-- AMA MX - Rnd 12 - Lake Elsinore
The 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, came to an exciting conclusion on Saturday with its return to Southern California. After 12 weekends of competition spanning all over the country, the inaugural round from Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park served as a fitting season finale, crowing a pair of National Champions at day's end.
While Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., closed out the season with his 10th consecutive victory in the 450 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett, of Grand Terrace, Calif., took center stage by winning his fifth 250 Class race of the season and securing his first career professional title. In the Women's Motocross Championship, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Ashley Fiolek, of St. Augustine, Fla., overcame a five-point deficit coming into the weekend to claim her fourth title in five years.
With a track that had never been raced on prior to Saturday, there was an even playing field for the riders as the gate dropped on the first 450 Class moto. As the competitors rounded the first turn, MotoConcepts Suzuki's Mike Alessi, of Victorville, Calif., grabbed the holeshot and proceeded to open up an early lead. Dungey slotted himself in third, but made quick work of Monster Energy Kawasaki's Tyla Rattray, of South Africa, to set his sights on the lead.
Dungey chipped away at Alessi's advantage lap-by-lap, and began to pressure the Suzuki rider halfway through the moto. On Lap 6, Dungey made his move and took over the lead, quickly pulling away to a comfortable margin and winning the moto by over 14 seconds.
In Moto 2, Alessi once again put himself out front with the holeshot, while Dungey found himself in a battle with Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda's Christian Craig, of El Cajon, Calif., for several laps. Eventually, Dungey moved into second, putting he and Alessi in virtually the same situation as the previous moto. On Lap 7, Dungey made his move again, but this time Alessi's defense of the position resulted in a pass back for the lead, only to surrender the spot for good just moments later.
Dungey's victory came on the heels of his eighth moto sweep of the season. He also equaled his win total from 2010, when he captured his first 450 Class title as a rookie. In just 36 career starts in the premier division, Dungey has captured 24 wins, leaving him three shy of second all time in the 450 Class.
"It feels great," said Dungey. "I've said it a lot, but (the team) had a lot to figure out. I felt like we made improvements at the middle of the season and to keep winning since round three is awesome to finish off on a strong note like this. I've had a lot of fun his season. All the success we've had is because of the effort of everyone at KTM."
Alessi capped off his impressive 2012 season with his ninth podium finish of the summer in second (2-2), while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle, of Holly, Mich., finished third (3-3).
Following a summer full of parity, four riders entered Lake Elsinore with a chance to claim the 250 Class title. GEICO Honda's Justin Barcia, of Monroe, N.Y., was one of those contenders, and he looked to make a statement by leading the early portion of the opening moto. However, Baggett wouldn't be denied, putting the pressure on his rivals by racing to the front of the field and taking a convincing win.
In Moto 2, Barcia once again put himself in position to win following a strong start, while Baggett needed to work his way forward from a mid-pack start. Once in the lead, Barcia quickly opened a multi-second gap over the field, which he would carry through to the finish. As he pulled away, Baggett went to work, clawing his way from 11th place to second in a matter of six laps. A quick fall forced Baggett to drop a couple spots, but he made up the lost ground and asserted himself in second place for the remainder of the moto, needing just a runner-up effort to secure the overall victory and the title.
In the end Baggett, who mathematically needed to finish in 13th or better in the final moto, walked away with the championship, the 10th for his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team. The win was also Pro Circuit's 100th Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship victory.
"I came out swinging today," said Baggett. "I knew I would either go to the front, or it would all go down the drain. The first moto was crazy battling with Justin (Barcia) and Eli (Tomac). In the second moto, I got a horrible start and I don't even know, I couldn't even see. I just needed to get to the front and finish as good as I could, so I did. I really wanted to make a push at the end just to show that I was still giving it all I had."
Barcia finished second (3-1), while Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin, of France, grabbed the final spot on the podium in third (4-3). GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac, of Cortez, Colo., who entered the afternoon only 14 points behind Baggett, experienced misfortune in the final moto to finish seventh overall (2-14).
The final round of the eight-race Women's Motocross Championship saw only 10 points separating the top three riders in the standings. However, it was a relative unknown who stole the spotlight as Italian rider Chiara Fontanesi dominated in a guest appearance aboard her Yamaha/Monster Energy machine. Fontanesi, the recently-crowned Women's World Motocross Champion, swept the day's motos, while Fiolek capitalized on a consistent finishes. In the end, Fiolek surpassed Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki's Jessica Patterson, of Tallahassee, Fla., in the points to successfully defend her title, despite missing a round of competition earlier in the season due to injury. MotoConcepts Honda's Mariana Balbi, of Brazil, finished second overall (3-2), while Fiolek finished third (2-3).
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship - Red Bull Lake Elsinore National
450 Class (Moto Finish)
450 Class Championship Standings
250 Class (Moto Finish)
250 Class Championship Standings
WMX Class (Moto Finish)
WMX Class Standings
-- Kawasaki Report
In the mecca of motocross, Southern California’s own Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett secured the 2012 AMA Pro 250 Motocross Championship, Saturday at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Baggett took the final checkered flag on his KX™250F in style, taking his fifth overall win of the season with a 1-2 moto score. In the 450 class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished the season out strong going 3-3 for third overall and finished sixth overall in the championship. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer came out on top of a tight points battle and secured third overall in the championship and fifth overall on the day. Teammate Tyla Rattray quietly finished fourth overall and climbed to 10th in the championship standings.
After finishing off of the podium the past two rounds, Baggett came into the season finale ready to show everyone why he has held the red-plate for all 12 rounds. The first moto saw Baggett ride a near perfect moto. He started amongst the top-three and immediately headed to the front, taking the lead on lap five and never looking back. In 100-degree heat, Baggett won by 14-seconds and while the other top finishers couldn’t even make it to the podium due to heat issues, Baggett high-fived the fans that lined the fence surrounding the podium. He only needed to finish 13th or better in the second moto to clinch the title, but Baggett prefers nothing but to win. Nearly last place off the start of Moto 2, Baggett charged to the front and was catching the leader until a tip-over forced him to settle for second. Baggett claimed his fifth overall win of the season and his first professional title.
“I had to fight for every bit of this championship, all 24 motos,” said Baggett. “It was a gnarly day from the heat to crashing the second moto, but we knew we needed to come out swinging and came out on top. I had a lot of moto wins last year, but couldn’t put it together. This year, I never lost the red plate from Hangtown to here and it’s insane to say I finally did it in front of all my family and friends.”
Tickle began his first season in the 450 class with high expectations of himself. He has made consistent progress throughout the year and finished the season battling for the podium in every moto. Tickle got his KX™450F off to a great start and made his way into third within the first couple laps. From there he separated himself from those behind him and stayed on par with the leaders to the checkered. Moto 2 was almost a carbon copy, as he got another good start and rode alone in third. Tickle finished fifth overall in the championship standings.
“I was really looking forward to this round since it’s five minutes from my house,” said Tickle. “I felt really awesome today. I got decent starts and was able to make quick passes in the first lap. Once I was into third, the leaders were gone so I just tried to play it smart. It was really hot during that first moto, but I came back strong in the second moto. I ride really well at tracks with theses dry rutted conditions. I made a lot of progress this year and it’s really motivating going into 2013.”
Coming into Lake Elsinore, Weimer needed to make up six points to finish third in the championship. First moto, he was caught up in the first turn crash and rounded the first corner outside the top-twenty. By the fourth lap, Weimer’s smooth style and throttle control had gotten him into the top-10 and he could see the top-five. Each lap he threw down faster laptimes than those in front of him and made it to fifth by the checkered flag, making up three of the six points needed. In the second moto, Weimer was pinched off and rounded the first turn in last position. Driven to finish third in the championship, he once again charged through the pack to finish ninth. His 5-9 moto result gave him fifth overall on the day and secured the third step on the podium in the championship standings.
“I’m happy to end up third overall,” said Weimer. “It was a tough day and getting two terrible starts only made it harder on myself. I had the speed to run with the leaders, but it was super hot that first moto and ended up tipping over twice. I have a full season under my belt in the 450 class now and to finish out in third is where I wanted to be. I’m excited to continue working with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team and look forward to the future.”
After injuries forced Rattray to miss the majority of the supercross season, as well as the first five rounds of the nationals, he never lost his focus. Rattray almost grabbed the first moto holeshot on the KX450F and battled with the leaders the first few laps. He settled into his own pace around the halfway mark and finished a solid fifth. In Moto 2 Rattray had to work through the top-10 and was up to sixth before he had to come into the mechanics area for goggles. Dropping to ninth, Rattray started running faster than he had all moto and was able to make his way to fourth place. Finishing fourth overall, Rattray made up enough points to reach 10th place in the standings despite missing the first five rounds.
“It was a good way to end the season,” said Rattray. “I got two great starts which was good because last weekend I sucked. It felt good to be up front battling and I felt that was the best I rode all year. We’ve come a long way since Hangtown and stepping up to the KX450F took a while to get use to. I had a lot of fun stepping onto the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. I’m heading back to South Africa for a month and hope to come back on a Kawasaki for Supercross.”
Baggett took home his first professional title and also met a milestone for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki. Baggett’s win at Lake Elsinore marks the team’s 100th overall motocross win and their 10th championship in the 250 class.
“The depth was so good in the 250 class this year that it made this title a tough one,” said Mitch Payton, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team Owner. “Blake rode almost flawless today, just beautifully. He went out there and proved that there was no mistaking him for the champion. I’m really, really proud of him.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Dillan Epstein entered his first Pro national at Lake Elsinore and finished a respectable 15th overall with a 17-12 moto score. Stepping out of the amateur ranks and into a field of the fastest 40 riders in the country is no easy task. After scoring only a few points in the first moto, Epstein finished just outside the top-10 in Moto 2.
“Today was a bit rough of a debut,” said Epstein. “I went down pretty hard in both motos and didn’t have the start I wanted, but I salvaged a decent result. I was definitely riding tight the first moto, but felt much more like myself in the second moto. I’m happy with my year and made a lot of progress on my speed and confidence. I think with some good starts I can be in the top-10 no problem.”
-- KTM Report
Ryan Dungey of the US Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team wrapped up what has been nothing short of a sensational season with a win in the final round of the 450-class competition at Lake Elsinore California on Saturday. It was his tenth consecutive victory of the season.
Teammate Marvin Musquin of France capped the team celebrations by finishing with a podium third in the 250 class while Germany’s Ken Roczen was fourth. Roczen and Musquin finished 4-5 in the championships.
Another highlight of the day’s racing was a fifth place by JDR/J-Star/KTM rider Malcolm (Mookie) Stewart’s fifth overall finish, his best of the season to complete a great day out for the ‘Made in Austria’ sports machines.
Even though Dungey had been declared the champion with two rounds still in hand, there was no sign that he was taking it easy as he wrapped up the final event with a 1-1 finish. The Lake Elsinore venue was new to the calendar, making it a fair playing ground for all the riders.
The newly crowned champion got off to a decent start at fourth in the first moto. He made the pass on Mike Alessi for the lead at the half way point went on to take another race win. The second moto was almost a repeat of the first – top five at the start, grabbed the lead after a few laps and rode to victory.
“It’s been a great season,” stated Dungey after the race. “It was already an
honor to earn the championship but it feels great to end on the best note
possible by taking the win. I want to extend my sincerest thanks to my team for
all of their hard work. I am looking forward to the start of a new season and
working with Red Bull KTM for 2013.”
In the second moto, both riders got off to mid-pack starts. Musquin quickly moved up toward the top five while Roczen was ninth after the first lap. Musquin turned in quick lap times right from the start and was third by the fourth lap. He was in second at the half way point but lost one place to Blake Baggett before going on to finish third for third overall. Roczen moved from his ninth at the start to seventh at the end of the race for sixth overall.
The German rider wrapped up his debut season with the team in overall fourth while Musquin, also in his first full season, finished fifth overall. Both riders have contracts with the Red Bull KTM Factory Team for the next two seasons but will now return to Europe for a break before returning to contest the Supercross Lites.
Dungey, Musquin and Roczen have all be selected to represent their countries at the Motocross of Nations in the sands of Lommel, Belgium on September 30th.
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