Midterm Results for Team Öhlins USA

July 19, 2011 4:35pm
Hendersonville, North Carolina: Team Öhlins USA rider, Michael Clarke, nearly, nearly made the Spring Creek MX Mains of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross series, knocking on the gates a mere point-nine from earning entry, qualifying 44th in a field of 67 riders hoping to make the Motos. He’s ready.

About his day in Millville, Minnesota, Clarke said, “I’m getting closer and closer at every race, from qualifying 68 at High Point to qualifying 44 at Millville. The day started out with a lot of overcast and dark clouds rolling in. With all the rain from the Friday before the track was going to be very soft and muddy. I went out, first one on the track and never letting up. I was able to hit every jump, except the big uphill double. I worked the track in good and qualified 7th in my heat.

“I was comfortable with that but I knew the track was going to dry up and be faster for the second practice. I went out in the second practice trying to be one of the front runners. With only a 10-minute qualifying session, I rode hard on every single lap. I never let up but was always making little mistakes that cost me those little tenths of a second. I ended up coming 7th in that practice too.

“I thought I’d made it. I was feeling good and the bike was feeling really strong and was handling well. Unfortunately, I qualified 44th and even though having to go to the gate as an alternate it still wasn't enough. I was .9 seconds off from earning a start. I have a month off before Unadilla and I'm going to work as hard as possible. Next time I get on the track I’ll be lining up on the gate.”

Teammates Garret Toth and A.J. Catanzaro made the mains with a 28th and 32nd qualifying spot, respectively, improving their gates with each event this season. And learning the value of rewarding an improved gate with a good start.

Toth told it like this: “First practice it was a little muddy from all of the rain the day before, but I was feeling good on the bike. I was in the A practice so I was riding with the fastest guys. The practice was pretty messed up and we had to stop half way through so the track crew could fix a section of the track. For Practice 2 we recouped and went out to qualify even further up.

“In Moto 1 I got a terrible start. Throughout the race I got tired, it was very hot and the track was crazy rough but I managed to get a 23rd place. In Moto 2 I had another bad start and then had some brake problems about half way through the first lap, setting me back from the pack about half a lap. I felt really good the whole race and was catching back up to the pack pretty well. I managed to get all the way back up to 28th, which was really good from how far back I was.”

Catanzaro put it his way, “We got a ton of rain the days before the race, which made for a rough and rutted track. Practice was muddy and made it challenging to get in a good time. But I was able to squeeze into the race.

“In the Moto 1 I got a mid-pack start and slowly started passing riders. I made my way up to 23rd before falling. I lost about a lap trying to start my bike. I finally got it going and finished the Moto in 28th, coming from way back. In Moto 2 I got a good jump and came around the first corner in about 13th. I maintained a top 20 position until about 3/4 of the way through the race when I was struck with heat exhaustion. I’ve been talking with everyone, and trying to get as much info as possible on preventing myself from getting so tired. I've been training like crazy and I'll be able to find the solution soon, so I can improve my results.”

Stacey Berger, Team Öhlins USA Manager, said, “This was a tough race weekend for the whole team. We started out with a bike issue, unable to get oil to the sight glass of the engine. With a bit of direction from the Valli Motorsports team, Nick Burns and Tim Wilkie went to work. Although the suggested problem wasn’t it, it did get Nick and Tim far enough into the engine to find the actual problem. I just want to say thanks again to Valli for showing such sportsmanship and the use of tools. With only an hour before tech inspection the engine was lying in pieces on the work bench. I can’t say enough about how well our mechanics perform under pressure. I’m very proud and thankful to have them on our team.

“I’d like to thank Paul at Leatt for setting the guys up with the Leatt hydration pack. I know A.J. and Garret both put it to good use in both Motos. Every week our highs become higher and our lows are almost nonexistent. It’s a shame that Garret had something get caught in his brake pedal, causing the rear tire to lock up. Once he was back on track his lap times matched those of the top 10-15 riders. But he never gives up and to come back from half a lap behind the next closest rider for a 28th place finish was quite an accomplishment. A.J. had another strong race weekend as well. He had a good start in Moto 2 and showed he can run up front. This is where he wants to be and I know he’ll be there week in and week out before the season is over. Thanks again to all of our sponsors for their support and thanks again to MX1 West for the new gear. The guys really stood out this weekend.”

Team Öhlins USA is sponsored by: Triangle Cycles of Danville, Virginia; Yamaha; GYTR; MX1 West; Acerbis; Ariete; Yoshimura; Kenda Tire; No Toil; Shoei Helmets; Gaerne; Leatt; Langston Racing Academy, which has been instrumental in providing top-level training for the riders; HIT Center (High Intensity Training) of Jacksonville. www.ohlinsusa.com