CORONA, CA – May 26, 2014 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Optimism was high for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki heading into the opening round of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship this past weekend at legendary Glen Helen Raceway. After a strong Monster Energy Supercross season, the three-rider lineup of Blake Baggett, Dean Wilson, and Justin Hill had their sights on a podium to start the summer. Following an action-packed day filled with various fortunes for each rider, it was Baggett who led the way for the squad, just missing out on an overall podium result in fourth. Wilson and Hill each had to endure hardship, but showed why they are considered title hopefuls in the battle for the 250 Class crown.
Glen Helen is known for its physically demanding nature and brute strength it takes both physically and mentally to be successful there. While each of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders made their presence felt throughout the afternoon, all posting top-10 practice times to start the afternoon, the rough track wasn’t always kind and left the team with a mixed bag of results heading into the second round of the championship.
As the most recent title winner in the 250 Class, many looked to Baggett to set the tone at Glen Helen. The hometown rider posted the ninth-fastest time in practice, giving him a solid gate pick for the opening moto. Baggett didn’t get the start he was looking for out the gate in Moto 1, but began to make his move forward after starting in 13th. As the race wore on, Baggett’s trademark style of finishing strong stayed true and he surged into the top 10 to finish eighth and keep his podium hopes alive.
In the second moto, Baggett reversed his fortunes off the start and slotted into second place on the opening lap. He maintained the position throughout the near 37-minute moto, engaged in battle throughout. He ultimately brought home his Kawasaki KX250F in third, which resulted in fourth overall, just three points from the podium.
“It by no means was easy out there, but we battled all day and tried to take advantage of any opportunity that was given to us,” said Baggett. “The bike was working great, but everyone came out swinging and the competition was tough. I wish we could have been on the box, but we showed what we’re capable of and we’ll build on this heading into next weekend.”
Baggett sits fourth in the 250 Class standings, 17 points out of the lead.
Heartbreak for Wilson
Like his fellow title-winning teammate, Wilson was considered a rider to beat as the season got underway. The veteran had not raced in the division since the opening round of the 2012 season, but he got back into the groove quickly and posted the fifth-fastest lap of practice. Despite his strong gate pick, Wilson wasn’t able to get out the gate well in the opening moto and positioned himself in 16th at the conclusion of the opening lap. From there, it was all about making a charge through the field. Wilson put forth an impressive effort throughout the moto to battle his way into sixth and put his competitors on alert.
He carried the momentum into Moto 2, following just a couple spots behind Baggett in fourth off the start. He began a heated battle for the top five that would span nearly the entire moto, but then crashed on the 12th lap of competition while running fifth. He was forced to record a DNF and finished 12th overall.
Wilson was attended to by the Asterisk Medical Crew on the track and needed assistance to get back to the pits. During the incident he suffered a severe laceration to the back of his knee and was treated at a local hospital. Despite the severity of the cut, Wilson was fortunate to come way with no major structural damage and is already on his path to recovery. While his status is currently uncertain, Wilson is hopeful his time off the bike is minimal.
“It all is kind of a blur because it happened so fast,” said Wilson. “I just got kicked off my Kawasaki KX250F coming down one of the hills and in that process managed to have something cut my knee open pretty good. I’m in a lot of pain but it looks like I avoided hitting any ligaments, tendons, or arteries. I’m crushed right now because I’m not sure what this will mean for the rest of the season, but I’m stitched up and looking to get back out there as soon as I can. We’ll see how it plays out.”
Wilson will continue his recovery and impending return to competition. He currently sits 12th in the championship, 35 points from first.
Hill was looking forward to the start of the AMA Pro Motocross season and got his afternoon at Glen Helen off to a solid start by posting the seventh-fastest lap of practice. A tough start in the opening moto mired the sophomore rider deep inside the top 20, crossing the line in 18th. As he started his climb towards the front, Hill was forced to visit the mechanics area and get the attention of his mechanic for an apparent issue. He returned to the track and soldiered on through the remainder of the moto, ultimately finishing 36th.
Hoping for better luck in Moto 2, Hill was entangled in a crash on the start that ultimately forced a red flag and restart to the moto. Although he was a little banged up, Hill got back on the gate and back into the action, starting in 20th. From there he methodically worked his way forward, staying out of additional trouble and posting a resilient 11th-place finish to land him 19th overall.
“That wasn’t exactly the start to the season we were hoping for, but this is the nature of motocross. It’s brutal sometimes,” said Hill. “We’ll go back and see where we can improve heading into next week and do our best to learn from this and come back stronger. The Kawasaki KX250F was great, but we just couldn’t buy any luck today.”
Hill sits 19th in the 250 Class standings, 40 points behind the leader.
Photos courtesy Steve Cox
Looking Ahead >> Hangtown National
The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki squad now looks ahead to a trip to the California capital of Sacramento for the second round of the 2014 season with the annual Hangtown National. With 11 rounds and 22 motos still remaining this summer, the battle for the 250 Class crown is far from being over and each Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider knows they have what it takes to be consistent threats for the podium. As one of the longest running races in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Hangtown presents an opportunity for the team to bounce back and reassert its dominance.
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Based in Corona, Calif., Pro Circuit Products, Inc. is a leader in off-road motorcycle and ATV exhausts and aftermarket performance parts. Started in 1978, Pro Circuit is the go to shop for recreational riders and professionals for everything from suspension work to complete engine packages, and everything in between.
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