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Charlie Mullins spent all summer recovering from a broken bone in his arm but returned to action this past weekend with a huge win at the Leadbelt National Enduro in Park Hills, Missouri.
The win was Mullins’ first of the year in the enduro series after struggling during the early rounds with bike issues. “It feels nice to finally get a win, it’s been a long time since I’ve had one in the enduro series, so it’s good to know I’m still a player and can win some races,” said Mullins “It’s been a tough year for me, but we got the bike figured out and I’m healthy again and we’re ready to get some good results this fall.”
Four-time national enduro champ Russell Bobbitt claimed the runner-up position after battling all day with series points leader Stu Baylor and eight-time champ Mike Lafferty. All three entered the final test in a virtual tie, but a strong ride by Bobbitt was enough to give the FMF/KTM rider the edge.
Baylor rounded out the podium on his PowersportGrafx-RidePG.com, Genuine Dirt Racer/WP Racing USA-backed KTM, while Lafferty settled for fourth after crashing twice in the final test.
With just two rounds remaining, the Baylor rider now has enough of a points lead to wrap up the title early at the next round in Indiana if all goes his way.
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Russell Bobbitt (KTM)
3. Stu Baylor (KTM)
4. Michael Lafferty (Hsb)
5. Jesse Groemm (KTM)
6. Nick Fahringer (Hsb)
7. Brad Bakken (Yam)
8. Andrew DeLong (Hsq)
9. Geoff Braico (KTM)
10. Grant Baylor (KTM)
The 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series wrapped up this weekend at Lake Elsinore with the crowning of the new 250-class champ: Blake Baggett. The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider jumped out to a big points lead early on in the series and then seemed to lose his edge a bit during the middle of the schedule, as Eli Tomac caught fire.
Mathematically, Baggett needed only a 13th place finish in the final moto to wrap up the title, however, the California rider went out in style at Lake Elsinore, running down GEICO Powersports Honda rider Justin Barcia in the first moto for the win and then backing it up with an amazing come-from-behind ride to finish second in moto two to secure the title.
“I came out swinging today,” said Baggett. “I knew I would either go to the front, or it would all go down the drain. The first moto was crazy battling with Justin (Barcia) and Eli (Tomac). In the second moto, I got a horrible start and I don’t even know, I couldn’t even see. I just needed to get to the front and finish as good as I could, so I did. I really wanted to make a push at the end just to show that I was still giving it all I had.”
Baggett made history in another way since his win marked Pro Circuit’s 100th Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship victory.
Barcia ended the day in second overall, which made for a perfect prologue to the upcoming Motocross of Nations in Belgium, since both Baggett and Barcia will be representing the U.S. along with 450 champ Ryan Dungey.
Speaking of Dungey, the Red Bull KTM rider swept both motos at Lake Elsinore, giving the newly crowned 450 champ his 10th consecutive victory.
Dungey’s victory came on the heels of his eighth moto sweep of the season. He also equaled his win total from 2010, when he captured his first 450 Class title as a rookie. In just 36 career starts in the premier division, Dungey has captured 24 wins, leaving him three shy of second all time in the 450 Class.
“It feels great,” said Dungey. “I’ve said it a lot, but the team had a lot to figure out. I felt like we made improvements at the middle of the season and to keep winning since round three is awesome to finish off on a strong note like this. I’ve had a lot of fun his season. All the success we’ve had is because of the effort of everyone at KTM.”
In the meantime, Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Ashley Fiolek overcame a five-point deficit coming into the weekend to claim her fourth title in five years in the Women’s Motocross Championship.
For more on last weekend’s race, go to motocross.com and read Scott Hoffman’s excellent account: http://www.motocross.com/features/what-really-happened-end-of-the-2012-season/
2012 Motocross Awards
Just 24 hours after the on-track action of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, came to a dramatic conclusion, MX Sports Pro Racing and Alli Sports, a division of NBC Sports, honored and recognized the moments and individuals that helped make the 2012 season memorable with its annual Season Celebration this past Sunday evening. South Coast Winery, located in Southern California’s wine country of Temecula, was the setting for the festivities, as the industry gathered to celebrate 12 rounds of captivating Nationals competition across three classes, in addition to the 10-race AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series.
FUEL TV and NBC Sports host Jason Weigandt emceed the event, along with MX Sports’ Tim Cotter. The pair led the way in bringing the motocross community together to pay respect to those who played an integral role in establishing 2012 as one of the most decorated seasons for each of these prestigious championships.
Prior to 2012, the Austrian-based KTM brand had never experienced success on U.S. soil in the 450 Class. This season, the manufacturer signed former champion Ryan Dungey to lead its Red Bull KTM effort, ultimately producing a historic and dominant season that resulted in the brand’s first victories and inaugural championship in the premier division, and helped push the entire organization into the forefront of American motocross. On Sunday, KTM was recognized as the Motocross Team of the Year in addition to receiving the Manufacturer’s Cup as the most competitive brand across the 450 and 250 Classes. Additionally, Hall of Famer Roger DeCoster was given well-deserved recognition as Team Manager of the Year.
Mike Alessi achieved arguably the most successful season of his career in 2012, finishing second to Dungey in the 450 Class title hunt and becoming one of just three riders to beat Dungey in a single moto this summer. All of Alessi’s success came as a member of the privateer MotoConcepts Racing team, and despite not possessing the same factory support as most of his competitors, Alessi helped the team emerge as a formidable effort by consistently battling for wins every weekend. Because of his commitment to succeed despite not having the same resources as the top teams in the sport, Alessi was recognized as the Sportsperson of the Year.
Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda rider Jessy Nelson received Rookie of the Year honors for 2012, after finishing ninth in the 250 Class championship. The two-time AMA Amateur National Motocross Champion showed consistent improvement throughout the season and gained valuable experience by leading several laps of competition thanks to his ability to grab strong starts. With a full season under his belt, Nelson is sure to be a contender next summer and beyond.
For the second time in three seasons, Ryan Dungey was crowned 450 Class Champion following a dominant 10-win season in which he won every overall since the third round. Dungey was awarded the coveted Edison Dye Motocross Cup on behalf of his Red Bull KTM team by MX Sports’ Roy Janson. With 24 career victories in the 450 Class, Dungey already sits alone in third on the all time wins list after just three seasons of competition. Dungey shared the celebration with his mechanic, Carlos Rivera, who was also honored as the 450 Class Champion Mechanic.
Blake Baggett’s victory at last Saturday’s season finale was the 100th Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship win for his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team. The triumph also solidified Baggett’s inaugural professional title as the 250 Class Champion, which is the 10th title for Pro Circuit. As a member of the winningest team in motocross history, Baggett took control of the division, winning a class-leading five races and sitting atop the point standings since the opening race of the season in May. Baggett is the first rider lead the championship wire-to-wire since the inception of the red number plate, used to distinguish the current points leader in each class. Baggett accepted the Gary Jones Motocross Cup on behalf of his team, while his mechanic, Shawn Irwin, was recognized at the 250 Class Champion Mechanic.
Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Ashley Fiolek emerged as the Women’s champion following a wild and dramatic WMX Class season that witnessed three riders with a chance to win the title entering the final round. Fiolek’s hard-fought championship was her fourth in five seasons as a pro and was made even more significant due to the fact that she missed a round of competition with an injury early in the season. Her mechanic, Nagatoshi Chiba, was honored as the WMX Class Champion Mechanic, while Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda’s Tarah Gieger provided some laughs following a career-best runner-up finish in the championship.
As the festivities concluded, attendees enjoyed the scenic landscape of South Coast Winery with live music, dancing, and appetizers under the stars.
Many other individuals and companies were recognized on Sunday, including Lucas Oil, whose commitment to the sport of motocross as title sponsor of the Nationals has helped the most prestigious championship on the planet reach new heights in terms of attendance and exposure. Additionally, Red Bull was honored for its first year as a premier sponsor of the Nationals, while GoPro’s one-of-a-kind perspective of this physically-demanding, yet highly-competitive sport was given the Cutting Edge Award, recognizing innovation in raising the awareness and profile of the sport of motocross. Longtime supporters like the Asterisk Mobile Medical Center and Gear Services were also given special recognition, while the Oakley Bomb Award program highlighted the company’s second year of series sponsorship.
The awards presented on Sunday evening included:
Edison Dye Motocross Cup: Ryan Dungey – Red Bull KTM
450 Class Champion Mechanic: Carlos Rivera – Red Bull KTM
Motocross Manufacturer’s Cup: KTM North America
Motocross Team of the Year: Red Bull KTM
Team Manager of the Year: Roger DeCoster – Red Bull KTM
Gary Jones Motocross Cup: Blake Baggett – Pro Circuit Kawasaki
250 Class Champion Mechanic: Shawn Irwin – Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Women’s Motocross Cup: Ashley Fiolek – Team Honda Muscle Milk
WMX Class Champion Mechanic: Nagatoshi Chiba – Team Honda Muscle Milk
Sportsperson of the Year: Mike Alessi – MotoConcepts Racing
MX Rookie of the Year: Jessy Nelson – Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda
Cutting Edge Award: GoPro
Transport Driver of the Year: Dirk Houghton – JDR/J-Star KTM
Oakley Bomb Award – 450 Class: Ryan Dungey – Red Bull KTM
Oakley Bomb Award – 250 Class: Eli Tomac – GEICO Honda
Ray Blank Retires
American Honda announced this week that effective October 1, 2012, Senior Vice President of the Motorcycle Division Ray Blank will retire. Robert Gurga has been promoted to the position of Vice President, Motorcycle Division.
“After nearly 30 years with the Motorcycle Division, I have made the decision to step down,” said Blank. “American Honda has been wonderful to me over all these years, and I am very proud of what the people at American Honda have all achieved together through both the good and bad times. I never thought I would have the good fortune to be involved with so many great motorcycles and industry friends during my time here. I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with for memories I never dreamed possible.”
Robert Gurga has been with the Motorcycle Division for 34 years, and previously served as Assistant Vice President of Marketing. “Ray Blank has been a great leader here at American Honda and for the industry as well,” said Gurga. “We look forward to taking on new challenges as our business continues to evolve and our industry experiences new growth in the years to come. These are very exciting times for the powersports industry, and American Honda will continue to create opportunities for our sport to grow through innovative products and programs.”—Shan Moore
Caselli back on track in H&Hs; Pearson calling it quits?
It wasn’t much of a surprise that Kurt Caselli returned with a bang to the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series, winning round seven, the Muley Run 100 in Panaca, Nevada, after both the long summer break and his even longer injury-forced layoff.
Now using the same rally-spec 450 engine that powered the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team effort at the Baja 500 and Vegas-to-Reno, Caselli put on a classic Caselli performance grabbing the holeshot and leaving everyone else in his dust. After missing two rounds due to hurting a shoulder in a round five and getting surgery on that and a knee, he knew that good results in the final three rounds were crucial.
“The race [in Nevada] was really important for me, anyway–probably one of the most important races so far this year just because the way the points are in the championship and how [David] Pearson’s leading and that was his hometown race,” Caselli shared. “If there’s any hope of me getting the championship, I need to win the last three, for sure, and finish ahead of Pearson a couple spots at least.”
With his victory at the inaugural Muley Run–the first new venue on the circuit in several years–Caselli did exactly what he needed, chopping away at the 22-point deficit he faced.
THR Motorsports/Monster Energy/Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s Pearson, on the other hand, barely did what he needed to do. A sub-par start left him in the dust, though he frantically cut through it as best he could to finish third behind Caselli and Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green/Purvines Racings Jacob Argubright. That left him 13 points ahead of Caselli as the series heads into the final two rounds, both in Southern California’s Lucerne Valley, which could be considered Caselli’s back yard.
Pearson said, “Today went all right; I salvaged some good points. Going into the last two rounds, I’ve got to get second and second, and I’ll still win the championship. Anything can happen.”
But perhaps Pearson had a little more on his mind. He revealed he doesn’t want to race the series any more. “I’ve done hare & hounds for 12, 13 years straight–pretty much every single hare & hound besides the ones I was hurt at,” he noted. “THR presented the idea of maybe doing EnduroCross next year, getting somebody [on the team] on EnduroCross just because it gets really good coverage and all the races are down there in California (or within a day’s drive).
“We’ll see. Hare & hounds are still fun. They’re just, they’re not what they used to be. Back when I was growing up racing the hare & hounds, I was racing against Destry [Abbott] and [my cousin] Russ [Pearson]. The camaraderie was awesome; we all got along good.
“I might end up doing hare & hounds next year, but I’d rather do EnduroCross and Best in the Desert and Baja.”
And speaking of Baja, Caselli’s FMF/KTM teammate Quinn Cody re-broke his arm this week while riding with DR Editor at Large Jimmy Lewis. That rules him out of the Australasian Safari at the end of this month, though he could still be ready for the Baja 1000 in November.
1. Kurt Caselli
2. Jacob Argubright
3. David Pearson
4. TJ Hannifin
5. Justin Morrow
Overall Point Standings:
1. David Pearson (163)
2. Kurt Caselli (150)
3. Justin Morrow (120) —Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, check in next week for more off-road news.