NEW BERLIN, N.Y. (Aug. 13, 2016) – The GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda team used the final break in the 2016 professional motocross calendar to heal some injuries and improve its motorcycles, and that helped immensely at the 2016 Unadilla National, round 10 of the 12-round AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Team riders RJ Hampshire and Tristan Charboneau finished inside the top 10 overall, while Jordon Smith returned from injury with a seventh-place finish in the second moto. Each rider felt his weekend was a step in the right direction.
Hampshire led the way with fifth overall via 9-6 moto scores, his best overall result of the season. Even a small crash while running fifth in moto one didn’t deter him.
“It was a better weekend all around for myself and the team,” said the Florida native. “We put in a lot of work over the break to get our bike back where it needs to be. Huge changes on the bike that paid off. A small tip-over late in the first moto kept me out of the top five, but I was able to charge through the pack in the second moto to end the day with a fifth overall. That’s my first top-five of the outdoor season; really happy with all the changes we made. I’m really looking forward to these last two rounds now!”
Pro rookie Charboneau was new to the challenges of Unadilla, which not only include brutal conditions on the track, but tough travel days to get to the upstate New York facility. He fought through it all for ninth overall, tying his career best, recorded at round one back at Hangtown in May.
“To start, we didn’t get to our hotel until 11 p.m. Friday night, then we had to get some type of food so I wasn’t able to fall asleep until about midnight. Then I had to wake up at 5 a.m. to head to the track and get set-up for practice!” said Charboneau. “I was only 21st in practice, the track was deep and I struggled in a couple sections. Race one, I got a terrible jump off the gate, came around way back, used a lot of energy charging through the pack and then they threw the red flag out for a restart. So we went back to the gate and put gas back in the bike. The good thing is, I pulled a nice top-10 start, held it there through the moto and came out 10th in moto one.
“Next moto had a better gate pick, got a good gate and pulled another top-10 start,” continued Charbonneau. “I charged up to seventh, and then me and Martin Davalos came together around halfway through, putting me back a few positions. I came out 10th in moto two, also. Ten-10 for ninth overall is not bad on the day. I always want to do better, but it’s progress on how the last two rounds have gone.”
Unadilla marked Charboneau’s third race back from a broken collarbone. He took 22nd and 18th at the first two races of his return, so the ninth was a positive step.
Returning from injury at this event was Jordon Smith, who missed three races with a shoulder injury.
“I started off the weekend trying to get back into the race pace in practice and didn’t really qualify too great. We were making changes on the bike all throughout practice and into the first moto to try and get it where it needed to be,” said Smith. “The whole GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda crew did a great job of getting it where I wanted for the motos and I felt good. Unfortunately, we had a little electrical issue in the first moto and I had to pull off on the first lap. The crew worked hard to figure out the problem and get me back out there for moto two, but I got a bad start since I was all the way on the outside of the gate. I made quite a few passes on the opening lap and tried to be smooth and consistent throughout the race. The track was brutal and it was really hot, so there were lots of guys falling and fading back, so I just tried to stay steady. I was able to make it all the way back to seventh place before the red flag came out and they ended the race. I was pretty happy with that finish. It felt good to be back at the races and I’m looking forward to finishing out the season strong at the final two.”
Chase Sexton, who won the AMA Horizon Award as the top amateur at the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National at Loretta Lynn’s presented by AMSOIL, was scheduled to make his professional debut at Unadilla, but injured his knee on Tuesday before the race. His condition will be reevaluated going forward. Christian Craig and Justin Bogle are out for the season while healing from injuries.