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Solis wins first-ever Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

Solis wins first-ever Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

Benny Solis, Jr. won the first round of the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup held at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend.

Benny Solis, Jr., from North Hollywood, Calif., won a thrilling 11-lap race with Argentine rider Leandro Mercado at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. The two riders battled for position all race, with Solis winning out to take the first-ever victory in the North American version of the Red Bull Rookies Cup. Hayden Gillim, from Owensboro, Ky., earned third place after several on-track dramas elevated his fight to the finish worthy of a podium.

13-year-old Solis took the lead from Mercado, 16 years old, on the first lap, but the Argentine thwarted any attempts at a breakaway. Mercado shadowed Solis for the entire event (and even took the lead on a couple of occasions) and both riders broke into the 1:33-range with their lap times, breaking the existing track 125cc record in the process. Mercado´s bid for a final lap challenge came up short when he clipped the trackside grass at turn 12.

´I got a good start and I was just pushing it, riding as hard as I could,´ said Solis. `I didn´t know how fast we were going lap time-wise, but I think we were both giving it all we had. I´m really happy to be able to win our first Red Bull Rookies Cup race and do the burnout in front of all the fans.´

`I was excited and pleased to be in the race today and it was good fun going for the lead,´ said Mercado, who carried the flag of Argentina on the podium. `I tried very hard and ran just onto the grass at turn 12. I got back on-track without incident but Benny was the winner. I´d like to thank him for the battle today.´

Hayden Gillim took third place after Joey Pascarella and Tomas Puerta crashed late in the race in separate incidents while battling for the final podium spot. `I just tried to go fast but stay steady out there. It feels good to get a podium in our first race and I´d like to thank all the riders for making it a good competition.´

Toriano Wilson took fourth place despite a bad start. Wilson made his strong challenge through the pack to earn valuable points. `Unfortunately, I started in third gear,´ said the 14-year old Bermuda native.

A five-rider pack of Corey Rech of Liverpool, New York: Austin DeHaven of Los Angeles, Calif.; Huntley Nash of Marietta, Ga.; Austin Medrano of Mustang, Okla.; and Cameron Gish of Shingle Springs, Calif.; fought for a spot in the top five. Rech, who turned 16 last week, took the spot as he was able to earn a slight gap on the others late.

Jesse Stevens of Lawrenceville, Ga., proved his toughness by racing with a lacerated hand from a Saturday crash. `It hurt pretty bad, but I wanted to try to do my best this week.´ He finished 19th.

MotoGP, 2008

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