AMA ATV MX Championship Series
A brilliant third-place finish by Motoworks / Can-Am DS 450 racer John “Ironman” Natalie Jr. helped him secure the 2011 DWT AMA ATV Motocross Championship held Aug. 13 at Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch in Tennessee. Natalie won the highly competitive Pro class aboard his DS 450 by eight points over second place. He has three overall wins this year aboard his Can-Am DS 450.
Teammate Chad Wienen, who missed the final four races of the season recovering from successful back surgery to repair injuries suffered during practice, finished with 297 points and four victories (the most in the class) this year aboard his Can-Am DS 450. Wienen is expected to make a full recovery and plans to compete in the AMA ATV MX series in 2012.
Can-Am X-Team Pro rookie Chase Snapp finished in seventh place at Loretta’s to secure the sixth overall spot in the Pro class points standings. He had five top-five finishes and two podiums in 2011. His most impressive ride came at round eight in Ohio, where he won the first moto and took second overall on his DS 450. These racers’ success has also propelled Team Can-Am to the Manufacturers Cup title in the AMA ATV MX Championship Series.
Let’s take a closer look back at how these three did this year aboard their Can-Am ATVs.
Round 1: Wienen started the 2011 season on the right foot so to speak as he won both pro motos at the opener at the Can-Am Aonia Pass in Washington, Ga. Natalie earned the runner-up spot aboard his DS 450, notching a 2-2 moto score. And in his debut race, Snapp went 8-8, which was good for eighth overall.
Round 2: Wienen made it abundantly clear that round one was not a fluke as he won both Pro-class motos aboard his DS 450 at the Millcreek event to take an early lead in the points battle. Natalie put in another respectable second-place finish, taking second in both motos. Snapp earned another top 10 finish, with eighth overall.
Round 3: At Ballance MX in Kentucky, it was Natalie’s turn to dominate as he swept both pro motos and cut Wienen’s early points lead down to just six heading into round four. Wienen finished in second place in both motos, which was good for second overall. Snapp earned his first-career top five in the pro class with his fifth-place finish on his Can-Am.
Round 4: At the Motoworks Budds Creek round in Mechanicsville, Md., Natalie posted his second consecutive 1-1 score to take over the Pro-class points lead. However, Wienen wasn’t as fortunate as he tallied a 6-9 moto score and finished ninth, dropping him 17 points behind Natalie. Snapp was seventh overall and was aided by his fourth-place finish in the second moto.
Round 5: At Sunset Ridge in Walnut, Ill., Wienen rebounded from the previous round by posting his third 1-1 moto score of the season. His 50 points also put him four points ahead of Natalie in the race for the championship. Hurt by a second-moto score, Natalie finish sixth at the Midwest track. Snapp went 5-5 for fifth overall.
Round 6: The Can-Am Steel City round was a rough one for both Wienen and Natalie, as neither rider finished on the podium or made the top five. However, the absence opened the door for Snapp as he finished third overall for his first career Pro class podium. Wienen, who finished sixth, extended his points lead to 10 over Natalie, who was ninth.
Round 7: At Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minn., Wienen and Natalie each won a pro moto, but Wienen finished on the top stair since he won the second frame. With a 2-1 score for Wienen and a 1-2 score for Natalie, the gap between first and second place remained at 10 points. Snapp had his worst finish of 2011 in Minnesota, finishing ninth. However, the young pro was still fifth in the points race.
This round was tough for everyone involved with the Can-Am racing effort, as Wienen missed the race due to injuries and his recovery from back surgery. Wienen was hurting practicing for the event at his private track. After a successful surgery to repair his broken back, it was announced that Wienen would miss the remainder of the season. That meant Natalie and Snapp were left to take on the rest of the pro riders.
Although Snapp had set foot on the podium at round six, he had never done as well as he did at the inaugural Sunday Creek MX event in Ohio. Snapp won the first pro moto. He notched another top-five moto finish in the second moto. His 1-4 finish was good for a career-best second overall.
Natalie, who was recovering from a successful surgery to repair a broken bone in his arm due to being kicked by a horse, rode hard to finish 10th overall. Not only did the gutsy Natalie salvage points, but he also moved into sole possession of first place in the class.
Team Motoworks / Can-Am and current WORCS Pro class points leader Jeremie Warnia also competed in Ohio. He finished 14th on the day with a 17-7 moto score.
After finishing fifth in the first Pro-class moto at Unadilla, Natalie rebounded in the second frame to finish second. His 5-2 moto score was good for yet another podium and third overall in New York. He currently owns a three-point advantage over second place heading into Red Bud in Michigan. More importantly, he controls his own destiny and has another few weeks to help his arm heal.
Snapp finished 16th in moto one and 12 in the second moto to finish a disappointing 16th. In moto one, he had mechanical trouble. And then in the second moto, a rock broke his goggle lens and slowed him considerable. He fell off the pace and lost more time when he stopped to replace the goggles. The rookie rider currently sits in sixth place in the points race. He’s just three points behind fifth place.
This round also saw Can-Am X-Team DS 450 racer Richard Pelchat and BCS Performance / Can-Am racer Cody Miller compete. Pelchat, a former Canadian ATV Champion and Saint Romuald, Quebec resident, finished an impressive fifth overall, posting 7-6 a moto score. Miller, who is currently third in the NEATV MX series, finished 17th and 11th in the motos, which was good for 14th overall.
Natalie put in one of his best performances of the season to win the Pro class overall at a very difficult Red Bud track in Michigan. After finishing second in the first Pro class moto (after leading at one point), Natalie rebounded to win moto two and earn his third class overall win of the year and extend his points lead to 10 over second place.
Natalie, who still has a surgically installed metal plate in his arm, came out of the gate in the top five and passed for the lead around the midway point of moto two. He then showed the poise of a champion as he successfully fought of a charge from the moto one winner. In fact, the other rider actually pulled even with him, according to Natalie, in Red Bud’s notorious whoops section, before the Motoworks / Can-Am racer was able to slam the door. The second to last lap was very closely contested, but Natalie stayed strong and out front and eventually went on to win round 10.
Snapp also put in another top-five run aboard his DS 450 at Red Bud. His 4-9 finishes on the day were good for fifth overall and helped push him into the sixth-place spot prior to Loretta’s.
The AMA ATV MX finals were held at the fabled Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch motocorss track in Hurricane MIlls, Tenn. Heading into the finale, Natalie led the second place rider by 10 points and looked to win his second pro title and first ever aboard the Can-Am DS 450. Snapp was looking for a top five finish on the year with a good showing in Tennessee.
In moto one, Natalie came out of the gate in fourth place. He then moved into third place a few laps later. And after Snapp was forced to stop to repair a derailed chain, Natalie moved into second place and set his sights on the leader. He charged to within a half a quad length of the leader, but could not find a way around, so he ended the moto in second place and one spot ahead of his biggest rival. The second-place finished added two points to Natalie’s cushion in the points race for the title.
Moto two was looking great for both Natalie and Snapp until Natalie was thrown from his ATV and then ran over by other rider in turn two. The “Ironman” jumped to his feet, however, and fired up his quad knowing he had to finish ninth or better to win the title if the rider in second place won the race (and he was currently in the lead!) Uninjured, Natalie started chasing the pack from last place. By the time the checkers flew, Natalie had moved up to fourth place (YES, from dead last!). His 2-4 finishes earned him not only the third spot on the Loretta’s podium but also the 2011 AMA ATV Motocross Pro Championship.
“It’s been a long road and we finally made it and took the championship,” said Natalie. “I have to thank everyone at Can-Am and Motoworks and everyone who has been there for us this season and stuck behind us. This has been such an incredible season, and with all the ups and downs our team has had with both Chad and I getting injured, for our team to take the championship couldn’t be any sweeter right now.”
Can-Am X-Team member Chase Snapp earned seventh place overall in the Pro class aboard his DS 450. Snapp was fast on the weekend and if it weren’t for th the thrown chain in moto one, he could have very well ended up on the podium and with the top five overall finish. However, his 10th place finish in moto one (after leading three of the laps and battling for the lead on several others) combined with his fifth-place ride in moto two earned him seventh on the day. He also took home sixth overall in the Pro class for 2011, just four points behind the fifth-place spot.
“I felt like if I hadn’t thrown my chain that I would have won that moto,” said Snapp. “I’m happy with how everything has gone this season and I’m hoping to come back and do even better next year. I have to thank Can-Am and Motoworks for all of their help this year. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Motoworks / Can-Am DS 450 Pro racer Chad Wienen, who remained out of action due to his recovery from back surgery, ended the year in seventh place in the Pro class points standings (even after missing the last four rounds). His four overall victories in 2011 led the Pro class. Wienen attended the finale, signed autographs and assisted AMA ATV MX announcer Rodney Tomblin in the announcing booth during both Pro class motos.
For more information on Can-Am racing, the entire 2011 schedule, the 2011 contingency program and Can-Am DS 450 ATV amateur racer support program, please visit www.can-amxteam.com.