It may blow your mind to hear this piece of information, so brace yourself because here it comes: the start is crucial. Boom. Are you picking pieces of you mind up off the floor? I know, it gets incredibly repetitive to state that a good start is important, but for the seventh round of the Big 6 championship at Gorman, it can literally define your entire race.
Because of the logistics of the course layout, and the terrain, it’s very difficult to get water on much of the course besides the motocross track and a couple sections near the pits. What does that leave? Glad you asked. Dust. It leaves pure, unadulterated dust. And a poor start will leave you seeing, breathing and coughing up dust for days.
With all that being said, I didn’t get off to a great start in the pro race – I know, I should head my own advice. I was slow off the line compared to the riders around me and was quickly pinched off. Luckily I was lined up towards the inside of the start straight, and when everybody pushed wide in the first corner, a nice gap opened up right in front of me. I sprinted through the gap and pitched the bike sideways to make the next corner, losing traction with both wheels because of the lean angle I was in, and nearly falling to the ground. Luckily I saved it and was able to come out of the first couple turns in third place behind my teammate, Justin Seeds, and Trevor Stewart.
I wasted no time attacking Stewart before we headed out into the dry and dusty off road and was able to square him up, slotting into second behind Justin. That’s when the fun started: the dusty fun. I had sections where I was a little quicker than my teammate, but whenever I’d get close enough to try to make something happen, I’d either get dusted out, or Justin would feel me just behind him and wick his pace up a notch to keep me at bay. Meanwhile I could feel Colton Udall just behind me, sucking in face-full’s of my own dust.
For five laps the three of us continued this train, riding just at the edge of each other’s dust, until Colton made the call to come in early for his pit stop. I didn’t realize at the time that Colton had pitted early, but it was a good play on his part as we had built enough of a gap on fourth that he didn’t lose a position and was able to use the clean air over the following lap to catch back up close to my rear wheel. When I pitted that following lap, a lap earlier than Justin, I was unaware that Colton had made the pass by me as I refueled. I rejoined the race in third.
I made the exact same move on my teammate, catching back up to him and making the pass as he pitted the following lap, but in those couple laps Colton had managed to open up a decent gap over me. I receive the pit board information that I was in second and pushed for a couple laps to try to close the distance, but on this day I just didn’t have the pace to reel Colton in, and in the end I settled for a second place finish.
I’ve been in a winning habit lately and so a second place is a bit disappointing, but on the whole I’m happy to come away from Gorman safe and healthy. There were rocks and square edges littering the course, just waiting to be hit unexpectedly as they hid in the dusty haze left by the rider in front, and I just wasn’t willing to hang it out for the win in those conditions. I definitely have to commend Colton on his ride; he dealt with just as much dust, if not more, and was able to come out on top. I also want to give kudos to my teammate for getting out front and leading over half the race – unfortunately a minor mechanical issue relegated him to sixth on the day, but it was a very good showing from him.
I want to thank all of my personal sponsors: Precision Concepts, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, Spy, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, FMF, BRP, RAD custom graphics, GoPro, A’ME grips, IWC motorsports, ATP mechanix, Northland motorsports, Rekluse, CryoHeat, and the MotoXerciser, along with all of our fantastic team sponsors. Thank you to my mechanic, Phil, my wife, my family and all of my fans for the continued support.
Up next for me is the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix. It’s going to be a bit different this year, being held at the motocross track instead of the stadium, but I know it will be a great event and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Hopefully I can clear all of this dust out of my lungs in time!