The start to any season brings an air of optimism, along with a few questions to be answered: Did I train properly? Enough? Who’s going to be faster in the new year? How will my speed stack up? Even as long as I’ve been doing this, I still have that tiny questioning voice in my head, but I’ve learned how to muffle it and simply have confidence in myself and my preparation.
One thing I had a surprising amount of confidence in (considering my sporadic track record) was my ability to get a good start off the concrete gate. The year prior I had a huge holeshot going into the first turn, but blew right past it and dropped to third. This time, when the gate dropped, I hooked up perfectly and instantly felt that I had over a bike-length on the field. As the first turn approached, I remembered to turn right, and held the lead as we headed out onto the first lap.
I sprinted to get a bit of a gap and opened up around 10 seconds, but then I noticed that Justin Jones had moved into second place, and Justin’s speed has been coming in leaps and bounds lately. I kept a high intensity, but JJ was able to match it and started to reel me in slightly. I picked it up yet again and held between 10 and 15 seconds over Justin, but I had to come in a lap earlier for fuel than he did, so it was going to be close as to whether I would be able to pop out of the pit in front of him.
My crew did a great job getting me in and out of the pit in a hurry, but Jones was just able to get ahead of me as I accelerated out. I didn’t want to be behind for very long, as there were a few silt sections where I didn’t want someone ahead of me. I was pushing pretty hard, squaring Justin up repeatedly in a few corners, and was finally able to make my way by as I maintained momentum around the outside of him.
After Justin pitted at the close of that lap I had a pretty comfortable lead, and felt really smooth and fast, so I was shocked when Justin started to reel me in again. I remember begrudgingly thinking, “I have to pick it up again!? Why are you going so fast Justin? For as hard as I’m working I should have a good lead by now!” Then I got the pit board that my fuel mileage wasn’t as good as I needed and I’d have to come in one more time on the last lap for a quick splash of fuel; not the best news at the time.
I put in a pretty big effort on the second to last lap and was able to get the lead out to nearly 30 seconds before taking the white flag and coming in to the pit. Again, the team got me out quickly and I focused on having a smooth and solid final lap of the race. To Justin’s credit, he pushed all the way to the finish of what was exactly a two-hour-long Pro race, reeling me in a little bit more on the last lap and finishing about 10 seconds back. Blayne Thompson and my teammate Justin Seeds weren’t very far behind Justin either, so if this is any indication, there are going to be quite a few riders who can grab a win this year.
After an off-season that seemed, for me, to be quite short, and oddly protracted, all at the same time, it was great to finally get back to racing. To kick the year off with a win is just icing, and I’m looking forward to keeping this momentum going as we start a pretty busy stretch that lasts through March.
Thank you to my mechanic Phil, suspension tech John, my wife (and our little bean), family, and all of my personal supporters: Precision Concepts, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, 100%, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, BRP, RAD custom graphics, GoPro, A’ME grips, IWC motorsports, ATP mechanix, Rekluse, CryoHeat, and the MotoXerciser. I also want to give a lot of credit to the WORCS staff for braving the early-week mud and putting on a fantastic event.
Next weekend starts the Big 6 GP series in Adelanto, which should be a pretty big event. It’s definitely unique that we get to enter the stadium and I can’t wait to see what kinds of obstacles will be waiting for us!
Thank you to each of our team sponsors: Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Precision Concepts, Maxxis tires, FMF exhaust, Maxima USA, Renthal, Dubya USA, Acerbis, Matrix Concepts, GPR stabilizer, CryoHeat, Rekluse, VP Race Fuels, IMS, BRP, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel America, ARC levers, DT1 filters, RAD custom graphics, Zip-Ty, Boyesen, Seal Savers, MotoSeat, MotoHose, Next Components, Rigid Industries.