With the AMA Supercross series now in the books, the traveling fraternity of motocross racers that make up the American Motorcycle Association’s professional paddock switched gears over the weekend, taking Northern California’s famed Hangtown circuit by storm at the opening round of the 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship series.
In front of an estimated 21,000 enthusiastic fans blanketing the venue’s hillside, the first gates of the summer outdoor motocross tour dropped at just after 1:00 p.m. local time to kick off 450 Moto #1.
Missing in action, unfortunately, was Red Bull KTM’s championship hopeful, Mike Alessi. After setting the fastest lap time in 450 qualifying session number one, Alessi went down incredibly hard during the second timed session, resulting in a concussion that will likely prevent him from competing in the first few rounds of the series.
With Alessi out, Red Bull KTM turned to determined veteran Andrew Short to lead the team at the opener. Despite an incredible effort, however, Shorty’s day did not go as planned, as mechanical issues hampered his forward progress.
When all was said and done, Short held on to finish an impressive ninth in moto one despite having smoke billowing from his machine, but he was unable to finish moto two due to an unforeseen mechanical hiccup. Short looks to rebound strong next weekend as the series rolls into his home state of Texas.
Rookie and International Debuts
Looking impressive in his debut ride aboard the Red Bull-backed TLD Honda CRF450R, young Christian Craig (pictured below) rallied to 14-10 moto finishes for tenth overall out of 40 total riders in the premier 450 class.
Craig wasn’t the only rider to make a debut at Hangtown. In his first professional racing appearance in the AMA Pro Motocross series, defending MX2 World Champion Marvin Musquin (pictured at top) joined the Red Bull KTM squad to take a crack at American Motocross’ finest, and instantly established himself as an early championship threat.
After starting just inside the top-15 in moto one, Musquin put his head down and motored all the way up to a determined fourth-place finish. In moto two, Musquin was once again forced to showcase his incredible passing skills, as a crash in turn number two dictated a charge forward from dead-last place. After 15 grueling laps of bobbing and weaving, the lightning-quick Frenchman worked his way up to a sixth-place finish out of 35 total riders, resulting in a well-earned fifth overall for the day.
“It was a good race for me.” Musquin commented at the end of the day. “The track was really rough, and quite a bit different than the tracks in Europe. I didn’t give myself a good chance to win with that crash at the start of moto two, but I’m very happy with a fifth-place overall finish in my first event here in the U.S.”
Fresh off of a couple of impressive Supercross wins in the West Coast Lites class, Red Bull-backed TLD Honda’s Cole Seely battled his way to a 7-13 moto tally for tenth overall at Hangtown.
Check out the latest clip from AndrewShort.com:
WMX Kickoff: Fiolek Back on the Track
Not only does the Hangtown Classic mark the start of a long, grueling summer battle for the men, it also hosts event number one of the WMX’s eight-round series. The Women’s Motocross class has evolved into one of the premier spectacles at any AMA motocross event, and none other than Red Bull’s Ashley Fiolek is the primary draw.
Looking to recapture the brilliance that led her to the 2009 WMX championship, Fiolek entered Hangtown fit and on a mission. Unfortunately for Ashley, so did longtime rival and defending National champ, Jessica Patterson.
The two highly-talented women battled for holeshots in both of their Hangtown motos, but it was Patterson who negotiated the extremely rough circuit with fewer mistakes. Fiolek ended the day with a hard-fought 2-2 for second overall.
Behind Fiolek and Patterson, who seemed to be in a class of their own at round one, defending women’s World Champion Steffi Laier from Germany put in a solid 3-3 performance for third overall aboard her Red Bull KTM, and the always likeable Tarah Gieger battled to 4-7 moto finishes for fourth overall on her Red Bull-backed TLD Honda.
Stay tuned for a full report from round number two in Wortham, Texas next weekend.
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