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Oct 18, 2012

AMA Pro Racing Recaps The SuperSport Season Finale At NOLA Motorsports Park

Jake Lewis (85) leads James Rispoli (1), Garrett Gerloff (96) and the rest of the AMA Pro SuperSport field at NOLA Motorsports Park. Photo by Brian J. Nelson, courtesy of AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro SuperSport Recap

The NOLA Motorsports Park round of the AMA Pro SuperSport class was about clinching championships. The combined round would decide both East and West divisions, plus the overall crown.

James Rispoli (Celtic Racing/ Orient Express Racing) had things under control for both the West and the overall championship going in. The reigning champ could clinch it all on Saturday with a good result, and Rispoli took care of business.

When Rispoli stayed in AMA Pro SuperSport instead of jumping up to GoPro Daytona SportBike this year, he said his goal was to win the West and the overall championship again as he continues to learn the ropes in racing. Anything less wouldn't be viewed as success. It wasn't easy. Riders like Dustin Dominguez (Latus Motors Racing Triumph), Jake Lewis (Riders Discount Vesrah Suzuki), Hayden Gillim (RoadRace Factory/Red Bull), Stefano Mesa ( Yamaha), and Elena Myers (Suzuki all won races in 2012 but no one could consistently win and finish up front like Rispoli in 2012.

Rispoli ran all the races but took extra care to finish all of the points-paying West events. He ended up with a 46-point margin. The young gun earned fourth and third in New Orleans -- more than he needed.

"I went into Daytona kinda iffy about even having a ride this year, and then to have all the people around me making sacrifices to keep me racing all season, it feels so amazing to give them something to remember," said Rispoli. "This year has been a dream year for us, we've had some hard fought wins and some losses that really groomed our team into a family. We all put 100 percent into these championships and that's what I needed the most to make this Championship happen. Big shout out to everyone behind the scenes who made this year happen."

The East crown was much less certain. Lewis and Dominguez both came south looking to leave with the East number one plate. Lewis left with it, capping off his resurgence late in the year. He'd struggled in the middle part of the year after winning races early on. It looked like Dominguez would win going away.

But Dominguez picked a bad time to have some poor results, pulling no points in a race at Homestead and a race at New Orleans.

Lewis finished second in the first race at NOLA and was able to go into championship mode on Sunday.

"We started out the season strong at Daytona," said Lewis. "After that, we got rolling pretty good with some wins. I had a 39-point lead but things went downhill pretty fast and I lost that lead in one weekend. We had some problems with setup. It takes a lot out of you. It all clicked again at New Jersey."

"I knew where I needed to finish," he continued. "I brought the championship home."

Hayden Gillim was hot at New Orleans, winning on Saturday and taking second on Sunday to win the Big Kahuna surfboard trophy. Gillim's 11-second win on Saturday was total domination.

"The bike ran great, and the team gelled really well. I knew I needed to go out and win if I wanted to keep the championship alive on Saturday," said Gillim. "The race was amazing. I got a good start and worked my way up to the lead and then just managed the gap. I was happy to get the win and our first race where both the RoadRace Factory/Red Bull riders were on the podium. On Sunday, I wish I could have come out with two wins, but Garrett Gerloff ran a fantastic race. I tried, but after a while, I decided to come home second and win the surfboard. I'm excited we're ending the season with a great weekend."

Garrett Gerloff's season started out badly. The Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha pilot suffered a broken leg in practice at Daytona. When he returned late in the year, the young rider raced in SuperSport instead of GoPro Daytona SportBike in an effort to allow the youngster to get some laps under his belt. But Gerloff was awesome on Sunday, winning the 15-lap race by 11.725 seconds and closing the year on a high note.

"I got a good start and got away a little bit. That got me feeling really good, and I was able to put down fast lap after fast lap," said Gerloff. "My Y.E.S./Graves/Yamaha R6 was awesome today, and I can't wait for next year. Hopefully, this win will be a springboard to bigger and better things next year."

Dominguez earned fifth on Sunday. Travis Wyman (Harv's H-D) was eight and sixth. Ryan Kerr (Bestbook 1 Kawasaki) was seventh both times out. Myers earned fifth and ninth. Ryan Matter (Gearzy) was ninth and 13th to secure fourth in West points. Miles Thornton (Eyeball NYC) was eight and tenth. Mesa capped off his season with tenth on Sunday.
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