Robert Earns Top-Five Finish at X Games Los Angeles 2012

2012-07-03 18:49
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Off Road team took to the Staples Center dirt on Sunday looking for X Games Medals. Taylor Robert was well on his way to the medal stand after winning his heat race, but a crash in the main event relegated him to fifth. Destry Abbott had a harder fight to the main, finishing in the final transfer spot in his last chance qualifier (LCQ). Bobby Garrison was also in a transfer spot in his LCQ, but a crash in the matrix obstacle knocked him out of contention.

On a Roll
Robert is having a strong summer of racing as he leads the World Off Road Championship Series (WORCS) points standings and continues to impress on the AMA EnduroCross circuit. At X Games, he looked like a gold-medal contender after dominating his heat race and earning the first gate pick in the main. On the start of the feature race, Robert was bottled up with the pack, but he soon began working his way forward. As one of the few riders going single-double through a section of the track he was making up time every lap, but a small miscue sent him to the dirt and cost him a medal.

“My goal for X Games was to get gold,” said Robert. “I really would have been happy with any medal and to finish fifth is disappointing, X Games is our biggest race of the year. I had a great heat race and I was confident heading into the main event. I didn’t get the best start and I had to fight the rest of the night.”

Old Guys Rule
Abbott faced a steep test as his hot lap put him into a stacked heat race. After finishing fifth in that heat, the 39-year-old rider grabbed the holeshot in his LCQ and rode strong for most of the race. One mistake cost him time and when he finished he wasn’t sure if he qualified for the main event. By finishing second, he moved onto the feature and again got a great jump out of the gate, rounding the first turn in second place. Trouble on the rock climb as well as a crash over the tire jump sent him backward and Abbott finished seventh on the night.

“It was an unbelievable feeling after I finished the LCQ,” said Abbott. “I had no idea what position I was in. I was leading, but then messed up in the wood chips and fell back. I saw there were two laps left and I gave it everything I had. I passed a couple of guys, but I didn’t know if they were lappers. I looked up at the scoreboard after I crossed the finish line and I saw my name in second. I threw my hands up and then I looked back at the Kawasaki guys and they had their hands up. I was so stoked to qualify. To make the main with guys this good, that’s why I keep racing.”

Escaping the Matrix
Garrison came into X Games nursing an injured shoulder, but got a good start in both his heat and LCQ races, but was unable to turn either into a transfer spot. In the heat, he got caught behind a downed rider and couldn’t get around fast enough. In the LCQ, Garrison held the lead for half of the race before a small mistake in the matrix obstacle sent him down hard and out of an advancing position.

“I was riding too aggressive tonight,” said Garrison. “It seems every pass I tried to make, I would end up going down. I tried to ride calmer in the LCQ and I was battling for first. I got caught up in the race and battled for the win. I took an aggressive line and I went down. I reinjured my shoulder. It isn’t too bad, I can still race, but I haven’t been able to practice during the week.”

On Air Talent
Last year’s Enduro X bronze medalist Justin Soulé was forced to miss X Games this year with a shoulder injury, but it didn’t keep him out of the event. Soulé joined the ESPN webcast of the event, earning his first-ever broadcasting job.

“I had so much fun on the broadcast,” said Soulé. “Of course I would rather be racing, but it was a blast being able to be a part of the event. I hope I did a good job, I know I was saying a lot of stuff, but broadcasting fits my personality.”

Fire Pit
Just like in camping, the worst thing you can have is wet wood in the fire pit and on the X Games course, the wet wood wreaked havoc all night. With the water obstacle just before the collection of firewood, riders were struggling to find traction in the loose wood. Robert had a little advantage after training this week with Soulé as a coach.

“With my shoulder keeping me out of competition, I wanted to help the team any way I could,” said Soulé. “After looking at the track map I went out with Taylor and just kept spraying the firewood section of my practice track with water. It wasn’t very tough at the beginning, but lap after lap made it crazy for him.”

Return Engagement
Along with having a chance to earn an X Games medal, qualifying for the main event also comes with a bonus. When Abbott finished second in his LCQ, he earned an invitation to the X Games next year, something that he was hoping to accomplish.

“I’m having so much fun riding,” said Abbott. “I think that is showing in my results. I just kept pushing and pushing and when I saw I was in the main event, I also knew I would be invited back next year. I’m not racing as much now, but I really look forward to events like X Games. We are treated very well, like we are celebrities and to hear the cheers from the crowd and to know we have so many people watching at home, I can’t wait to race X Games next year.”

AMA EnduroCross Championship – X Games
Staples Center – Los Angeles
July 1, 2012

EX Pro Results
1. Mike Brown, KTM
2. Cody Webb, Beta
3. Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna
4. Taddy Blazusiak, KTM
6. Graham Jarvis, Husaberg
8. Geoff Aaron, Honda
9. Kyle Redmond, Husqvarna
10 Kevin Rookstool, Honda

EX Pro Championship Points
1. Taddy Blasusiak, KTM, 69
2. Mike Brown, KTM, 61
4. Cody Webb, Beta, 57
5. Cory Graffunder, Husqvarna. 53
7. Kevin Rookstool, Honda, 44
10. Bobby Prochnau, Husqvarna, 25

Source: KMC USA

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