The 2015 racing season for the Mtn. Dew ATV Motocross National Championship, sanctioned by AMA (ATVMX), officially got underway last week with the historic ATV Supercross (ATVSX) from Daytona. The race served as a landmark moment for the 30th anniversary of ATVMX, but more importantly provided a first look into what the championship battle will hold this spring and summer. The entire AMA Pro ATV field will travel to middle Georgia this weekend for round one action from Lizella’s Echeconnee MX and the Georgia National, presented by Kinsley Powersports, on Saturday, March 21.
Fresh off his huge win at the inaugural ATVSX, Baldwin Motorsports Honda’s John Natalie not only enters this weekend’s opening motocross round of the championship as the points leader, but also the rider to beat early in the season-long battle for the title. Natalie made the big switch from running his own team to joining forces with one of the most successful and well-respected efforts in the sport, and so far the new relationship is thriving. Natalie essentially went unchallenged in Daytona, grabbing the holeshot and leading all 15 laps of the main event.
The two riders who joined Natalie on the Daytona podium were arguably the two leading contenders for the AMA Pro ATV Class crown – Joel Hetrick and reigning champion Chad Wienen. Hetrick has made the foray into team ownership in 2015 and, based on the impressive speed he showed at Daytona, the new Corrosion Specialties/Hetrick Racing Honda effort is ready to contend right out of the box. Despite a third-place effort, Wienen might argue that Daytona was a bad start to the season as he searches for his fourth straight title aboard the Wienen Motorsports Yamaha entry. He was forced to qualify for the main event through the LCQ and was never able to make himself a factor in the battle for the win. With the return to the traditional motocross format this weekend, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the champ put the #1 bike back up front.
Daytona proved to be a mixed bag of results for many of the top riders in the premier class. Thomas Brown had hoped to begin his first season as a team owner with a strong ride, but a crash on the opening lap forced him to come from behind aboard his Maxxis Yamaha, powered by Moto-Xperts machine. Despite the adversity, Brown showed his resiliency and fought his way up to a sixth-place effort.
The first two motos of the 2015 season are sure to be intense and loaded with excitement as the sand track at Echeconnee provides a unique racing surface for the riders to tackle. It’s impressive length will push lap times over two minutes and the ever-changing sand will emphasize the importance of line choice. With more space and a wide-open layout to let their ATVs hang out, there’s really no telling which rider will ultimately emerge as a front-runner on Saturday afternoon. All the more reason to keep a close eye on who seizes the momentum at this round of the championship and carries it into the heart of the 2015 campaign.
On-track AMA Pro ATV Class action at Echeconnee begins at 11 a.m. EDT with practice and qualifying. Opening ceremonies, followed by AMA Pro ATV motos, kick off around 3 PM.