Hendry and Rizzo Secure Final Premier Class Wins of the Season
Byers, CO – The seventh and final round of the 2023 MRA Championship Series took place at High Plains Raceway over the weekend of September 23-24th on its 2.55-mile Full Course. The weather was ideal for racing as the temperatures hovered around 70 degrees for much of the afternoon.
The Race of the Rockies Qualifying on Sunday went off without a hitch. Ray Thornton, eager to keep his lead in the championship, claimed pole position with a best time of (1:46.48) followed by Mike Applegate (1:46.54) and Brad Hendry (1:47.38).
The pressure was on for Thornton as he only had a six-point lead in the RoR championship. He needed to finish no more than one place behind Applegate in RoR GTO to secure the 2023 championship. To add to that pressure, his BMW S1000RR which he had been so successful on throughout the season was not in working order for this final race. Being an outstanding sportsman and friend, fellow racer James Wilkerson loaned out his Yamaha R1 to Thornton to give him a chance at winning the championship. Wilkerson sacrificed a position in the final standings of RoR by not racing, which goes to show the level of sportsmanship and teamwork demonstrated by the racers of the MRA.
The start of RoR saw Applegate, Hendry, and Thornton all get excellent drives off the line, and nobody wanted to give an inch going into turn one. Coming down the backstraight, Applegate was leading the pack, but after they dropped down the hill into turn five, Hendry overtook Applegate. By the end of lap one, Hendry was leading Applegate and Thornton and had already opened a one second gap. For the next four laps, Hendry dropped his lap times down into the 1:46’s and broke away from the trailing pair, at which point the gap was up to four seconds. On lap nine, Thornton was putting the pressure on Applegate and overtook him for second place. Thornton led Applegate for the next two laps until he made a big mistake in turn eight, losing the front end of the bike. Miraculously, he was able to save himself from a crash. Applegate seized this opportunity and took back second place and was not challenged by Thornton again for the remainder of the 14-lap race. Hendry cruised to victory by over 13 seconds. Rounding out the podium was Applegate in Second and Thornton in third. With his third-place finish, Thornton secured the 2023 RoR GTO Class Championship.
In Race of the Rockies GTU, Salvatore Rizzo (who previously clinched the 2023 RoR GTU Championship) got an excellent start and led the opening lap of the race. Dennis Stowers, looking for his first RoR GTU win, was right on Rizzo’s tail. On lap two, Stowers made a pass on Rizzo and quickly dropped into the 1:51’s. Stowers led the next few laps and opened a 1.8 second lead on Rizzo. Rizzo, not giving up so easily, started taking small chunks out of Stowers’ lead every lap. By lap 8 Rizzo had caught back up and passed Stowers for the lead. Not being discouraged, Stowers stayed within .3 seconds of Rizzo until the final lap where he lined up a move on the final turn. Getting an excellent drive out of turn 15, Stowers pulled right up alongside Rizzo but ran out of tarmac before crossing the start/finish line. Rizzo secured the victory by .05 seconds, followed by Stowers in second and Tyrel Diekmann in third.
That concludes our 2023 50th anniversary season. The MRA would like to thank all the safety crew members, racers, friends, and family that made this season a remarkable success. Next up, the MRA heads to High Plains Raceway in Byers, CO for the New Racers School with a provisional date of April 12-13, 2024.
The MRA welcomes racers from other clubs across the nation. If you’re a currently licensed racer and would like to race with us in 2024, we have several reciprocity agreements in place along with very competitive pricing on license & entries to our 28 classes. Click here for MRA membership & entry information.
The Motorcycle Roadracing Association is dedicated to promoting safe and competitive motorcycle road racing events for enthusiasts in Colorado and the surrounding area. For more information go to http://www.mra-racing.org/.