SHELTON, Wash. – Young Rocco Landers had quite the day at the Ridge Motorsports Park.
For starters, he crashed and destroyed his Liqui Moly Junior Cup bike only hours before the race at more than 100 mph during practice. But he put that behind him to ride a rebuilt bike to victory in the race, then followed that up with a second victory in the Twins Cup class that brought a close to the first day of racing at the Ridge.
After Landers destroyed his bike during Liqui Moly Junior Cup qualifying Saturday, his father and his crew built virtually a whole new bike for the afternoon’s race, and the younger Landers used it to good effect, winning his third race of the season in defense of his 2019 championship.
Celtic HSBK Racing Kawasaki’s Sam Lochoff gave Landers all he could handle, though. The South African rider led the race and kept Landers in check for a while, until Landers found a way to the front. Third place went to BARTON Racing Kawasaki rider Dominic Doyle, also from South Africa. Doyle rode a quiet race, especially towards the end, to complete the podium.
Landers had an easier time getting the win in the Twins class than he did in the Junior Cup race, the Oregonian taking the checkers by more than seven seconds over 1-833-CJKNOWS Accident & Injury Law Yamaha rider Kaleb De Keyrel. Third place went to Syndicate Racing/Apex Assassins Yamaha’s Jason Madama, who trailed De Keyrel across the finish line by almost the same seven-second gap that Landers had over De Keyrel.
Saturday’s first race of the day was arguably the best Supersport race of the season thus far. The three frontrunners, HONOS Kawasaki’s Escalante, M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Sean Dylan Kelly, and Celtic HSBK Racing Yamaha’s Brandon Paasch had a battle royale with lots of close passing (sometimes even making contact) and swapping positions multiple times within single laps of the event. The Ridge’s twisty and technical configuration favors aggression over subtlety, and the three combatants at the front did not shy from the challenge.
As the laps wound down, Escalante took the lead and, surprisingly, was able to stretch out a significant gap, taking the checkers by nearly three seconds over second-place finisher Kelly, who escaped the clutches of a very determined Paasch, the Yamaha rider completing the podium in third.