Rattray three points off Supercross lead
After earlier leading the AMA Supercross series, SA's Tyla Rattray has dropped to three points behind the championship leader.
A week is a long time in professional sports. Anything can happen and, as the saying goes, it usually does. Motocross, a sport that
demands uncompromising man-machine interaction, is not immune to this. On the contrary, it's tough and physical, treacherous to boot, and
generates squirts of adrenalin by the gallon. The potential for disaster looms ever large, and the margin between the ecstasy of winning and
the agony of losing is wafer-thin.
A week ago, Tyla Rattray took possession of the red number plate of the AMA Lites Supercross series. This designated him as the current
leader of the championship, marking him as one of the very few riders in the world ever to have held a red plate in world championship
motocross, AMA motocross and AMA supercross. Pleased as he was, he remained with his feet firmly rooted in reality. The championship is not
decided in January. A lot of fumes still need to be pumped through the exhausts before the championship is over.
Coming into the third round of the series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, the South African knew he had a huge target on his back. The
racing is competitive throughout, but it's the man in the lead that everyone is gunning for, that everyone wants to dethrone. He is never
one to shirk his duties or shy away from a challenge, though, and he made the trip to the stadium ready for all comers. Some intermittent -
and sometimes heavy - rain had brought the covers onto the track, and in order to maintain the track in as good condition as possible, the
organisers dispensed with two of the training sessions, leaving a single pre-qualifying session. Tyla is never going to go down in history
is the world's greatest exponent of the single qualifying lap, and he was pretty satisfied that his seventh time overall had given him
enough view time of the track to stand him in good stead for when the real business took place.
A less-than-perfect start in the qualifying race got the championship leader's evening going on his Monster Kawasaki. Even though his lap times
were still not the most quasar-like of the field, he has oodles of race craft and recovered well to finish fifth, for a comfortable transfer
into the main event. The fans, undaunted by the early rain, had again arrived in numbers and there was a proper cacophony of appreciation as
the class took to the field for the main race.
Rattray's lightning starts of the previous event were packed away somewhere in his kit bag, but he got away in a top-five position
nonetheless. He latched onto teammate Dean Wilson, and the two Kawasakis made their inevitable progress to the front. A serious battle was
brewing on Rattray's rear flank however, as former double world champion Marvin Musquin set up his artillery. Musquin found a hole to
squeeze through, and Rattray was momentarily demoted to sixth spot, but he disposed of Martin Davalos in turn and reclaimed fifth.
As the race progressed, Rattray was getting into a good race rhythm. He actually set his fastest race lap on the tenth lap as he was
homing in on Musquin again. The Frenchman made things easy for him by succumbing to the effects of gravity, and the Kawasaki moved into
fourth spot. Meanwhile, Eli Tomac had typed in a winning address and emailed himself off into the distance at the front, and Wilson finessed
his way into second spot. Rattray had the sights set on Zack Osborne in third spot, and made serious inroads into Osborne's lead, but time
ran out, and he had to contend himself with fourth.
As predicted before the first wheels were turned in anger, the 2012 season has turned into a good old-fashioned humdinger. In three
rounds, the series has seen three different leaders, and with fourth place on the evening, Rattray had to bid his red plate adieu for the
moment. He is still very much in the running though, lying in third position, just 3 points adrift of series leader Tomac, and two shy of
"I knew that this was going to be a tough run," said Rattray after the race. "I need to be consistent throughout the
season and get the best possible result on a race-by-race basis. There are a good few riders who can win on any given night, and the
championship points can get mixed up quite a bit with one bad result. I'm looking forward to fighting for the top spot again at the next