Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray piloted his Kawasaki KX(TM)250F through the heat and humidity at the seventh round of the AMA Motocross Championship series to earn 2-1 moto finishes on the way to his third overall victory of the season at Spring Creek MX in Millville, Minn. His teammate Dean Wilson grabbed his sixth runner-up finish of 2011 with a 1-2 moto result, while Blake Baggett worked his way through the pack in both motos to finish with a 3-3 for third overall. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto moved to within six points of first in the championship standings with a 3-2 finish that landed him second overall. Teammate Jake Weimer made improvements from his last race, finishing with an 8-6 for seventh overall. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle battled from outside 15th in the second moto to finish ninth and come out sixth overall with a 6-9 moto result.
Coming off a podium finish at Red Bud, Rattray was determined to get back on top of the podium. Knowing he was capable of riding in the extreme heat and humidity, Rattray raced back in the first moto to nearly overtake his teammate Wilson in the final corners. He was prepared for the grueling second moto and got out front early to hold on for his third overall win of the season.
“It was a tough race today between the humidity and the rough track,” said Rattray. “Putting together two decent finishes is always the goal and it worked to our favor today, especially with the points gap tightening up. It’s nice to feel like I can get right back in it. I had a bad race at Red Bud and it’s good to come back from that. I’m really looking forward to the next few races.”
Runner-Up Isn’t Bad
Remaining consistent during a tough race, Wilson once again put himself in good position to retain the red number plate. His 1-2 finish for second overall was still a successful day as he battled through the tough conditions of high heat and rough track. While a win has still eluded him so far this season, Wilson has been able to keep a 16-point gap over second in the championship standings.
“The heat got to me a little today and I wasn’t sure how strong I would be in the second moto,” said Wilson. “While I did hold it together better than I expected, I couldn’t keep the pace of my teammate who was definitely on it. Once I saw him pulling away, I knew I didn’t want to do anything that could cost me in the championship. I’ve already lost the points lead once this season and I have been trying to remind myself to race smart.”
Baggett continued to prove he is serious about going after the 250 championship as he rode to another come-from-behind podium finish. In true Baggett fashion, he was able to pick off riders in both motos to make his way to the front runners where he finished third in both motos for third overall.
“I had a crash while practicing earlier this week that dislocated my collarbone and I was pretty sore coming into the weekend,” said Baggett. “I didn’t get the starts I wanted and had to work a little harder than I wanted. I am happy that I was able to get back on the podium, but it’s hard to be happy with anything but a win. I’ll get back to work this week and hopefully be back to 100 percent next week.”
With consistency on his mind, Villopoto came into Spring Creek looking to gain as many points as he could on the championship leader. In the first moto, Villopoto went to work on his competitors as he made his way from sixth to third on the constantly evolving track. He was determined to have a better race in Moto 2 and grabbed the holeshot before finishing second and taking the overall runner-up position.
“I didn’t feel like I rode my best in the first moto and wanted to go out and do better in the second moto,” said Villopoto. “Getting the holeshot is a good way to start and I did feel better overall. Now that the points are closer, it’s going to be an exciting season.”
Continuing to show improvement in his rookie season, Weimer put together two solid motos aboard his Kawasaki KX(TM)450F. Weimer flew out to California early in the week to test with the team and the work paid off. With good starts, he was able to earn his fourth top-10 result this season.
“I didn’t seem to get a good jump in either moto, but was able to get the power to the ground and managed to come out with decent starts,” said Weimer. “It was hot today and that was definitely a factor throughout the day. I know I can do better and hopefully that will show next week at Washougal.”
Holding Them Off
Using both motos to improve on his starting position, Tickle worked his way up from his starting positions to finish the day with a 6-9 for sixth overall.
“I knew the heat was going to be a big factor and I really tried to be smart in the opening laps so I had something left at the end,” said Tickle. “I think that strategy worked to my favor and I was able to make up spots in both motos. My start in the second moto put me mid-pack and I wasn’t able to get comfortable with the riders around me. My goal is to get on the podium and still that I am capable of that.”
With the points battle tightening up in the 450 class, Villopoto now sits six points back of the leader. With 10 motos left, Villopoto is determined to work his way into the lead.
“It’s going to be a good race to the finish,” said Villopoto. “We are all really close and every moto is going to count. I think that it will be really great racing the remainder of the year and I really hope the fans enjoy it.”
With the eighth round of the AMA Motocross Championship series heading to Washougal, Wash., Villopoto will be greeted with the local fans from his home state.
“It’s going to be great to go back to Washougal after being away from racing the stop for the past two years,” said Villopoto. “The fans are always great and supportive even if I haven’t been able to get a win there. Maybe I can change that this year and get that monkey off my back.”