Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team riders experienced a day of holeshot challenges at Washougal MX Park, the site of AMA Pro Motocross Championship Round 8, because despite its picturesque views, the track conditions proved to be anything but easy when you’re coming from behind for 30-minutes plus two-laps. As the team’s top-finisher of the day, RJ Hampshire persevered for seventh overall with 8-6 moto scores in the 250MX class.
Struggling to get the positioning he needed off the line in Moto 1, Hampshire found himself back in 10th on the opening lap and he spent the early part of the race working to get through the traffic. Establishing himself in eighth through the second half of the race, Hampshire carried that through the checkers. In the second moto, he got off to an eighth-place start and once again had his work cut out. With a big push in the latter half of the race, he closed out strong with a sixth-place finish in Moto 2.
“It was a long day for me, my starts were terrible,” Hampshire said. “First moto was a bit of a struggle and second moto, I felt like I found some comfort mid-way through. I felt like I rode decent for the second half of the moto but all-in-all, it was just kind of a struggle of a day. We’ve got two weekends to figure some things out and I’m hoping to come back at Unadilla with a fighting chance and hopefully we can knock out a couple podiums.”
It was also a challenging day off the gate for teammate Jalek Swoll. The sixth-place qualifier found himself back in 14th at the start of Moto 1 and he maintained a steady charge throughout the race to ultimately secure a ninth-place finish. In Moto 2, Swoll started just outside the top-10 off the line but he got caught up in another rider’s crash and went down on the opening lap, sending him back to 27th early on. He quickly put his head down and climbed through the pack, making up a lot of ground to ultimately salvage 12th in the moto and 11th overall.
“Qualifying was a lot better today, it’s nice to finally get in the mix and be there speed-wise,” Swoll said. “My riding was pretty good in Moto 1 but I’ve been struggling to get up there in the first few laps and on a track like this, you don’t want to find yourself in the back because it’s really hard to pass. I got a better start in Moto 2 but somebody else’s mistake costed me and I went down. I was at the back of the pack and only could get back to 12th. It’s not where we want to be but we’re going to keep plugging away and making improvements.”
After eight rounds under the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing tent, fill-in rider Shane McElrath lined up for his final bout with the team at Washougal. In the first moto, McElrath found himself buried in the back of the pack on lap one and he fought to bring himself inside the top-20 within the first five laps. He kept the charge going into the final laps, capturing an impressive 14th-place finish in race one. With a much better start in Moto 2, McElrath battled for a top-10 position all race long and he held strong in the final laps to secure 10th in the race and 13th overall for the day.
“Washougal was a tough race day,” McElrath said. “I had pretty good qualifying session but as the track developed more, I struggled on finding a flow out there. I’m happy with my effort and the progress that we’ve made. It’s not easy out there. I’m content with where we’re at but I know I have some more to give and I’m going to keep working regardless of what the future holds. I’m just happy for this opportunity and it’s definitely taught me a lot, so I’m excited.”
Next Event (Round 9): August 13 – Unadilla National – New Berlin, New York
Round 8 Results: Washougal National
1. Jett Lawrence (HON) 2-2
2. Justin Cooper (YAM) 4-1
3. Hunter Lawrence (HON) 1-4
7. RJ Hampshire – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 8-6
11. Jalek Swoll – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 9-12
1. Chase Sexton (HON) 2-1
2. Eli Tomac (KAW) 1-2
3. Jason Anderson (KAW) 3-3
13. Shane McElrath – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 14-10
250MX Rider Point Standings
1. Jett Lawrence – 355 points
2. Hunter Lawrence – 327 points
3. Jo Shimoda – 306 points
6. RJ Hampshire – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 194 points
10. Stilez Robertson – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 169 points
16. Jalek Swoll – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 73 points
450MX Rider Point Standings
1. Eli Tomac – 364 points
2. Chase Sexton – 359 points
3. Jason Anderson – 285 points
10. Shane McElrath – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, 157 points