Courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
MONTEREY, Calif. (July 12, 2014) - Ruthless Racing’s Danny Eslick took command of the 2014 AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series points chase by claiming his first class victory since his 2010 championship campaign today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Eslick’s win kicked off the race action of the highly-anticipated GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round withtomorrow’s AMA Pro SuperBike, AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike, and FIM Superbike World Championship races still to come.
While the Oklahoman’s triumph puts him in prime position to become the category’s first-ever two-time champion, it came in an unconventional manner.
The defending AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series champ, Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson’s Steve Rapp, once again demonstrated his mastery of the XR1200, breaking free from the pack to storm to the checkered flag first.
However, Rapp was judged to have jumped the start, and was assessed a ten-second penalty as a result. This year’s DAYTONA 200 winner Eslick was aware Rapp had been penalized. After the race, Eslick said he knew he would win if he stayed within ten seconds of Rapp.
“I’ve been getting a lot of seconds and getting beat up in this deal. I think everybody expected me to just come in and win and it just shows that these guys have been busting their butts and riding these Harley’s really hard. They’re definitely not the easiest bikes to get around a racetrack. When you get up to the pace Steve and some of these other guys are going, it makes it pretty tough. It’s a lot of fun. It’s not the way I wanted to win it — by penalty — but a ‘W’ is a ‘W’, and we need the points. We’ll definitely take the money and move on to Mid-Ohio.”
The Californian Rapp’s pace was so great that he still managed to claim second in the race, opening up a margin significantly greater than ten seconds over the entire field save Eslick.
Runner-up Rapp said, “I knew it would be a tougher race here. I just wanted to get a good start and try to build up a lead if I could and it looked like everything was going as planned… I didn’t know the penalty was for me. I wasn’t really aware of what was going on, I was riding as if there was nothing going on. The bike was good and the tires felt great. Everything felt pretty good overall.”
KWR/Millennium Technologies’ Kyle Wyman rebounded from his Barber Motorsports Park crash to round out today’s podium. Wyman took third a short distance ahead of a tight four-way fight for the position.
“It felt all right,” Wyman said. “It was a pretty lonely race, just watching my pitboard to watch the gap between myself and the guys behind me. I was able to start off with these and make that gap to fourth and then about lap 4 these guys dropped the hammer. I wasn’t able to match their pace so I settled into a rhythm. I’m just really happy to be back on the podium. It’s been a really up-and-down season: DQ, win, crash out, and now to get on the box, I’ll take that.”
Fourth-place went to Josh Chisum Racing/Bartel’s Harley-Davidson’s Tyler O’Hara, who got a measure of revenge on Rapp’s Suburban H-D teammate, Ben Carlson. Californian O’Hara crossed the stripe 0.046 seconds ahead of Carlson after the Wisconsin native had edged him for third in the previous two contests.
Thunder Roads Magazine’s Ryan Kerr and Folsom H-D’s Gage McAllister took close sixth and seventh-place finishes, respectively.
Chili Pepper Racing’s Hayden Schultz, Trev Deeley Motorcycles’ Darren James, and O’Hara’s teammate, Josh Chisum, completed the day’s top ten.
With four races down and four to go, title leader Eslick (95) now boasts an eleven-point advantage over second-ranked O’Hara (84) with Carlson (76) third another eight points back.