Suzuki RM-Z450 rider Weston Peick qualifies third and wins heat race;
RM-Z250 rider Phil Nicoletti earns season-best sixth place finish
Huntersville, NC (April 30, 2018) – The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing team ventured to Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT for the penultimate round of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Riding the all-new Suzuki RM-Z450, Weston Peick displayed incredible speed and confidence on the hard-pack track. He qualified third fastest in combined qualifying, and then went on to earn his second 450 Heat victory of the season. In the 250 class, Suzuki RM-Z250 rider Phil Nicoletti finished a season-best sixth place finish.
For the second weekend in a row Supercross was televised live on FOX, while 43,849 fans filled the stands. The dry conditions suited Peick, who looked at home on the demanding Supercross track. The SoCal native has quickened his pace in qualifying as of late, locking in the third fastest qualifying time. That effort earned him a favorable gate pick for his heat race. He took full advantage, passing for the lead two laps in and never looking back in route to his second heat race victory of the season. Unfortunately, Peick tangled with several riders off the start of the main event and was mired deep in the pack. He rode with vigor in working up to seventh place. Peick has locked in sixth place in the overall standings for the series.
Phil Nicoletti is the very definition of perseverance. The Suzuki RM-Z250 rider has overcome injury, Seattle mud holes, and bad luck throughout the season, but that hasn’t stopped the New York native from giving it his all. Starting 10th in the main event, Nicoletti methodically worked his way toward the front. When the dust settled he was in sixth place – his best result of the season. Nicoletti now sits 10th in the 250 West Championship.
Defending 250 Western Regional Supercross Champion Justin Hill was eyeing his second win of the season in Salt Lake City. However, he landed short on a triple jump in practice and badly sprained his ankle. Never one to quit, Hill fought through the pain to finish fifth in his heat race. While running inside the top five in the main event, the Oregon native had several setbacks that relegated him to 14th on the day. Hill is determined to finish the season with a podium finish this next weekend. He is currently sixth place in the 250 West Championship.
Malcolm Stewart was eager to capitalize on his third-place heat race finish. The RM-Z450 rider was running as high as sixth place early in the main event. Unfortunately, Stewart crashed in the slick conditions and ended the race in 14th position. He is five points out of 10th place in the overall standings.
Phil Nicoletti [250 Class, 6th Place] – “Honestly, the altitude was difficult. Fortunately, we had the ability to find a variety of setup options that really worked to our benefit. I made some quick passes in the main and was on the tail end of the leaders. Late in the main I had a few bad passes through the whoops, which took me out of it. I was within striking distance. The chassis on the Suzuki RM-Z250 worked really well, and I’m happy to get my best finish of the season.”
Weston Peick [450 Class, 7th Place] – “It was the same kind of deal as last weekend. I felt good all day. I went into the main event expecting to be on the podium. The start wasn’t there again. I got antsy. I didn’t leave too late, but had a bit of wheel-spin in the dirt and got tangled up in the first turn. From there I had to play catch up. With the track being so slick and difficult it was hard to make up time. I settled in and finished seventh. It wasn’t the best weekend, but I had some speed. I am putting the pieces together. With one Supercross race remaining my plan is to get a good start in the main and put my Suzuki on the podium.”
Malcolm Stewart [450 Class, 14th Place] – “Overall, I was looking for more. I felt at home on the Suzuki RM-Z450 and was moving in the right direction, but I had a crash that set me back. The conditions were tricky. We’re going to move on and make the most of the last round of the Supercross series in Las Vegas. I want to finish the season on a high note.”
Justin Hill [250 Class, 14th Place] – “I was feeling good, but then jacked my foot up in practice. It was muddy and I framed the triple. I was chasing the leaders in the main event, switched up my line, and came up short again on a jump. After that I was riding around cautiously. Initially I thought I broke my foot. There was no way I was going to pull off, but my result suffered. My foot seems to be okay, and I plan on racing the Supercross finale. It’s a bummer deal, but that’s how it goes.”
Jeremy Albrecht [Team Manager] – “Peick had an awesome day. He got tangled up in a start, but would have done really well. He fought hard all of the way up to seventh. Stewart had a tough time in the whoops. Nicoletti rode well in the main and ended up sixth. Hill cased a jump in the mud and hurt his foot. He was riding well in the main, but tweaked his ankle again.”
“On Friday, we visited a Wienerschnitzel restaurant in the Salt Lake City area and did a takeover, where the team helped out. The guys were having so much fun, in fact, that they worked a half hour longer than they were supposed to! They worked the cash register, did the drive through, and made the food. Everyone had a good time. The Suzuki dealer signing also went very well.”
The Autotrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing Team will travel to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nev. on Saturday, May 5th for the final round of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.