The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team ventured to the Ironman National in Crawfordsville, Indiana, for the final round of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Mother Nature wreaked havoc on race day, dumping several inches of rain in the morning. The conditions didn’t prevent former National Champion Chad Reed from rising to the occasion in his fill-in ride on the Suzuki RM-Z450. The Australian secured the second moto holeshot, finished inside the top-five in the first moto, and wrapped up the day eighth overall. Unfortunately, the miserable conditions dealt Suzuki RM-Z250 riders Enzo Lopes and Jimmy Decotis a poor hand, as the two failed to qualify.
Chad Reed tested the Suzuki RM-Z450 at JGRMX prior to the Unadilla National and was impressed with the bike. With Weston Peick out due to hand surgery, “Speedy Reedy” stepped up and volunteered to race the Ironman National. In his first National in over three years, Reed exceeded expectations as he is inclined to do. After qualifying seventh, he was as high as third place in the first moto before the sloppy track slowed his advance. Reed brought his #22 RM-Z450 home in fifth and lined up to the far inside on the gate for the second moto. The veteran nailed the start and led the field through the first turn. Reed crashed on the first lap, but recovered to cross the finish line eighth in the moto for eighth overall on the day.
The morning deluge at Ironman Raceway resulted in a single qualifying session for each group. With the 250 seeded practice scheduled for the second practice, the track conditions were very poor. In fact, only 13 seeded riders out of the 40-rider field qualified for the motos. Enzo Lopes and Jimmy Decotis were close to qualifying, but came up just short.
Chad Reed [450 Class, 5-8 for 8th Place] – “My immediate feeling on the Suzuki RM-Z450 brought back so many positive feelings. It instantly changed my thoughts on motocross. I have been working on my off-bike strength and fitness over the past month, so I knew I could handle some suffering. Riding fitness is so unique to our sport, so I was really quite nervous and unsure in that area. Not having raced a National in three years, my number-one goal was to smile and enjoy a day of racing my dirt bike for one of the best teams in the paddock. The day was a success on all levels.”
Justin Hill [450 Class, 10-32 for 15th Place] – “I had a good ride in the first moto, but the track was pretty tough. I struggled in the second moto and pulled into the pits for a bit, but went back out and crashed. With all of that said, I was happy to get my feet wet in the 450 class before moving up full-time in 2019. I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Enzo Lopes [250 Class, Did not qualify] – “I can’t believe that 27 guys qualified from the unseeded 250 practice. Almost ten factory bikes were out of the race. That’s because the track was flat and without ruts. It didn’t help that I’m dealing with a knee injury, as the mud was very difficult on it. I’m going to head home to Brazil, get my knee looked at, take some time to rest, and come out swinging at the Motocross of Nations.”
Jimmy Decotis [250 Class, Did not qualify] – “Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t go as planned. The group A practice times were much slower than the unseeded riders. It’s too bad MX Sports didn’t have a consolation race to allow the group A riders to race for the last four spots. However, I didn’t do a fast lap that put me in the top-ten in the seeded group, which would have put me in the motos. It was a tough situation, but it’s on me as a racer. I’m really thankful to the Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team for being so supportive in these tough situations.”
Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager] – “Chad Reed was the highlight of the weekend. It was cool to have him under the tent. He had a great attitude and loved the Suzuki RM-Z450. He did what we were hoping for. The fifth place in the first moto was better than I expected. Justin Hill rode well in the first moto, but he had bad starts. The muddy track made it tough on all of the guys. We have a Suzuki factory test coming up September 3-16. I’m glad that Hill got through the weekend safe, because he’s an integral part of that test. All of the Suzuki engineers are coming out to the JGRMX Supercross track in North Carolina to help with testing. The 2019 Supercross series is right around the corner.”