With threats of thunderstorms and heavy rain showers on the radar as riders and teams headed east toward Mt. Morris, Pennsylvania for stop three of the 2011 AMA Pro Motocross series, Mother Nature ultimately chose to behave and delivered near-perfect racing conditions for the return of Red Bull’s Mike Alessi.
A preseason championship hopeful, Alessi went down hard during practice at round number one in California and unfortunately suffered a concussion that would force him to sit out the first two rounds of action.
Despite very limited seat time heading into the High Point National in Pennsylvania, Alessi came out swinging during the timed qualifying sessions on Saturday morning, setting the fourth-quickest lap time of the day, which would later prove to be indicative of his fourth-place overall finish when the final checkers waved.
Back in the Saddle
When the gates dropped for 450 Moto #1, Alessi, aboard his factory Red Bull KTM, rocketed up the long High Point start-straight to establish himself in the top-five early on. Determined to make an impact, Alessi quickly made a few passes to move into third, and looked very strong as he raced with the lead group for the first time this season.
Though unable to challenge for the win, Alessi’s ride was impressive, to say the least, as he held tough to cross the finish line in third place. Unfortunately for Mike, it was later ruled that he had jumped the gate off the start, and he was docked one position in the results.
“I haven’t been able to ride much since Hangtown, so I’m just really stoked to be back out here."
“I’m a little bummed at the ruling, but still happy that I was physically able to finish the moto in third,” Alessi commented from the podium. “I haven’t been able to ride much since Hangtown, so I’m just really stoked to be back out here and competitive.”
With the massive High Point crowd lining the hillsides of the picturesque circuit, a quick blast of heavy rain just prior to the launch of the second motos made conditions slick and challenging, but once again Alessi got a great jump out of the gate, this time capturing the holeshot.
Navigating the wet, rutted conditions with speed and grace, Alessi incredibly checked out to a 15-second lead over current championship points leader Chad Reed by the second lap, and looked to have the moto well in control. While maintaining a sizeable lead on lap number five, Alessi unfortunately went down in the slick conditions, handing the lead over to Reed.
Alessi remounted and eventually finished the moto strong in the fourth spot, and his 4-4 moto scores tallied for a solid fourth overall at the end of the day.
“That was crazy out there,” Mike said after the race. “I felt great up front, but unfortunately I couldn’t keep it upright. I’m still happy with a fourth, though, and look forward to improving next weekend at Budds Creek.”