Irvine, Calif. – In the mecca of motocross, Southern California’s own Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett secured the 2012 AMA Pro 250 Motocross Championship, Saturday at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Baggett took the final checkered flag on his KX™250F in style, taking his fifth overall win of the season with a 1-2 moto score. In the 450 class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle finished the season out strong going 3-3 for third overall and finished sixth overall in the championship. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer came out on top of a tight points battle and secured third overall in the championship and fifth overall on the day. Teammate Tyla Rattray quietly finished fourth overall and climbed to 10th in the championship standings.
After finishing off of the podium the past two rounds, Baggett came into the season finale ready to show everyone why he has held the red-plate for all 12 rounds. The first moto saw Baggett ride a near perfect moto. He started amongst the top-three and immediately headed to the front, taking the lead on lap five and never looking back. In 100-degree heat, Baggett won by 14-seconds and while the other top finishers couldn’t even make it to the podium due to heat issues, Baggett high-fived the fans that lined the fence surrounding the podium. He only needed to finish 13th or better in the second moto to clinch the title, but Baggett prefers nothing but to win. Nearly last place off the start of Moto 2, Baggett charged to the front and was catching the leader until a tip-over forced him to settle for second. Baggett claimed his fifth overall win of the season and his first professional title.
“I had to fight for every bit of this championship, all 24 motos,” said Baggett. “It was a gnarly day from the heat to crashing the second moto, but we knew we needed to come out swinging and came out on top. I had a lot of moto wins last year, but couldn’t put it together. This year, I never lost the red plate from Hangtown to here and it’s insane to say I finally did it in front of all my family and friends.”
Tickle began his first season in the 450 class with high expectations of himself. He has made consistent progress throughout the year and finished the season battling for the podium in every moto. Tickle got his KX™450F off to a great start and made his way into third within the first couple laps. From there he separated himself from those behind him and stayed on par with the leaders to the checkered. Moto 2 was almost a carbon copy, as he got another good start and rode alone in third. Tickle finished fifth overall in the championship standings.
“I was really looking forward to this round since it’s five minutes from my house,” said Tickle. “I felt really awesome today. I got decent starts and was able to make quick passes in the first lap. Once I was into third, the leaders were gone so I just tried to play it smart. It was really hot during that first moto, but I came back strong in the second moto. I ride really well at tracks with theses dry rutted conditions. I made a lot of progress this year and it’s really motivating going into 2013.”
Coming into Lake Elsinore, Weimer needed to make up six points to finish third in the championship. First moto, he was caught up in the first turn crash and rounded the first corner outside the top-twenty. By the fourth lap, Weimer’s smooth style and throttle control had gotten him into the top-10 and he could see the top-five. Each lap he threw down faster laptimes than those in front of him and made it to fifth by the checkered flag, making up three of the six points needed. In the second moto, Weimer was pinched off and rounded the first turn in last position. Driven to finish third in the championship, he once again charged through the pack to finish ninth. His 5-9 moto result gave him fifth overall on the day and secured the third step on the podium in the championship standings.
“I’m happy to end up third overall,” said Weimer. “It was a tough day and getting two terrible starts only made it harder on myself. I had the speed to run with the leaders, but it was super hot that first moto and ended up tipping over twice. I have a full season under my belt in the 450 class now and to finish out in third is where I wanted to be. I’m excited to continue working with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team and look forward to the future.”
After injuries forced Rattray to miss the majority of the supercross season, as well as the first five rounds of the nationals, he never lost his focus. Rattray almost grabbed the first moto holeshot on the KX450F and battled with the leaders the first few laps. He settled into his own pace around the halfway mark and finished a solid fifth. In Moto 2 Rattray had to work through the top-10 and was up to sixth before he had to come into the mechanics area for goggles. Dropping to ninth, Rattray started running faster than he had all moto and was able to make his way to fourth place. Finishing fourth overall, Rattray made up enough points to reach 10th place in the standings despite missing the first five rounds.
“It was a good way to end the season,” said Rattray. “I got two great starts which was good because last weekend I sucked. It felt good to be up front battling and I felt that was the best I rode all year. We’ve come a long way since Hangtown and stepping up to the KX450F took a while to get use to. I had a lot of fun stepping onto the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. I’m heading back to South Africa for a month and hope to come back on a Kawasaki for Supercross.”
Baggett took home his first professional title and also met a milestone for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki. Baggett’s win at Lake Elsinore marks the team’s 100th overall motocross win and their 10th championship in the 250 class.
“The depth was so good in the 250 class this year that it made this title a tough one,” said Mitch Payton, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team Owner. “Blake rode almost flawless today, just beautifully. He went out there and proved that there was no mistaking him for the champion. I’m really, really proud of him.”
Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Dillan Epstein entered his first Pro national at Lake Elsinore and finished a respectable 15th overall with a 17-12 moto score. Stepping out of the amateur ranks and into a field of the fastest 40 riders in the country is no easy task. After scoring only a few points in the first moto, Epstein finished just outside the top-10 in Moto 2.
“Today was a bit rough of a debut,” said Epstein. “I went down pretty hard in both motos and didn’t have the start I wanted, but I salvaged a decent result. I was definitely riding tight the first moto, but felt much more like myself in the second moto. I’m happy with my year and made a lot of progress on my speed and confidence. I think with some good starts I can be in the top-10 no problem.”
Although Lake Elsinore has had a motocross track for a number of years, no one had ever ridden the new layout and design of the newly created Lake Elsinore Motorposrts Park. At approximately 1.5 miles in length, Lake Elsinore is the longest course on the circuit and produced the longest lap times we saw all year. Lap times were almost three minutes in length compared to the usual two-minute tracks.
With the AMA Pro Motocross Championship now complete, Baggett and the team will now set their sights on winning the Motocross of Nations as part of Team USA in Lommel, Belgium on September 29-30, 2012. Meanwhile, the rest of the Monster Energy Kawasaki riders will begin preparation for the Monster Energy Cup on October 20, 2012.