the 450 Class, and he did bring the Rockstar team a top-twenty end of year result. That's not too bad, especially when this year's misfortune is taken into account. For 2013, Sipes managed to prove his worth and that he belongs in the premier class, now we all must wait to see if he will return to the Rockstar Energy Racing team for the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
Jason Anderson, competing for the Rockstar Energy Racing team in the 250 Class, also had a mixed result from his trip to the Utah National. His results were not too far removed from his teammates as he went a disappointing 13 - 28 in the two races. Unfortunately, this had been a pattern of sorts for the rider during the latter part of the year. Arriving at Lake Elsinore, Anderson had to break through this to finish his season on a high note. If anything, his first session of Qualifying Practice indicated that this would be difficult. In that outing, Anderson finished with the 12th best lap. When he returned to Qualifying, however, he took more than 6 seconds from his best lap and came home in with the 9th best, thus setting him up with the 9th gate selection for the first Moto.
When the gates dropped for that first race, Anderson did not get away well. His bad start relegated him to near the back. As he was attempting to make up for this, he became entangled in a first lap crash which delayed him further. Once back on the ride, he was pushing to grab position only to go down on his own. This happened twice. The result of this was that, when the checkered flag was waved at the end of the race, Anderson could only make it as high as 17th. This finish forced him to start further back in Moto 2. At the Start of Race 2, Anderson pulled away very well and found himself riding near the top-five initially. In fact, he pushed forward all the way into 3rd place. Then, disaster struck; Anderson was hit very hard by a handlebar in his ribs - it knocked the air out of his lungs it was so violent - and he had no other choice but to retire. For the Lake Elsinore round, Anderson was placed in 20th overall and earned 4 points. The 2013 AMA Pro 250MX Championship is now over, and Jason Anderson ended the season in an overall 8th place with a total of 260 points - a top-ten finish. Given the adversity he faced all season long - mostly just bad luck - Anderson did well to come out of it with such a high position. With promise like that, we all hope that the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship will see Jason Anderson line up to compete once again with the Rockstar Energy Racing team.
New arrival Michael Leib only joined the Rockstar Energy Racing team at the penultimate round, the Utah National held back on August 24th. It was not his first time in the series, but it was his first time riding in the 2013 season of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. There in Utah, he had to fight for his result in the first Moto after sustaining what we eventually learned was a broken hand in that event. This led to a DNF in the second race, and thus he only earned 5 points. Arriving for the Lake Elsinore National, it was hoped that Leib's hand would be at least functional enough to let him ride through the races. Unfortunately, this was not so. Leib did get into Qualifying Practice and in his first session out he managed to grab the 20th best lap. It was even better for him in the second run. There, he took over 4 seconds from his fastest first session lap on his way to Qualifying for the 21st gate selection in the day's first race.
At the Start of the first Moto, Leib managed an OK start and seemed to be in the middle of everyone by the end of the first lap. He was gaining speed until his fourth lap, but then began to slow some. Finally, after completing six laps, the pain in Leib's hand became too much for him to be able to keep up with the competition and he thus decided to retire. In the end, Leib was credited with 38th and received no points as a result. With this problematic situation, Leib sat out the second Moto and picked up a DNS. In the official accounting for the Lake Elsinore National, Leib finished 40th overall. With only one round of points-earning results, Michael Leib finished the 2013 season in 38th overall with a total of 5 points. It is hard to tell where he could have ended the season had he been able to race all twelve rounds, but it can be said that Leib did well starting only two rounds with a new-to-him team and bike. Perhaps we will get to watch him again in the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and he may even already have a ride.
What can one say about the experience had by the Rockstar Energy Racing team during the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship? "Rollercoaster" only begins to describe it. The riders all experienced their own personal issues and the team was hampered by injuries almost from day one. However, the people who make up this team are professionals, and they did put every effort into the results they did have - some had their first podiums this year, and one - Ryan Sipes - just started competing at the highest level. So, all things said and done, the Rockstar Energy Racing team can look back and take from this year the success they had at coming from behind to motivate them to not get behind next season. For the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, all we now know about the team is that they will be switching bike manufacturers. Who will be riding for the team remains up in the air right now. Keep your eyes open during the off-season, though, and you are sure to find out. Don't miss out, 2014 will come all too soon!
Nick Wey, of the MotoSport.com and Mafia Moto Crew team, finished up the eleventh round of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, the Utah National, with the best overall finish he has had all year. There he earned 15th and 12 points. Thus, when Wey arrived at the Lake Elsinore National, he was on something of a high with some momentum he could use. It began somewhat precariously in his first session of Qualifying Practice. There, Wey could only achieve the 21st fastest circuit of the track. In his second outing, though, he turned things up. When the second session wrapped up, Wey took nearly 10 seconds out of his best lap time and managed to Qualify 15th overall. That set him up to start the first race in the top half.
Unfortunately, when the gates dropped don the first Moto, Wey only had a middling start. This put him with at the rear of the middle group in the first lap. Through the first half, he kept knocking out quicker and quicker laps. He passed several riders, but the rest of the field was also gaining speed. When Wey came through the Finish at the end of the race, he had advanced to 17th. This only dropped him two spots from his first Moto start for the second race. Wey's second race was much like the first; he had an OK start, went quicker in each of his first laps, and was riding with the mid-pack grouping. In fact, when the end came to the final race of the 2013 season, Wey took 17th again. Though not his best result this season, it was his most consistent, and it earned him 8 points and 17th overall for the round. In the overall standings for the 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship, Nick Wey finished in 22nd with 48 points total. If not for the misfortune of missing out on two rounds, he may have edged that upwards somewhat. But, we will never know. That is, until the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship comes into play in a few months. What will be on the menu for Nick Wey in 2014? Tune in and find out!
Derek Anderson, competing in the 450MX series of the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship for MotoSport.com, is riding his best here at the end of the season. Last week, at the Utah National, he virtually equaled his best results previous to that round by going 19 - 16 and earning 7 points. When his first session of Qualifying Practice was held at the Lake Elsinore National, Anderson demonstrated that he has maintained some of that momentum. In that outing, he pulled in with the 20th quickest circuit of the track. His second session of Qualifying was better, but so were the times of many others. Even with lapping more than three seconds quicker, he could only achieve the 24th best lap, and this is where he was slotted for the day's first race as well.
After getting off to a mediocre start in the first Moto, Anderson began to run fairly consistent lap times while holding position about mid-pack. As the end of the race neared, however, Anderson picked up speed and managed to make some passes. At the end of the Moto, when the checkered flag came down, he had reeled in enough riders to secure 20th. It was not his best finish, but it was in the points. It also helped him in his second race by moving him up at the Start. When the gates dropped on Moto 2, Anderson pulled away much like he did in the first race. The race itself was a bit different for him, though, as his fastest laps were in the first half this time. Even so, when he crossed the Finish for the final time in 2013, Anderson ended exactly where he did earlier the same day, in 20th. The combined finishes earned him 23rd overall for the round and 2 points. Now that the 2013 AMA Pro 450MX Championship is over and done, Derek Anderson finished his season in an overall 30th place with a total of 25 points. What a year it was for Anderson! What will he do in 2014 when the AMA Pro Motocross Championship begins again is not known right now. Pay attention to the off-season news to see where you can cheer for him next season!
MotoSport.com/Aussie Dave Racing's Brett Metcalfe
As anyone who has been reading these updates knows, MotoSport.com/ADR 450MX rider Brett Metcalfe is the reigning Canadian Pro Motocross Champion. He earned that title just over a month ago, and so had the inclination to return to the US to race in the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship yet again. He made two rounds previous to the Lake Elsinore National, and did quite well in all four of those races. In fact, after only two of twelve rounds raced, he was sitting pretty in the Championship's top-twenty overall. When he arrived for the Lake Elsinore round, he was surely ready to go out and repeat his success for all to see. Sure enough, in his first session of Qualifying Practice, Metcalfe was already displaying the skills he used to capture the crown up in the Great White North. His first session resulted in the 13th quickest lap. Perhaps not the best he could do, but good nevertheless. The second session was very much like the first, though he did shave over 5 seconds from his best lap, and he again was 13th best. Thus, he started Moto 1 with the 13th gate selection.
When the gates dropped on that race, Anderson shot away with an excellent start and easily made into the lead pack going into the first bend. He began to gain speed and found a good rhythm which kept him near the front. He could not hold at the top, but when the flag fell on the Moto, he brought his Kawasaki past the Finish in 10th place. This allowed him to start the second race in a slightly better spot. Once again, Metcalfe launched off the line in the second race once the gates came down, and he landed in about the same spot in the order. This consistency continued and he ran quicker laps in each of the first few laps just like before. He held out in the top-ten again, but when he reached the checkered flag, he finished higher and took 8th place. The combined finishes earned Metcalfe an 8th overall at the Lake Elsinore National and 24 points. For the 2013 season, Brett Metcalfe finished in 19th place with a total of 81 points. It's an impressive finish for any rider, but it is especially significant for a rider who only took part in three rounds. All we can do now is watch the off-season news and hope that we will all get to witness Brett Metcalfe take on the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship with this team!