Willoughby Wins in Chula V

September 28, 2014 by  

Sam Willoughby Wins Chula Vista SX

The season finale is always one of those races where your eyes are on two prizes all day long–the main event winner, and the overall series champion. Riders who are chasing the overall know where they stand, and what has to happen mathematically for things to work out in their favor; and those not up for the title are maybe a bit more relaxed.

When it’s close, the series title has a heaping helping of suspense. This weekend’s title chases were not super-close, but it was mathematically-possible for Liam Phillips and Caroline Buchanan (who went in as the points leaders) to give up their lead, if the planets aligned just-right for Anthony Dean and Brooke Crain.

Through the motos on Saturday, Connor Fields was the only rider sitting on three points, having aced all three of his laps. Sam Willoughby, Renato Rezende, Twan van Gendt and Liam all had four points. David Herman and Barry Nobles both had five.

As the quarterfinals got underway, the first rack had three of the top five riders in the points standings, with Anthony Dean, Joris Daudet and Connor Fields. Nic Long was starting in lane three and Jared Garcia out in lane 8. The Jet had been riding strong in Friday’s qualifying motos, and kept it up in the early rounds on Saturday, also coming into the quarters with five points, having won the first and second rounds.

Connor was in lane one and Anthony in two, the whole pack was pretty much even down the first straight and over the turn one triple with Connor, Nic, Anthony and Jared still even –until Daudet carved the inside hard (as we know him to often do), and came out in third, leaving Nic and the Jet to battle over the final qual spot–at least temporarily. On the second part of the “S” turn, Nic got back to third by passing Joris on the inside. All of turn two was pretty much a disaster for Joris’ qual chances. The inside move by Nic pushed Joris left, giving Garcia a go-ahead to grab up the four-spot. That’s how it finished: Fields, Dean, Long and Garcia.

The second group had a full house of three Brits (Liam Phillips, Tre Whyte and Kyle Evans) and two Americans (Sharrah and Herman), with a Russian (Evgeny Kleshchenko), a Colombian (Carlos Ramirez) and a Frenchman (Sylvain Andre) rounding out the gate. Corben was in lane one, with Liam in two. The Hermanator was content coming out of the middle all day, and was in five this lap. As the pack vectored inside to the first turn, Liam found himself with some very tight real estate, with Corben on the inside and Herman and Evans moving left. Out of turn one, it was Sharrah, Herman and Evans. Phillips was there, but Andre pushed him high on the turn, and left Ramirez a major opportunity to go from sixth to fourth. Evans over-jumped the first set on the second straight, which set him up poorly for the next set, which he also caught a ton of hang-time on, allowing Ramirez to improve to third. In the cross-over, Andre and Liam may have bumped, because soon after landing, they were both on the ground. The series points leader was out! We’re not sure what happened to Evans down the second straight, but by the time the pack came into the third straight, it was Sharran, Herman, Ramirez and Tre Whyte. And that’s how it would finish.

Third rack was all Sam Willoughby. Twan van Gendt was on his chainstay, keeping him honest most of the lap though. Bodi Turner had a tough trip down the ramp, but put together a solid lap at ground level to claim thrid at the line. Final qual spot went to Justin Posey, who was looking very strong all day long. He held off a challenge by Jeremy Rommel, who we have to call for a “most improved” nomination.

In the last quarter, Renato Rezende showed that those all-pump laps in Chula Vista he has been posting to social media are even better with some pedal-power behind them. Tory Nyhaug and Federico Villegas were down (separately) on the first straight. Barry Nobles and Jelle van Gorkom held the two-three spots tight, and Willers was the final Q at the line following a photo finish with Carlos Oquendo that gave Marc the edge by .004/sec.


After a short break in the action, it was time to make some main events, via the Semis. Any set of semis on the SX circuit has serious starpower, but here–maybe it was because it was all happening on home soil, but it seemed extra-spicy on the hill today.

The first rack had David Herman launching from the inside, Connor Fields in two, then van Gendt, Rezende, Long, van Gorkom, Posey and Whyte.

Renato seemed like he unclipped out of the gate, because he appeared to be struggling down the hill, and ended up crashing at the mid-point on the first straight. Herman, Long, Posey were three-abreast into turn one, with Fields coming out to challenge JP to pick up some insurance. van Gendt was in fifth, by maybe half a bike, as the pack thundered into the second straight. The leading three held through turn two, and van Gendt cut a hard inside line into the turn to momentarily come under Connor to challenge the bubble spot. That was short-lived, as Connor got back to the inside, and pointed outside enough to shut Twan down for the moment. There ws no question Nic had this one on lock, as did David heading into the last turn. Connor tripled-in to the turn, and gained some grouond on Posey, but it was Twan that we’d be watching in the slow-mo. In fifth, by maybe two bike lengths in the apex of the last turn, he ran it hard down to the line to make it a photo finish between he and Connor. It was maybe 10 seconds of waiting before the results were posted on the board, “4). van Gendt, 5). Fields” We were bummed for our buddy the Con Man, but gotta hand it to Twan; that was an incredible deficit he closed.

The second semi had title implications, and we would be watching Anthony Dean to be one of the four qual spots. This would be one last hurdle before the main event–where he would have needed a first or second to snatch the title away from Liam Phillips, who was out in the quarters.

The inside gate belonged to Corben Sharrah, then Sam WIlloughby, Anthony, Carlos Ramirez, Barry Nobles, Bodi Turner, Marc Willers and Jared Garcia way out in gate 8. It seemed to be working for him, so he picked it again. Ramirez was down the hill late, and working to make up real estate, but at the end of the first straight, he was in last. It was Willoughby, Dean, Sharrah and Garcia on the entrance to turn one. That’s when The Jet fired up the Pratt & Whitneys, cut to the inside, and executed what Mike Day called a “classic high-low” on Corben and Anthony–coming out of the turn in second. We love seeing stuff like that, even if it doesn’t stick to the finish line. Into turn two, Corben had the inside on Sam, and nosed into the lead. In back of those two, Garcia, Dean and Nobles were three-abreast, and Ramirez was about three bikes behind them.

Down the third straight, it was Sharrah, Willoughby, Garcia and Dean–but just then Anthony hung up on one of the rollers, and it launched him over the bars. Nobles and Ramirez were dead-even into the last turn, with Barry on the inside. Carlos made his carve into the turn very, very shallow, and Barry seemed to unweight his front wheel, by either trying to cut sharper, or trying to avoid Carlos. Barry was down, and Ramirez would get the final main event slot of 2014. Final order: Sharrah, WIlloughby, Garcia, Ramirez. Corben was the only bloke to beat Sam this weekend (taking third round in the motos, and the semi).

Anthony was slow to come off the track, and would later miss the overall podium presentation due to being at the ER. Later, Tyler Brown posted the following about Anthony’s condition:

Saturday evening:
Our boy is still in the hospital as of now. Had a pretty good head injury and the hospital is keeping him for some tests to make sure his brain is all good. Other then that he has a few other body injuries but don’t want to say until I have specific info. On the plus side he left it all out on the track today! He never backed down and gave his all going for the title. Some times we win and sometimes we don’t.

We will bring you more on Anthony’s condition soon, and wish him a speedy recovery.

BMX News 2014 race coverage sponsored by Dan’s Comp

BMX News Race Coverage is Sponsored by Dan's Comp

Main Event

As they were going down the gate, introducing the main event riders, we couldn’t help but stop to reflect on what a great moment this must have been for Justin Posey. It was at this race last year, where he suffered multiple injuries in turn two of the semi. After months of healing, and more months of work to get back, here he was in the main. Very stoked for our pal JP.

On the gate, from the inside, the main event gate had Nic Long, Corben Sharrah, Sam Willoughby, David Herman, Twan van Gendt, Carlos Ramirez, Justin Posey and Jared Garcia.

2014 Chula Vista SX Main Event
Down the hill, Sam cut for the inside, pinching off Corben (above), and Posey did the same on the outside of the gate, pinching off his left-hand neighbor, Ramirez. Mid-way down the first straight, it was Sam out front, and Twan a very close second. Nick was still on Sam’s left, but got enough of a push from the triple into turn one to edge into second. And, David Herman passed Garcia to take up fourth as the pack raced into the second straight.

On the approach to the cross-over, it looked like Twan crossed-up into Herman’s airspace, and knocked himn off the pace. At that same time, Carlos Ramirez was in seventh. But, by the time the pack came out from behind the massive crossover, Ramirez was in fourth. WOW!

Out of turn two, it was Willoughby, Long, van Gendt and Ramirez. Down the third straight, Twan came up a few inches short on one of the rollers, and that was enough for Carlos to catch up, then pass on the inside. Then, he tripled-in to the last turn, which set the podium as Willoughby, Long, Ramirez at the stripe.

Great racing, with positions changing, and absolute-go-for-it drive in every rider out there.

Though the main event did not have any impact on the season title (all four riders in the top points positions were out before the main), the race for the “trophy of the day” was a very core-BMX thing to do. And with some of the literal founders of the sport looking on, as part of Hall Of Fame weekend, there was an absolute connection between what Sam Willoughby just did, and what David Clinton, Dennis Dain, Perry Kramer and other legends had done in their day.


Full Results of the Chula Vista SX