Career-First Podium Overall Result for Seely at Unadilla National2017-08-15 20:05
The AMA Pro Motocross Championship returned to action this weekend in New Berlin, New York, for the Unadilla National, where heavy rain made for a hectic day of racing for everyone. Despite the less-than-desirable conditions, Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely showed prowess while navigating through the sludge en route to his first-ever 450MX podium overall finish, a third-place result via 3-6 placings. For the second consecutive week, teammate Christian Craig finished eighth overall, with 5-9 scores.
In moto one, Craig launched to a fifth-place start and quickly moved into third before falling back to fifth during the first lap. Seely came around the first turn just outside the top 10. On lap two, Seely moved into sixth and began applying pressure to his teammate before making a pass stick on the following lap. Another rider went down, allowing both Seely and Craig to move up to fourth and fifth, respectively, and they maintained those positions for the majority of the moto. On what turned out to be the final lap, another rider pulled into the pits, allowing Seely to move up a position, and when the inclement weather subsequently prompted a red flag, he finished in third. After a weather delay of over two hours, the second moto got underway and although the rain had dissipated, the track was even more treacherous. Craig and Seely powered their CRF450Rs down the mud-covered start straight to solid getaways, and during the shortened 20-minute-plus-one-lap race, both riders experienced goggle problems that caused them to lose multiple positions before Seely finished sixth, three positions ahead of Craig.
Craig was impressive during the daytime qualifying sessions, notching the field’s quickest lap time at 2’06.915” in the first session, making him one of only two riders to drop below the 2’06” mark. Seely was seventh-fastest with a 2’08.600” lap, which was secured in the second session.
For the sloppy second race, Seely admitted to using a trick he had learned from former teammate Trey Canard. “I actually double-goggled on the start of the second moto,” he said. “It’s really weird because your goggles are sitting so far out in front of your face, but it works. I just put a pair of goggles with a couple tear-offs on over my roll-offs, then after the first turn I pulled them off and had a fresh set for the rest of the race. I almost crashed while trying to pull them off, so that was sketchy but it definitely helped me out in the long run.”
GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin returned to form at the Unadilla National, scoring his second overall victory of the season with 2-1 finishes. The Minnesota native was impressive in the second moto, grabbing the holeshot and leading wire-to-wire around the disastrous track. Teammates RJ Hampshire and Chase Sexton also had solid days, finished eighth and ninth overall, respectively.
The Honda Red Riders will return to action on August 19 for round 11 of the AMA Pro Motocross Championship in Mechanicsville, Maryland, at Budds Creek Raceway.
THE FOCUS: Seely Selected for Team USA!
During Saturday’s opening ceremonies, the American Motorcyclist Association officially announced the riders selected to represent Team USA at the 2017 Motocross of Nations at Matterley Basin in England. For the first time in his career, Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely was selected to compete in the MXGP class.
“I’m really honored and incredibly excited to represent Team USA at this year’s Motocross of Nations alongside Zach [Osborne] and Thomas [Covington],” Seely said. “I can’t even say this has been a dream of mine because I honestly never thought it was in the cards. Even though we’re considered an underdog team, I think we have a good chance of winning. All of us really want to be there and are excited, which is how it should be. I know both Zach and Thomas have raced at the track before so I’m going to be looking to them for guidance a little bit. I’ve been working really hard this season and am going to be taking this event seriously. I want to do well and represent my country the best I can.”
Team Honda HRC manager Dan Betley is proud to have Seely represent Team USA. Betley has been to the event many times, winning on three occasions as Jeff Stanton’s mechanic and attending with Ivan Tedesco, Andrew Short, Trey Canard, and Justin Barcia. “It’s such an awesome event that until Cole actually gets there and experiences it, I don’t think he’ll fully understand,” Betley said. “When you’re there and get that sense that you’re representing the United States and there are so many fans cheering you on, it’s unlike anything else. It’s unfortunate that due to the date so many guys are opting out of this event, but we have to keep it going and represent our country. This is something Cole’s going to remember for the rest of his life.”
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Cole Seely 14
“I’m stoked to be on the podium today. I’ve seen a lot of progress in myself and my riding this year, so I’m happy that it’s finally showing. I was surprised at how smooth the track was during practice. We don’t get to ride a lot of tracks where it’s just wide open, especially Unadilla since it’s notorious for being deep, so it was a lot of fun. My bike felt great all day too, so I was stoked on that. I got off to a good start in the first moto and was running a great pace. Then the rain started to come and it got really hectic toward the end. Guys were going down, goggles were coming off, and the lappers weren’t making it any easier. I didn’t even know I had finished third until they pulled me to the podium when I was coming off the track. The weather was crazy with the rain and especially the lightning, so I was questioning if they’d even run the second moto and even went to talk to the AMA. It didn’t seem safe, but it passed and we lined up about two and a half hours late. It was a mess. The mud was so deep and there was standing water everywhere, so I just tried to get myself in a good position in the first few turns. I had moved into fourth before I had some google issues. Unfortunately, I pulled my roll-off string too hard and it snapped, so with four laps to go I took them off and just tried to avoid getting too much roost or mud to the face. I lost two spots during that and ended up finishing sixth.”
Christian Craig 48
“The day started off pretty good. I went into it open-minded but knew I wanted to get out front early in practice to get in a good lap. Luckily, I was able to do that and scored the fastest lap time of the day, so I was pretty happy. That’s the first time I’ve been able to do that in the 450 class so it gave me a lot of confidence heading into the motos. I got a pretty good start in the first moto and was third but got shuffled back in the beginning and went to fifth. I’ve been struggling with not holding my position through the first couple laps, so I need to work on that. Cole and I pretty much rode around together in fourth and fifth the whole race. I was happy to get back in the top five though. Then the rain came and it was a big question mark if we were even going to race the second moto. I got a good start in the mud but had to pull my goggles early and tried to ride without them; it just didn’t work so I had to pull in and get some new ones. I lost some positions from that, ending up ninth for eighth overall. There are positives to take away from the weekend despite the conditions, so I’m looking forward to Budds Creek.”
“I’m really happy. In the last two races we’ve seen a little different Cole than we normally do. I think some of that is his training program but also the changes we’ve made to get him more comfortable. Overall though, I think he’s just riding better and has more confidence in himself. I’m really proud that he’s moving in a positive direction and improving each week, which is all we ask. This overall podium has been a long time coming, so I’m happy for him. He almost had second overall but unfortunately had some goggle issues, which caused him to lose some spots. Christian rode well too under the conditions, but he also had goggle issues both motos. It makes it very difficult to perform when you can’t see.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“Today was great for Cole, especially with the announcement about him going to Motocross of Nations. I think this should give him some confidence in himself and show everyone that he deserves that spot. He’s been working really hard and it’s finally starting to pay off. It was also good practice for him because the conditions in England will probably be pretty similar to this. Him getting a podium here is a bonus for me because it’s my home race and my family and friends are here. I’m excited for him too because he’s missed out on an overall podium a few times due to either tying points with someone or missing it by one position. Under the conditions, I think he rode really well. The second moto was just about survival, and he ended up riding the last four laps without goggles so just suffering through that is a big accomplishment. He’s continuing to make progress, so the last two rounds should be good for us.”
Mechanic (Christian Craig)
“I think Christian did good today. He finished strong in the first moto with fifth and probably could’ve gotten a top-five overall on the day but his goggles broke on the second lap of moto two. He took them off and tried to ride without them, but he ended up having to pull into the mechanics’ area and lost quite a few positions from that. He got good starts in both motos and was really happy with his bike, so we’ll try to bring both of those positives to Budds Creek.”
Source: Honda Racing Corporation
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