On April 12, with one round left in the Monster Energy® AMA Supercross Lites East series, Team Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar headed to the Motor City’s Ford Field. The soft, rutted and very technical track played havoc with riders throughout the night. Kyle Gills described the course, saying “The track was the gnarliest of the year, really tough and really technical. You had to be perfect with your timing or you’d mess up a whole section. It got really rutted and the whoops were really long and fast and rutted out. In the main event there were so many riders that went down it was crazy.” Justin ‘Pooh’ Sipes agreed the Ford Field track was tough. “The track rutted up a whole lot,” he says. “It was just soft. Not muddy, just soft. The whoops and the faces of the jumps and rhythm sections all got super rutted. It was technical because you had to be in a perfect line all the time.”
Practice was difficult for everyone, but perhaps even more so for new team member Gills, who has only been aboard his Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar RM-Z250F for two weeks. "I crashed twice in the whoops plus I endo’d twice on this little step up after catching my footpegs in the ruts. The pegs were dragging and just caught a couple times and threw me over the bars". Practice was even more difficult for Jimmy Albertson, who went down hard. “Jimmy got a concussion and had to pull out of the night show,” said Team Manager Michael Nasakaitis. “He crashed in his practice qualifier in the rhythm section and landed on his head, ringing his bell a little bit. He got checked out by the Asterik medical guys, who found he had a concussion. We decided he should take it easy and sit out the night program, even though he had qualified.” Tyler Medaglia also gave himself a scare in practice, injuring his ankle. “I was riding well but in my first practice I twisted my ankle,” Medaglia says.
The Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar team had their work cut out for them in the pits with Tyler Medaglia, Willy Browning, Kyle Gills and Justin Sipes all making the night program. In heat-one Browning ran hard to finish 12th, ahead of Medaglia who finished 18th after another fall further injured his already painful ankle. “In my heat I kinda’ lost balance and put my foot out and landed on it. Same bad foot!” he exclaimed in disbelief.
In heat-two Sipes fought his way to tenth, somehow avoiding most of the carnage the brutal track was inflicting on the riders. “In my heat I was in ninth and everyone was going crazy taking each other out all around me!” he says. “One guy got by me and I ended up getting tenth.” Meanwhile Gills was hanging on a few positions back after a bad start. “I was pretty much coming from the back of the pack,” he tells. “I’ve been really struggling with my starts. I mean, I’m focused and ready to go but when the gate drops…I’ve got to practice starts all week. I was battling the whole time, but after getting a bad start it was so hard to get back. I was pushing but only made it up to 15th.” Nasakaitis understands how tough it was for Gills racing a still unfamiliar motorcycle. “Kyle is getting more used to the bike every weekend,” says Nasakaitis. “He looks really good for not having any time on the bike. After all, this is only his second weekend riding it”
The LCQ was another crash-fest, but Sipes again rode clean and avoided downed riders. “In the Last Chance I came out of the gate in sixth and on the first or second lap I put a block pass on a few people,” Sipes tells. “Once I got in front of them myself and the top few guys just pulled away.” That smart riding netted Sipes fourth, earning him a trip to the Main Event. Browning finished ninth in the LCQ, with Gills rounding out the top 10. “In the LCQ I didn’t get a great start, but at least I wasn’t dead last,” explains Gills. “I was in ninth before I got passed by my teammate Willy Browning. It was a solid moto and I know I can run with these guys if I get a decent start.” Medaglia’s unlucky day in Detroit finally came to an abrupt end when he fell in turn one. “In the LCQ I had a mid-pack start and fell in the first corner,” he says. “Somebody went by me and caught their footpeg in my shoulder blade, so I now have a big chunk of meat missing from my shoulder. I’m all right, but my ankle is sore and my shoulder is sore. It was just one of those weekends.”
The Main Event hopes of Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar hung on Sipes, who was stuck with the last gate pick. “In the main I was last by the time I came around the first lap,” he explains. “I had last gate pick, all the way outside, so I got a terrible start. Then on the first triple two guys right in front of me rolled it, so I had to roll it too. Then my front brake got hung up on a Tuff Block! Anyway, I passed a couple people up to 14th, and with two laps to go I cross-rutted up the face of this tabletop and it pitched me over. I landed with both wheels on top of the Tuff Blocks on top of the tabletop and crashed out. Then my bike wouldn’t start! When I was in the air I didn’t think I could ride it out, but I didn’t know how bad a crash it was gonna’ be either. It would have either spit me off the side of the tabletop onto the concrete and plywood or I’d land on the track. It was good it pitched me onto the track! I was in 14th and had a good lead over 15th but by the time I got the bike started the checkered flag was already out.” It was a solid, gutsy, but frustrating ride for Sipes. “Justin ran really well tonight,” added Nasakaitis.
As the Suzuki City OTSFF Rockstar team prepared to head to the Supercross Lites season finale in St. Louis, Nasakaitis remarked “Everyone looked really good tonight. Putting it all together and getting five guys in the night event is tough, especially when the field is so stacked. We need to keep everyone healthy for the last round in St.Louis so we can start off the outdoor season strong at Glen Helen. All of our guys are just itching to get outdoors and start bringing in some better results.” Sipes knows he has what it takes to do well at the final round. “I have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to just ride and get ready for next weekend. I just want to ride a lot and train…if I’d stayed in 14th I’d have been in seeded practice in St.Louis.” Gills is also stoked about the final Supercross round and the upcoming outdoor season. “I just need to get that jump” he explains about his starts. “I want to finish the Supercross season strong before we head to California and start racing outdoors. I’m just looking forward to getting to St.Louis and having some fun and putting in a great ride.”
Medaglia will sit out St.Louis to recover from injuries and prepare for the Canadian MX1 National Motocross Championship aboard an RM-Z450F. “I won’t be riding St. Louis and risk getting hurt,” he says. “My main focus now is doing well on the 450 at the Canadian Nationals. Medaglia is very proud of his experience as a Canadian racing the AMA Supercross series for Suzuki City/OTSFF/Rockstar. “I’ve definitely improved in leaps and bounds over last year from riding Supercross,” says Medaglia. “I’m looking forward to this coming outdoor season, and next year I know what I have to do to get ready for Supercross. I will be riding for Andre Laurin’s Suzuki Canada/OTSFF/Rockstar team in the MX1 Canadian Nationals, as well as three or four U.S Nationals that I can work into my schedule.”
The St. Louis Supercross will be exciting, with the Suzuki City/OTSFF/Rockstar squad eager to prove themselves before they continue to shake things up when the outdoor series begins!
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:
Suzuki City Inc, Biloxi, MS
or visit them online at www.racelikearockstar.com