Monster Energy Kawasaki's Taylor Robert Steps Back on the EnduroCross Podium in Sacramento2012-06-11 20:54
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert battled through a stacked main event to finish second at Round 2 of the AMA EnduroCross Championship at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento, Calif. The podium finish advanced Robert from fifth to second in the championship standings. Teammate Bobby Garrison powered his KX™250F into the main event with a win in the semifinal race and finished sixth in the main event. Destry Abbott kicked off the evening qualifying fourth fastest and ended the night with a ninth-place finish. Justin Soulé entered the event sitting second in the championship standings and was poised to contend for the top step of the podium, but a crash during qualifying left him injured and unable to continue.
Last year marked Robert’s first full season of endurocross in the EX Pro Class, where he finished the season on the podium in Las Vegas, Nev., and earned the 2011 AMA EnduroCross Pro Junior Championship. Quickly proving to be a rising threat for this season’s title, Robert commanded the win in EX Pro Heat 1, marking his first career heat race win. In the main he was forced to battle back from a rough start and went from last place all the way to second before the checkers. Robert’s hard charging style propelled him to second on the box and left him tied for second place in the championship points.
“Tonight went really well,” said Robert.” On the first lap of my heat race I was able to grab third and after the leaders went down I got around them to take over the lead. I never looked back until the checkers. The win in my heat race felt great because it was my first endurocross heat race win. In the main I got shoved to the outside of the first turn and ended up in last place chasing down the pack. I think I passed around five guys on the first lap. Riders seemed to be down everywhere. I just focused on not making mistakes and ended up going from last to second within three quarters of the race and was able to stay there for the rest of the main. I thought the track became more technical as the night progressed because the water kept getting spread around the course. Endurocross is all about adaptability so I have been mixing up my training on different endurocross courses as much as possible. I am planning on focusing all of my training on endurocross until the X Games at the end of the month.”
After recently getting married, Garrison came to Sacramento in good spirits and set on earning his first endurocross podium. While he just missed out on qualifying for the main during the heat race, Garrison went on the take the win in semifinal race and advanced to the main. Although he had a rough start in the main, Garrison continued to push forward every lap. He finished his first main event of his career in a respectable sixth place.
“Getting into the main felt good,” said Garrison. “I have been working hard and it’s nice to see improvement. I was in second most of the first heat race, but some mistakes cost me so when I got into the semi I was confident I had the speed I needed to make the main. I grabbed the holeshot in the semi and lead all the way until the checkers, it felt great. In the main event I didn’t get the best start, but just tried to stay consistent and ended up finishing sixth. I really felt the obstacles on the course weren’t as technical as the last round, but racing inside the tight lanes made things much more challenging.”
More Tricks Up His Sleeve
Abbott is one of the hardest working guys in the world of off-road motorcycles. Within the last couple weeks he has competed in a 24-hour race and the 2013 KX™250F press introduction at Spring Creek MX Park in Minnesota. Despite the hectic schedule, Abbott came to Sacramento prepared to do battle on his KX250F and impressed everyone right out of the gate. During hot laps he laid down the fourth fastest lap in a field stacked with young, fast talent. He went on take second in his heat race and advanced to the main where he finished the night in ninth overall. Abbott currently sits eighth in the championship standings.
“I loved the track out here in Sacramento,” said Abbott. “The track wasn’t as technical as most, but the racing action was great. I can’t be too disappointed with my result since I haven’t rode or practiced endurocross since the first round in Vegas. I have been riding a lot, just not endurocross. I have spent a lot of time on the KX250F and feel really solid on it. After I finished fourth overall during my hot lap I was pretty stoked. I got second in my heat race and really felt the night was going my way at that point. In the main, I got a good start and was running second the first couple laps. But my body starting shutting down and I started making mistakes and finished ninth. I would’ve liked my main event result to be better, but I had a lot of fun and am glad the event was exciting for the fans. I love the endurocross series, it’s just nice to be out here racing.”
Rolling With the Punches
Soulé had been training hard coming into Sacramento and expected his hard work would eventually lead to the top of the endurocross podium. Last season, his impressive riding throughout the season netted third overall in the championship standings. Soulé arrived in Sacramento feeling healthy and ready to claim the top spot on the box. However, while attempting to clear the entire five-log matrix during hot laps, he suffered a crash that would take him out of the event.
“I felt really good coming into this round,” said Soulé. “I have been doing some solid training and really felt I was the guy to beat tonight. During track walk we were discussing the possibility of jumping the entire five-log matrix. No one did it during practice so I decided I wasn’t going to do it unless I really needed to. When I saw Taddy (Blasusiak) hit it successfully in front of me during hot laps I knew I had to give it a shot. I got a little wheel spin going into the jump, but once I was committed to the jump I couldn’t back out, so I stayed on the gas. I got knocked a little sideways off the lip, came up short and slammed into the ground. I ended up dislocating my shoulder for the first time in my career so I couldn’t continue racing. It wasn’t worth doing more damage and missing more races so I decided to let it heal and hopefully I will be ready to compete for X Games at the end of the month.”
Science Behind the Sport
As the series gets near to the next round at X Games Los Angeles, the media buzz surrounding the event is already audible. ESPN sent its sports science team to hang out under the Monster Energy Kawasaki pit for the entire event to conduct a study on the athletes. Sensors were placed both on the bikes and the riders to measure forces at work throughout the event. The resulting data will be correlated with racing video footage and aired on ESPN prior to the X Games in a program related to examining the science behind action sports.
“The ESPN Sport Science crew came out and hooked me up to some really cool body sensors,” said Robert. “The sensors recorded everything that was going on with my body including my heart rate, skin temperature, breathing rate, and even how much impact my body was taking. It was really cool seeing the results of my test right after I raced. I knew my heart rate was around 180 every time I raced, but I was surprised to find out that I was experiencing 13-G’s (G-Force) every lap, which is more than twice the force an Indy car racer experiences. It’s cool because even though everyone knows endurocross is a gnarly sport, seeing it by the numbers really helps translate it into a language everyone can understand.”
X Games Los Angeles
In three weeks the Monster Energy Kawasaki Off Road team heads to Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., for EnduroX at X Games 18. The high-profile event will also serve as Round 3 of the 2012 AMA EnduroCross series.
AMA EnduroCross Championship – Round 2 of 8
Power Balance Pavilion – Sacramento, Calif.
June 9, 2012
EX Pro Results
1. Taddy Blasusiak, KTM
2. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
3. Kevin Rookstool, Honda
4. Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna
5. Mike Brown, KTM
6. BOBBY GARRISON, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
7. Cody Webb, Beta
8. GARY SUTHERLIN, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI TEAM GREEN
9. DESTRY ABBOTT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI
10. COLTON HAAKER, KAWASAKI
EX Pro Championship Points
1. Taddy Blasusiak, KTM, 51
2. TAYLOR ROBERT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 41
2. COLTON HAAKER, KAWASAKI, 41
4. Kevin Rookstool, Honda, 33
5. Cody Webb, Beta, 32
5 Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna, 32
7. Mike Brown, KTM, 31
8. JUSTIN SOULE, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 25
9. DESTRY ABBOTT, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI, 22
10. GARY SUTHERLIN, MONSTER ENERGY KAWASAKI TEAM GREEN, 21
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