Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett ended the AMA Pro 450 Motocross Championship as the top Rookie in the series and fourth overall after racing to sixth-and-ninth positions at the weekend’s final 12th round at the Ironman Motocross in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
A 6-9 moto finish aboard his #4 Suzuki RM-Z450 resulted in a seventh overall. That continued Baggett’s remarkable string of consistent finishes. He ends the season in a very-solid fourth in the final AMA Pro 450 Motocross Championship standings, was the top-finishing Rookie in the class and scored top-10 finishes in all but a single event in the 12-round series, including three podiums.
Baggett gained an excellent reputation this season for his never-say-die attitude. Several times he got caught in the tangle of the always chaotic outdoor national starts and found himself back in the pack in the early going. Yet time after time he showed resilience and the ability to make passes throughout the entire 30-minute, plus two-lap motos. He nearly always found ways to manage excellent results in the end.
Baggett’s season-long persistence not only made him one of the elite 450 riders in his first year in the class, it also helped Suzuki earn second in the AMA Pro Motocross Manufacturers’ Championship.
Baggett began the day in Indiana running 12th in timed qualifying with a time of 2:26.629. He found one of the newest motocross tracks in America to be a major challenge.
“The track is really deep, with lots of long ruts,” Baggett explained. “It’s really soft entering on the braking bumps, so you’ve kind of got to shut off early and then get back on the throttle to carry it across the bumps, then sit down late into the turn and try to keep it as straight up as you can. Leaning it over drags the inside footpeg pretty deep. The track is definitely going to be technical and we’re going to see what we can do.”
In the first moto Baggett was 14th on the first lap, but like he’s done all year, he used the power of his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 and began to work his way forward. Midway through the moto he’d made it up to seventh and with a couple of laps to go he went around Justin Barcia to secure sixth.
In the second moto he was doing a repeat of the first and working his way up when he suddenly got pitched off the bike. Getting back to the machine he discovered that he’d been a little too aggressive in cornering through one of the deep ruts and thick and sticky dirt compacted and locked up his rear brake resulting in the fall. He’d been in seventh, but the crash dropped him all the way back to 12th, but after doing some hasty trackside cleaning, he was back underway and managed to come back to ninth by the end of moto two.
Afterwards Baggett sounded relieved that he’d completed his rookie season with success, in spite of the weight of the entire team on his shoulders, a tough road to hoe for any rider.
“I just finished up moto 24, it’s over, it’s done,” Baggett said with a sigh of relief. “It was not the greatest day; I worked my way through the pack to get sixth in the first moto. In the second moto I got too far into a deep rut and got too much dirt jammed up in between the brake pedal and the frame. It locked up the brake and I went over the bars. Then after I got the bike started I had to get my fingers in there and clean it all out. So I lost a bunch of spots right there and some time, but I finished it up strong. I went as hard as I could go after that and I’m happy we ended the season fourth in points.”
Baggett and the Yoshimura Suzuki team will take a much-deserved break before getting back to work preparing for the Monster Energy Cup on October 17 in Las Vegas. There the entire team will be happy to welcome back James Stewart finally making Yoshimura Suzuki a two-rider squad.