After Saturday’s practice I was feeling very positive. I knew Sunday would be tough with the level of talent in the Pro class but the bike felt great, my body felt sensational and I was focused on making a statement to the field that I was the rider to beat.
My crew did a great job getting me in and out of the pits and even with a goggle change I was able to come out ahead of Gary, which meant I had moved into third place. I was definitely starting to feel better on the bike and could see that I was making ground on both Jones and Bonds ahead of me. After a couple of laps I had closed the gap on Justin and began to apply the pressure. To his credit, Justin picked up his pace and was fighting hard to maintain second. I came up the outside of him into a left-handed corner and then squared underneath him in an attempt to out power him up the following hill, but he grabbed a handful of throttle and pushed me wide, even making a bit of contact with me in his effort. It was a fun battle, but I knew I needed to make a move quickly and as we headed up the following canyon I had a slightly better line and was able to motor up alongside Justin, control the inside of the next right-hander and take second-place for my own.
Over the next couple laps I was feeling even stronger and could see I was putting a dent into Bobby’s lead over me. With just three laps of the circuit to go I had the gap down around 10 seconds and the win in my sights, but as I broke into the coming corner, my rear brake pedal suddenly lost all feel and wouldn’t engage the brakes in the slightest. I had hoped this was a slight overheating problem that would fix itself if I lay off the rear brake, but in the end it was actually quite a catastrophic problem that wouldn’t be remedied.
Gary, who had latched right on to my rear wheel after I’d passed him in the pits, was quick to close the gap as I struggled to adapt to the sudden lack of rear brake entering corners. It didn’t take long for me to drift wide in a turn and allow Gary a pretty easy pass by on the inside. Gary did have a slight hiccup as he lost his front end in the silt, but he remounted quickly and was soon in firm command of second place. Unfortunately for me, Justin Jones was still right in my wake as well and was able to make his way by me in a similar fashion to Gary: I blew wide in a corner and he motored up the inside of me.
From this point I pushed as much as I could to try to stay in contact with the leaders, but I just couldn’t push through the corners the way I wanted to and was quickly losing touch. It looked like I was destined for a fourth place finish, but on the last lap Bobby Bonds suffered a pretty catastrophic problem of his own when his rear tire started shredding to pieces. This was a lucky break for me as Bonds had to slow his pace to a crawl and I was able to make my way by and come into the checkers in third-place.
I could state the obvious about how this wasn’t the way I wanted to start the series, but when I look at the positives, I’m actually quite pleased with the way I handled the race. After falling back early I was able to find my pace and work my way up to the front, showing myself that I have the speed I need; plus my fitness feels fantastic which is always a bonus. If I simply fix the two issues I had: riding a bit tentative in the early stages and dropping my brake pedal to prevent me from dragging my rear brake, I feel I’ll be up front where I want to be. As it is, I’m happy to be able to represent all of my supporters on the podium and I’d like to thank all of my personal sponsors who are making this year possible: Kawasaki, Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarm, THR Motorsports, MSR mx, Shoei helmets, Sidi boots, Spy goggles, FOCUS apparel, EVS sports, USWE hydration systems, FMF racing, Northland Motorsports, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, ATP Mechanix and Jan’s Towing.
I’m happy to have a free weekend coming up and then it’s off to Glen Helen for the Mammoth Motocross qualifier. I love the Mammoth MX and make a point to hit it every year so when I saw there’s going to be a qualifier at one of my favorite places to ride, it suddenly became a must-attend on the schedule. Hope everyone reading had a great weekend; stay classy.
Thank you to each of the team sponsors: Dunlop, FMF, Renthal, GPR stabilizer, Hinson, IMS, BRP, Kalgard lubricants, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, AP brakes, RK/Excel, ARC levers, DT1 filters, Acerbis, Zip-Ty, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Seal Savers, Baja Designs, Northland Motorsports