Team Öhlins Race Report: Washougal

July 26, 2011 4:10pm
Huge News: Team Öhlins USA Scores First Points at Washougal MX

Hendersonville, North Carolina: It was the top of the world for Team Öhlins USA in Washougal, Washington, when A.J. Catanzaro rode to a top-20 finish for the first time in the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Series, taking a sound 19th place finish.

The weekend started out well for Catanzaro with a 26th-fastest time in first practice for the faster group, and it quickly got better in Practice #2 when he laid down a lap ten-places faster, earning gate number 16 for the Moto 1 start, the highest up that Catanzaro has ever qualified for an AMA Pro MX race. In Moto 1 Catanzaro slid back to a 28th finish, the bike and him not in tune with each other. After a few changes, in Moto 2 Catanzaro rocked it, nailing his start and working the field for his historic Team Öhlins USA finish in 19th.

Also of note, Catanzaro wasn’t passed by the race winner until the last lap, finishing side-by-side with him. He considered unlapping himself as the leader slowed but didn’t want to disrupt the winner’s race, even though it allowed the 20th-placed bike to close up on him as he neared the checkered flag. For this spanking-new team with young riders, this top-20 finish is an accomplishment in which everyone at Öhlins USA shares the pride.

Team Öhlins USA’s Michael Clarke didn’t attend the Washougal event, and rider Garret Toth took part in qualifying but, due to being hampered by an injury suffered earlier in the week, for the first time he was unable to earn a gate for the mains.

Catanzaro said, “Overall it was a step in the right direction at Washougal. I’m finally starting to prove where I should be. It was a cooler weekend so my heat exhaustion issue luckily didn't come into play. In practice I was able to learn the track quickly and I put in a solid time to qualify 16th. I got a good gate pick but I didn’t make it work on the start. I struggled with the bike in Moto 1, and found myself fighting it through the race. I got pretty severe arm pump and wasn't able to push through.

“We made some changes on the bike for Moto 2 I made it work. I got off to a great start and just rode a solid race, making very few mistakes. I was able to charge the entire Moto, finishing 19th and scoring my first points. Hopefully I can keep the ball rolling and keep improving.”

Team Öhlins USA Off Road Manger and team principal, Stacey Berger, said, “This race weekend got off to a terrible start. Garret had a pretty bad practice crash on Tuesday, which injured his wrist. He was unable to ride or train for the rest of the week, throwing him out of his routine. He showed up in good spirits but physically he wasn’t close to 100%. I’m disappointed for him because I know how hard he works every week to get better and faster. He’s already been pushing through a torn ACL and a damaged MCL. He gave it his all and we’re all very proud of him for his effort.

“A.J., on the other hand, had a great weekend overall. His qualifying set up allowed him to run a very quick time in the second session. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the best race setup. We made a few changes to the bike for Moto 2 that really allowed him to push the whole race distance. I feel really bad for Trey (Canard) and we’ll be praying for him to have a speedy recovery. The restart after the red flag worked to A.J.’s advantage by getting him a couple of hot laps to get him warmed up properly. To score our first points as a team is a proud moment for all of us. I can’t say enough about how hard all of our riders and our mechanics work. This is another step in the right direction for us. Now we just need to work at continuing to move higher in the standings, rather than stopping here at being happy with a top-20 finish. Thanks to all of our sponsors for their continued support.”

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