The 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship stormed through Lakewood, Colorado on Saturday for round number five of the series, the Thunder Valley National. Located in the beautiful Rocky Mountain Foothills just 25 minutes outside of downtown Denver, the Thunder Valley circuit sits at the highest elevation of all the venues on tour (6,000 feet), and Red Bull KTM’s Andrew Short used supreme physical fitness and the familiar home state elements to land his best overall finish of the series (5th) in front of packed house of hometown fans.
Thunder Valley also played host to round three of the Women’s Motocross Championship series, and Ashley Fiolek and Tarah Gieger battled through brutally challenging late-moto conditions to finish the day in second and third place, respectively.
Here’s how the action shook down in the Mile-High City…
The Return of the World’s Fastest Women
The ladies of the WMX series returned to action at Thunder Valley after a couple of weeks off, and Ashley Fiolek and Tarah Gieger nearly rode the wheels off their Red Bull-backed Hondas on the brutally rough track to eventually stand side-by-side on the overall podium with second and third overall finishes.
Save for a last-lap mistake in Moto #1 that caused Gieger (pictured below) to drop from third to fifth, Thunder Valley’s two WMX motos were nearly identical to each other. Fiolek’s holeshots set the pace early on in both, but the number one of Jessica Patterson was simply unstoppable in Colorado, riding off with a two-moto sweep.
Fiolek kept Patterson honest for the majority of both motos, but a smooth and consistent second-place overall would be her fate in the Mile-High city. Riding smart and with the big picture in mind, Fiolek’s efforts were good enough to hang onto the championship points lead as the WMX series heads off to Round 4 next weekend in Michigan.
Gieger, too, laid down consistent laps on the demanding Thunder Valley circuit, eventually securing the third and final podium spot with 5-3 moto scores.
WMX Overall Results
1. Jessica Patterson (1-1)
2. Ashley Fiolek (2-2)
3. Tarah Gieger (5-3)
4. Sara Price (4-4)
5. Jacqueline Strong (6-6)
6. Lindsey Palmer (8-7)
7. Alexah Pearson (7-10)
8. Kasie Creson (9-9)
9. Marissa Markelon (12-8)
10. Vicki Golden (3-19)
Shorty Cracks the Top-Five at Colorado Homecoming
Always a top-five threat, Andrew Short has struggled with consistency thus far in the outdoor motocross series, but the always-friendly Colorado native continues working hard to improve his results, and there was no better venue to do exactly that than Thunder Valley.
After a top-ten start to kick off 450 Moto #1, Shorty laid down 16 solid laps en route to a strong seventh-place finish at the wave of the checkers. Moto #2 was nearly a carbon copy of the first, as Short once again battled inside the top ten for the entire moto, eventually finishing in a hard-fought eighth. Shorty’s consistent 7-8 moto scores tallied for fifth overall, his best result of the series to date.
“It always feels great to come home to Colorado for a race,” Short commented. “I may call Texas home these days, but my heart will always be here. I still feel like we have some work to do to land those top-five moto finishes where I feel I belong, but today’s result is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Just ahead of Shorty in Moto #1, Red Bull teammates Mike Alessi (pictured above) and Christian Craig got their days started out on the right foot with solid fifth and sixth-place finishes, respectively. Unfortunately for both riders, Moto #2 would not treat them quite as well.
After a decent jump out of the gate, Red Bull/KTM’s Alessi got tangled up with a couple of other riders early on lap one and was forced to retire from the moto early. Just seconds before Alessi’s mishap, Craig, aboard his TLD/Red Bull Honda, got caught up in a first-turn pile-up that forced him to play catch-up from the back of the pack.
Looking like a seasoned veteran, Craig threw down an impressive charge to work his way from 35th up to 15th by moto’s end. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, Craig’s 6-15 moto scores were good for a very impressive and hard-fought eighth overall for the day.
450 Motocross Overall Results
1. Ryan Dungey (2-1)
2. Ryan Villopoto (1-2)
3. Chad Reed (3-3)
4. Kevin Windham (4-4)
5. Andrew Short (7-8)
6. Tommy Hahn (11-5)
7. Brett Metcalfe (9-7)
8. Christian Craig (6-15)
9. Jake Canada (10-13)
10. Justin Brayton (14-10)
Consistency Reigns Supreme in the 250 Class
TLD/Honda/Red Bull’s Cole Seely and Travis Baker (pictured below) were on rails during much of 250 Moto #1, as both riders battled near the top five before settling in for eighth and tenth-place, respectively, after 16 grueling laps.
Motivated to land another strong top-ten finish in Moto #2, Seely’s plans were quickly altered when he got caught up in a turn-two pile-up just moments after the start. Slow to get going, Seely remarkably cracked the top-30 by the end of lap one, and eventually charged his way up to a respectable 17th to finish the day in 12th-place overall. Baker, on the other hand, got out to a great start in the second moto and battled his way to another tenth-place finish to end the day with a series-best eighth overall.
250 Motocross Overall Results
1. Blake Baggett (1-1)
2. Dean Wilson (2-2)
3. Eli Tomac (3-3)
4. Darryn Durham (4-6)
5. Tyla Rattray (5-5)
6. Ryan Sipes (15-4)
7. Malcolm Stewart (13-7)
8. Travis Baker (10-10)
9. Justin Barcia (9-12)
10. Alex Martin (11-13)
Stay tuned as the 2011 AMA Pro Motocross Championship series returns next weekend for the famed RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan.
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