Round 9 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series carried us across the country to the Pacific Northwest – home to evergreen trees, fresh air, and the most “brownie batter” dirt you can find – where we races at Washougal MX Park. Washougal has long since been known as one of the most picturesque tracks on the circuit, and besides the outstanding vistas, we also had the opportunity to witness some spectacular racing and an unusual left hand start. Round 9 also marked the return of Cheyenne Harmon to the team after recovering from broken ribs and a fractured left scaphoid that he sustained in a practice crash during Round 4 at High Point.
With MicroBilt PRBC Yoshimura Suzuki Racing back in full force, we were ready to line up and do work. Because we were finally back on the West Coast, we saw an influx of riders in the 450 class who would attempt to lay down a qualifying time fast enough that would earn them one of the 40 gate picks in the motos that would follow. 61 riders in total signed up to race in the 450 class at Washougal – that meant only the 36 fastest riders would have the opportunity to avoid the Consolation race. Unfortunately for the team, the day did not start out quite in the right direction on the race track, with Cheyenne Harmon taking a pretty good digger during first practice and neither Cheyenne nor Ronnie Stewart qualifying for a gate pick in the Top 36. However, in the face of challenge comes an opportunity for triumph. Although not ideal, Stewart and Harmon lined up for the 450 Consolation Race in an effort to earn their spot in the afternoon motos. Never lacking in start ability, the #606 of Ronnie Stewart was off like a rocket, launching immediately toward the front of the pack. He would engage in a battle for the lead that lasted the entirety of the race – first battling with the #251 of Kyle Gills, taking over the lead in Lap 2, followed by fending off the #154 of Brandon Scharer, the #181 of Dustin Pipes, and the #96 of Vann Martin. Stewart would go on to win the Consolation Race by a margin of 01.848. Cheyenne was unable to qualify this round, but not for lack of effort. After being off the bike for so many weeks and not lining up for Motos since Round 3 at Thunder Valley, it takes some time for your body to readjust to not only race pace, but also the correct mental focus required to put in strong enough lap times against your competitors who are working with an extreme advantage – actual gate time.
Having to race in the Consolation Race has its benefits and its challenges. The benefits being that you have extra time on the track, which means you have a better knowledge of how the track is breaking down and shaping up, moreso than the riders who earned their gate pick in a direct transfer position. The challenge of being in this position is that you have less time for your body to rest in between races. However, on the shaded track of Washougal MX Park, the extreme summer heat does not pose nearly the threat it did during Round 8 at Millville. Ronnie was able to the extra time to his advantage by making smart racing choices on the technical track come Moto time. Stewart would go on to finish 25th in Moto 1 and 22nd in Moto 2. After Round 9, Ronnie Stewart now sits 28th in points in the 450 class.
With the final weekend off of the season approaching this weekend, MicroBilt PRBC Yoshimura Suzuki Racing will take the opportunity to re-group, re-charge, and come out swinging at Unadilla. Hard to believe that there are only three rounds of racing remaining in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series, but we look forward to presenting our best results possible with an entire and healthy team.
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