A pattern is emerging with Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Blake Baggett as where things look bad and nothing seems to be going his way, the Supercross rookie and his experienced Yoshimura crew somehow find a way to overcome adversity.
This was the case on Saturday night for round eight of the AMA/ FIM World Supercross Championship in front of 51,023 fans in the Georgia Dome - the first of back-to-back events in what is being called Atlanta’s Duel in the Dome – as Baggett overcame dicey track conditions and a sub-par showing early in the day, to finish eighth.
At first, he couldn’t seem to find any kind of rhythm on his factory Suzuki RM-Z450, but when the green flag dropped for the Main Event, Baggett’s relentless determination paid-off with a sixth consecutive top-10 finish.
Baggett began the day slightly off the pace, coming in 13th in timed qualifying. It didn’t get much better in his Heat race.
“The track was technical and the dirt was really slippery,” Baggett explained of his early struggles in the Dome. “We definitely had to make some set-up changes to make the bike more comfortable.”
Finally, after a rough start in his Semi, he put himself in the Main and readied for the 20-lap battle.
Once again a bad gate-pick and the slippery surface in Atlanta cost Baggett a chance at a good start. He emerged out of the bottleneck of 22 riders in the first turn deep in the field. However, as he always seems to do, Baggett fought-off adversity and went to work: He used the handling agility of his RM-Z450 to quickly slice his way through the field. He went from 16th to 13th at the end of the first lap, and then worked up to 11th by lap five. From there he just kept chipping-away making hard-fought passes on experienced veterans like Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps. The result was that at the flag, Baggett had moved all the way-up from 16th to eighth; one of the best charges of the nights.
“I spun it a little bit coming off the gate and was I think 16th or so coming out of the first turn,” Baggett explained. “I plugged away from there and tried to get the tyre to the ground and get some traction and work our way forward. The track was really technical tonight. I came away with an eighth, so I’ll go back and do a little testing and come back ready for Atlanta II.”
Yoshimura Suzuki Team Manager Mike Webb said he was doubly-impressed with Baggett’s performance considering his rider was sick on race day. Said Webb: “I think the fact that he was battling dizziness added to his struggles during the night and made his finish more impressive.”
Baggett’s eighth kept him solidly in the top-10 in the standings at the half-way mark of the season. He’s now eighth in the series and will be looking for more when the tour returns to Atlanta this coming weekend.
Atlanta 450 Supercross Results: 1. Chad Reed (Kawasaki), 2. Ryan Dungey (KTM), 3. Trey Canard (Honda), 4. Cole Seely (Honda), 5. Weston Peick (Yamaha), 6. Broc Tickle (RCH Suzuki), 7. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna), 8. Blake Baggett (Yoshimura Suzuki), 9. Andrew Short (KTM), 10. Josh Grant (Kawasaki).