MAY 5–SHANE WATTS REPORT FROM LORETTA LYNN’S
Conditions for the race weren?t looking so good with a lot a rainfall in the days leading up to the event, which saw the whole lower section of the course, down on the river flats, underwater on Saturday. Remarkably Sunday dawned clear skies, and the water had receded somewhat, to allow the Pro bike race to be run over some of the famous motocross track there. Out in the trees though it was good conditions up on the ridgelines but a sloppy mess along most of the gullies.
It wasn?t a good start to the weekend for Watts, who suffered from food poisoning the evening before the race and had it coming strong from both ends all night.
Watts began with a decent jump off the line on his 200EXC but was then pushed back in the melee through the first few turns and then proceeded to have a dismal first half lap with several small crashes, breaking his Roll-off?s, and basically not being aggressive enough in the conditions. Already he was back with the 250A class riders. From that point on Watts began to charge and quickly worked his way forward and got into second position right near the end of lap 3. The mid stages of lap four saw Watts pick a few bad lines and have another high speed crash which dropped him back to fourth, right behind the two guys in front of him.
From there the plan was to re-group for the remainder of lap 4 and then charge the last two laps. Unfortunately though Watts never made it back to the pit area, running out of fuel a mile and a half short. After having to ride down the main road back to the pit area, fuel up, then ride back to where he had exited the track Watts lost a total of 8 minutes in the process. Watts was then able to finish out the final two laps and come across the line a magnificent fifth place, considering the ordeal.
“I just had trouble in the beginning of the race, to take the chances necessary to move through the pack, until I felt comfortable in the conditions. Then I started charging and caught up to a podium position, which I was real pleased about. In the past I have really struggled with these kinds of conditions. Then it was such a bummer to run out of fuel just when I was ready to charge again. That took a lot of wind out of my sails. I felt as though I really had the edge over the two guys in front of me in the race to the finish. Considering the fuel and food poisoning problems I was real happy with my performance. I rode strong and attacked the difficult conditions with much more confidence then I have for a long time. I?m still not riding great, but now I?m definitely riding good!”