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Hayden Gillim wins Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

Hayden Gillim wins Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

A relation of 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden was the winner of the latest Rookies race at Mid-Ohio.

Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Ky., won his first Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race at Mid-Ohio on Sunday. Gillim led every one of the 16 laps to take a runaway win by 3.301 seconds at the finish line. A five-rider pack fought for the runner-up spot, with points leader Benny Solis of North Hollywood, Calif., finishing second and Leandro Mercado of Argentina earning third place.

Gillim, who won pole for the sixth Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race of the year on Saturday, jumped ahead at the start and had a lead of more than one second by the end of the first lap. Hayden, 13 years old, was never challenged. By lap 13, he had pushed ahead to a 5.6-second lead in a race and looked unbeatable. Gillim won the first-place trophy, a `#1´ made by artist Bill Secunda from a Rookies Cup chain used earlier in the season.

Hayden was more than a second in front in qualifying, and thought he could get away from the others in the race if he did not lose positions in the beginning. `I was just hoping to get a good start. I was second going into the corner but I got around Benny. From there, I was just trying to go smart and be consistent. I got a good lead and ran a strong pace, and in the end I was able to win this one. I was on pole at Road America and in the lead, but I crashed out. I tried not to think about it today once I got out in the lead. I was focused and I really like this track a lot. It feels great to get a win and it´s something I am really proud of. I´d like to thank everyone who helped me.´

Solis and Mercado emerged on top of the five-rider battle for second. Joining them in the dogfight were Jake Gagne of Ramona, Calif., Joey Pascarella of Vacaville, Calif., and Tomas Puerta of Colombia. This group of Rookies even went five-wide into Mid-Ohio´s turn six on one lap, thrilling the spectators in that area of the track.

Benny earned his fifth podium of the year at Mid-Ohio. `I wasn't able to keep up with Hayden but I was really happy to get more points and keep the points lead," said the 13-year-old. `Leandro and I had a good battle and there were some other riders up there with us, too. Leandro had some stronger spots on the track than me and I was quicker in some others. In the end, it just about evened out. I had a lot of fun.´

Mercado has challenged for the win in each race and this was the first event in 2008 that he did not lead at some point. Still, Leandro managed to come back from fifth place on lap one to battle with Solis. The 16-year-old was just 0.467 behind Solis. `I got a bad start and the pace was very fast,´ said Mercado. `I made a suspension change this morning and wasn't sure how it would affect things. We had a very competitive race and it was good to rise up through the pack and finish on the podium at a track I did not know very well.´

Importantly, none of the Rookies crashed or had mechanical failures this weekend, as the crew and riders did an excellent job at Mid-Ohio.

The next Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race will be held at VIR Aug 17th.

MotoGP, 2008

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