Rockstar’s Blake Wharton captures top-five result in 250 class at Freestone National
The Rockstar Energy Racing teams were an impressive sight to behold at round two of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship at the Freestone National in Wortham, TX, on Saturday. Both 250 and 450 riders gave 110 percent in the hot, humid Texas climate, and the outcome was a host of impressive results that included top-10 finishes in both classes and a top-five result in the 250 class.
Although Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton missed the entire 2011 Motocross season due to injury, you wouldn’t know it from his performance in Texas. Wharton picked up sixth in his first 250 moto and led most of the second before finishing third and taking fourth overall.
“I rode kind of tight and not my best,” said Wharton of the first moto. “But it was my second race back in Motocross and I’m making progress. In the second moto, I got a better start and made my way to first. So I led some laps in Texas, which is cool because it’s my home crowd. I had a problem on the last lap, so I ended up third, and fourth overall. Now, we’ll keep building for Colorado. It will be tough, with the elevation and ruts, but I like the track and I’m looking forward to it.”
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Martin Davalos suffered some bad luck in both 250 motos at the Texas race, but still put his best foot forward. Davalos rebounded from crashes to finish 14th and 13th, respectively, and 11th overall.
“Texas is not my favorite track,” admitted Davalos. “In the first moto, I got hit off the start and went down and got back to 14th. In the second moto, I got hit again on the start, this time really hard, and I was hurting out there, but was able to come back to 13th. Now we’re coming to my favorite track, Lakewood, and I hope to get a good result there.”
Also representing Rockstar Energy Racing in the 250 class was Jason Anderson, who qualified a very impressive third. Although Anderson got a good jump in the first moto, he went down just off the start and had to come from behind to finish 22nd. He rallied for the second moto and ran in a podium position before fatigue set in and he finished seventh. Overall, Anderson carded 12th for the day.
“It was a good race,” said Anderson. “In the first moto, I came together with a guy and ended up going down. But I pulled it together for the second moto. I was running third for most of the race, but then I over-heated and fell back to seventh. But all in all, it was a good stepping-stone to the rest of the season. Next week, Colorado is like a hometown race for me because it’s only six hours from where I live in New Mexico. It’s at elevation and shouldn’t be too hot, so I’m ready to get out there and race.”
Rounding out the Rockstar Energy Racing 250 effort was Hunter Hewitt, who struggled on the twisty, rutted track. Hewitt carded 17th and 20th in his motos for a combined 20th overall.
“The track was really rough,” said Hewitt. “In the first moto, I got a good start and was running 12th, but ended up 17th. I think I settled in too fast and should have pushed through a couple more laps. In the second moto, I got another good start but I got hit and went down with a bunch of other riders. I was a little slow getting up, but I put on a good charge and ended up 20th. Now, I’m just looking forward to racing in the cooler weather in Colorado.”
Finally, riding for Rockstar Energy Racing in the WMX class, Jessica Patterson celebrated her second podium of the year. Patterson won her first moto and finished second in moto two to take second overall for the day.
“I got a decent start in the first moto and passed for the lead early,” said Patterson. “It was pretty rough out there, but I rode some good lines and pulled a solid lead and won the moto. In the second moto, I passed early but I washed out the front end. I knew I had to get back to the front, so on the last lap, I made a banzai pass for second to keep the points lead. I’m glad to leave Texas with the red plate again and I’m looking forward to Colorado.”
Racing the 250 class for Star Valli Yamaha, Kyle Cunningham continues to fight injury and is steadily making progress. Nursing a sprained ankle, Cunningham finished 13th in his first moto and 12th in his second, for a final result of 10th overall.
“I felt all right this weekend,” said Cunningham. “I twisted my ankle last week and I got the swelling down, but it still hurts pretty bad. I rode conservatively and salvaged points for a decent overall. Now I’m focused on next weekend. It’s still early in the season and there are a lot of motos left. I just need to keep working at it and the results will come.”
Star Valli Yamaha 250 teammate Kyle Peters enjoyed a good run in the first Freestone moto, finishing ninth. In the second, he was taken out in the same turn-one pile-up that claimed Davalos and Hewitt. Despite this, Peters put his head down and came back to 23rd. Overall, he finished 14th for the day.
“The first moto was good,” said Peters “I got a pretty bad start but I came up to ninth. In the second moto, I got a great start but I got hit in the first turn and fell over and had to come from behind. Now I’m just ready for Colorado. I’ve never been there so it’ll be a new experience.”
Also riding 250s for Star Valli Yamaha, Gareth Swanepoel carded a solid 10th-place result in his first moto, but a second-moto crash damaged his bike and he retired for the day.
In the premier 450 class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Nico Izzi ran in a podium position for most of the first moto before finishing fourth. In the second moto, Izzi again ran with the frontrunners but bobbled and went down. He rejoined the fray and finished 25th, but more importantly, his overall result was ninth.
“I had a great first moto,” said Izzi. “I got an awesome start and was running third for about 20 minutes. But then I got a solid fourth and was happy with that. That’s a big improvement for me. In the second moto, I again got a good start and was running fourth. We got past the halfway mark and I was pushing hard and I ended up going down. But I got back into it and still finished in the top 10. Now, we go to Colorado, and I love that track. Hopefully next weekend, we’ll have two great motos.”
Also finishing in the top 10 in the 450 class was Star Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes. The first moto saw him put in a strong ride that resulted in an eighth-place finish. In the second moto, however, Sipes succumbed to the Texas heat and finished 17th. Even so, Sipes still brought home 10th overall.
“My first moto was pretty good,” said Sipes. “I ended up eighth. In the second moto, I just got hot. Heat’s always been my Achilles tendon; I don’t know why, but I’ve always had trouble in the heat. So I went from about ninth to 17th. Now I’m working hard to get ready for Colorado and give it all I’ve got.”
Star Valli Yamaha teammate Bobby Kiniry also put in a commendable effort in the 450 class. With a 17th-place finish in the first moto and an 11th-place result in the second, Kiniry’s final take for the day was 12th overall.
“I had a decent day,” said Kiniry. “I fell in the first moto in the first turn, so I made it really hard on myself, but I kept my Rockstar Yamaha moving forward. I passed a lot of people at the end, moved up to 17th and salvaged some points. In the second moto, I got a decent start and ended up battling for 10th right to the end of the moto. Next, I will be racing at the Canadian Nationals and won’t be back here until Red Bud in July.”
Finally, Rockstar’s Brett Metcalfe had some bad luck in both motos but rallied before day’s end. In the first, he got a good start but made a mistake and worked his way back to 13th. In the second, he got a good start but suffered a minor get-off and came back to 10th. In the end, Metcalfe carded eighth overall.
Said Metcalfe, “In the first moto, I got a good start but spun it out and had to come from behind. In the second moto, I got a real good start but went wide and dropped back. I picked off some guys and was in a good position but I tried to force something on a tough braking section and went down. Now, I’m looking forward to Colorado and getting up front and staying up there.”
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the third round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, June 2nd, at the Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, CO.