Sunday, October 30, 2011

AMA Flat Track: Mikey Martin, 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Flat Track Champion

Three of the top 7 contenders for the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Pro Singles Championship get ready to roll out for the first practice session of the day during round 7 of the 2011 Pro Singles Series events at the Springfield TT on May 30.  Two of these three men would not only end the day on the podium, but would fight it out to the end of the season for the 2011 Pro Singles Championship.

Mikey Avila on the #33E SDI Insulation/M.E.H. Corp/Boughner Racing/Arai-sponsored Honda CRF450R adjusts his helmet prior to heading out for the first of two practice sessions at the Springfield Rodeo/Multipurpose Arena.  Avila would be the champ at the end of the day by just .290 seconds over season-ending champ, Mikey Martin, but Martin would end up winning the war at season's end.  Avila did win six events on the year (to Martin, Briar Bauman's and Gerit Callies three wins each), but his overall results came in just eight points shy of taking the title over Martin.  Avila would end the season with nine top 5s and nine podiums in the Pro Singles Championship, and looks to join Martin and Callies for the 2012 season in the Expert Grand National ranks.

Martin's #91Y Weirbach Racing Honda was virtually flawless all season, and for the most part his and the Iowa-based Weirbach Racing team seemed to only suffer two hiccups throughout the season that were, or could have been substantial.  Just before the previous day's events for the Springfield Mile I round, the team's transporter was partially destroyed by a fire in the parking lot of the hotel where they were staying.  When they showed up later that morning for the rain-delayed event, the team's bikes were discolored from the heat, smelled of heavy smoke and had to be patched together in order to even make it on the track.  Like strong teams do, and with the AMA Flat Track family helping out, they overcame the devastating losses incurred to come back and finish 2nd on the mile and the TT for the weekend.

That could have been the turning point that would have lost the championship to lesser teams and riders, but they endured and went on to take the lion's share of the payouts when the season wrapped.  At the penultimate round of the season, Martin's Honda blew up during the final, but fortunately for he and the Weirbach team, was able to re-start on his back-up machine since it happened before the five laps-in mark.  Martin came home in the 8th spot (his second-worst finish of the year after his 10th at Lima) in another instance of overcoming near-defeat on what ended up being his championship season.  Bravo to Mikey and the Weirbach team for getting it done!

And the man who finished 7th in the 2011 Pro Singles Championship, William Cato on the #35C Shoe Racing/Sportland Motorsports Urbana, IL/Bob Berry Racing/Woody Kyle Racing-sponsored Honda, also took home a win during the season at the Salinas TT.  Cato missed seven events on the year which caused him to drop in the season-ending standings.  He also finished 2nd at the Springfield Short Track over Labor Day Weekend, and should be a strong contender for the 2012 AMA Pro Singles Championship.

Mikey Martin gets introduced to the crowd after winning the I-96 Speedway Half-Mile round of the 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles main event at the Lake Odessa, MI. facility on July 23.  Martin had just taken his second win of the season (by just over four seconds to runner-up Conner Anderson) and took his third-in-a-row on the Sacramento Mile the next weekend.  Martin's win at the Lake Odessa round would vault him into the lead of the championship just past the half-way point of the season, a lead he would never surrender throughout the final nine rounds of the year.

The #91Y Weirbach Racing/General Engineering/Barnett Clutches/Spectro Oils-sponsored and Honda CRF450R-mounted rider had a stellar year in being only one of two men contesting the Pro Singles Series to qualify for all 20 events (runner-up Mikey Avila being the second man.)  Martin not only won three events on the season (Hagerstown being the other win for the California rider), but also scored eight podiums and 14 top-5s on the season in route to being the 3rd AMA Pro Singles Champion since the series' inception in 2009.

Martin will join previous AMA Pro Singles Flat Track Champions Brad Baker and Jeffrey Carver, Jr. for the 2012 AMA Grand National Championship Series season when he moves up to the Expert ranks while wearing his new #91 Expert number plate.

Hats and helmets off to the Ottumwa, IA.-based Weirbach Honda Racing team and 2011 Pro Singles Champion Mikey Martin.  A very well deserved year, that saw them fight through and overcome adversity on their championship winning season!

Gerit Callies is shown during practice for round 15 of the 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Championship Series season at the Peoria TT on August 21.  Callies would end the day in the runner-up position after Mikey Avila was declared the winner due to Briar Bauman's DQ (see below.) 

The #76L Twenty Six Suspension/G2 Ergonomics/Vortex Sprockets/O'Neal-backed Honda CRF450R-mounted rider would end the season as the 3rd ranked rider in the year's standings, after winning three rounds on the year (Daytona Short Track II, DuQuoin, Castle Rock) and would finish the season 25 points down on Martin and 17 down on Avila (316-308-291.)

Look for Callies to move up in the ranks to Expert status for the 2012 AMA Pro Flat Track Grand National Championship Series season after running the final round of the 2011 season under a provisional for Pro Singles riders, where he made the main at Pomona on the Waters Auto Body KTM and finished the night in the 16th spot.  Super job Gerit!

Briar Bauman all but spoiled the latter part of the 2011 Pro Singles Championship Series for the rest of the contenders.  Turning pro mid-season, the Salinas, CA. resident then burst onto the scene to take what would have been four wins on the year.  However, due to a fuel test that was bad after the Peoria TT, he was disqualifed and the win was given to Mikey Avila after all of the podium ceremonies had passed and the paying crowd had left the house. 

Returning to action above on his #10Z Rod Lake Racing/Browns Cycle/Lazer Racing/Gene & Gail Cummings-sponsored Honda CRF450R, the 'rookie' and former AMA Horizon Award winner would go on to get that first win two weeks later at the Springfield Short Track on September 3 over William Cato and 3rd place finisher Callies.

Bauman went on to win the last two rounds of the season at Calistoga and Pomona, and put in an inspiring ride to second place behind first-time winner Shayna Texter at the Knoxville round, to finish the season ranked as the 6th place man in the Pro Singles Championship.  Contesting only eight rounds in the season, he wrapped the season with those three wins, two 2nd-place finishes and one 3rd-place finish at the Springfield Mile II round.  If you throw out his DQ from Peoria, his worst finish in seven rounds was a 4th place finish at the Sacramento Mile, his very first Pro event. 

Talk is he could be moving up to the Expert ranks to join the big show in 2012, and if so, the competition has some work to do to keep this kid off the box.  Great job BB!

Rodney Rutherford was on-hand at the season-finale round of the 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Championship at the Pomona Fairplex and filed this race report for Today's Cycle

Weirbach Racing and 2011 AMA Pro Pro Singles Champion Mikey Martin filed this race report after the Pomona season-finale on taking the 2011 championship:

Thanks to AMA Pro Flat Track for this link to the complete results for round 20 of the 2011 AMA Pro Flat Track Harley-Davidson Grand National Championship presented by Pro Singles Serie season-finale from the Pomona Half-Mile:

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