By Chase Stallo and Jason WeigandtWith temperatures in the mid-80s—combined with the scorching humidity—Saturday provided the first real test for riders, weather wise, as it even seemed a little hotter than the unexpectedly mild Tennessee National. The heat and humidity did have an impact, mostly with the noticeable fatigue of riders in moto two. Following a season’s-best fifth in the first moto, the heat got to Rockstar Energy Racing’s Ryan Sipes in the second moto. “Coming into the second moto I kind of knew I didn’t feel very good in between. At about half way I was just hot and I was weak and didn’t feel very well,” said Sipes in a statement released by the team. “I may have pushed it too hard during the week but I’ll definitely make some adjustments. The speed is definitely there to be a top 5 guy so I’m going to come back next week and whoop it.” Sipes had to receive treatment from the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit directly following the second moto where he finished 22nd after running inside the top ten early.
Malcolm Stewart had exactly three days on his new Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs backed Honda before the season opener at Hangtown. In fact, Stewart wasn’t even planning on racing outdoors after the collapse of J-Star/JDR KTM. “I was actually planning on having a big vacation,” Stewart told Racer X earlier this month of his plans before signing with TLD. It’s always been a dream of Malcolm’s to race against his older brother James, and 2013 has provided him that chance. At Budds Creek, the two literally battled all day long. They locked horns in the first moto, with James chasing and eventually running into the back of Malcolm following a crash early in the moto. Malcolm was the pursuer in the second after James worked his way into third. The younger Stewart was actually catching James in the second moto before James suffered another crash—his fourth on the day. For there, Malcolm went on to his best finish ever outdoors—250 or 450—with his first career moto podium.
James and Malcolm actually came together in the first moto.
Andrew Fredrickson photo
For ultimate workout warrior Justin Brayton, the week off provided a much-needed chance to decompress. After High Point, Brayton had to attend the Yamaha dealer meetings in Vegas and then his sister’s wedding that weekend, leaving him little time on the bike before Budds Creek. “I took some time off and got to think about some things and about what I really wanted to do,” Brayton told us during press day on Thursday. In a season where not much has gone right, Budds Creek provided a turning point for Brayton—just like it did a season ago. Brayton looked the best he has all season and the results showed as he rode to a season’s best sixth overall finish.
Phil Nicoletti’s impressive run through his first full-time 450 season continued in Maryland. Following a fifteenth in the first moto, in which he came back from 39th, Nicoletti finished a career-high sixth in the second moto. The N-Fab TiLUBE Yamaha rider returns to Southwick where he ran up front early a season ago before suffering a mechanical in the first moto in his 2012 450 debut.
Brayton’s JGR/Toyota Yamaha teammate Josh Grant came into the event with some momentum after promising rides at Tennessee and High Point. Unfortunately, a first-turn crash in moto one left him just about last. Amazingly, he zipped past nearly half the field in one lap, starting lap two in 22nd place. He would finish 14th. In moto two Grant landed in some mud landing from a jump, which brought his bike to a brief halt and gave him a handlebar to the stomach. He soldiered on to finish 11th for 13th overall.
Phil Nicoletti continues to impress in his first full 450 season.
Simon Cudby photo
Ram/Sycuan RCH Suzuki’s Broc Tickle logged his best moto of the season with a fifth in moto two. Budds Creek also marked a turning point for Tickle last summer, too, when he podiumed the 450 Class. I just started picking guys off,” said Tickle of his second moto. I think the heat got to some guys. I felt like I was flowing really good and riding like I should. Today was awesome. The whole team was pumped. I was happy. It was really good to finally ride like I know how to ride.”
The RCH team added some insight to Tickle’s program in a post-race PR. Here Tickle talks about revising his engine set up to get better starts. “Actually I wanted to make a change after High Point and get the bike a little bit better in some spots motor-wise,” said Tickle. “They built a motor and sent it to Florida but it got there a day late and I didn’t get to try it. I wanted it in the bike because if it was better where I told them I wanted it better, then I would be happy. The first practice, it was really good. We just changed the sprocket because it had a little too much bottom-end. We went down a tooth on the sprocket and it felt really good all day. I mean the power of the bike was awesome. I think that might have helped a little bit on the start but last week we worked on starts for 30, 40 minutes at the end of the day. I’ve got to keep doing that during the week and get in more work down at Ricky’s again next week.”
This was a strange day of mechanical failures. Mafia Moto Crew’s Nick Wey had an engine go south in moto two, leading to 19-33 scores. BTOSports.com KTM’s Michael Byrne had brake troubles in both motos, and his teammate Andrew Short lost his front brake in moto one.
Speaking of that, privateer Fredrick Noren may just want to ride the remainder of the season without a front brake. After breaking his lever in both Colorado and Tennessee, the Swedish privateer lost his front brake again in the second moto at Budds Creek. He finished 16th in the second moto and 22nd in the first.
Broc Tickle had his best ride of the season at Budds Creek.
Simon Cudby photo
Munn Racing KTM’s Vince Friese, who felt like he made some improvements with his suspension during the break, suffered a mechanical in the first moto. The Missouri native bounced back in the second with another top fifteen finish on the season.
250SX East Region Champion Wil Hahn returned to Lucas Oil Pro Motocross with a bang. The GEICO Honda rider scored both Motorcycle-Superstore.com holeshots, which, incredibly, now puts him in the lead of the $15,000 Motorcycle-Superstore.com holeshot standings in the 250 Class. He held strong for fifth overall in his return from a hand injury. "The pace was fast. These guys are getting after it,” said Hahn in a team press release. “But I was pleased with how I rode, and getting those two holeshots was a nice bonus.”
Mitch Payton pushed his riders hard during the off week and the move paid off. Blake Baggett won his first overall of the season, while teammate Darryn Durham lead a majority of the second moto en route to his first career moto podium. Rookie Justin Hill was solid as well, coming from outside the top fifteen in moto 2 to score his second tenth place finish of the day. These were the best rides of the season for all three riders. The teams other 250 rider, Martin Davalos, has been ill and will undergo further tests this week. “You never want to have to miss a race, but I just felt it was best to not force this issue this weekend,” said Davalos. “I know I can push and ride at a good pace for a short period of time, but it’s a different story when you’re looking at over 30 minutes of all out effort. My body isn’t where it should be physically to be safe and ride like I know I can, so I’m focusing on getting healthy and coming back strong next weekend.”
GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle had a big crash in the first moto, but was able to fight back to nineteenth. “One of the gnarliest crashes I've had in a while,” tweeted Bogle following the race. Bogle was able to rebound in the second moto with a ninth.
Wil Hahn (19) returned with a bang at Budds Creek.
Simon Cudby photo
The transition for Alex Martin and Brady Kiesel to Rock River Yamaha from Eleven10 Mods, after the team announced that it would discontinue its professional team last week, was in effect at Budds Creek. Martin finished eighteenth overall (16-21) while Kiesel took home twenty-first (18-35). Check out RacerXonline.com for more this week on the transition.
Rough day for rookie sensation Cooper Webb, who was down in the first turn of the first 250 moto with GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne, and Eli Tomac got tangled with them, too, but managed to stay up. Still, that’s a lot of talent running in the last three spots! Osborne, who had been in the top five overall in every race so far this year, crashed again coming through and could only net 17th in moto one. “I'm pretty pleased with the day," Osborne said. "I passed a lot of guys. I liked the lines I was taking and felt like I could ride with the top guys. I just got caught up early in the first race and that cost me. (Cooper) Webb went down right in front of me in the first turn and I didn't have anywhere to go. The second moto was much better, obviously." Osborne finished fourth in that one, good enough for ninth overall.
MyPlash/Star Racing Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham logged a quiet, solid performance with 7-9 scores and eighth overall. Cunningham is also eighth in 250 points.