2017 Gator Nationals Race Report
Nothing warms the soul like some sweet Florida sunshine during winter. The second Pro Series stop on the 2017 USA BMX National Series landed at the infamous Oldsmar BMX. The track was dialed in under the watchful eye of John Sawyer and the City of Oldsmar Parks and Facilities Department. Not much has changed obstacle wise but the surface is even better, if you can imagine that.
The year’s first North American Supercross round kicked off atop the 8 meter blue starting hill and on Friday new “Free Agent” Maris Strombergs was unbeatable. If you haven’t heard by now the two time gold medalist has parted ways with his longtime frame sponsor but was still spotted on the Limo at this race. Maris will have turned 30 by the time you read this. Can he hold on and make a 4th Olympic appearance in Tokyo? Time will Tell.
The ladies had some intense comp in Florida as well with the likes of Alise Post, Brooke Crain and Aussie Caroline Buchanan in attendance. GT’s Felicia Stancil even returned to the gate for the first time in a long while. Friday Saw the defending champ Post holeshot but she came up short over the big triple step going into turn 1 and went OTB. Amazingly Caroline Buchanan who unclipped in the melee would get around Brooke Crain right at the finish line and take her first win of the season. On Saturday it was all the Australian from wire to wire.
Saturday’s historical Elite podium was an all French affair with Joris Daudet taking the top spot, Romain Mahieu taking second and 2016 Gator’s winner Sylvain André taking third.
On the A Pro front, Japanese National Champion Jukia Yoshimura shot out of the middle of the gate on Friday and never looked back. Rookie Cameron Moore was right there in the two and Free Agent’s new pickup Jordan Miranda did his new sponsor proud with a podium finish in third.
Saturday saw another Frenchman, Theo Chappelle, reach the top of the podium, Cam Moore was right back in the mix with another second and day one’s winner “Juky” came in third.
Vet Pro Was absolutely dominated by local hero Larry Dardini. He looks like a man on a mission and it looks as if this will be the season that he cracks the top 3 in the class. Another standout in the class was Clayborn’s James Carter who has always been known to be a powerful guy, sometimes to his detriment. On day one Carter had a solid pop in the main but couldn’t hold off the local Dardini. He would find the ground out of turn one all by himself. Day two was a bit better for Carter as he finished fourth.
On the Amateur side, 7x Lucas Ruiz came away with his first national win and followed it up the next day with a win on his cruiser. Watch out factory dads, this kid means business!
In the 11 year old ranks Callum Howarth out of Queensland, Australia was a dominant force. He went 5 for 6 (he got 2nd behind Pat O’Brien in 11 Cruiser on Sunday)on the weekend. The long, tall Aussie is ranked World #4 and will definitely be back to race the Worlds against a full American cast come July.
The Colombians were in full force all weekend long. W-Elite team manager Fredy Zuleta brought his squad and they came to win. At one point they fired off five wins in a row in the girls classes and won bike shop team both days. They will also be a force to be reckoned with later this year in South Carolina.
The international flavor continued with the dominance of 10X Brazilian Lucas Zimmerman whose only loss came to his Throdwn teammate Ty Beadle on Sunday.
In 16X Tangent Cartel member Bryant White is quickly returning to his old form and grabbed a win on day one. On day two he and the National #1 Amateur Jesse Welch would tangle entering turn one and take themselves out of the race.
17-18X hotshot Bryce Batten is putting his bid in for Am #1 early this year collecting his 7th win on Sunday afternoon. The Arizona kid has won every race he’s entered outside of a third in Vegas earlier this year.
The Gators are always one of the best stops on the circuit especially if riders are looking for a challenge or just want to bask in some wintertime sunrays (bring sunscreen!).