5/31/11 Santa Fe Springs, CA – Parts Unlimited rider Steve Rapp took his maiden victory on the XR1200 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on Memorial Day, round three of the 2011 AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 championship. Richie Morris Racing riders Danny Eslick and Chris Fillmore rounded out the podium on what was a challenging weekend with rainfall making for slippery track conditions and a mud bath for anyone unlucky enough to venture off-course.
Held in conjunction with the FIM World Superbike championship visiting for the US round of the world championship, the AMA racers enjoyed putting on a good show for the international crowd gathered at the state-of-the-art road racing facility on the outskirts of Salt Lake City. A total of sixteen XR1200 entries made it out for the weekend, including a special appearance by 2010 XR1200 champion Danny Eslick, back with the RMR Revolution Performance Bruce Rossmeyer Daytona Racing team.
In the first qualifying session on Saturday, Drag Specialties rider Michael Barnes set the provisional pole with a 2:07.343 with Fillmore and Latus Motors Racing’s Chase McFarland second and third quick. With rainy conditions in the second qualifying session on Sunday morning, McFarland’s Latus teammate Joe Kopp had the fastest time, but the times in the wet second session were no match for the dry first session, which determined the grid for Monday’s race.
With only light rain on a drying track, the XR1200’s were back up to full speed for Monday’s race, slotted in between race one and two for the World Superbikes. When the lights went out, Barnes stormed to the lead from pole position followed by Fillmore and Rapp. For the first couple of laps, there was lots of passing among the lead group, which included Barnes, Rapp, Fillmore, GP Bike Parts rider Tyler O’hara and J&P Cycles rider Michael Beck. But charging from seventh on the grid, Eslick started picking off riders one by one, making his way to the lead runners.
By the midpoint of the 8-lap race, the lead battle was between Rapp, Fillmore and now Eslick. As the trio started to pull away from the rest of the field, Fillmore and Eslick engaged in a fantastic battle, passing each other back and forth, aggressively backing their 500-plus pound XR’s into the corners, in their words “like back in their supermoto days”. As the RMR riders diced, however, Rapp was able to pull just enough of a gap to keep Fillmore and Eslick out of his draft on the front straight and secure his first win on the XR1200. Eslick and Fillmore crossed the line nearly side by side, with only .081 seconds separating the pair and yielding Eslick a second place finish in his first appearance on the XR1200 since last year. Barnes earned a valiant fourth place finish, riding with an injured wrist after a big crash during the morning warm-up.
After three rounds, Fillmore’s consistency is paying off carrying the points lead for the championship, having finished on the podium at every race so far this year. Rapp sits in second with RMR’s Kyle Wyman third in the points. The next round for the XR1200 Series is this weekend at the Subway Superbike Double Header at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, June 3-5.