Team Motoworks / Can-Am pro DS 450 racer John Natalie won the 2011 AMA ATV Motocross Championship by finishing third overall in the series finale held at Loretta Lynn Dude Ranch in Tennessee. Natalie, who overcame a crash in moto two that saw him fall to last place, tallied 2-4 moto scores to earn the third spot on the Pro class podium at the season finale.
“John has been committed to winning the Pro class championship aboard the DS 450 for four years now and he really deserves to be champion, especially after the inspiring performance he put in today,” said Jimmie O’Dell, Race Manager, Can-Am. “He rode with the heart and conviction of a true champion, battling back from his horrendous crash at the start of moto two. It was an unbelievable effort today. But all season long he has fought fiercely for this title, overcoming the broken arm and riding through pain the past three races to preserve and earn the sport’s ultimate prize and win the championship title for team Motoworks / Can-Am. We are extremely proud of John and the entire Motoworks team. Mission accomplished.”
Natalie came off the line aboard his Can-Am DS 450 in fourth place to begin the first Pro class moto. A few laps later he had moved to third place. After Can-Am X-Team Pro racer Chase Snapp, who was in second at the time, stopped to repair a derailed chain, Natalie moved up a spot and set his sights on the leader. He posted the fastest lap of the race on lap 11 as he pulled close to the leader. Natalie said later he decided it was best to finish second rather than risk taking the chance of he and the leader coming together and getting knocked out. The veteran’s decision resulted in second place, but more importantly gained an additional two-point cushion over the rider who was second in the Pro class title chase.
Moto two started much the same as Natalie powered his way into the top three after the first turn. However, in turn two, Natalie and another rider came together and Natalie was thrown from his DS 450 and then hit and actually run over by another racer. Uninjured, Natalie quickly sprung to his feet, restarted his machine and began to chase the pack from last place. Going into the moto, Natalie needed a ninth-place finish in the second moto to win the championship. That low of a finish would tie him for the points lead and give him the title via the tiebreaker as he had more victories (three) than the second-place points rider. However, Natalie instead charged hard aboard the DS 450 and fought for a spot on the final Pro class podium.
By lap three, Natalie had moved up seven spots. Two laps later Natalie had moved comfortably into fifth place. And still he didn’t stop. Even on the final lap, Natalie kept pressing for more and he got it when he passed Snapp to move into fourth place. Natalie’s effort earned him a 2-4 finish for the third spot on the Loretta’s podium and the 2011 AMA ATV Motocross Pro Championship.
“It’s been a long road and we finally made it and took the championship,” said Natalie. “It felt great to come out here and take the championship in the last round of the season. I have to thank everyone at Can-Am and Motoworks and everyone who has been there for us this season and stuck behind us; it brings tears to my eyes. 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.”
Snapp (Can-Am X-Team racer) earned seventh place overall in the Pro class at Loretta’s aboard his DS 450. He led for three laps of the first moto before a derailed the chain forced him to pull off and pause for a quick repair. He rallied to finish 10th in moto one, but lost valuable points in his chase for a top-five spot. Another good start put Snapp in the top three in the second Pro moto. He ended the moto in fifth place and his 10-5 finishes were good enough for seventh on the day and helped him secure sixth overall in the Pro class for the season.
“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 class competitor Chad Wienen remained out of action due to his recovery from back surgery. He ended the year in seventh place in the Pro class points standings. In fact, his four overall victories in 2011 led the Pro class. Wienen, who is expecting a full recovery from his injury, was on hand to sign autographs and assist 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.