Team Ohlins USA Press Release
September 12, 2011
Hendersonville, North Carolina: Team Ohlins USA closed out its first MX season with a sound 17th-place finish at Steel City by rider A.J. Catanzaro, in the penultimate round of the 2011 series. Catanzaro rounded out his final events with 21st in Steel City Moto 1, and at Pala earned 29th and 23rd in Moto 1 and 2 respectively, after running sixth early on.
Teammate Garret Toth qualified for both events and had his best luck at Steel City, finishing 34th and 28th in the tough conditions. At Pala Toth fell and fractured his tibia and did not finish either Moto. Team Ohlins USA rider Michael Clarke showed well in qualifying for both events but came up just a couple ticks short of earning a gate at each. We send our best wishes to Toth for a speedy recovery.
Ohlins USA congratulates its three Team Ohlins USA riders for their commitment, courage and tenacity, in tackling a huge challenge and for doing it with maturity and grace all the way to the season’s end, growing every step during this great adventure.
A.J. Catanzaro said after Steel City, “After missing Unadilla and Southwick due to illness, it felt awesome to be back. Steel City was a great way to come back from some down time and show everyone what I can do. Practice didn’t go super smooth. I just felt a little uncomfortable and nerves were playing a bit of a factor. Once the Motos came around the nerves were gone and I just had fun.
“In the First Moto I got off to a mid-pack start and maintained position throughout, finishing off 21st. A decent Moto, but I knew I had way more in me, and could bring some new lines into play. Missing the top 20 by one spot was all the motivation I needed for the second Moto. I wanted it! The race didn’t start out how I wanted. I had a horrible start followed by a snail’s pace for first two laps had me doubting myself. Then something clicked and I started finding lines and really feeling comfortable. 30 minutes later I’d passes 16 riders and moved all the way up to 17th. My best finish ever in the ‘Outdoors.’ It was a big confidence booster, and I can’t wait to carry the momentum into California!”
Following the Pala round, Catanzaro said, “Overall Pala was a pretty rough weekend. The track was extremely wide open, which doesn’t fit my riding style. It took a bit to get used to the track in practice, and my qualifying time wasn’t the greatest. But I made it in, so that’s all that matters
“In the first Moto I got a great jump on the start and just held it on. I came around the first turn in about 6th place. I quickly made my way around 3 riders and was in 3rd. It was an awesome feeling to be up there, and I was enjoying myself. A couple laps into the race I found myself really fighting the bike, unlike at any race the whole season. I just couldn’t get the bike to handle. We swapped out forks and made some changes to the front brake after the first Moto, and at the beginning of the second Moto it was working really well for me.
“I’ve had issues with my hands in the past, but it hasn’t happened for a couple years. My hands locked up to the point where it was so painful, holding onto the bar was just excruciating. It was frustrating, because we had the bike working the way I wanted it but there was just nothing I could do. I showed my speed when my body and bike allowed me to do so. Overall the season was a great learning experience for me, and I’ll only get better from here.”
After Steel City Michael Clarke said, “Steel City is probably one of the more technical tracks on the circuit with many rhythm sections and different lines. I went out in fist practice with intentions to learn the track, knowing that second practice would be faster. I was able to work out the jumps but never got to dial in the fast lines or the rhythms. I got a good practice though I was just needing to pick up the pace for second practice.
“In second practice I was starting to get the track dialed in, but I was holding on too tight and started to pump up. I was giving it what I had but just couldn’t cut it. I made mistakes or just wasn’t aggressive enough. I knew I could have done better and I need to work on my confidence. I dropped 3 seconds from first practice but was still out of the top 40. I know I need to work on my mental strength as it plays a big role in racing. The bike is good and fast and I know it’s capable of doing. It’s all a learning experience.”
Clarke added after Pala, “I have to start by saying what a track Pala is. Definitely one of the best tracks I’ve ever ridden, with all the jumps and how high speed sections. Although I didn’t qualify I was glad to get two wheels onto that track.
“In first practice I was trying to get the track dialed in but also wanted to set a fast lap. I didn’t really feel comfortable as I kept letting the bike stand me up in corners and wasn’t aggressive over jumps. I was able to get over everything and by the end of the practice I knew what lines were fast and where to go. In second practice I had to lay it all out. I’d played the track over and over in my head and realized inside lines were the way to go. I went out feeling more comfortable and I did go a full second faster but it still wasn’t enough. This season has been a big learning curve to show me what I need to do to improve. I’m happy for the opportunity to do what I’ve done and hope I get the chance again because I know things will only get better. And for sure, next time I’ll be writing race reports about the races, not just about practice.”
Garret Toth reported after Steel City, “I was liking the track and was very excited. The fact that its only 3 hours from my house made it even better! First practice wasn’t the best though. I had a lap time of 2:44 and I was sitting around 39th place. In the second practice I paced my teammate A.J. and ended up running a 2:37 lap time, which placed me in 30th qualifying time.
“In the first Moto I decided to wear a cooling vest. Bad idea. After three laps the vest melted and became a heat vest. I was overheating and started to freak out so I took off my goggles for the rest of the race. I’m not sure where I ended up but it wasn’t good. In the second Moto I felt terrible the whole time. I had blurry vision and was kind of out of it. I ended up 28th, which isn’t good but I was whooped.”
Team Ohlins USA is sponsored by: Triangle Cycles of Danville, Virginia; Yamaha; GYTR; MX1 West; Acerbis; Ariete; Yoshimura; Kenda Tire; No Toil; Shoei Helmets; Gaerne; Leatt; Langston Racing Academy, which has been instrumental in providing top-level training for the riders; HIT Center (High Intensity Training) of Jacksonville. www.ohlinsusa.com