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Golden win for Gillim in Virginia Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

Golden win for Gillim in Virginia Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race

Victory at the Virginia round of the inaugural edition of the youth initiative went to Hayden Gillim, recently operated on for a collarbone fracture.

Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Ky., won the Virginia International Raceway Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup race on Sunday, taking a narrow victory in a race featuring a four-rider pack fighting for the win. Gillim´s margin of victory was a slim 0.091 seconds, falling in with the other highly competitive Rookies Cup contests of 2008. Benny Solis, Jr., of North Hollywood, California led on the final lap but could not hold off Gillim´s move exiting the final turn. Bryce Prince of Bakersfield, Calif., bested Emerson Connor for the final podium position in the race stopped twice for red flags.

Gillim won the race despite having surgery to repair his left collarbone last week.

`It hurt, but the adrenaline started flowing and I felt a lot better as the race went on,´ said Gillim. `We were going back and forth and I was looking to make a strong push at the end of the race. I got a better drive than Benny (Solis) did and I was able to get the win. It feels really good to get two in a row and it was a lot of fun for me to get to race with these guys. It was a lot harder (than Mid-Ohio). Battling with people is really fun. You don´t know when they´re going to pass you or when you´re going to pass them.´

Solis, the winner of four races this year, led on the final lap but could not hold off Gillim. `I rushed the last corner," said Solis. "I went wide when I went through the double corner and I didn't have enough power to get back to the line first. I tried my best and ended up second. I'm pretty happy with my lead in the championship but the next couple of races I will try to get more podiums or wins.´ Benny now leads the championship by 32 points on the strength of four wins and a pair of second place finishes.

Bryce Prince earned his first podium finish of the year with a charge through the field. The Bakersfield, Calif., racer moved from seventh on the first lap to the top three at the checkered flag. `With the two red flags, I felt I had to get a good start. After that, I had a good battle with Huntley Nash for a couple of laps. By about halfway, I was able to catch up with the lead pack and trade positions a little bit. I almost highsided on the last lap and I thought `There goes my shot at a win.´ I really enjoyed the race today and would like to thank all my sponsors for helping me. Everything was overall just amazing ´

Emerson Connor from Burlington, Ontario, Can., was in the top three for virtually the entire race but ended up fourth in what was a fantastic weekend for him. Connor showed consistent speed in Virginia and was just 1.256 seconds back of the winner. `I rode strong and the KTM RC 125 was great. I was fourth today and I wanted to be a little higher but it was a good race and a lot of fun. All of the guys at the front rode really well today. I feel good about the result and I want to thank everyone that helps us race.´

Leandro Mercado had an eventful race. The Argentine started on the backup bike after his machine developed an issue on the sighting lap, but still managed fifth place. He remains second in Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup points. `I got a terrible restart,´ said Leandro, who said the different settings of the bikes slowed him somewhat in the last leg of the race. `It´s okay because I ended up fifth and I am happy for the points and the championship.´

Jake Gagne of Ramona, Calif., was sixth on Sunday, ahead of Huntley Nash of Marietta, Ga. Austin DeHaven of Los Angeles, Calif., qualified 19th but rose eleven spots to earn eighth place. Cory Rech of Liverpool, N.Y., won a battle of New York riders when he beat Travis Wyman (Macedon, N.Y.) by less than a second for tenth spot.

Polesitter Tomas Puerta of Colombia led the race at one point but crashed. He remounted and finished 14th.

The race was delayed until the end of the day, necessitated by a red flag due to an incident involving Toriano Wilson of Bermuda, Luciano Ribodino of Argentina and Garet Tomlinson of Aledo, Texas. Wilson and Ribodino were transported to local hospitals for evaluation and treatment.

MotoGP, 2008

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