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by Chris Martin
Graves Motorsports Yamaha's Mark Burkhart claimed a second consecutive AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship victory on Saturday, putting his new-found patience on full display while taking advantage of other riders' mistakes rather than the other way around.
While Burkhart and rival Jeff Ward on the #1 plated Troy Lee Designs Honda have established themselves as the men to beat in the class, Ward's teammate Cassidy Anderson was the rider most eyes were fixed to early in the contest.
The local hero from Provo, UT showed the extent of his MMP track knowledge early, as the course' Supermoto school instructor put on a clinic while inching away from Ward and Burkhart at the front. But just when the two title-favorites seemed content to let Anderson deliver the crowd the result they wanted to see, the leader made a shocking mistake crashing on the asphalt while working lap 4 of 12.
While he struggled to restart his CRF450R, falling to 13th in the process, Ward inherited the lead from his teammate, but his time at the front would only last a single lap. A slight mistake in the dirt allowed Burkhart to power by and the Ohioan was unstoppable once in first, pulling clear to a 4.225-second margin of victory at the checkered flag on lap 12.
"Jeff kind of slid a little sideways and I just went around him. He didn't really have anywhere to go. His mistake allowed me to get by him and once I got by him, I just tried to not make any mistakes of my own and ride smart."
Ward admitted that he was far from peak condition, suffering the effects of a recent illness which was exasperated by the intense heat and high elevation in Utah. "I've got lot a chest cold or something and I haven't ridden but maybe one time since last race. That altitude just kicked my butt out there and it's so dry, my lungs heart to take a deep breath. It was a struggle but I don't have any excuses, I just couldn't push it like I wanted to.
"I worked hard but I just made a little mistake in the little tight right-hand inside corner. (Burkhart) was going outside and I should have too. It was about the same but a lot easier. Since I was leading I kind of had to protect and I just went sideways and just kind of gave it to him.
"Cassidy had us covered today. He would have checked out, I think. He just made that little mistake and that's what happens when you're pushing that hard."
Young gun Chris Fillmore handed the Monster Energy Kawasaki squad their first premier class podium with a fine run to third. "It was my first podium for Kawasaki and I was really happy to get the Monster Energy Kawasaki up on the podium. We've worked hard and we've had a lot of bad luck this year and it's finally starting to turn around hopefully. I went out there and gave it my all and I got to thank everybody that's been behind us."
All Access Racing's Micky Dymond took fourth, followed by Anderson, who made a spirited charge back up through the field and into the top five.
Mach 1's Steve Drew took sixth, followed by Unlimited winner Carlson, Aussie Troy Herfoss on the factory KTM, CHM Exhaust's Jason Conlon, and Japanese runner Kiyoshi Saai on the Hamamatsu Factory Honda.
Burkhart's second win moves him to just one point off Ward for the championship lead, 69-68, while Dymond is third at 50. They'll resume their battle on July 7-8 in Detroit at the Waterford Hills Road Course.