Irvine, Calif. – The AMA Pro Motocross Championships headed to the heart of Texas for Round 2 at Freestone County Raceway in Wortham, Texas for heated racing and hot temperatures. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett put in two strong rides to finish second overall with a 2-2 moto score and retains the red plate signifying his points lead. Teammate Ivan Tedesco had his work cut out for him after going down in the first corner of both motos, but rallied through to finish 19th overall. In the 450 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer finished 3-6 on the day for fourth overall after also coming back from a first turn crash. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished a strong seventh in Moto 1, but was unable to finish Moto 2. In the WMX class, Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Meghan Rutledge rode to a consistent 3-3 for third overall.
After going 1-1 last weekend at the season opener, Baggett felt confident coming into Freestone and knew that not even the heat could stop him from being up front. In the first moto, Baggett came around the first corner just outside the top-10 and slowly started picking off riders. By the halfway point, he had made his way into the top-five and was holding nothing back. One of the only riders to use the wall obstacle as a jump, Baggett launched his KX™250F into the sand whoops each lap, jumping over second place to claim the position. In Moto 2 he got shuffled back in the first turn and again started making his way to the front. Unable to air out the wall jump, Baggett started making up time elsewhere and was able to secure second place on the final lap. His 2-2 moto score allowed him to maintain the points lead and will continue sporting the red plate.
“It was a gnarly hot day,” said Baggett. “I’m happy I was able to salvage a 2-2 considering my starts. There was a lot of carnage that second moto, so I’m glad I made it out and was able to withstand the heat. We’re leaving with the points lead and hopefully I can keep the red plate for the next 10 rounds.”
As the lone Kawasaki KX™450F under the Monster Energy Kawasaki tent, Weimer knew it was his time to show his potential. He showed he had done his homework in Moto 1 as he easily made his way into third and pushed hard all the way to the checkered flag to claim his first ever 450 Class podium. In Moto 2, Weimer had a great start, but as the riders came together around the tight right-hander, he lost the front end after coming together with another rider. Getting up in 40th place, Weimer started charging. With a few laps remaining he had made his way into the top-10, but he wasn’t finished. Weimer chased down every rider in sight and made the pass for sixth only a few corners from the finish. After the moto, congratulations came from all directions on his impressive ride in the Texas heat. His 3-6 finish put him fourth overall, just one point out of being on the overall podium. Weimer now sits tied for fourth in the points standings.
“Overall it was a good day,” said Weimer. “I really felt like I could have stood on the podium at the end of the day today, but its progress in the right direction and my best ride on the KX450F outdoors. I feel like I’m one of the best guys on the track and felt good as the track got rough, so we’ll carry it on to next week.”
Tickle came out swinging in practice on Saturday morning and threw down some impressive lap times to place fourth overall, giving him a great gate pick. Feeling confident, Tickle came around the first corner in Moto 1 around 16th position. Initially he slowly made progress, but as the moto went on, Tickle got stronger and stronger. By the checkered flag he had made his way into seventh. In the second moto, Tickle started within the top-10, but before the halfway mark a mechanical issue would force him out of the race. His strong first moto gave him enough points to stay in the hunt and now sits eighth in the points standings.
“I felt really good all day,” said Tickle. “I was up front in qualifying practice which got me off on the right foot. I got off to a mediocre start in the first moto, but was able to charge all the way through to finish seventh. I was happy with that and was able to recover from the heat quickly, so I was pumped to get back out there. I’m looking forward to next weekend and know I can get two solid finishes and be battling for podiums.”
Tedesco may not have raced pro motocross in a few seasons, but you would never know it from his speed and determination. Tedesco had to come from last place in both motos after coming together with riders and going down in the first turn. In a stacked 250 class, that is no easy task. First moto saw him almost break the top-10 finishing 11th, salvaging crucial points. In the second moto it took Tedesco a little longer to get going and he finished 22nd, just outside of scoring points. Many would say he should have just pulled off after not scoring points, but that just shows how hard of a competitor Tedesco is. He now sits ninth in the points standings.
“I felt like I rode pretty good today and could have had a much different result,” said Tedesco. “I came back strong in the first moto, but second moto someone hooked my right elbow which locked my throttle wide open going into the first corner and caused a huge pileup. I tore myself up a bit and it took me a while to get going, so I was really far back once I got going again. Had I got both holeshots, the day could have been a lot different, so I’m just going to keep a good attitude and keep pushing.”
Making a Name for Herself
Until last weekend, few had heard of Rutledge in the United States. Her moto win in Hangtown caused a quite a stir. Rutledge backed that up at Freestone by going 3-3 on the day. Both motos saw her in heated battles and in moto 2, Rutledge held off her competition for second place up until the very last stretch. She finished third overall on the day, which moves her into third in the points standings.
“I had a reasonably good day,” said Rutledge. “I qualified second and had a great gate pick. I battled for third the first moto and in the second moto I held onto second for most of the race until I got cross-rutted coming up to the finish. These girls are super fast, so I’m pretty happy with myself.”
Beating the Heat
With temperatures in the 90s, more than just the racing was heated in Texas. Although all the riders on the track are top athletes, battling the heat for 35 minutes definitely separated the men from the boys. Motocross is a grueling sport and Freestone is hands down one of the toughest races on the circuit.
After tackling the heat this weekend, the AMA Pro Motocross Championship heads to the high elevation of Thunder Valley Raceway in Lakewood, Colo., where riders will have to overcome yet another challenge, the altitude.