Solis Again at Laguna Seca

Cycle News Staff | July 21, 2008

From a press release… Solis Doubles At Laguna, Wins Three-Way Fight In Race Two Monterey, Calif. (July 20, 2008) — Although his margin of victory was larger than on Saturday, Benny Solis of North Hollywood, Calif., had a very difficult race as he took his fourth Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup victory of the season on Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Solis had to fight Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Ky., and Leandro Mercado of Argentina for 17 hard laps to win the contest by just 0.927 seconds — a slightly larger margin than the past two Rookies Cup races, which both required photo finishes to determine the winner. The three-way battle for the victory left the crowd of over 46,000 at the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix wondering which of the talented Rookies would come out on top. Four racers led the event at the 2.2-mile circuit, with Tomas Puerta of Colombia leading the first two laps before the Solis/Gillim/Mercado group took over. Solis made his mark late in the race with a move to the lead; from there, “Benito” was able to work through his rivals and lapped traffic to increase his series points lead to 19. “It was fun and the pace was fast,” said the 13-year-old. “I studied Leandro and Hayden for a while. I knew what I was going to try to do to make it out front, but there were points where they were faster than me on the track and points where I was faster than them. With three or four laps to go, I put my head down and never looked back. When I got out in front, I was able to use my own lines. We came up on some lapped traffic near the end, but I made it through. Also, I want to dedicate the race to my sister, Eleana Solis, who has a birthday coming soon.” Mercado held second place on the final lap but Gillim made the pass and was barely able to hold the position as they crossed the line. “I just had more of a drive today,” said the 13-year-old Gillim. “Yesterday I needed to finish and get some points, but today I wanted to put it all out there and get a win. Benny and Leandro are very fast, and I felt lucky to keep up with them. I’d like to thank them for giving me such a good run today. I’m happy with my result and want to be on top of the box at Mid-Ohio.” Mercado rode a great race but again came up just short at the Laguna Seca finish line. After finishing 0.0008 seconds shy of a victory yesterday, the rider nicknamed “Tati” finished 0.01 seconds behind runner-up Gillim today. “The race was fun, and I am happy to get points for the championship. This race was really hard. I tried hard to keep my eyes on first place. The last lap, I made a couple of mistakes,” said the 16-year-old. “First, a lapped rider was right on my line and that allowed Benny to get a little distance. Then in the last corner, I didn’t get it right and got a little wheel spin. That helped Hayden get by me.” Puerta took the fourth spot, holding off Joey Pascarella of Vacaville, Calif., by a little more than one second. “I was fast yesterday and ran with the lead group but crashed. Today, I made sure I got the points,” said Puerta, now fourth in the series standings. The next group of riders saw a fiercely contested battle for sixth spot. Austin DeHaven of Los Angeles crossed the line first, having cleared fellow competitors Jake Gagne of Ramona, Calif., and Emerson Connor of Burlington, Ont., Canada. Bryce Prince from Bakersfield, Calif., was ninth and just 0.1 seconds in front of Jesse Stevens of Lawrenceville, Ga. Garet Tomlinson of Aledo, Tex., completed a courageous race, managing to finish despite painful injuries from crashes at both Road America and earlier this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The next Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race will be held at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 3. Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup Results 1. 35 Benny Solis, North Hollywood, California 2. 69 Hayden Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 3. 36 Leandro Mercado, Cordoba, Argentina 4. 12 Tomas Puerta, Medellin, Colombia 5. 25 Joey Pascarella, Vacaville, California 6. 56 Austin DeHaven, Los Angeles, California 7. 32 Jake Gagne, Ramona, California 8. 50 Emerson Connor, Burlington, Ontario 9. 74 Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, California 10. 13 Jesse Stevens, Lawrenceville, Georgia 11. 66 Jake Morman, Loganville, Georgia 12. 3 Travis Wyman, Macedon, New York 13. 31 Cameron Gish, Shingle Springs, California 14. 95 Frankie Lee Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 15. 94 Jacob Cunningham, Kimberly, Wisconsin 16. 11 Luciano Ribodino San Francisco, Cordoba, Argentina 17. 23 Corey Alexander, Ossining, New York 18. 75 Huntley Nash, Marietta, Georgia 19. 82 Otavio Lucchini, Jundiai, SP, Brazil 20. 22 Garet Tomlinson, Aledo, Texas 21. 7 Austin Medrano, Mustang, Oklahoma 22. 26 Toriano Wilson, St. Davids, Bermuda 23. 34 Corey Rech, Liverpool, New York