The end result of a tight points structure is unpredictable racing. In the first race of the season, however, it all went according to plan for series favorites Jorden Wakeley and Susan Vigland. While certainly hotly contested, the wins were there for the two riders likely to take top honors by the time the series wraps up in March.
Both hold single point leads in the new points structure, which is meant to encourage aggressive, ambitious racing from the very start. There was panache aplenty Sunday, especially among those with aims on the crown. Behind Vigland, Kim Thomas and Michele Howard put on a great show early as their dueled for second place and that single point of separation from the lead that comes with it. Beth Collins sits fourth, but as one of the state's most consistent riders, she's not out of anything yet.
The closest challenger to Wakeley wasn't even going to race until the very morning of. In taking second, Sean Kickbush confirmed not only his class but is chances, sitting one point down from Wakeley and putting up strong resistance to the persistent and pressing Giant of Grayling for the entirety of the race. Wakeley's very deserved extra lap hides how close the race actually was; Kickbush was just over a minute behind, but missed the 2 hour mark to take the bonus lap.
Third place finisher Justin Morris rode great late, surging onto a podium spot in what could be his last appearance in the series as he heads home to Australia later next week. It's actually his Einstein Racing teammate, Jason Lowetz, who will be their top bet for a podium spot. He won the series last year, and finds himself two points adrift after one. Einstein will have plenty of options with Rob Goepfrich next in the standings, and both Jake Ellis and Nate St. Onge in the top ten, though it isn't certain they'll continue with the series.
The Men's Master's was very competitive, with Dave Hintz gaining ground late to grab third place behind Don Fedrigon. Chris Bury took the win and full points on the day, though all eyes will be on Craig Webb, who is fifth in the standings after a flat tire on the very first lap. You won't get any bets against John Ammond looking for a top five the rest of the way, as well as a very strong looking Thomas Klaver perhaps gaining some fitness ahead of Fat Chance! just two weeks away.
Klaver's better half, Dawn Cluchey, may have already done enough to lock up the Women's Master's title. She'll need to take points the rest of the way, but she holds 15 points in her back pocket that no one else can get back on her.