Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Blake Baggett made a surprise appearance aboard his Suzuki RM-Z450 at the second round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Saturday at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California.
Just four-and-half days after surgery to plate and screw his collarbone, Baggett originally thought he would wait until High Point on June 18th to return, but leading up to Saturday’s race in San Bernardino he felt good enough to go out and give it a shot. He bravely charged through the field after an early tumble and finished 16th in the first moto, but elected to not race moto two.
Baggett’s team-mate James Stewart ran in practice and actually ran 15th in timed qualifying, before discovering the shoulder he injured at Hangtown last week was still too tender to try to ride an entire moto.
Fans were pleasantly surprised to find Baggett suiting-up and taking to the hilly Glen Helen track on his Yoshimura Suzuki. Baggett himself was amazed how well his shoulder felt having undergone surgery on Monday evening. He ran 14th in timed qualifying and decided to go ahead and see how he felt racing.
In moto one the muscle of his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 helped give Baggett a strong start out of the gate on the longest and fastest start straight in the series. But while running among the leaders early in the lap, he got on the gas a little too strong coming out of a tight turn and ended up falling in front of nearly the entire 40-rider field.
“That was an awesome start, probably the best I’ve had in years of racing outdoors,” Baggett said of his blastoff in the first moto. “I came around and was like second or third, somewhere in there, and went to go up the hill and just spun it out. I didn’t go to pick up my bike right away. I was guarding my shoulder and didn’t want to get hit, so I waited until everybody went by. And then I got going again and went from 40th to 16th.
“It was a good fight and I felt good about it. I know that I can race now. The shoulder was a little painful, but pretty good and then the last few laps it just got tired. I think that’s to be expected with stitches and everything still being in it, as well as surgery soreness. So I opted out of the second moto, just to play it smart. I’ll be back to fight with the front guys soon.”
Stewart also tested the waters at Glen Helen, but after practice and timed qualifying, felt he needed more time to heal and decided not to race.
“Last week I dislocated my shoulder,” Stewart explained. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to race this weekend, but I got it checked and luckily everything is together, but it was still hurting pretty bad.
“I wanted to come out here and at least try practice. The first practice was OK. The shoulder was pretty weak, but not too bad. Then the track got super rough the second practice and I was basically twisting the grip off my handlebars trying to hold on. Maybe it wasn’t the best thing to go out there, but I had to try. We’ll rest for a couple of days and try to go at it in Colorado. Wednesday I was in a sling, and today I was able to get on the bike. So hopefully a couple more days of rest will help.”
The Yoshimura Suzuki squad now heads straight to Lakewood, Colorado’s Thunder Valley for round three of the series this Saturday, June 4th.