BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 6) – The fourth round of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship threw several obstacles at GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda‘s four riders, but each persevered, led by pro rookie R.J. Hampshire‘s 11-5 moto scores and eighth overall finish. Hampshire and teammates Matt Bisceglia (10th overall) and Jordon Smith (11th overall) had to overcome early-race crashes to salvage valuable championship points.
Hampshire went down off the start of the first race and had to charge back from 40th to 11th. He rebounded for fifth in the second race, a career-best result.
“I did all I could,” Hampshire said. “I was working hard. I felt good today. Second moto I started fifth, went back to sixth, got Joey Savatgy back for fifth, then Marvin Musquin passed me. I made a mistake, then I closed back in on him and was close all the way to the end. I was trying to get him back. I felt good.”
Hampshire credits time back home in Florida and improved bike settings for his ride.
“I get to be back home on the East Coast now, which means I can work with my trainer every day,” he said. “But the time out in California was good. The team worked hard to get my bike where I want it, and I’m a lot more comfortable. I like my bike setup now; we’ve just got to keep going every weekend.”
Bisceglia’s sixth in moto one was solid, but for the third week in a row he found himself buried early in the second race.
“I got like a third-place start and I just came into the second corner and Marvin Musquin bombed down the inside, crashed in front of me, and I had nowhere to go and went down,” said Bisceglia, who rallied back to 13th. “I was just stuck in a hole right behind his bike, and I couldn’t get going until he did. Once I got going I did what I could do.
“It’s kind of a bummer this happened in the second moto three weeks in a row. I feel like I’m really close to a breakthrough. That’s what’s frustrating me right now. If I could get through the first lap of the second motos, I’d be good, but it’s the first lap and you have to be aggressive. Today was just unfortunate.”
While Hampshire and Bisceglia each had to overcome early troubles in one of their two motos, Smith had to mount comebacks in both.
“It was a pretty rough day,” Smith said. “I had two first-lap crashes in the first moto, but still rode as hard as I could the whole moto. The second moto was pretty much the same. I also ran into Marvin Musquin on the first lap, so it was pretty much the same, coming from the back.
“It was hot out there and a lot of people were fading. I’ve been training really hard down at the Millsaps’ Training Facility, and my fitness is amazing right now. I just kept charging and picking off guys as the moto went on. I think I had one of the fastest times of the race, so it was a good day. Character building, I guess.”
It was a disappointing day for Christian Craig, who shocked the industry with a fifth-place result last week in his return to racing. The fill-in rider for the injured Justin Bogle was under the weather for this race and didn’t have the energy to fight to the front again.
“Today was rough,” Craig said. “Coming in I was really sick. After last week’s race I had a bad cold and struggled all week with it out in California. I wasn’t able to train and ride the way I wanted to, so coming in I wasn’t feeling too good. I qualified decent, but five laps into the first moto, I was coughing in my helmet, stuff was coming out of my nose. I was feeling bad. It wasn’t good and I thought it was kind of dangerous to stay out there riding like that.”
Craig didn’t finish the first race but decided to try racing the second, determined to finish at all costs. Bike problems held him to a disappointing 29th, however.
“I had a decent start for how far outside I was,” Craig said. “I was ninth, went back to 10th, and then on the big triple jump, something happened when I landed, the chain got stuck, and the bike wouldn’t even go. I pulled into the mechanic’s area and it took five minutes to get it out. I was like three laps down by then.
“But I had told myself I was going to finish, so I got back out there and kept going. I’m really disappointed with my day. I feel like I let the team down and myself down. That wasn’t me out there. I’m glad I have next weekend to come back and do better.”
The next stop for the GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda team is the High Point National in Mount Morris, Pa., June 13. Catch the second motos live on NBCSN beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.