Do you hear that? It’s the sound of no racing, and it’s deafening. Sure we’ve been spoiled with fantastic racing since January, but now that it’s all over the withdrawals are already starting to kick in. But it’s not all bad, at least you’ve still got one more recap from the action to read right here. So grab your favorite beverage, settle in and get ready to read about what really happened in Utah in the last Saturday Night Live of the season.
First off, the weather. The track got pounded on Friday afternoon and evening, and it certainly seemed like the riders were going to be in for one hell of a mudder. But it didn’t turn out like that. Sure, the qualifiers were pretty muddy, but the track crew was up before dawn working on the racing surface. They even canceled the consolation races (LCQs) to allow time for more track prep. The result? A surprisingly race-able track that certainly got gnarly, but wasn’t anywhere near the anything-can-happen-goop that a lot of people were anticipating. In fact, in the final moto of the day, the bikes were even beginning to stir up a fair amount of dust!
The 250 National Championship was wrapped up the week before Utah, so there wasn’t a whole lot to worry about in the 250 Class, except for the fact that second overall was up for grabs between Cooper Webb and Blake Baggett. Webb, who trailed Baggett by two points coming in, bested Baggett in the first moto by one spot only to see Baggett beat him by one spot in the second, despite a good fight from Webb. They tied on the day, with the overall, and second in points, going to Baggett.
The Jeremy Martin who wasn’t on pace in the second moto in Indiana after wrapping up the title didn’t show up today. The Jeremy Martin who flat killed everyone in the first five motos of the season? Yeah, that guy showed up. He put a beating of, well, Jeremy-Martin-at-Glen-Helen-and-Hangtown proportions on the field today and afterward you could tell he felt pretty good about it, although in the post-race press conference he admitted that he may have possibly fist pumped too many times afterward. It’s okay Jeremy, the champ is allowed to do that.
How about Chris Alldredge? After not having his best outing at Loretta’s, the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rookie certainly proved he is no slouch in the three rounds he raced as a pro, and today he was absolutely fantastic. In qualifying he was the first 250 rider to launch a huge quad, and he even held the fastest time in qualifying for a brief period. Oh, and his moto scores today? 5-8 for sixth overall. We’d tell you to remember to keep your eye on this kid, but you’re not going to have to worry about it—we’re pretty sure you won’t be able to miss him next year.
On the other side of the spectrum is Christophe Pourcel. His team manager told us he crashed in the first moto, DNF’d and was too sore to start the second moto. Later we learned that Pourcel said he was fine, and that it was an unnamed issue he was dealing with that caused him to pull off and later, DNS. Either way, it’s not what he wanted to close out the year, but overall his season wasn’t too shabby. He took a ton of holeshots, was the fastest qualifier at almost every round (what do you think he does with all those Oakley Bomb Award trophies?), won an overall at Unadilla and finished sixth in the points. Not bad for coming off the bench with a team that was put together relatively late.
As much as the mud hurt Ryan Dungey last week in Indiana, you know he had to be pumped to see the clouds draining on Friday. Sure, the muck had the potential to put him in a deeper hole, but with it being the last race of the year, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. But as we said, the track ended up being relatively good, although that didn’t stop Roczen from nearly throwing it away in grand fashion in the first moto. A lapper crashed right in front of Roczen, and Roczen made contact with him, throwing his bike sideways and ripping Roczen’s throttle hand off the bars. It could have been ugly for the new champ, but he saved it, and his championship, with some amazing moves.
Bad deal for Andrew Short, Fredrik Noren and Chad Reed at the beginning of the second moto. Some guys started bouncing off each other and the result was Short, Noren, Reed and another rider all going off the side of the track and down the bank of the elevated start. Short and Noren remounted and got going well behind the pack, but Reed was in obvious pain and took a few moments before remounting and getting back on the track.
Speaking of that crash, big, big credit to Noren, who was on the gas after that and charged all the way back up to ninth to put a cap on his final ride aboard the Team Honda Muscle Milk bike. Noren was fast all day too, and even qualified fourth fastest. He ends the season in tenth overall. That’s a good result no matter who you are, and it’s amazing for Noren, considering he started the season out as a very true privateer on no budget traveling to the races in a van with just him and his girlfriend.
The final 450 moto of the season was missing more than a few riders. Josh Grant, who finished fifth in the first moto, didn’t start the second, listing a shoulder that popped out on the last lap of moto one as the reason. Canadian MX1 champ Colton Facciotti filled in for Malcolm Stewart with the TLD Lucas Oil Red Bull Honda team, but things didn’t go well. He crashed on the first lap of the first 450 moto and didn’t race the second. Jake Weimer also had a rough go, crashing on the first lap of the first 450 moto and reinjuring the injury that caused him to miss several rounds earlier this season.
To say Trey Canard had a great day would be an understatement. After struggling to keep up with the likes of Ken Roczen, Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac earlier in the season, the Team Honda Muscle Milk rider killed ‘em in Utah. It’s not like he benefitted from bad starts from those guys either—they were right there at the beginning of both motos. But Canard put his head down and motored away to close out the season the best way imaginable. And his reward? He got to shave his mechanic Brent Presnell’s head afterward.
Two more good rides to mention before waving the checkers on this report. Mitchell Oldenburg DNF’d the first moto but came back to finish tenth in the second, which is the best moto finish of his career. Ryan Sipes had another great ride too, going 9-6 for sixth overall. Not bad for a moto-turned-GNCC-turned-part-time-moto guy!
That concludes the final race report of the season, and even though the action is over, news from the racing world never stops flowing so be sure to check back here often for updates on what’s going on in your sport in the months to come.