On a hot and humid day in Central Texas, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki stayed cool and swept the podium at the Freestone National, in Wortham, Texas. Christophe Pourcel finished 1-5 to take the overall victory with Tyla Rattray going 6-1 for second overall. Rookie Dean Wilson went 3-3 for third overall. Jake Weimer finished 5-12 after falling in the first turn of the second moto, finishing eighth overall. In the 450 class Monster Energy Kawasaki's Chad Reed maintained his points lead by going 2-3 and finishing second overall. Nick Wey went 11-13 to finish 12th overall. In the Motocycle-USA.com WMX class, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Sara Price went 5-5 to finish fifth overall.
For the second time in its last three races, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki swept the overall podium aboard the dominant Kawasaki KX250F. The team finished the AMA Supercross Lites season with a sweep of the top four positions in Las Vegas and continued its dominance at Freestone taking the top three spots.
"My bike is amazing," said Rattray. "After Hangtown I knew I had to work on some things, but I knew I had a bike capable of winning. I got a moto win and now it's time to get an overall."
In the first moto, Pourcel went off the track late in the race while running second, but recovered quickly and was able to take the lead on the very next lap. In what has become a habit for Pourcel, he held on to win the first moto. In the second moto, the French rider went down in the first turn and slowly picked his way through the field moving up to fifth. The finish gave him just enough points to claim the overall victory.
"I was surprised I was able to catch the leader so fast after going off the track," said Pourcel. "The races didn't really go how I wanted them too, but I was able to get the win. There are a lot of fast riders out there so recovering from mistakes and moving up through the pack is hard."
Two for One
Reed rode an incredible race in the first moto as he moved up from a mid-pack start steadily picking off riders and moving into second by the checkered flag. In the second moto, Reed got a better start but he was unable to duplicate his charge as he came home third.
"The track was really smooth in the first moto so I had to be patient," said Reed. "Once it got rougher I was able to find some good lines and move to the front. In the second moto I tried to find even more good lines but I wasn't able to."
Rattray came out of the Hangtown event focused on improving his starts and riding with a faster pace throughout the motos. In the first moto he was able to get out near the front and he raced most of the moto with his teammates Wilson and Weimer. In the second moto, Rattray got a good start and rode stronger as the race progressed, making a last lap pass to take his second career moto win.
"I knew I needed to be faster on the opening laps of the motos," said Rattray. "That is something I've worked on the last two weeks and it paid off today. In the second moto, I didn't see Dean at all until the last lap. I made up a lot of time on him and he let me by in the back. I was kind of surprised."
Wilson, an 18-year-old rookie, making only his second career start, was in position to claim his first moto and overall win during the second moto. Wilson believed he had a sizable advantage on the field and didn't realize until it was too late that his teammate Rattray and another rider were racing him for position. Wilson wound up third in the moto and third overall.
"When I saw Tyla get the checkered flag, my heart shattered," said Wilson. "I made a rookie mistake today and I'm crushed right now. We have another race next week though, so I have to put this behind me and move on. My bike was great today and I rode strong, so I'm just going to keep working to get my first win."
It's Not the Heat
With temperatures forecast to hit triple digits, the talk of the Texas pits was how the riders were going to handle the heat. Though the heat and humidity were both high, the riders were well conditioned and were able to handle it.
"Today wasn't much different from most of my riding during the week," said Reed. "It's not like I live and train in Florida because I like the humidity. Riding during the week in weather like today not only prepares you for races like this, but it also conditions you for the cooler races as well."
Price rode two consistent motos in the WMX class as she came home fifth in both. The 17-year-old sophomore didn't get the start she was looking for in the first moto, but she was able to move up to fifth on the rough track. In the second moto, she did get a good start just missing the holeshot, but the lingering effects from a shoulder injury relegated her back to fifth.
"I'm happy to be in the top-five," said Price. "But I know I have more speed. Since I injured my shoulder I haven't been able to ride much during the week. I only got two days of riding in between Hangtown and this weekend, so it's like I'm starting from scratch. We have a three-week break now so I should be ready to go at Colorado."
Weimer rode a consistent first moto battling nearly the entire time with his teammates. In the second moto he went down in the first turn and had to carve his way through the pack. Weimer took creative lines throughout the moto to get to 12th and secure a top-10 overall finish.
"Today didn't go as planned," said Weimer. "I still need to improve my starts. It's tough when you put yourself in a hole early and then spend the rest of the race trying to climb out of it. The track was rough today which is good, but that makes it even harder to get through the field if you don't get a good start."
Wey had a good first moto that saw him battling for position nearly every lap. Riding consistent times throughout the moto he was able to move into the top 10 before getting caught out by a lapper of the final lap and losing a spot. With his confidence growing after the first moto, Wey was ready to challenge in the second moto until he went down in the first turn. From there he pushed to make up as much time as he could.
"I had a decent race in the first moto, but a small mistake cost me a top 10," said Wey. "In the second moto I crashed in the first turn, but I was able to work through the pack. The Monster Energy Kawasaki crew has really helped me improve my riding since Hangtown and they also worked hard to find a comfortable suspension setting. I'm expecting to be in the top 10 this week at Mt. Morris."