O’NEAL’s Blake Baggett was impressive in his 450 Motocross debut Saturday, May 16 at the historic Hangtown Motocross Classic, the opening event of the 12-round AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Baggett raced to fifth-place overall with a 4-6 moto finish in front of a national television audience.

Baggett began the day carefully learning the characteristic of the RM-Z450 on an outdoor national circuit, a machine that is considerably more powerful than what he raced last year in the 250MX class. In spite of his measured approach Baggett still managed to come out eighth in Timed Qualifying. “It went pretty well,” Baggett said of his early laps on the RM-Z at Hangtown. “I ended up qualifying eighth and I’m just learning. Learning what the track is going to be like on national day and how it plays out. I’ve got to clean up a few areas and smooth out a few things. I was tending to rush a few turns and I lost a bit of time, but I definitely think once I clean up a few areas I should be ready to go for Moto 1.”
Once the gate dropped on the 2015 outdoor nationals, Baggett got a solid start and ran fourth in the early laps. He then battled back and forth with a couple of riders, fell to fifth at one point before coming back to finish the grueling moto in fourth. Baggett’s quest for a possible podium was hampered early in the second moto when he got caught up in traffic in the early set of turns and emerged way back in 12th on lap one. Fortunately Baggett had the power and handling of his RM-Z450 at his disposal and he started methodically making his way through the field. Getting pelted by roost and having to battle hard for every position predictably took its toll and in the end of the moto he came upon fellow Suzuki rider Ken Roczen. Even though he’d closed the gap fairly rapidly on Roczen, by the time he got there Baggett found he’d hit the redline physically.
“It was gnarly,” Baggett said. “I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I learned a lot today and I’m just going to go back to work and keep plugging away and try to work my way towards the podium.”
Amazingly, had Baggett found a way to get by Roczen on the final lap he would have been on the podium. As it was he finished sixth in Moto 2 and ended the day fifth overall, tied in points for fourth and a mere one point out of third in the standings going into next week’s event. Baggett was exhausted after his first 450 national, but he was satisfied knowing he gave his all on the track on what turned out to be a memorable 450 debut at Hangtown.
The 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship continues next Saturday, May 23, with the FMF Glen Helen National in San Bernardino, California. Fans can meet and get an autograph from Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett on Friday, May 22, at Chaparral Motorsports, 555 S H Street in San Bernardino from 5-7:00 PM.
Hangtown 450 Motocross Results:

1. Eli Tomac (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey (2-2)
3. Jason Anderson (3-7)
4. Weston Peick (8-3)
5. Blake Baggett (4-6)
6. Broc Tickle (6-8)
7. Brett Metcalfe (7-9)
8. Christophe Pourcel (5-12)
9. Fredrik Noren (10-10)
10. Phil Nicoletti (9-14)

Final 450 Motocross Standings:

1. Eli Tomac, 50
2. Ryan Dungey, 44
3. Jason Anderson, 34
4. Weston Peick, 33
5. Blake Baggett, 33
6. Broc Tickle, 28
7. Brett Metcalfe, 26
8. Christophe Pourcel, 25
9. Fredrik Noren, 22
10. Phil Nicoletti, 19


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