The last chance race. Complete with raw horsepower, turn-shaking moves, and title chase implications throughout the day. Let's break down what went down during the Race of Champions Pro racing.
After watching the pros break down the track and piece together their race lines on Wednesday’s practice and an early morning Thursday Pro warm-up, we knew it was going to be bar-to-bar action all the way to the line. Let’s run it back just like the motos, starting with the fan favorite, Vet Pro.
With the current points leader taking his final day of RnR before the big show, the rest of the Vet Pro field was ready to battle it out from the jump. Early on in rounds, the top dogs of the day were beginning to emerge. With Emilio Falla, Alan Hudson, Jeff Upshaw, Cal Strickland, and Tyler Brown all locking in some impressive low scores, it was The Captain, Nic Long, that had the fan’ hearts as he battled back for a second and third-round wins after a misstep down the first straight in round one. But wait, there’s more. In both the quarters and semi, he got caught up in crashes leaving him to battle from a dead stop. Making it on with a line grabbing fourth in quarters, his day was over in semis due to a turn two pile up.
Looking at the Vet Pro main, we might see some beef brewing. As the pack charged to the first turn, inside to outside, it went Falla, Hudson, and Strickland, with Upshaw tucking into the four spot. After a back wheel spin out from Falla allowed Hudson to make the pass, Falla was in defense mode down the fourth straight. Giving Upshaw a little love over the set-up jump, Big Jeff returned the favor into turn four with a cross jump to steal Falla’s line and secure the two spot behind “Hot Pants” Hudson.
1) ALAN HUDSON 35 1 PHOENIX AZ REMIX BMX 00012369 4 NAT
2) JEFF UPSHAW 35 2 NAMPA ID DRIVEN CYCLING ACADEMY 10126439 937 UCI
3) CAL STRICKLAND 32 3 PRESTON STAY STRONG 90004923 426 UCI
4) EMILIO FALLA 36 4 MURRIETA CA BOMBSHELL 10126070 50 NC
5) TYLER BROWN 37 5 SAN DIEGO CA CHASE BICYCLES 10126344 316 UCI
6) K J ROMERO 30 6 ROCK HILL SC SUPERCROSS BMX 18530409 409
7) EWERTON CARNEIRO 39 7 MURIAER MG 90009030 30
8) CHRIS SUTTON 37 8 PHOENIX AZ FACTORY ANSWER 02570370 99 NC
On to the LAAADDDDIEESS. Coming into the race week, it was all eyes on the World/Defending Champ, the World Cup Queen, and the USA BMX Dominator. While each brought winning laps and bar-banging battles, it was the USA BMX dominator, Alise Willoughby, taking the ROC win.
Throughout the day, Willoughby and Laura Smulders went head to head with first straight battles that tested the raw power each competitor brought to the field. Joining them in their Women Pro power were a few familiar kits mixing up the points chase. Both Molly Simpson and Lauren Reynolds caught our eye as two that could make a run at leading the Women Pro main event. Reynolds coming out strong in all three rounds. The Answer BMX racer has the track dialed in. Hitting her marks into the semi and onto the main with the third gate pick, she couldn’t avoid the 30’ squeeze from the Canadian Molly Simpson. Getting an elbow in front and moving over to the inside, Simpson locked in behind Willoughby for a wire-to-wire second place in front of Laura Smulders, completing the ROC podium.
But where was the defending champ? With gate 8, Stancil was stuck on the outside down the first straight. Staying wide into turn one left her to battle through the pack, and while doing so, a door opened into turn two. However, that door quickly shut mid-air, forcing her to check up and live to fight on in the big show on Friday.
1) ALISE WILLOUGHBY 31 1 CHULA VISTA CA PROMAX/GW/TLD/IRC/TOYOTA 10126073 11 UCI
2) MOLLY SIMPSON 19 2 RED DEER COUNTY AB DAYLIGHT 93000247 44 UCI315312825 513681024134902 6094571760741829786 n
3) LAURA SMULDERS 28 3 WIJCHEN 90000289 110 UCI
4) LAUREN REYNOLDS 31 4 SAN DIEGO CA FACTORY ANSWER 10126642 21 UCI
5) DALENY VAUGHN 21 5 TUCSON AZ DK BIKES/FLY RACING 13061288 3 NAT
6) OLIVIA ARMSTRONG 22 6 BEND OR FULL TILT/RADIO 09020620 54 NC
7) RACHEL MYDOCK 26 7 PHOENIX AZ REMIX BMX 02572152 335 NC
8) FELICIA STANCIL 27 8 PALM HARBOR FL FACTORY SSQUARED 18670183 1 W
For the big dogs of Men Pro, lets bullet point some key thoughts before breaking down that big Joris Daudet win.
A shorter first straight means constant first turn action.
The international field showed up big time for 2022.
Haro boys Larsen and Bucardo have stepped it up in their #GrandsPrep.
Kenny G is the PULL BMX favorite rider of the week, racing on a Chromoly frame essentially off the couch.
Jeremy Smith has found another gear, going 1-1-1 in rounds.
Nick Adams has found his place in the pro ranks as the youngest Men Pro in the main.
US Pros have stepped it up since Houston, being 5 out of 8 racers in the main event.
Joey Leto is FAST and is due for a big score.
Kennedy and Mclean out in quarters opens the door for a record-setting 5x champ.
The Daudet show was the main story through the race day as the Frenchman took each lap with a purpose. That purpose? Making history as the first ever 5x USA BMX National No.1 Men Pro. Going 5 for 6 in winning laps, the veteran experience is playing perfectly into the #WinWithChase monicker.
As the final bullet point stated, both Kennedy and Mclean missed out on the main event, but a certain gold medalist also missed out, leaving only Daudet, Wood, and Sharrah to fight for that last-minute score. To the first turn, Daudet stomped his mark of domination while getting the elbow in front of Mongoose’s Cam Wood into turn one. With Daudet leading the way, Arthur Pilard followed his fellow Frenchman to the podium as Anthony Bucardo battled down the second straight to lock in a bottom step on the podium. So much action in only a 27.864-second lap, the Men Pro battles are ready to ramp it up again as they prepare for the night show and the 2022 USA BMX National No.1 Title.
1) JORIS DAUDET 31 1 CORONA CA CHASE / BRGSTORE.COM 10126479 33 UCI
2) ARTHUR PILARD 26 2 PARIS INSPIRE BICYCLE 90001282 130 UCI
3) ANTHONY BUCARDO 24 3 CORONA CA HARO BIKES 11860269 220 NC
4) KAMREN LARSEN 23 4 BAKERSFIELD CA HARO BIKES 15550221 3 NAT
5) CAMERON WOOD 21 5 PEORIA AZ MONGOOSE BICYCLES 10300215 12 NC
6) NICHOLAS ADAMS 20 6 ORANGEVALE CA FACTORY RIFT TANGENT 09620561 789 NAT
7) ROMAIN MAHIEU 27 7 LYON RIFT TANGENT 90006466 100 UCI
8) CORBEN SHARRAH 30 8 TUCSON AZ DAYLIGHT 13061389 24 UCI