CORONA, CA – June 30, 2014 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Boasting a three-rider lineup for the first time since the opening round of the 2014 AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki entered the fifth round of the season at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville, Tennessee, as the team to beat. Blake Baggett’s two-race winning streak was a major storyline for the series, while the long-awaited return of Dean Wilson also generated attention. Additionally, Justin Hill’s continued progression up the 250 Class ranks made him a dark horse podium contender.
At the end of a highly competitive, yet wild afternoon of competition it was Baggett who led the way for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki, narrowly missing out on a third consecutive victory but landing on the overall podium for the third straight round and gaining considerable ground in the championship. Wilson’s solid return to action proved it won’t be long until he becomes a factor, while Hill unfortunately had his day cut short and is on the mend.
So Close for Baggett
Baggett picked up where he left off and was once again the rider to beat at Muddy Creek. After posting the ninth-fastest lap of practice, he got a top five start in the opening moto and began his steady march to the front. The former series champion moved into podium position by the halfway point of the moto and soon put pressure on the leader after taking over second place. On the final lap and final corner of the moto, Baggett railed the outside to slip past the leader and steal the win by half a bike length.
With a fourth straight moto win to his credit, Baggett set out for another sweep of the motos and got things off to a strong start by slotting into the top five again in Moto 2. He wasted little time in making his push this time around and was already hunting down the leader in second by Lap 7. After consistent pressure for the next nine laps, including several moments in which he appeared to have the advantage to take the lead, Baggett made contact with a lapper while in chase and went down. He quickly remounted and minimized the damage by losing just one spot. With just a handful of turns remaining, Baggett was unable to retake the position and as a result of his 1-3 moto scores, missed out on the overall win by just two points in second.
“It’s a bummer that it had to end that way with a lapper getting in the way, but that’s part of the challenge of this sport,” said Baggett. “I felt like I had a shot to steal another win on the final lap there, but luck wasn’t on our side at that moment. I’m still really proud of my team and all the effort they’ve put into making the Kawasaki KX250F really comfortable. I’m feeling great and I know every time the gate drops that I can be the one to beat with a good start. We’ll take second and all the points we gained and set our sights on RedBud.”
While Baggett remains third in the 250 Class standings, he gained 19 points on the championship leader and now faces a 17-point deficit heading into the halfway point of the season. Just nine points separate Baggett from second in the points.
Welcome Back Wilson
After a lengthy recovery from a severe laceration suffered at the opening round of the season, Wilson was back on the bike and back in the mix at Muddy Creek. The class’ most experienced rider had never raced in Tennessee, but his lack of familiarity with the track didn’t seem to affect his speed. Wilson was sixth fastest in practice, tops amongst the Pro Circuit squad, but was hit with bad luck in the opening moto after getting collected in a big first-turn pileup. After getting back on track, Wilson had to climb from a 35th-place start and methodically began to pick off riders. In his first moto back, he stayed out of additional trouble and passed 21 riders to finish 14th.
Following a clean start to the final moto of the afternoon, Wilson put the power down on his Kawasaki KX250F to begin in ninth place. He made early passes to engage in a battle for the top five but didn’t force the issue, logging a solid and consistent moto to finish seventh and secure ninth overall despite a lengthy layoff that spanned over 30 days.
“I came in here just looking for a solid afternoon to build from and we accomplished that,” said Wilson. “I wasn’t planning on having to come from the back like I did in the first moto, but it felt good to get some passing under my belt and switch up lines trying to pass people. It probably helped me feel more comfortable and I tried to just carry that confidence into the second moto. This was a good way to get back into the action and I’ll look to make more improvements next week and start fighting for wins soon.”
Wilson jumped up three spots in the 250 Class standings to 18th and faces a 20-point gap to break into the top 15.
Hill’s Afternoon Cut Short
With each passing moto coming into Muddy Creek, Hill was gaining more and more confidence in his ability to run at the front of the field and had his sights set on soon challenging for the podium. Following the seventh-fastest lap of practice, his speed was enough to put him in the mix and he capitalized on a stellar start in the opening moto to assume second place early and put pressure on the lead. Hill tried to take advantage of several opportunities to put his Kawasaki KX250F up front, but settled into a comfortable pace and let things play out. He was a fixture inside the top five for half of the moto before ultimately falling just outside the top 10 late for an 11th-place result.
During the moto Hill experienced an ailment in his right forearm, which hindered his speed in the closing stages of the moto and resulted in his drop in position. The discomfort associated with the forearm forced Hill to sit out the final moto. His solid effort in Moto 1 helped him finish 15th overall and currently there is no word on his status for the next round.
“I’m not really sure what’s going on but I just couldn’t push there at the end of the moto,” said Hill. “I knew something was up and I just didn’t think it would be smart to go out there in the second moto and put myself or anyone else at risk. I’ll get things checked out next week and we’ll go from there, but my hope is I’ll be back on the line at RedBud.”
Hill now sits 10th in the 250 Class standings, 12 points out of ninth and 13 points out of eighth.
Photos courtesy of Steve Cox and Hoppenworld
Looking Ahead >> RedBud National
The 4th of July tradition at RedBud not only serves as one of the most exciting stops on the schedule, but also signifies the halfway point of the championship. With its hugely popular track layout that is adored by riders and its one-of-a-kind fan base, RedBud is one of the most exciting and unique experiences in AMA Pro Motocross. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki boasts nine wins at RedBud, with Baggett most recently going back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.
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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.
Created by former desert racer Mitch Payton, Pro Circuit proves its products and services week-in and week-out through its tagline “We Race.” Every product that dons the Pro Circuit stamp stems from the legendary Pro Circuit race team. A staple in the professional paddock, Pro Circuit Racing has earned 29 AMA championships and more than 200 race wins in more than 30 years of competition.