All The World's A Stage For Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup At Laguna Seca

Monterey, Calif. (July 17, 2008) -- The Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup returns to action with a doubleheader weekend at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix this weekend. The exciting series consisting of some of the most talented 13 to 16 year olds in North and South America, and the Caribbean, gets to race on a global stage for the first time at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Saturday and Sunday.

Rookies Cup races have been some of the most exciting contests of the 2008 AMA season. The first three races of the season have all seen tight battles at the front with thrilling racing throughout the field and Laguna Seca promises be no different. The margin of victory at the last event at Elkhart Lake, Wis., was a scant 0.0019 seconds as Leandro Mercado of Argentina narrowly topped Jake Gagne of Ramona, Calif. The Sonoma round of the series saw Benny Solis of North Hollywood, Calif., take the win after a three-rider fight (with Mercado and Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Ky.) ended with his rivals crashing out. The series debut at Barber Motorsports Park saw Solis and Mercado engage in a cat-and-mouse battle until the checkered flag, with Solis taking the narrow victory.

The series tested at Laguna Seca in February, so all of the riders have ridden their KTM RC 125s at the track. The challenging Laguna Seca layout, known for its elevation changes and a series of increasingly faster corners leading up to the legendary Corkscrew, requires precise lines and throttle control and will be a good test for how each Rookie has progressed since the first test.

Solis leads Mercado in the points after three rounds, although his lead is down to five after Mercado's Road America win. As always, the points collected this weekend will influence the Riders Cup, two special events that will see the top ten racers in both the MotoGP Rookies Cup and the AMA U.S. Rookies Cup square off at Indianapolis and Valencia, Spain later this year.

Jake Gagne had no roadracing experience before he tried out for the Rookies Cup last fall, but the former motocrosser showed how far he has come with his breakthrough weekend at Road America. He qualified on the front row and then his battle with Mercado for the win required a photo finish to determine the victor, with the 14-year-old Gagne taking the closest of second places.

"The first couple of rides, I was struggling and still learning, back around 15th place or so, but I was getting used to the bike and roadracing. I've been improving, and was a little shocked to do as well as I did in qualifying and the race in Wisconsin," said Gagne. "The toughest part for me this year is being on the asphalt rather than dirt. Racing is pretty much the same and I have a lot of experience on dirt, so I just needed to get adjusted to the different surface and a different bike. Leandro and I had a good battle and I was ridding really well, so that felt awesome. I went from ninth in the points to third. I'm excited about that. I want to stay in the top five in points and I'll do my best to improve one spot from last time and get a win."

Garet Tomlinson of Aledo, Tex., will race with an injured arm and shoulder after a crash at Elkhart Lake in June. "It's gotten better and I have raced some CMRA (regional) events and won, so I feel ready to race here at Laguna Seca. My mechanics made me a special throttle for the Indy test and I will use it again here. I'm ready to put my head down and do what I needed to do. It should be a great weekend. To race with the MotoGP guys will be great."

Bryce Prince of Bakersfield, Calif., will have a lot of local support at the race. "A lot of family and friends will be there for me," said the 15-year-old. "It makes it more exciting and it's one of the biggest races of the year, so that makes it even better. Laguna Seca is a challenging track and a very flowing track. How you approach each corner has a big influence on the next ones. It's important to get them all right, especially on a 125, and keep your momentum. We have two races this time so the key is to do well in the first race and get even more confident for the second one."

Luciano Ribodino, injured during the Infineon Raceway event, will return to action this weekend.

The first 14-lap race of the weekend is scheduled for Saturday at 3:45 p.m., with Sunday's event scheduled for 12:45 p.m. local time.

Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup - Points Standings (after Round 3)
1. 35 Benny Solis, North Hollywood, California 50 points
2. 36 Leandro Mercado, Cordoba, Argentina 45
3. 32 Jake Gagne, Ramona, California 32
4. 12 Tomas Puerta, Medellin, Colombia 29
5. 56 Austin DeHaven, Los Angeles, California 26
6. 26 Toriano Wilson, St. Davids, Bermuda 24
7. 50 Emerson Connor, Burlington, Ontario 23
8. 75 Huntley Nash, Marietta, Georgia 22
9. 25 Joey Pascarella, Vacaville, California 20
10. 7 Austin Medrano, Mustang, Oklahoma 20
11. 95 Frankie Lee Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 18
12. 34 Corey Rech, Liverpool, New York 17
13. 69 Hayden Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 16
14. 74 Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, California 15
15. 31 Cameron Gish, Shingle Springs, California 15
16. 13 Jesse Stevens, Lawrenceville, Georgia 10
17. 23 Corey Alexander, Ossining, New York 9
18. 94 Jacob Cunningham, Kimberly, Wisconsin 9
19. 11 Luciano Ribodino, San Francisco, Argentina 6
20. 66 Jake Morman, Loganville, Georgia 6
21. 22 Garet Tomlinson, Aledo, Texas 4
22. 3 Travis Wyman, Macedon, New York 2
23. 82 Otavio Lucchini, Jundiai, SP, Brazil 1

For more information on the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup, please visit www.redbullrookiescup.com and www.redbullusa.com/rookiescup.

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