DENVER (May 30) – The GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda 250 team had a terrific day at the Thunder Valley National on Saturday, with Christian Craig, Jordon Smith and R.J. Hampshire each positing season-best finishes in the AMA Pro Motocross series.
Craig was making his season debut for the team as a replacement for the injured Justin Bogle and was sharp all day, finishing fifth overall.
Smith posted his first top-five finish in a moto and came home sixth overall, and R.J. Hampshire finished eighth. Matt Bisceglia maintained his presence in the top 10 of the 250 points standings with a 12th-place finish.
Craig made an immediate impact, leading the first practice of the day. He then finished fourth in the first moto and sixth in the second to take home an overall top-five.
“The day started off great; I qualified first in practice,” Craig said. “I went into the motos not knowing where I was going to be. I got a bad start on the first moto, but I worked my way up, and I really didn’t know where I was until about three laps left in the moto.
“I got the sign from my mechanic, and I was like, ‘Whoa!’ It kind of surprised me, but I have been training really hard and riding every day, so I did expect to be in the top 10.”
Craig rode well in the second moto, but his absence from motocross may have hurt him in the latter stages.
“I got a bad start, and then toward the 20-minute mark I was getting tired, so I put it on cruise control and rode it out to a sixth,” Craig said. “I wasn’t feeling the elevation; it was just that my body didn’t have a lot of time to recover. I can’t complain with a 4-6 finish; that was pretty great.”
Rookie rider Smith had one of his best performances for the GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda team with a sixth in the first moto and a fifth in the second, easily his best showing in the three races outdoors so far in 2015.
“The entire GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda team has been working really hard,” Smith said. “They have been doing some great work to my bike, and this is the happiest I have ever been with everything this season. Today went well with qualifying and I felt really good. Hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling into next weekend.”
Hampshire’s eighth-place finish was the first top-10 of his young motocross career, dating to the final three races of 2014. He was ninth in the first moto and 10th in the second.
“Practice went really well for me today and I qualified top 10,” Hampshire said. “I got a pretty good start in the first moto and was sitting fifth for about 26 minutes. I actually started catching the leaders, but I had a stupid little mistake and went down and it cost me a lot. I felt good through that moto, though.
“The second moto I got tangled up in the start, so I went down and was dead last, but I turned it around and finished 10th.
“I had a much better weekend. I made a lot of improvements, but the results didn’t really show. Overall it was a better weekend. The track was cool; it was gnarly and rough. I have never seen anything deeper than those ruts. It was fun and the track was great.”
Bisceglia remains as the highest-ranked GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda rider in the points standings – ninth – after going 10-13 in Denver.
“The first moto I was in eighth place and came up on a group of riders, the guys that were from about fourth to seventh place, and I got hung up,” Bisceglia said. “My fitness is really good, so I reeled them in coming up on the last couple laps. I got close to that pack, but made a mistake and went down in the corner, so I lost a couple positions.
“The second moto I came up in the first corner and one of the Kawasaki riders crashed right in front of me, and I had nowhere to go. I just got stuck in the middle of the pileup. I did come from last and ended up 12th.
“Overall I rode well, but I am disappointed because my results are not reflecting how hard I work during the week. I need to minimize the mistakes. The first moto kind of sucked because that moto was my mistake, but the second moto there was nothing I could do, so I just had to put my head down and charge.”
The next round takes place Jun 6 in Blountville, Tenn. Catch the second 450 moto live on NBC beginning at 2:00 ET.