Yoshimura-Backed Teams Prove Dominance in AMA Pro Motocross and SuperBike
NEWS June 7, 2012
Photo by Brian J. Nelson
Courtesy of Yoshimura Racing USA:
CHINO, Calif. (June 5, 2012) – Yoshimura-backed teams dominated once again at the third round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Lakewood, CO and the fifth round of the AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI this past weekend. The Yoshimura Suzuki motocross and road race teams, Honda Racing Motocross and Rockstar Energy Suzuki motocross teams showed off the performance advantage of their Yoshimura products while weathering the storms in Colorado and Wisconsin.
In Colorado on the dirt side, Yoshimura-backed GEICO Honda’s Justin Barcia set the tone in the 250 class in moto one, grabbing the holeshot and battling his way to a win. In race two, Barcia had another solid start but got passed halfway through the race, finishing second and clinching the overall. “Last weekend was pretty tough on me; I got some pretty bad starts. But this weekend went great,” said Barcia. “First moto couldn’t have gone better. I got the holeshot and rode smart and won it. I had a fun day overall and am glad to be on top of the podium. We’re still early in the season and consistent finishes are key.” Barcia’s teammate Eli Tomac finished fourth overall.
After a difficult first two rounds, Yoshimura-backed Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Brayton put together a solid ride, qualifying sixth and going 9-6 for a seventh overall finish. “Overall, today was a pretty good day for me compared to the last two weekends,” said Brayton. “I really enjoyed the track and despite the elevation the bike was working great. In moto one I got a less-than-desirable start and had to work my way through the pack to ninth. In the second moto, I grabbed a better jump and was able to finish sixth. I’m really looking to improve on this seventh overall going into High Point.” Teammate Tommy Hahn had an impressive start to the day, grabbing the holeshot in moto one and leading the race for several laps before being passed by other riders. Unfortunately, Tommy sustained an injury halfway through the race and was unable to continue racing the rest of the day.
In the Women’s Motocross Championship (WMA) Yoshimura-backed Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Ashley Fiolek finished second in moto one after grabbing the holeshot but unfortunately went down in moto two and finished sixth. In the second race she was able to clinch third overall right in front of teammate Sayaka Kaneshiro, who made her first podium appearance with a third in moto two.
Team Yoshimura Suzuki Racing’s Brett Metcalfe had plenty to celebrate after Lakewood. Metcalfe raced his 2012 Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 to a solid fifth-place overall, which included a podium finish in the first moto. Yoshimura Suzuki teammate James Stewart crashed while leading the first moto after a lapse of concentration when an individual crossed the track in front of him.
To say that Stewart suffered bad luck would be an understatement of epic proportions. Having won the first four motos of the season, Stewart came into the Colorado event ready to race and he qualified first. In that first 450 moto, Stewart got a decent start and charged ahead on his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 to take the lead. As he attempted to negotiate one of the fastest sections of the course, he unexpectedly encountered a person walking across the track. Immediately distracted, Stewart went down hard and injured his wrist. Hoping to minimize the damage, he did not race the second moto.
“I had a good start to the day,” said Stewart. “Practice was good and we made some small adjustments to the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450. In the first moto, my start was not what I wanted, but I was able to make some fast moves to get to the front of the pack. I had about a two-second lead and I was finding some rhythm. Then, as I came off a jump, there was a guy running across the track toward the inside of the turn where my line was. It blew my concentration; I took my eyes off the landing and then it was too late to do anything. Now, I’m just going to train this week and see how my wrist feels, but I want to make sure we’re 100 percent for Mt. Morris.”
Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Metcalfe was eager to get back into the mix at Colorado after a tough time at the previous race. Feeling comfortable on the bike, Metcalfe qualified fourth and had a great first moto, picking up a podium finish thanks to a third-place result. In the second moto, he got a good start but got caught up with some riders who crashed in his path. As a result, the Australian had to work his way through the field to 10th. Overall, however, Metcalfe finished the day in a very respectable fifth. “I felt good coming in to this race,” said Metcalfe. “In the first moto, it was intense early on, but I started picking guys off and had moved up to third by the end of the race. I felt strong and I was happy with third, and it was good to get the first podium of the year. In moto two, the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was running great and I was feeling good. I got a decent start, but on the first lap I got tangled up with some guys who came together and I ended up way back in the field. I had to really charge through, but I was able to do that and got up to 10th. Overall, I’m happy with my riding and the results.”
Despite gusting winds and severe lightning that were daunting enough to delay some of the racing, the Yoshimura-backed Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki team prevailed in Colorado. Topping out the 250 class was Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton. Because of the inclement weather, the first 250 moto was delayed. Although the track didn’t suffer too much, the holdup was mentally tough on the racers. Yet Rockstar’s Wharton came through. Scoring sixth and ninth in the motos, Wharton finished the day in seventh overall. “The track was very technical,” said Wharton. “Add in the weather, and it made for some wild conditions. I was happy with the first moto, but I didn’t ride the way I should’ve in the second. I fell down twice. I know I can be way further up there, but I guess you have these weekends where you learn. But I’m already looking forward to next weekend. I like High Point. It’s a neat track and it suits me.”
Yoshimura-backed Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Jason Anderson turned in a concentrated effort in the 250 class, but suffered get-offs. Doing his best to rally, Anderson wound up 13th overall, via 12th- and 15th-place moto results. “I struggled quite a bit and had a couple of crashes,” said Anderson. “It was kind of a bummer. But I know we’ll come back strong for next weekend. I raced at High Point last year and I like the track, so it should be a good weekend.”
For Yoshimura-backed Rockstar Energy Racing 250 rider Hunter Hewitt, the Lakewood race was one in an ongoing series of motocross growth experiences. Every round so far, including this one, has seen Hewitt’s results improve. Finishing 15th in the first moto and 16th in the second, Hewitt ended up 15th overall. “This weekend was definitely another step in the right direction,” said Hewitt. “In the last few races, I’ve been around 17th or 18th. But this weekend, I ended up 15th so I’ve been progressively building each weekend. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced motocross and it’s slowly but surely getting better. I’ll go home and train and be ready for High Point, which is a track I like.” Rockstar Energy Racing’s Martin Davalos did not race this weekend as he’s recovering from a mid-week crash. Davalos hopes to return to racing within the next few rounds.
Rounding out the Yoshimura-backed Rockstar Energy Racing effort is WMX veteran Jessica Patterson. Racing like the multi-time champion that she is, Patterson celebrated two moto wins to take the overall victory in the WMX class. “The first moto was good,” said Patterson. “I got about a second-place start and I passed right away. The track was really gnarly and the ruts were crazy. But I rode a decent race and I felt comfortable. In the second moto, I got a horrible start but, luckily for me, a couple of riders made mistakes and I was there to capitalize on them. I’m just pumped to go to High Point off of a one/one.”
On the street side, Team Yoshimura Suzuki Racing was the picture of consistency at Road America. In front of his home crowd, Wisconsin native Blake Young raced his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 to two podium finishes. The weekend also saw Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Chris Clark enjoy his best overall weekend performance of the season, thanks to seventh-place results on Saturday and Sunday.
The first SuperBike race of the weekend was delayed and shortened due to powerful storms sweeping through the area. Despite the gusting wind and torrential rains, Yoshimura Suzuki’s Young put his head down and got a good start from the second spot on the grid. Young conservatively clicked off smooth laps to finish second. On Sunday, the weather improved and Young turned in a more aggressive performance on his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000, dicing with his competition right down to the wire before bringing home second. These results bring Young’s podium tally to nine in as many races this year. “I admit I’m a little disappointed,” said Young. “I’d hoped to win at my home track. But this weekend was definitely a learning experience, and I know that we have some improvements to make. We have a few weeks before the next race, so we’ll go back and figure out what we need to do to come out strong for Barber.”
Yoshimura Suzuki teammate Clark was undaunted by the bad weather and had a good showing at Road America. He started both SuperBike races from the third row and then slotted his Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 into solid positions in both rain and shine. After running as high as fifth on Sunday, Clark carded two seventh-place finishes at the end of the weekend. Currently, Clark is tied for eighth in the overall championships points. “Right before the first race, we caught the tail end of a big storm,” said Clark. “But by the time the race started, it was drying. Unfortunately, I got behind a rider whose bike was spitting oil. Once he was off the track, I put my head down on the Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R1000 and gained time. By the white flag, it was raining again and the race was red flagged, but I kept pushing and cut the gap even more. Sunday’s race was a hard-fought battle for fifth. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and wound up seventh. But I’m happy with the bike and my lap times show that. Now, I’m looking forward to Barber and moving forward.”
The Yoshimura Suzuki road race team’s next event of the 2012 AMA Pro National Guard SuperBike Championship is at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, AL, the weekend of June 22 - 24, 2012. The next event on the dirt side is the fourth round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, June 9th, at the High Point National in Mt. Morris, PA.
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