Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Manager James Hanson gives his insider view of the fifth round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Budds Creek.
Rockstar Energy Racing is leaving the Budds Creek Motocross National with very mixed results but also some definite positives to carry into next weekend. The Maryland track was consistent with what was to be expected: Sunny, humid and loamy with several rutty off-camber corner sections and hills. The first motos provided excellent results to build on. The second moto finishes were less than stellar but also provided lessons to be learned. This sport is a constant process of trying to find ways to improve and those solutions are, at times, discovered through trial and error.
Ryan Sipes started out his day better than he ever has in the premier 450 class. He began the first moto near the front of the pack with the rest of the top guys. He kept pace the entire moto and had himself in the right place to finish in a possible podium position. He ended up crossing the finish line in fifth for a career-best moto result. He continues to run consistently nearly every week and he is bound to finish on the podium. The expectations for Sipes have most certainly changed from what they were prior to the start of the season at Hangtown.
Sipes’ second moto start was not nearly as good as the first. He was about 10th and no doubt planned to move forward. Surprisingly to onlookers who have that heightened expectation of him, he was not making much progress. In fact as the race neared its end, he was moving backwards. Around 99% of the time, Ryan comes off the track looking strong, including moto one. Moto two was much different. The heat really got to him. Sometimes it just happens. These guys train so hard, sometimes maybe they do too much. Perhaps Sipes did too much last week. A balance has to be found between work and rest. One thing is for sure however; he was not pulling off the track prematurely. Although he had to go straight to the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit immediately after the flag, he refused to give up until the end. There is something to be said about that.
Ryan Sipes: “The weekend was up and down. I finally got a top-five finish and I was stoked about that. I felt good battling with those guys. Coming into the second moto I ‘kinda knew I didn’t feel very good in between. At about half-way I was just hot and I was weak and didn’t feel very well. I may have pushed it too hard during the week, but I’ll definitely make some adjustments. The speed is definitely there to be a top-five guy so I’m ‘gonna come back next week and whoop it.”
Just as the team is constantly finding ways to make things better, Jason Anderson is also learning every week. On a track like Budds Creek, sometimes talent and training are not enough. Riders have to tap into the artistic side of their brain and find creativity. That may sound weird to some but it is a positive trait in motocross. When he was talking about lines with Team Owner Bobby Hewitt, he stated “I need to open my eyes a little more.” He was in his own way referring to creativity. Then en-route to his personal best career moto finish, that plan was applied. He was finding lines on the track that were nearly completely untouched and making them work; literally blowing by guys that didn’t even see it coming. That type of thought process will continue to pay-off on the rough outdoor tracks. Anderson’s second moto was a testament to just how this year’s 250 class can be considered the most-competitive ever. Anderson spent the entire moto hovering around 10th, which could be considered less than stellar for a rider of his calibre. The fact was however, he was right behind Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin who are battling for the Championship. He was just in front of top riders Justin Bogle and Zach Osborne, the latter of the two who has finished on the podium this season. Anderson’s moto finishes in relation to his overall also point to the stacked field. He was only able to muster an 11th to back up his fourth. However, in the end he finished sixth overall. That is just how mixed-up every moto is, every weekend.
Jason Anderson: “The weekend at Budds Creek was good until the last moto. I’m riding good though after being sick the past couple weeks. I’m coming out of here with 4-11 moto finishes which isn’t too bad. I’m looking forward to stepping my game up going into Southwick next weekend. I like that track.”
Blake Wharton has been struggling all season with something he has never had to deal with in his career – arm pump. Anyone who has ever experienced that knows how frustrating, dangerous and scary that is; especially when trying to hold on for 35 minutes on the roughest tracks over here. Wharton has been working closely with the team and trainers to get past it. Although this weekend’s results do not stack-up to where Wharton should be finishing, he did ride much better. Unlike most of his peers, his lap times actually got faster in the waning laps of the final moto. That is a very good sign for him and hopefully the results will now start to show the improvements.
Blake Wharton: “Budds Creek; one of the bigger tracks I think. Lot of ruts, lots of tight sections, yet there are some good downhills too. I was riding better this week but I need to get some better starts, get with the front runners and start running that pace early. Everyone needs to do that though really.”