HURRICANE MILLS, Tenn. — With another day of racing complete at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch, the championship picture began to shape up in all 36 classes of the Monster Energy AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship.
Thus far, exactly half of the total classes have seen just one rider stand atop the podium after two motos, providing a critical advantage to the following competitors across 18 divisions:
Levi Kitchen 250 B Limited & 450 B Limited
Cameron Horver 450 C
Dakota Bender 250 C Jr. (12-17) Limited
Maximus Vohland 125cc (12-17) B/C & Schoolboy 1 (12-17) B/C
Garrett Alumbaugh 125 C
Jordan Jarvis Women
Katie Benson Girls (11-16)
Kris Keefer Senior (40+)
Ryder Difrancesco Supermini 2 (13-16)
Haiden Deegan Mini Sr. 1 (12-14) & Mini Sr. 2 (13-15)
Darren Pine 85cc (7-9) Limited
Luke Fauser 85cc (10-12) Limited
Seth Dennis 65cc (10-11) Limited
Anderson Waldele 51cc (4-6) Shaft Drive Limited
Kade Nightingale Mini-E (4-6) Jr.
For Kitchen, Vohland, and Deegan, the 2020 event has gotten off to a perfect start. All three riders will enter Friday’s races with an undefeated 4-0 record, winning every single moto they’ve entered thus far. Similar momentum is building for Difrancesco and Dennis, who are both 3-0 to start the week.
The headline class on Thursday was Open Pro Sport, in which Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Stilez Roberston was looking to back up his first moto win with another stellar performance. While Robertson was once again fast and had a shot at victory, he was bested by Yamaha/Rock River/bLU cRU Amateur Motocross Team rider Mason Gonzales.
All week Gonzales has had his starts dialed in, grabbing a pair of STACYC Holeshots over the first two days of racing. On Thursday he did it again, earning his third holeshot of the week to jump out to the early lead ahead of BarX/Chaparral/Suzuki’s Preston Kilroy and KTM rider Jyire Mitchell. Robertson completed the opening lap in sixth and immediately went to work on trying to track down the lead.
Gonzales didn’t flinch under persistent pressure from Kilroy, and he slowly started to inch away. Meanwhile, Robertson made quick work of his charge into the top three and found himself on the rear fender of Kilroy for second just past the halfway point.
After making the pass, Robertson dropped the pace to try and catch Gonzales. Just about a second separated the pair in the closing laps, and Robertson was consistently the faster rider, but Gonzales navigated through lapped riders with ease and kept his challenger at bay to bring home his first moto win of the week. Robertson was a close second, while Kilroy went unchallenged for third.
Following a competitive opening moto for the 250 B class, it was anyone’s guess as to who might prevail in Thursday’s second moto. Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Matt Leblanc entered as the winner of Moto 1, but the likes of Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Jett Reynolds, Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Nick Romano, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Nick Thrasher, and Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Chance Hymas were all threats to take home Moto 2.
Out of the gate it was Romano who grabbed the STACYC Holeshot before Reynolds moved out front and looked like he would be the rider to beat, gapping both Romano and Hymas, with Leblanc and Thrasher in the thick of the hunt as well. The clear track proved to be a huge advantage for Reynolds and he soon established a multi-second lead as the moto approached the halfway point. Behind him, Leblanc had battled his way into second with his teammate Romano in third, while Thrasher was on a torrid charge just off the podium.
Reynolds appeared to be in full control of the moto, but just past the halfway point his race came to an end following a scary incident in the Ten Commandments roller section. Reynolds’ heartbreak moved Leblanc into the lead, but under heavy pressure from Thrasher.
Thrasher was able to battle his way into the lead and after initially responding to the pass, Leblanc took a big picture approach to the result and settled into the runner-up spot. A strong final stretch vaulted Thrasher to his first moto win of the week, with Leblanc second and Romano third.
The opening two motos of the 2020 event for Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Max Vohland saw the second generation racer live up to the attention that accompanied him into Loretta Lynn’s. On Thursday he had a chance to keep the momentum going across two classes and he did so, convincingly.
The second moto of the 125cc B/C class got underway with MotoSport.com KTM’s Sage Lewis earning the STACYC Holeshot before Vohland assumed the lead. Not long after Vohland was faced with his first instance of adversity when he briefly tipped over and handed the position to MTF KTM’s Gage Linville. Looking to take advantage of the rare miscue, Linville tried to pick up the pace and build a gap, but Vohland recovered quickly and lost little ground. He challenged Linville for the lead one lap later and successfully reclaimed control of the moto. While Linville did all he could to keep pace, Vohland’s lap times were too consistent and the margin widened over the course of the moto. Vohland cruised to his third moto win of the week, nearly 14 seconds ahead of Linville with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Talon Hawkins in third.
Vohland was even better out the gate to start the second Schoolboy 1 B/C class moto, seizing control of the lead with the STACYC Holeshot and establishing a multi-second cushion over GasGas rider Matti Jorgensen Jr. From there on out Vohland was in a class of his own, continuously building on his lead over the course of the moto while the battle for the position intensified behind him with Hawkins and Yamaha/Rock River/bLU cRU Amateur Motocross Team rider Larry Reyes Jr. both clawing their way into podium position. Vohland took another stress free victory seven seconds ahead of Hawkins with Reyes rounding out the podium in third, duplicating the top three from Moto 1.
The Women’s class returned to the track on Thursday likely to provide the next chapter of the budding rivalry between SBG Racing/Maxxis/Babbitt’s Online Kawasaki’s Jordan Jarvis and Newground Husqvarna’s Hannah Hodges. Unfortunately for Hodges, that battle never came to fruition as Jarvis moved one step closer to the class title.
The moto started exactly how Hodges would have hoped, with the STACYC Holeshot, but misfortune struck soon after and dropped her deep in the field, eventually circling around in 26th place. That allowed KTM Orange Brigade’s Tayler Allred to assume the early lead, with Jarvis in tow. With Hodges not a factor, Jarvis was able to focus on getting around Allred, which she did before the completion of the second lap. From there Jarvis surged out to a comfortable lead and never looked back. She was dominant en route to her second moto win, taking the checkered flag nearly 18 seconds ahead of Allred in second, while Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Tayla Jones completed the podium in third. Despite the adversity, Hodges was impressive in her charge through the pack and soldiered home to a well-deserved fifth-place finish that still keeps her in the title picture.
With a dominant performance in the opening moto of Supermini 2, all eyes were on Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Ryder Difrancesco on Thursday as he looked to make good on his goal of a perfect run at Loretta Lynn’s in 2020.
Out of the gate to start Moto 2 it was once again EBR Performance KTM’s Benjamin Garib with the STACYC Holeshot before the SSR KTM of Jayden Clough moved out front with Difrancesco right behind in second. The Kawasaki rider went on the attack and seized control of the moto by the completion of lap two, which ultimately proved to be all he needed. As Difrancesco’s lead continued to grow, the battle for the remaining spots on the podium intensified between Clough, Garib and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Evan Ferry. Eventually Garib moved up into the runner-up spot, which he held for several laps, but Ferry was on a tear and the second generation rider was able to climb his way into the top three and around Garib for second with just a few laps remaining.
Difrancesco carried on to his third moto win of the week to remain unbeaten. He crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Ferry with Garib completing the podium in third.
With his decisive wins through his first three motos of the week, KTM Orange Brigade’s Haiden Deegan was one of the hottest riders at Loretta Lynn’s entering the second Mini Sr. 1 moto on Thursday. The key to Deegan’s success has been his ability to start up front, which continued during his fourth outing on track.
After missing out on the STACYC Holeshot to KTM rider Thomas Wood, Deegan moved out front and stormed to an early lead to begin the moto, building a comfortable margin over Wood and Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green’s Krystian Janik. Deegan was flying, and halfway through the race he had approached a double-digit lead over the field. That left the battle for second to be decided between Wood and Triangle Cycles/bLU cRU/Yamaha’s Logan Best. Wood did all he could to keep Best behind him, but the Yamaha rider was also riding well and made his way into second at the halfway point of the moto.
Out front, Deegan easily brought home his fourth moto win of the week by nearly nine seconds over Best, while Wood parlayed his stellar start into a podium result.
Additional AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship Thursday Winners
450 B Limited: Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha
450 C: Cameron Horner, Bozeman, Mont., Kawasaki
250 C: Gabriel Goettler, Surfside Beach, S.C., Yamaha
250 C Limited: Jacob Henry, Cortland, N.Y., KTM
250 C Jr. (12-17) Limited: Dakota Bender, Winchester, Calif., Honda
Senior (40+): Kris Keefer, Hesperia, Calif., Yamaha
Junior (25+): Brandon Scharer, Hamer, S.C., Yamaha
College (18-24): Michael Hicks, Fenton, Mo., KTM
Girls (11-16): Katie Benson, Greer, S.C., KTM
85cc (10-12): Kade Johnson, Hideaway, Texas, Yamaha
65cc (7-9): Gage Dunham, Golden, Colo., KTM
65cc (7-9) Limited: Darren Pine, Crosby, Texas, Cobra
51 (7-8) Limited: Travis Schneider, Rhinebeck, N.Y., Cobra
51 (4-6) Limited: Jaydin Smart, Berry Creek, Calif., Cobra
51 (4-6) Shaft Drive Ltd: Anderson Waldele, Lizella, Ga., Yamaha
Mini-E (4-6) Jr.: Kade Nightingale, Mounds, Okla., KTM