BRASELTON, GA (April 22, 2012) – Road Atlanta wasn’t kind to KLR Group rider Kyle Wyman, but the 22-year-old from Macedon, N.Y., managed to overcome a Lap 1 crash — caused by an unknown fluid on the racing surface — and ride to a heroic third-place finish Sunday in the AMA Pro Vance & Hines XR1200 race at the Big Kahuna Nationals.
“They say championships are won on your worst weekends,” Wyman said. “To come outta here with a podium finish after everything that happened, how can I complain?”
Starting from the No. 2 spot on the grid, Wyman took the lead before Turn 1 and was riding well until Turn 10 when he went down hard and slid into a gravel pit. Several other riders also encountered trouble in the same spot, including two others that crashed, ultimately forcing AMA officials to red flag the race and order a restart.
“Apparently someone dumped something on the sight lap because it wasn’t there before,” Wyman said. “They sent us out to race any way and I got the worst of it. I went down hard and it hurt but all I could think about was getting back to pit row and figuring out how to continue racing.
“We’ve got a brand-new title sponsor this week, the KLR Group, and I wanted to win this race for them. They’ve shown incredible support for me already and I want to do everything I can to make them happy.”
Officials quickly determined that the fluid on the track — not Wyman — caused the red flag so they gave him the chance to restart the race in his original position if his team could repair the primary bike. But it was too damaged for Wyman to ride so he switched to his back-up machine, which meant he had to start at the rear of the 22-bike field.
“I’ve never even had a back-up bike before but thanks to Spyke’s Harley-Davidson, Kuryakyn and Vesrah, we had the second bike all prepped to go,” Wyman said. “We swapped out front brakes off the wrecked bike and changed tires and it was ready.
“I’d only turned three laps on that bike but I had faith in it and I just put my head down and rode as hard as I could.”
Wyman jumped past six riders on the restart and began picking off the others one by one through the first several laps. Just past the midway point, Wyman moved into fourth and realized he had a 4.5-second gap to the front three riders. Although he was gaining about half a second per lap, and even put down the quickest circuit of the race — 1:39.722 — he ran out of laps. His ascension to third came when Steve Rapp pulled up with two laps to go.
“This may be one of those races where we look back and say, ‘thank God we managed to regroup and finish that race,’ because the points we earned here are going to be huge,” Wyman said. “Normally, you aren’t super fired-up to get a third, but today I am.”