By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt
- Newly crowned WMX World Champ Kiara Fontanesi made quite an impression….wait, is her name Chiara or Kiara? Results sheets from both the AMA and FIM (and, even back to her championship at Loretta's in 2007) list her as Chiara. But her own website and Twitter handle say Kiara. Her jersey even said Kiara! Someone explain this to us!
- Where were we? Yes, Kiara (?'s) American debut at the Red Bull Elsinore National could not have gone better. Despite a reluctance to launch some of the bigger jumps, the Italian was clearly faster than the competition and rode to nearly uncontested 1-1. The victory didn't come without some drama however. At the conclusion of the first moto, Fontanesi stopped at the finish line to celebrate with a fist pump, only to have her bike start rolling backward and downhill as several of her competitors crossed the line. There were a few tense moments as the crowd waited to see if Fontanesi had actually crossed the line, but it was determined that she had indeed broken the plane, and was awarded the moto win. - Aaron Hansel
- [This just in from Fontanesi's sponsor: "Chiara is the proper way to spell it, she changed it for racing so people can pronounce it the right way." So, there's your answer!
- With Ryan Dungey and Mike Alessi having already wrapped up the first and second place spot in points, the battle for third in the final 450 standings was pretty much the only thing left to watch. But it was a good one! Chaparral Honda's Andrew Short held third coming into the race, but he was also carrying a staph infection (Shorty has been dealing with some healthy problems throughout the summer) that left him in the hospital for three days during the week. He could barely ride, but got good starts and held on as long as he could. Meanwhile, Jake Weimer got horrible starts on his Monster Energy Kawasaki and had to come from way, way back. In the end, Weimer salvaged 5th overall with 5-9 scores, while Short went 8-13…allowing Weimer to edge him for third in the final standings by a single point.
- And Broc Tickle's strong 3-3 ride at Lake Elsinore helped him close the gap on Short and Weimer. Tickle ended the year fifth, five points behind Short and six behind Weimer. Tickle fans can point out that he DNFed three motos during the year with mechanical problems….
- Team Green amateur prospect Dillan Epstein quietly made his pro debut at Lake Elsinore. The California native was precise in his maiden voyage, putting together a solid 15th overall via 17-12 scores. By scoring thirteen points in the season finale, Epstein is no longer eligible for the A Class next year, meaning if he wants to return to the amateur ranks for one more season—nothing has been finalized on that front—he would only be able to compete in the Open Pro Sport Class.
- The 51 Fifty Energy rookie duo of Preston Tilford and Chris Plouffe were back in action for the first time since Hangtown. Plouffe made his 450 Class debut at Elsinore, scoring his first points of the season via a 19th in moto one. Meanwhile, Tilford finished 33rd overall in the 250 Class. Also riding under the 51 Fifty Energy tent was Preston Mull who pieced together a season-high 19th overall in the 450 Class.
- Australian Josh Cachia, who finished third in the Monster Energy Australian Nationals in the MX2 Class with J-Star JDR KTM, made his American debut with the team at Lake Elsinore. Cachia had a big crash over the huge finish line double in the first moto and was unable to come back for the second 250 moto. Check it out below.
- The J-Star JDR KTM team continued to get solid production from Malcolm Stewart late in the season. Since Millville, Stewart had an average finish of tenth, and had only finished outside the top-15 once entering Elsinore. The streak continued at the finale as Mookie finished a career-high 5th overall.
- Congrats to privateer Brandon Scharer for scoring his first points of the season at Lake Elsinore with a 20th in the first 250 moto. The Californian finished 24th overall after a 36th in moto two.
- Rockwell/Fire Police rider Killy Rusk was back in action after missing the previous three rounds. After working his way back from an early crash in the first moto, Rusk’s bike began to sputter while running 15th late in the moto. With Lake Elsinore producing the longest lap times of the year—which means longer motos in the 30-plus two format—Rusk’s bike simply ran out of gas. He would rebound in the second moto to finish 18th, salvaging a top-20 overall finish.
Mookie continued his late season run of good races at Elsinore.
Simon Cudby photo
- Rock River Yamaha’s Ben LaMay continued his sizzling end to the year at Elsinore. One week after a season high 11th overall at Steel City, LaMay secured his first top-10 (9th overall) of the season at the season finale.
- Two races, two top-10’s for privateer Weston Peick in 2012. The California native was back in action for the first time since capturing a top-10 in his season debut at Washougal. Peick once again opened eyes in only his second race this season with his 10th overall at Elsinore.
- Privateer Austin Politelli made his season, and 450, debut at Lake Elsinore. The rookie shocked the landscape in the first moto, running inside the top-5 before suffering a mechanical problem. Politelli fought back in the second moto to score his first points of the season with a 17th.
- Also back for the first time this season were Scott Champion and Jeff Alessi. Both struggled in their return, finishing 28th and 35th overall, respectively.
- Former amateur standout Nick Paluzzi was back for the first time since Thunder Valley. Paluzzi failed to score any points for the second time this season and will lose his top-100 number of 45 after finishing 30th overall via 23-27 moto scores.