Solis Wins Rookies Cup Race One

Cycle News Staff | July 20, 2008

From a press release… 0.0008: Solis And Mercado Lock Horns In Race One At Laguna Monterey, Calif. (July 19, 2008) — Benny Solis of North Hollywood, Calif., won his third Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race of the season on Saturday, winning a thrilling battle with Argentina’s Leandro Mercado by a mere 0.0008 seconds after 17 exciting laps. Solis and Mercado bumped their way to the finish line, sending the AMA officials to the photo finish image for the second race in a row in the Rookies Cup. Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Ky., earned his second podium result with a fine third place finish in the first of two Rookies Cup races on the weekend. The last turn and run to the checkered flag goes down as an instant racing legend. With two laps to go, Mercado led Solis by the slimmest of margins. Solis followed and used his chosen strategy. “I wanted to wait for the last turn,” said the 13-year old Solis, who now leads the points by 10. “Leandro was faster than me in some corners but I thought I could pass him in turn 11. We bumped all the way back to the line and we had some elbows out. It was a great race and Leandro did a great job out there. I needed a win because we would have been tied in points if Leandro had won and I finished second. Hopefully, we can put on another good show tomorrow.” Mercado came close to his second Rookies Cup win in a row and led 14 of the 17 laps. “I tried to do the last lap at the same pace as the other laps near the end of the race, pushing hard but not making any mistakes,” said the 16-year-old. “The next to last corner, I did not quite get it perfect. I lost some speed in getting out of the corner. I tried my hardest but I wasn’t able to win it this time but am very happy to have been in such a competitive race with Benny. I hope the fans enjoyed it as well. I’ll think about it tonight and try to come up with some new strategies but I expect another difficult race tomorrow.” Hayden Gillim posted a solid performance, earning another podium finish. He was able to hold off Joey Pascarella of Vacaville, California for third spot. “I was just trying to run my own race and keep it up on two wheels after I lost the leaders. I wanted to get a good result and some points,” said the 13-year-old. “I was happy with the way I rode and I thought I made some good progress in the race.” Toriano Wilson from Bermuda took fifth place, just two seconds behind Pascarella. Tomas Puerta’s race was exciting as well. The racer from Medellin, Colombia ran with Solis and Mercado at the front, but highsided spectacularly in turn 11 with just a few laps to go. Puerta showed his fighting spirit by jumping back on his bike and he finished sixth after remounting. “I had an excellent start and was having a good race but I crashed in the last turn,” said the 15-year-old. “I had a highside but I got back up and finished the race. Tomorrow is another day and I hope to run at the front again. It was very fun.” Corey Rech of Liverpool, N.Y., earned seventh, followed by Austin DeHaven of Los Angeles, Calif. DeHaven rebounded from a morning crash to secure his finish. Jake Gagne of Ramona, Calif., was ninth and remains third in the series points. Jesse Stevens (Lawrenceville, Ga.) rounded out the top ten. The next Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race is Sunday at 1:45 PM local time. Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup Results 1. 35 Benny Solis, North Hollywood, California 2. 36 Leandro Mercado, Cordoba, Argentina 3. 69 Hayden Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 4. 25 Joey Pascarella, Vacaville, California 5. 26 Toriano Wilson, St. Davids, Bermuda 6. 12 Tomas Puerta, Medellin, Colombia 7. 34 Corey Rech, Liverpool, New York 8. 56 Austin DeHaven, Los Angeles, California 9. 32 Jake Gagne, Ramona, California 10. 13 Jesse Stevens, Lawrenceville, Georgia 11. 74 Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, California 12. 66 Jake Morman, Loganville, Georgia 13. 31 Cameron Gish, Shingle Springs, California 14. 3 Travis Wyman, Macedon, New York 15. 95 Frankie Lee Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 16. 75 Huntley Nash, Marietta, Georgia 17. 23 Corey Alexander, Ossining, New York 18. 50 Emerson Connor, Burlington, Ontario 19. 94 Jacob Cunningham, Kimberly, Wisconsin 20. 82 Otavio Lucchini, Jundiai, SP, Brazil 21. 11 Luciano Ribodino San Francisco, Cordoba, Argentina 22. 7 Austin Medrano, Mustang, Oklahoma 23. 22 Garet Tomlinson, Aledo, Texas