Team Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar powered their way around the Indianapolis RCA dome for 57,284 race fans March 1, with top-10 finishes in qualifying and two of their riders making the main event. Indy was round-two of the pressure-cooker called AMA Supercross Lites, and Jimmy Albertson, Willy Browning, Justin ‘Pooh’ Sipes, Freddy Karrle, and Tyler Medaglia were ready to turn up the heat.
With the entire team qualifying for the evening show, all eyes were on the Suzuki RM-Z250F mounted Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar team. Moto-one saw both Willy Browning and Freddy Karrle break the top-10, with eighth and 10th place finishes respectively. “I got a decent start and stayed up there on the first couple laps out of trouble,” says Browning. “I was riding kinda sketchy at first, but then settled into a good pace. I could have made some passes, but it wasn’t worth risking it and blowing my shot into the main.”
In moto-two it was Jimmy Albertson’s turn to run up front, bringing home 8th while Medaglia and Sipes formed a yellow freight train running 15th and 18th. “In my qualifier I got a pretty good start, but then I got caught in a little pileup and ended up in the middle of the pack,” says Albertson. “I was riding in tenth or 11th, and finally about three laps in we got separated a bit and I was able to pick a few guys off and get into qualifying position. I didn’t want to go to the LCQ by making a stupid mistake, but back around the last qualifying position it’s just chaos. You just kinda’ try and survive it by riding smart.” Further back Albertson’s teammates were locked in battles of their own, as Medaglia explains. “In my qualifier I got a bad start and wheelied off the gate, then got caught up behind some guys.” Sipes ran into some trouble early in the race, and says “I don’t know what place I was in on the first lap, but someone went over a berm and his handlebar got caught in my helmet and jerked me off the bike. I got back up a lap down. I wasn’t hurt, just scraped up a little.”
Next stop the LCQ, with only the top-four making the main event. Another yellow streak formed with Sipes leading the way in ninth and Medaglia in 13th. This was a dramatic race for the team, and unfortunately one that put Karrle on the injured list. “In the LCQ I had a really good start,” Medaglia says. “There was only one guy ahead of me and he crashed and I landed right on him.
Unfortunately it was my teammate, Freddy Karrle.” Witnessing the gruesome crash was Sipes, who describes “Tyler and I had both cased the first jump and I didn’t think Tyler would go for the next double, but he doubled it and landed on Freddy.” Medaglia, in a fine show of sportsmanship and concern for his teammate, explains “I landed on him and went over the bars headfirst into the face of the next jump. It was a pretty bad crash. When everybody had gone by I asked Freddy if he was all right. I could tell he was hurting. Then I got up and finished the race. With a start like we had Karrle and I would have gotten into the main! It was just kinda’ bad luck that it happened.” There were initial fears that Karrle had been seriously injured, says Team Manager Michael Nasakaitis. “We are really lucky. They taped him to the board and it was two or three AM before we heard anything. Poor Tyler just had nowhere to go, but before that crash he was looking smooth and riding really, really good.” Thankfully Karrle’s injuries weren’t as bad as feared. “…a couple ribs, a cracked sternum and possibly some bruising to his liver,” says Nasakaitis. “Tyler is ok, he just got caught up in that wreck and might have sprained his wrist, but Freddy will be out for a while. He had a shoulder injury anyway, and this made it worse. The ribs are the big thing, but Freddy is tough.”
Supercross success boils down to making it in the main event, where only the best and luckiest duke it out under the lights for their last shot at glory. With Albertson and Browning both making the main, the hopes of Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar were riding on their worthy shoulders. “Jimmy and Willy were both running in the top ten when they came together,” says Nasakaitis. Albertson expands on his manager’s statement, saying “I was inside the top 10 and my teammate Willy Browning and I got together up this steep jump face and went down. By the time we got untangled I was in 17th, but worked my way up to 14th. On the last lap Ryan Morais and took me out and I went back to 17th.” Browning tells pretty much the same story, saying “I got a little crossed up, and Jimmy was already committed so that was it. It sucked ‘cause we were in eighth or ninth. It was still a good main for me, and I felt great. We’ve had a rider in every main now, and I know we can keep that momentum going.”
The next stop on the Supercross Lites tour is the infamous Daytona Supercross March 7, considered for decades to be the gnarliest track on the circuit. Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar is ready for the Florida sand. “Everyone feels confident going into Daytona, and we keep getting faster every week,” Nasakaitis proudly says. “As long as everyone stays healthy and we get some good qualifying results, like we did this week, it’s good! We had all our guys qualify for the night program again and two qualify for the main event. We had one in the main last week and two this week, so everyone is feeling really good going in.” Sipes and Medaglia both see Daytona as a chance to show the world what they are capable of. “The team is getting better for sure,” tells Sipes. “The bikes are getting better, the team is getting more organized, and I’m feeling pretty confident about Daytona. I’ll have good news to tell ya next time!” Medaglia feels the same way, saying “I just keep looking ahead. My riding is good! I’ve been working really hard, riding and training during the week and doing everything else that is necessary. I just have to get it all together next weekend at Daytona. I feel good going into next weekend, confident in my riding. I just gotta’ get that break, but I know its coming because all this hard work has got to pay off!” Browning is perhaps the most excited about Daytona of anyone on the team, saying “I love Daytona! It’s my favorite race. I like the sand and everything else about it. I can’t wait!”
Morale plays a big part in any team’s success, and it remains one of Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar’s greatest strengths. “It’s a big group, you know,” says Medaglia, the lone Canadian. “There are a couple guys on our team that are doing really good, like Jimmy Albertson and Willy Browning. I want to be right there with those guys for the team and I know I can do it. We all get along great, which is cool because we can all hang out like good friends. Besides, I like seeing the little Canadian flag on the rig! I get people coming up to me all the time saying ‘Hey, I saw you on TV in the Canadian Nationals…’ It’s cool to get recognition like that.” Albertson is also pumped about the Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar team, saying “I couldn’t ask for anything better. Despite some bad luck everyone is pretty positive. It’s a long series, five more rounds, six counting Vegas. We just have to go out and do our best next weekend, and if it doesn’t work out we figure out what went wrong and keep moving forward for the next week after that.”
Helping Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar make their mark are team sponsors Rockstar Energy drink, RG3 Biloxi, Answer, Suzuki Genuine Accessories, Wiseco, Boyesen, Crew Wear, American Suzuki, Millsaps Training Facility, Suzuki Auto, PR2, Hindle, Alpinestars, K&N, Works Connection, Factory Effex, VP Race Fuels, www.suzukionly.com, Sunstar, Pirelli, Pro Taper, Braking, Dragon, and CV4.
For more information on team Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar, please contact: Michael Nasakaitis Suzuki City Inc, Biloxi, MS 866-594-8810 or visit them online at www.racelikearockstar.com