The Rockstar Energy Racing teams got off to a promising start of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross season at Saturday’s opening round at the Hangtown National in Sacramento, CA. The Rockstar Energy Racing and Star Valli Yamaha teams left Hangtown with a victory in the WMX class, top-10 finishes in the 250 class, plus a top-five and top-10 results in the premier 450 class.
Rockstar’s newly signed Jessica Patterson started the 2012 WMX season with style. One of the most successful female motocross riders competing today, Patterson captured the overall victory in WMX at Hangtown, thanks to two second-place moto finishes.
Said Patterson: “Today was pretty good. In the first moto, I got a good start but I made a few mistakes and got passed, so I just kind of rode the race out and finished second. In the second moto, I was leading for a while and made a good pass at the beginning. But then I made a mistake and crashed, but I came back and got second. At least I got the overall and I’m happy with that. We’ll just look forward to next week and hopefully come back with a one-one.”
Topping out the 250 class for Rockstar Energy Racing was Martin Davalos. Although he struggled in the first moto and finished 14th, Davalos came back with a vengeance in moto two to card fourth. In the end, Davalos finished sixth overall for the day.
“Hangtown started out a little rough,” said Davalos. “We didn’t qualify well, I got a horrible start in the first moto, and then I couldn’t find any momentum. But in the second moto, I got a good start and rode solid, and I finished fourth. It was a good way to start the season, and now I’m looking forward to Freestone.”
Rockstar Energy Racing teammate Jason Anderson turned in a very consistent ride, finishing eighth in the first moto and ninth in the second for eighth overall. In the second 250 moto, Anderson ran in the top five for much of the race before a small mistake pushed him back a few spots.
“My first moto was kind of mediocre,” said Anderson. “I got eighth. In my second moto, I was rippin’ up front, and a guy got by my and then I stalled my bike. It was a good weekend overall, though, and I’m looking forward to racing in Texas.”
Like his teammates, Rockstar Energy Racing’s Blake Wharton struggled in the first moto before finding his rhythm in the second. Wharton finished 16th in the first moto, sixth in the second and took 12th overall for the day.
“I had some technical difficulties in the first moto,” said Wharton. “The second moto was a lot better. I didn’t get to race motocross last year, so it’s been a long time for me, but this track was really gnarly. But I learned some things that I’m going to build off of, and I’m going to Texas next weekend and that should be nothing but good for me.”
Rounding out the squad for Rockstar Energy Racing was Hunter Hewitt, who put in a concerted effort in both motos. Hewitt finished 17th in the first, 16th in the second and wound up 18th overall at the end of the day.
“I got a good start in the first moto, but I could have been more aggressive,” said Hewitt. “I kept a solid pace and ended up 17th. In the second moto, I was a little fatigued but I got a better start. I was more aggressive but maintained my pace, and ended up 16th. I haven’t raced motocross in over a year, so I’m happy with this. We’ll go to Texas and set realistic goals, and try to match them every weekend.”
For the Star Valli Yamaha team, Kyle Cunningham was the top finisher in the super-competitive 250 class. Cunningham turned in a strong performance, notching two top-10 moto results – a ninth and an eighth – to finish the day in seventh overall.
“I didn’t get a good start in the first moto, but I rode a decent race,” said Cunningham. “In the second moto, I was feeling good, but I caught my foot in a rut and I struggled through the last half of the race. We got two top-10 finishes and we’re still in the hunt with a lot of races to go. Now we go to Texas, which is where I live, and it’s going to be a hot one. The track is pretty difficult too, so it should make for some good racing.”
Star Valli Yamaha teammate Gareth Swanepoel returned to racing this weekend after missing the final few rounds of Supercross due to illness. Trying to get back into his groove, Swanepoel struggled but then rallied; the South African finished 12th and 15th in his motos to take 14th overall.
“Today was OK but I kept crashing in practice,” said Swanepoel. “In the first moto, my start was decent and I managed to hang on for 12th. In the second moto, my start was not so good and I was 15th. It was disappointing, but I’ve only been back on the bike for two weeks, so I can’t expect too much. I just tried to limit the damage and will build from this for Texas.”
Finally, Star Valli Yamaha’s Kyle Peters started out strong in the first moto and was dicing with the frontrunners. Within a few laps, however, the rookie lost several spots but still held on for 11th. In the second moto, he had some issues and finished 30th. Overall, Peters finished 17th.
In the premier 450 class, Star Valli Yamaha’s Nico Izzi enjoyed a noteworthy debut, capturing an impressive 10th-place finish overall, thanks to well-earned 11th- and 10th-place moto results.
“Hangtown was a little rough on me,” said Izzi of his first-ever 450 Motocross race. “I rode well, but I went down in both motos. In the first, I went down on the first lap but I rode hard and came back to 11th. In the second moto, I was in seventh but I went off the track and got T-boned trying to come back and went down again. But I ended up 10th, so I know I’ve got the speed. I just need to be a little smarter. Texas is going to be tough, we’ll have to prepare ourselves and come out with our guns loaded and hope for the best. That’s all you can do.”
Star Valli Yamaha teammate Bobby Kiniry put in a solid performance in the 450 class, turning in consistent laps on the daunting Hangtown track. Kiniry finished 12th in the first moto and 13th in the second to take 12th overall for the day.
“I’ve never really had a good result at Hangtown,” said Kiniry. “But the Rockstar Yamaha got me through the day. I got terrible starts, but I worked my way up, and stayed strong and put myself in contention for top-10 points. I got out safe and learned some things about my bike and about myself. I know I’m strong and I’m looking forward to Texas. I believe I can be in the top five and that’s what we’re shooting for. The hotter and rougher and gnarlier it is, the better I do. I’ve shown that throughout the years, and I’ve got the results to back that up.”
Star Valli Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes moved up to the 450 class at Hangtown, and realized he needed to lift his game to be competitive. Sipes had some issues in the first moto and finished 25th, but he redoubled his efforts in the second moto to finish 15th. Combined, these results were good for 18th overall.
“Hangtown was a rough weekend for me,” said Sipes. “Practice didn’t go well and I just couldn’t get going, so that gave me a bad gate pick. In the first moto, I kind of hit a wall, mentally. I just couldn’t get going. In the second moto, I rode pretty well, and I came through the pack after a terrible start. I’ve definitely got a few things to work on. Texas will be hot but I’ll be ready for it, it’ll be good.”
Rounding out Rockstar’s 450 class efforts were Brett Metcalfe and Nick Wey. Metcalfe was in his element at Hangtown and had a very strong showing, bringing home fourth- and fifth-place moto finishes for a commendable fifth overall. Unfortunately, Wey struggled (16th/36th) with a 20th-place finish overall.
“I’ve been looking forward to the start of the motocross season,” said Metcalfe. “It’s a nice change of pace. In moto one, I got a top-five start and I was feeling strong. I made some moves early and got up to second, but wasn’t able to finish at the same intensity level. Moto two was much the same, though I didn’t have a very good start. My speed and skills on the bike feel really good, so I was able to make passes and move through the pack. Again, I just wasn’t able to finish the moto strong. We need to work on that, because if I want to contend for wins, that’s what I’ve got to do.”
The next event for the Rockstar Energy Racing teams is the second round of the 2012 AMA Pro Motocross Championship on Saturday, May 26th, at the Freestone National in Wortham, TX.