Nestled just outside of our Nation’s Capital in Mechanicsville, Maryland is Budds Creek Motocross Park – home to the GEICO Budds Creek National and Round 11 of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Initially there was concern that weather would once again wreck havoc on race day – as it rained heavily at the track on Friday evening, flooding much of the paddock area. Even though the paddock was turned into sloppy and muddy mush, the track faired surprisingly well considering all the rain that fell. When race day rolled around, there was no threat of rain or thunderstorms in sight. However, in place of the rain, the temperatures soared and humidity levels were excessive as well. Proper hydration and recovery would be essential to a successful day of racing for MicroBilt PRBC Yoshimura Suzuki Racing. This round of racing brought with it a change to our team lineup, with the #645 of Cheyenne Harmon making the switch from the 450 class to the 250 class, while the #606 of Ronnie Stewart maintained his position as the team’s 450 rider.
This week, it would be the 450 riders who took to the dirt first. Thanks to some great track prep by the Budds Creek team, the riders didn’t have to navigate mud and slop the way we initially anticipated. The track was a bit wet still, however, for the first practice, which led to most riders finding their fastest lap time during the second practice session, Ronnie Stewart included. Ronnie qualified in 23rd – a great gate pick position heading into the afternoon motos. Cheyenne Harmon, in his 250 class debut with the team, immediately looked comfortable on the RMZ 250 and quickly found his flow amongst the incredibly competitive class of riders. Cheyenne would qualify in 33rd, making it his second-ever National that he qualified for in a direct transfer position. Having both riders earn their gate picks directly from qualifying practice gave them extra time to rest and recover before the motos, allowing their core body temperatures to cool down in the extreme heat.
Budds Creek features an unusual left-hand start and plenty of off-camber turns to challenge the riders. In the first Moto, Ronnie Stewart landed toward the back of the pack off the start, but that didn’t keep him from charging hard the entire 30-minute + 2 lap moto. He would make some decisive passes that would ultimately score him in 25th at the finish. When the gate dropped on the first 250 moto, many riders found themselves tangled in a first turn carnage pileup, but not Cheyenne Harmon. Cheyenne was able to navigate around the traffic jam and keep it on two wheels. The 250 class has been, arguably, even more competitive than the 450 class this season with at least the top 15 guys fairly evenly matched each and every week. Entering into this class, especially during Budds Creek, was particularly challenging because there was a good chance a champion would be crowned. Harmon navigated the competitive class quite well and finished the first moto in 33rd.
As the second motos approached, a slight breeze rolled in as a welcome relief to the extreme temperatures we had experienced much of the day thus far. Where previously the extreme heat and humidity took a toll on Stewart – as it does on so many of the riders – Ronnie was able to tackle both motos with heart and dedication, despite the challenging conditions. He would go on to finish the moto in 20th place, earning another valuable point in the series. Stewart’s 25-20 score on the day put him in 24th place overall. In the final moto of the day, Cheyenne Harmon was once again ready to battle in the highly competitive 250 class. Harmon was scored in 31st off the start, where he settled in and remained for the entirety of the moto, finishing in 31st and improving his finishing position by two places. By scoring 33-31, Cheyenne would finish with 33rd overall.
There is only one round remaining in the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series, but that still leaves plenty of time for epic on-track battles in both classes. We look forward to finishing out the year on a high note and hopefully some season-best finishes. Join us as MicroBilt PRBC Yoshimura Racing heads to Crawfordsville, Indiana for the conclusion of the 2017 Pro Motocross season.
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