Published on March 25th, 2012 | by Joe0
Wienen Edges Out Natalie in Georgia ATVMX Season Opener
Photos By: Harlen Foley
Washington, Ga. (March 25, 2012) – The 2012 AMA ATV Motocross National Championship Series kicked off Saturday at Aonia Pass MX Park in Washington, Ga., providing some of the best racing in series history, pitting the fastest ATV Motocross racers in the country against one another for two twenty-plus minute motos. After an eight-month hiatus from racing due to a season ending injury in 2011, Wienen Motorsports/SSi/Walsh/Yamaha-backed Chad Wienen began the season in a winning fashion, going (1-1) for the overall and the early points lead.
in the opening moto of the Pro ATVMX class, it was Baldwin Motorports/PEP’s Josh Upperman who grabbed the SSi Decals Holeshot Award and led the early part of the race. It wasn’t long before Wienen powered his new Yamaha ride into the lead, though, passing Upperman through the fan-filled finish line section.
While the rest of the field was viewing the track on the site lap, Motoworks/Can-Am’s newest addition, Joel Hetrick, was waiting behind the gate while his crew worked to fix a mechanical issue on the ATV. Earlier in the day, Hetrick grabbed the ATVRiders.com fastest Qualifier Award over a stacked field of veteran riders, and after finally fixing the ATV in time for the gate drop, Hetrick proved it wasn’t a fluke as he caught and passed the front-runners and pressured Wienen for the lead spot. Hetrick finally made a bold attempt to pass Wienen for the lead, but in doing so, the nineteen-year-old went off the track and was forced to sit the rest of the moto on the sidelines.
Defending champion, Motoworks/Can-Am’s John Natalie, came through the pack and spent a majority of Moto 1 battling with longtime competitor Josh Upperman for the second place spot. Natalie finally got around Upperman in the latter part of the initial twenty-minutes of racing, and although the “Ironman” put a late charge on the leader as the two-lap card came out, Natalie wasn’t able to catch Wienen in time for the checkers.
In Moto 2, it was once again the Honda of Josh Upperman who took the SSi Decals Holeshot Award, but the defending champ Natalie inched his way out front right away, fending off a very driven duo of Wienen and Uppeman. Pennsylvania’s Derek Swartfager put his Waldo Motorsports-backed Honda inside the top five early in the moto, battling with Thomas Brown on the TBROWN Yamaha powered by Moto-X-Perts machine. Brown led a tight-pack of riders who were battling for the top five positions, including pro class rookie Mark Madl, the 2011 Pro Am Production champion and fifth fastest qualifier for the day.