LOS ANGELES – In an X Games debut that started so promising ended in frustration for GEICO Honda Endurocross rider Geoff Aaron.
Opening the night grabbing the No. 1 qualifier spot and winning his heat, Aaron made a tactical error in the main event which led to his bike stalling while leading and ultimately a fifth place overall finish in the race, which served as the season opener for the 2011 GEICO AMA Endurocross Series.
“I would have loved to have medaled here,” Aaron said. “It’s a big, big event. But for my first ride on the Honda to be fastest in qualifying and win my heat, I can’t complain.”
The track at STAPLES Center was brutal, especially at the start – a steep downhill launch out of a slick gate that led directly into a hard right-hand turn and the first obstacle on the course. However, that wasn’t what tripped Aaron up in the main event.
The final corner after the water section and the huge hill is what bit Aaron, who had been leading for a few laps. The bikes were still wet as they hit this boulder and log obstacle, so traction, already tricky, became nearly nonexistent as the laps ticked away.
“It was a little bit of a gamble taking that inside line,” Aaron said. “I thought that I could stick it. It caught me off guard a little bit. I had just enough of a skid to twist me and catch the front wheel in a hole. Then I had to restart the thing. That kind of took it out of me and then I started making some mistakes after that.”
Aaron was the only GEICO Honda rider to make the main event in the uniquely formatted race, which consisted of three heat races and two Last Chance Qualifiers that each advanced the two top finishers to the main event.
Kyle Redmond was hung up in the treacherous start in the first heat and finished ninth. He improved a little in the LCQ with a finish of sixth place.
“It was different and it made it more difficult to make the main,” Redmond said. “You mess up once, and you’re out. There were a few really good guys who didn’t make it in. I got some stuff figured out from this race, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Ryan Rodgers stayed out of serious trouble in his heat and finished fourth. He encountered a little trouble in his LCQ and finished fifth.
“I was too close to the gate, anticipating it, and got stuck,” Rodgers said. “You are trying to time it so perfectly because it is so slick up there. It worked out a little bit better because I wasn’t down in that mess with everybody. If you aren’t on the ground on this track, you are a winner. No mistakes is the best you can do and I limited them the best I could. I’m happy with my ride and that’s all I can ask for.”
Up next for GEICO Honda’s riders is the August 13 Endurocross event at Comcast Arena in Everett, Wash.