The opening round of the MotoAmerica Championship at Road Atlanta saw the RiCKdiculous Racing team debut 2 new riders and new crew for 2018. Hayden Gillim and Jason Aguilar were added in the off season for the Supersport 600 class onboard Graves built Yamaha R6’s and Gauge Rees was chosen to pilot the Yamaha R3 in the Junior Cup.
Saturday Qualifying found Hayden in the 2 spot behind long time friend and Yamaha Rider JD Beach. The stage was set for an epic battle. In race 1, a mistake by another rider put Hayden on the ground in the early laps. A red flag later that lap saved his hopes of a podium run. The crew headed by Robert Ward and mechanic Shawn Keene went to work on pit wall and had the bike repaired and ready to ride in short order. With a full restart and shortened race, Gillim had little time to waste. After a tremendous ride to the front of the pack, Hayden was able to hold on to the 2 spot only .223 seconds behind Beach. Jason Aguilar was able to hold on to a top 10 spot and score valuable points for the Championship.
The Junior Cup race was going to be a learning experience for young Gauge Rees. With minimal lightweight bike racing action, his main goal was to gain experience and learn drafting strategy. At the end of the race he scored 11th position and ran the 2nd fastest R3 lap time of the race!
Sunday’s races were set to be run in rapidly changing conditions even seeing races delayed by downpours. When asked about the conditions, Gillims mechanic Shawn Keene said, “My guy is a fish, bring it on!” When the green flag dropped Gillim made it to the front of the pack in a few short laps, then began to check out on the field. The end of the race put Gillim ahead of 2nd place by nearly 12 seconds and lapping the field to 11th. This put Gillim tied for the Championship with JD Beach going into the next round at Virginia.
“Going into the first weekend of racing at Road Atlanta I was extremely nervous, but by the end of the weekend I felt like I was on top of the world! After qualifying 2nd behind JD Beach by only .148 of a second it was time to race. I got a horrible start in the first race, which was because of my fear of burning a clutch up, I ended up going down on lap 2. I got up and continued and got extremely lucky when a red flag came out and we went back to out original grid. The second start I got a better jump and after picking my way through to second I had to push hard to close the gap to JD. I was able to catch up, but just couldn’t do anything with him in the closing laps. Race 2 brought the rain and a big smile on my face with it. I have always been good in the rain and I was feeling extremely confident. I got another bad start, but was able to get into second pretty quickly, again having to close up on JD, but this time I was able to outbreak him into the last corner. Robert, Shawn, and Rick had the bike dialed in incredibly for the rain because I had so much confidence with the bike and was able to pull away for the win! What an incredible weekend not only for myself, but the entire team! Adam and Josh for making it all happen, Kelly and Ken for putting the team together, and all the sponsors for taking a chance with us! Now onto VIR!” said Gillim.
Jason Aguilar struggled a bit in the rain, but brought his RiCKdiculous Racing Graves R6 back to the pits in perfect order and awaiting battle in Virginia! “Road Atlanta was a struggle for us. We couldn’t put together a good race from start to finish and our qualifying pace was a bit off. The team worked extremely hard this weekend to make sure everything went as planned, but some things you can’t always control. We are hoping to be back on track come next round at VIR. Big thanks to the team and all our sponsors for making this all possible.”
The Junior Cup race found Rees battling for 10th and finishing in 12th. “Overall, the first round of the season went pretty well. Before this weekend, I didn’t have any experience racing in a big pack, dealing with the draft, or racing a 300 in the rain. I learned a ton and now that I have those tools in my arsenal, I’m really looking forward to jumping back on the Rickdiculous Racing Graves Yamaha R3 in Virginia and pushing to the front of the Junior Cup grid.” Said Rees.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and all their hard work! The process works!” Said Adam Bronfman, the team’s owner. “We all believe in the system Ken [Hill] has created, and Josh and I have worked really hard to put the pieces around Ken to allow the program to flourish. Everyone on the team that Kelly assembled is beyond professional, and it showed all weekend. Despite some setbacks for every rider and crew, they all walked away from Road Atlanta with their heads held high and looking forward to Virginia. We also couldn’t be more proud of Hayden Gillim and his crew for his RiCKdiculous ride in the rain, where he earned RiCKdiculous Racing their first win at the professional level! We are very proud of Jason and Gauge for their successful weekends and look forward to Virginia!”
“All of the hard work the entire team did in the off season is paying off. Right after last season ended, we were able to evaluate the Rick riders and build their off season training program so they could out of the gate strong. Hayden came out swinging and both Jason and Gauge had strong Saturday performances. The Rick crew Kelly Rees assembled is beyond amazing. Every member worked together as a team and each deserve equal credit for the weekend’s results. We’ll take what we learned and train harder for VIR!”
“I was very proud of my guys this weekend.” Team manager Kelly Rees said. “Hayden rode like we all knew he could. Seeing him have a solid start to the year and a great crew behind him has me very optimistic about the season. Aguilar will be right there with him, he just needs to settle in and he will be fighting for the front. Gauge has an uphill battle in the Jr. Cup. MotoAmerica and FIM must do something with the rules package to bring some parity to the class. We all saw the massive disparity the KTM and Kawasaki 400 have created this year both in MotoAmerica and the WSS300 race held this past weekend. “
Rickdiculous Racing would like to thank its sponsors and partners for their continued support. Galfer brakes, Renthal Sprockets, Graves Motorsports, Yamaha, Yamalube, Motion Pro, Superbike Unlimited, Dunlop, MotoStation and Dianese.