Blake Baggett Dominates Red Bud
The temperature may have reached triple digits on Saturday in Buchanan, Mich., but that did not stop Traxxas-sponsored Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett from running away with both moto wins in the 250 class at Round 6 of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship at RedBud. In the 450 class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray made his return to racing with a 4-5 moto score for fourth overall. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Broc Tickle rode two strong motos to finish sixth overall.
Baggett’s weekend at RedBud was in question Saturday morning when he awoke feeling sick to his stomach and wasn’t sure if he would even ride practice. Even feeling under the weather couldn’t keep him from the track and he went on to qualify sixth. Once the gate dropped, Baggett was untouchable. He won the first moto by 10 seconds and won the second moto by nearly 20 seconds on his KX™250F. Baggett amassed the large lead in the second moto, despite tipping over and momentarily losing the lead. Baggett had not swept both motos since the opening round at Hangtown and now holds a 19-point lead in the standings.
“I felt pretty good today, despite being sick,” said Baggett. “First moto I didn’t get the best start so I put on a charge right away and was able to make quite a few passes. I jumped LaRocco’s Leap the very first lap, which I’ve never done before and no one had done in practice; I just went for it. I got into second and was able to pressure for the lead and take the win. In the second moto, I was out front and had a small tip-over. I was able to settle into a rhythm and found some faster lines and took the lead back. Feels good to go 1-1 again.”
After making his much anticipated 450 class debut aboard the Monster Energy Kawasaki KX™450 at Round 1 in Hangtown, Rattray’s day came to a premature end when a rock broke his hand in the first moto. He returned to RedBud determined to be up front battling. In moto one, Rattray came around the first turn within the top-10 and started working his way forward to finish fourth. In the second moto, Rattray had to battle from much farther back, but was still able to make his way up to fifth, giving him fourth overall.
“It’s my first race back, so fourth isn’t bad,” said Rattray. “First moto, I was catching third but didn’t want to push too hard towards the end, so I backed it down and saved it for moto two. I came from way back to finish fifth in the second moto, which gave me fourth overall, which I’m happy with. Racing is always different than practicing, so with each race I should improve. I’m just going to keep working hard each week.”
Tickle has been working extremely hard in between races and over the two-week break and felt he made some great strides. He battled within the top five in both motos after getting impressive starts aboard his KX450F. He and Rattray found each other in both motos and were running a blistering pace. A crash in the second moto dropped Tickle to 15th, which he then fought his way back up to ninth. His 5-9 moto score gave him sixth overall and Tickle now sits fifth in the points standings.
“The track was gnarly today,” said Tickle. “It was rough, but like a different rough with bumps everywhere and no rest at all. I struggled to get a flow going in the first moto and wore myself out a bit, but towards the end I started settling down and starting making ground. We made a couple bike changes the second moto and I felt much better, but a small tip over spoiled that. Today was all about setting your lines up and flowing around the bumps.”
Not only is racing in 100 degree weather for 35 minutes grueling for the riders, but they also were subject to the roughest track of the year thus far. The riders always look forward to RedBud’s famous, loamy dirt every year, but this year the track developed much rougher conditions than usual.
Along with the spectacular dirt, RedBud also features one of the most famous obstacles in motocross, LaRocco’s Leap. The uphill triple is extremely difficult to clear for the 250 class and can make a huge difference in lap times. After practice, no one in the 250 class had attempted the leap, but first lap of moto one Baggett knew he needed to make up time and went for it. He was one of the only riders in the class to consistently clear the leap, which helped contribute to his dominance.
“First lap I just went for it,” said Baggett. “I thought I was going to over-shoot it, but ended up almost coming up short. I had never done it before so it was pretty intense that first lap. It got a little sketchy in the second moto so once I was out front I backed it down.”
The AMA Pro Motocross Championship has now reached the halfway point and the battles continue to heat up. Baggett will continue to sport the red plate as current points leader in the 250 class, while Weimer looks to close the gap to second place in the 450 class. Round 7 takes the championship to Millville, Minn., which is another track that riders look forward to every year. The humidity and track conditions should be similar to this past round in RedBud and the racing should be just as exciting.