PEORIA, IL. (Aug. 21, 2011) — Henry Wiles continued his domination of the Peoria TT National on Sunday. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider from Winn, Michigan, led all 25 laps of the final to earn his seventh straight victory in the prestigious race. The victory puts Wiles within one victory of tying Chris Carr’s record of eight straight Peoria TT wins.
Jared Mees finished runner up to Wiles, 1.560 seconds back, and just ahead of series rival Sammy Halbert, who rounded out the podium. It was a very good day for Mess, getting the points from his second-place finish in the national, combined with his victory in the Dash for Cash, means that Mees has closed to within three points of Halbert in the series standings.
Jake Johnson finished fourth, but in spite of a solid finish, lost ground in the standings with Halbert and Mees finishing in front of him. Robert Pearson scored an excellent fifth, edging out retiring veteran Carr, who spent much of the day being lavished with honors during his final appearance in the race where he became known as the Prince of Peoria.
Matt Weidman was seventh, in the same group with Pearson and Carr. Then there was nearly a four-second gap back to eighth-place Bryan Smith, who edged Kenny Coolbeth Jr. and Johnny Lewis, the final of the top -ten finishers.
With Wiles still not 100 percent healthy after his left knee reconstruction, it was thought that he might be vulnerable. But Wiles quickly put those thoughts to rest when he topped timed qualifying and then won the fastest heat race to win the pole. The only thing Wiles didn’t dominate was the Dash for Cash, won by Mees, leaving some question as to whether Wiles might be beatable.
In the final Wiles nailed a good start and immediately opened a gap on the field. Wiles said that in spite of getting to a quick lead his bike wasn’t handling well and he nearly crashed coming off the jump one lap. That allowed Mees to rapidly close, to the point that it looked like it was be a battle to the finish. But Wiles rallied from his mistake and in the final couple of laps built back his gap on Mees.
“I was just happy to be out there this year much less win this race,” Wiles said afterwards. “To come back this quickly from knee surgery and to be able to win this race even though I’m not at full strength is really more than I could have hoped for.
Wiles said the handling of his bike was a major obstacle. “I won the race on probably the worse-handling bike I’ve ever had at Peoria. I came so close to screwing up big time off the jump that one lap. I thought for just a second that my streak might be over, but fortunately I was able to save the thing.”
(See update to the Pro Singles race below) A new star may have been born in the Pro Singles class. Briar Bauman, a 16-year-old freshly-minted pro from Salinas, California, came from 15th starting position and worked his way methodically through the field, on a track that was hard to pass on, to take over the lead late in the race and win his first Pro Singles National on his Rod Lake Racing Honda. Gerit Callies was second and Stephen Vanderkuur third.
After the race Bauman pointed to his mentor, former three-time AMA Superbike Champion Doug Chandler as being a big reason for his victory.
“Doug has been helping me and training with me,” Bauman said. “He’s telling me how to race tracks with different conditions. He’s really been a major help to my career.”
With the cancellation of the Indy Mile, the series has a week off before resuming for the traditional Labor Day weekend doubleheader in Springfield, Ill., on Sept. 3-4.
Update (Monday 8:20 am Eastern) – Cycle News has learned that Briar Bauman was disqualified from his Peoria TT Pro Singles win due to illegal fuel. That makes Michael Avila the winner. We will post updates as warranted.
2011 Peoria TT National Results, Aug. 21, 2011
1. Henry Wiles, Kawasaki KX450F
2. Jared Mees, Honda CRF450R
3. Sammy Halbert, Yamaha YZ 450F
4. Jake Johnson, Honda CRF450R
5. Robert Pearson, Yamaha YZ 450F
6. Chris Carr, Honda CRF450R
7. Matt Weidman, Honda CRF450R
8. Bryan Smith, Honda CRF450R
9. Kenny Coolbeth, Jr., Kawasaki KX450F
10. Johnny Lewis, Honda CRF450R
11. Shaun Russell, Kawasaki KX450F
12. Brad Baker, Honda CRF450R
13. JD Beach, Kawasaki KX450F
14. Aaron King, Honda CRF450R
15. Jeffrey Carver Jr., Yamaha YZ 450F
16. PJ Jacobsen, Honda CRF450R
17. Justin Hittle, Honda CRF450R
18. Chad Cose, Honda CRF450R