RATTRAY REMAINS WITHIN 3 POINTS OF THE LEAD IN SIZZLING HOT AMA SUPERCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP
A week ago, Tyla Rattray took possession of the red number plate of the AMA Lites Supercross series. This marked him as the current leader of the championship, marking him as one of the very few riders in the world ever to have held a red plate in world championship motocross, AMA motocross and AMA supercross. Pleased as he was, he remained with his feet firmly rooted in reality. The championship is not decided in January. A lot of fumes still need to be pumped through the exhausts before the championship is over.
Coming into the third round of the series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the South African knew he had a huge target on his back. The racing is competitive throughout, but it's the man in the lead that everyone is gunning for, that everyone wants to dethrone. He is never one to shirk his duties or shy away from a challenge, though, and he made the trip to the stadium ready for all comers. Some intermittent - and sometimes heavy - rain had brought the covers onto the track, and in order to maintain the track in as good condition as possible, the organizers dispensed with two of the training sessions, leaving a single pre-qualifying session. Tyla is never going to go down in history is the world's greatest exponent of the single qualifying lap, and he was pretty satisfied that his seventh time overall had given him enough view time of the track to stand him in good stead for when the real business took place.
A less-than-perfect start in the qualifying race got the championship leader's evenign going on his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki. Even though his laptimes were still not the most quasar-like of the field, he has oodles of racecraft and recovered well to finish fifth, for a comfortable transfer into the main event. The fans, undaunted by the early rain, had again arrived in mnumers and there was a proper cacophony of appreciation as the class took to the field for the main race. Tyla's lightning starts of the previous event were packed away somewhere in his kit bag, but he got away in a top five position nonetheless. He latched onto teammate Dean WIlson, and the two Kawasakis made their inevitable progress to the front. A serious battle was brewing on Tyla's rear flank however, as former double world champion Marvin Musquin set up his artillery. Musquin found a hole to squeeze through, and Tyla was momentarily demoted ot sixht spot, but he disposed of Martin Davalos in turn and reclaimed fifth spot.
As the race progressed, Tyla was getting into a good race rhythm. He actually set his fastest race lap on the tenth lap as he was homing in on Musquin again. The Frenchman made things easy for him by succumbing to the effects of gravity, and the Kawasaki moved into fourth spot. Meanwhile, Eli Tomac had typed in a winning address and emailed himself off into the distance at the front, and Wilson finessed his way into second spot. Tyla had the sights set on Zack Osborne in third spot, and made serious inroads into Osborne's lead, but time ran out, and he had to contend himself with third spot.
As predicted before the first wheels were turned in anger, the 2012 season has turned into a real good old-fashioned humdinger. In three rounds, the series has seen three different leaders, and with fourth place on the evening, Tyla had to bid his red plate adieu for the moment. He is still very mcuh in the running though, lying in third position, just 3 points adrift of series leader Tomac, and two shy of teammate Wilson.
"I knew that this was going to be a tough run," he said after the race. "I need to be consistent throughout the season and get the best possible result on a race by race basis. There are a good few riders who can win on any given night, and the championship points can get mixed up quite a bit with one bad result. I'm looking forward to fighting for the top spot again at the next round."
Reporting by Tinus Nel.