The AMA Toyota Trucks Motocross National Series moved to the beautiful, rolling hills of central Minnesota, and the sleepy town of Millville, for round ten of the 2008 campaign. Greeted with ideal weather and one of the most picturesque facilities in all of motocross, the Redux Beverages/Brawndo Honda squad was looking forward to a fun and successful weekend of racing action.
A fresh new face, in the form of 18-year-old Ben Evans, joined the pro team for his first venture into the AMA Professional racing series. Having come straight off an impressive runner-up finish at the AMA Amateur National Championships at Loretta Lynn’s Dude Ranch in Tennessee, Ben was anxious to test the waters with the big boys.
As usual, “Brawndo” Bob Kiniry led the charge, hitting the track first aboard his 2008 Honda CRF250R. His blazing fast lap times positioned him with a solid gate choice heading into the all-important motos.
Moto one started off a little rough for Bob, as his start was lackluster and he found himself mired somewhere in the middle of the pack. By the end of the second lap, he had worked his way into the top twenty and looked to have the measure of field just ahead. Lap after lap, Bob picked off his competitors as he continued to move closer to the front of the pack. When the race ended, he had clawed back to thirteenth position.
The second moto was looking much better, as Bob was into the top ten on the first lap. His pace was solid, and everything was on track to better his previous best moto finish of the season. Nearly halfway in, misfortune struck in the form of a high-speed crash in the rough chicane between turns one and two. Bob remounted way back, but managed to get back to 24th by the end of the moto. Bob’s 13/24 moto finishes earned him 19th overall on the day.
“Redux” Ryan Clark was fresh off an appearance at X Games 14, where he missed the final by one position but was awarded 11th place for his efforts. He was looking for a strong performance at Millville, a track he has traditionally performed well on.
After a frustrating qualification, Ryan hoped for a great jump off the gate from the far outside. He had a decent jump, but got run wide in the first turn and emerged near the tail end of the pack. A few laps later, Ryan had worked up near the top twenty and was mounting a mid-race charge. Unfortunately, the charge never came to be as he lost the front end in a rutted turn and dropped back outside the top thirty. He was able to make up a few positions to finish 29th in moto one.
The second moto didn’t begin much better, as he was again back in the pack and fighting for real estate. He rode a consistent race and worked up to 22nd by the end of the 30-minute-plus-two moto. Ryan’s 29/22 moto tally awarded 28th on the day.
Rookie sensation Ben Evans was the most excited person at Millville. He and his mechanic, Eric Gass (formerly an intern at Team Solitaire/MB1 Racing), had waited for this moment for a long time. If Ben was nervous he wasn’t showing it, as his demeanor was cool, calm and collected as he entered the professional ranks of one of the most competitive and physically demanding sports in the world.
Saturday practice didn’t go as planned, as Ben failed to notch a direct transfer to the Sunday program. Instead, he would have to ride a consolation race where only the top five would transfer. Ben handled the pressure well, finishing 3rd in the consolation and advancing to his first ever AMA professional main event.
Ben gated mid-pack in moto one, but was looking strong as he moved through rider after rider on his way inside the exclusive top twenty. Just after the halfway mark, while exiting the notoriously rough sand whoops, Ben lost the front end going into a tricky sand corner. Before he was able to remount, his bike was struck by another rider and the two bikes were hopelessly tangled together. What happened next was quite an anomaly, as the other rider’s bike burst into flames leaving both rider’s scrambling to get away. After the flames were extinguished, Ben returned to the pits to prepare for the second moto.
Ben was looking for a strong start in moto two, and he got just that. After emerging inside the top ten, he found himself battling with the likes of Josh Summey and Tim Ferry. But his elation ended as quickly as it had begun, as Ben hit the ground hard on a rough downhill and injured his shoulder. He would retire early and head to the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit for evaluation.
Although Ben’s debut fell short of his performance expectations, he gained valuable experience and proved that he possesses the speed to run inside the top twenty. His shoulder injury turned out to be purely muscular, so with some therapy he should be able to make a quick return at either Southwick or Steel City. Both Bob and Ryan are also looking for a better showing in the final two series events of 2008, and to put a strong finish on an already successful season.
Team Solitaire/MB1 Racing is a privately owned professional Supercross and Motocross race team based in Phoenix, AZ. Our 2008 marketing partners include: Redux Beverages, Brawndo: The Thirst Mutilator, MB1 Suspension, Kingdom Clothing, American Honda, FLY Racing, Dragon Optical, Pro Honda Oils and Chemicals, Factory Effex, DRD Exhaust, Vortex, ASV, Dunlop, WPS, Sidi, Rockwell Watches, DUS, OGIO, Applied, QTM/Brembo, RK Chain, EXCEL Rims, HoyFox.com, Boyesen, Hinson, Ready Filter, CoachSeiji.com, Cycra Plastic, Element Sports, Sano Systems, AIMMD, Pivot Works, Hot Cams, Hot Rods, Champion Tool Storage, Crank Works, CP Pistons, Cometic Gaskets, Ron Davis Racing Radiators, NGK Spark Plugs, Flyin' Kolors, DC Auto Wraps, Leatt Brace, Dirt Pro, Parkway Chiropractic, Mechanix Wear, JM Collision, Team Hawg Racing and Group D Manufacturing.