Saddlemen

Hammerin’ Hank Nails his Twelfth Peoria TT!

| 20 August 2016 9:49 am

AMA Pro Flat Track Series
Round 11: Peoria TT at the Peoria Motorcycle Clubgrounds

Story and Photos by Kurt Bauer/Dirtbauer.com
PEORIA, IL, AUG. 14, 2016

The Peoria Motorcycle Clubgrounds – a great place to watch a race.

The Peoria Motorcycle Clubgrounds – a great place to watch a race.

The Peoria Motorcycle Club hosted their 68th annual Thunder in the Valley event on a nice, sunny summer day. Beginning in 1947, this is one of the longest consecutively running flat-track races in the world.

The area had been hit by some heavy rains prior to the event. This made for less-than-ideal conditions for the five-eighths-of-a-mile TT (Tourist Trophy) track. A TT track must consist of right-hander turns and a jump, and Peoria has a good run at the jump; riders approach nearly 70 mph, which makes for some wild racing, as they land into the right-hand downhill section.

A motocross-type berm at a flat track.

A motocross-type berm at a flat track.

GNC1
Coming into this race, Henry Wiles was the man to beat, as he has dominated here dating back to his first win in 2004. Wiles’ first time racing at Peoria was in 2002, when Nicky Hayden won the contest.

Henry Wiles at speed at the Peoria TT.

Henry Wiles at speed at the Peoria TT.

This year, there was a bounty out for “Hammerin’ Hank,” as anyone who could end his streak would get a bonus of $1,000 – so maybe, with the rough track, someone like a Jared Mees or a Jake Johnson who generally attack the jump on the throttle or perhaps one of the many young racers in attendance could upset Wiles.

Jake Johnson (5) gets some air off the jump.

Jake Johnson (5) gets some air off the jump.

Brad Baker and Wiles were the fastest qualifiers heading into the heat races.

Heat one saw Baker leading “Jammin’ Jared” Mees, but Mees wound up taking the win.

In the first heat race, Brad Baker (6) leads Jared Mees (1), Dominic Colindres (66), Dustin Crow (61), Sam Halbert (69) and the rest of the pack entering the right-hand turn after the jump.

In the first heat race, Brad Baker (6) leads Jared Mees (1), Dominic Colindres (66), Dustin Crow (61), Sam Halbert (69) and the rest of the pack entering the right-hand turn after the jump.

Heat two was won by Wiles, ahead of Brandon Robinson and Illinois rider Rob “Bugs” Pearson.

Briar Bauman was looking fast in the third GNC1 heat, as he beat out hard-charging young gun Jarod Vanderkooi, who’d had a big get-off on the jump in practice at Peoria back in 2014.

Jeffrey Carver Jr. won semi one, ahead of Jake Johnson and Sammy Halbert, putting them in the main of 18 riders.

Semi two was won by young Factory Harley-Davidson rider Davis Fisher, ahead of Jake Shoemaker and Jake Mataya.

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In the GNC1 main, it was Wiles who was in the lead heading into turn one, with Briar Bauman close by on the outside. Bauman would stay close until his motor expired on lap four.

Briar Bauman (14) was running up front at the start of the GNC1 main and settled into second place before his motor expired.

Briar Bauman (14) was running up front at the start of the GNC1 main and settled into second place before his motor expired.

Mees then moved into the second position, but Wiles was handling the many ruts like they were nothing and picking smooth lines around the bumps in the turns and attacking the jump.

Henry Wiles leads the pack toward the jump.

Henry Wiles leads the pack toward the jump.

Brad Baker had a wild crash on the sixth lap, bringing out the red flag, as his front end got into a major head-shake and tank-slapper, and he was eventually pitched into the air fence. He appeared to be okay.

The restart saw Bryan Smith go down in turn one and Dustin Crow go over the bars, and Bronson Bauman joined them in the dirt. Yellow flags were flown, but no red flag could be seen.

The restart saw three more riders going down hard in turn one, including Dustin Crow (61), who went over the handlebars, and Bronson Bauman (in red).

The restart saw three more riders going down hard in turn one, including Dustin Crow (61), who went over the handlebars, and Bronson Bauman (in red).

Smith tried his best after that big crash to get his bike moved in time, and he narrowly avoided being hit.

Henry Wiles (17) heads for the finish line.

Henry Wiles (17) heads for the finish line.

Wiles easily pulled away for the win, nine seconds ahead of Mees. Jake Johnson moved up though the pack to finish third. Neither the rough track nor the bounty could stop Wiles from taking his 12th consecutive win on his Kawasaki 450 at the Peoria TT!

“Hammerin’ Hank” still lookin’ smooth toward the end of the main, with a comfortable lead on Jared Mees.

“Hammerin’ Hank” still lookin’ smooth toward the end of the main, with a comfortable lead on Jared Mees.

Henry Wiles smokes them again!

Henry Wiles smokes them again!

The GNC1 podium was comprised of winner Henry Wiles (center), runner-up Jared Mees (left) and third-place finisher Jake Johnson (right).

The GNC1 podium was comprised of winner Henry Wiles (center), runner-up Jared Mees (left) and third-place finisher Jake Johnson (right).

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GNC2
Hayden Gillim, a cousin of the Hayden brothers, showed up in his van to compete in the GNC2 class as a factory Suzuki road racer. He has been racing flat track since the age of 6, and he has probably turned a few laps with his cousins. Gillim was getting in some hot laps and skying off the jump, and he ended up winning his heat, ahead of Steven Sanovai.

Road-racer-turned-flat-tracker Hayden Gillim parked his van next to some of the big rigs of the AMA Pro Flat Track Series and walked away with first place.

Road-racer-turned-flat-tracker Hayden Gillim parked his van next to some of the big rigs of the AMA Pro Flat Track Series and walked away with first place.

Andrew Luker (11Z), Justin Jones (19B) and Austin Luczak (10B) led the start of the first GNC2 heat race.

Andrew Luker (11Z), Justin Jones (19B) and Austin Luczak (10B) led the start of the first GNC2 heat race.

Jesse Janisch (32L) and Hayden Gillim (69C) battle for the lead at the start of the GNC2 main event.

Jesse Janisch (32L) and Hayden Gillim (69C) battle for the lead at the start of the GNC2 main event.

In the GNC2 main, Andrew Luker battled for the lead with Gillim. Luker was running the high line in turns one and two but could not make the pass on Gillim as they raced closely for the last few laps. It looked like Luker might get him at the checkered flags, but Gillim narrowly edged out Luker for the win in a photo finish win as.

Andrew Luker (11Z) on the outside of turn one, battling with Hayden Gillim (69C) in the GNC2 main event.

Andrew Luker (11Z) on the outside of turn one, battling with Hayden Gillim (69C) in the GNC2 main event.

Hayden Gillim takes the checkers for a ride on his victory lap.

Hayden Gillim takes the checkers for a ride on his victory lap.

Last year’s winner, Jesse Janisch, completed the podium by taking third place.

Jesse Janisch (32L) completed the GNC2 rostrum.

Jesse Janisch (32L) completed the GNC2 rostrum.

Points leader Ryan Wells ran as high as third but finished in sixth.

“The gnarliest Peoria TT I’ve rode,” said Wells. “Started off the day by winning my heat and was running a solid, comfortable third in the main until the restart. After that, nothing seemed to click for me, and we dropped back to finish sixth. Didn’t feel comfortable all day on the very demanding track, but we did what we needed to do and extended the points lead. Thanks, everyone, for the support! If nothing else, I sure looked cool today!”

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The rider who is second in the points chase, Dalton Gautier, tallied a DNF in the main due to a mechanical issue.

“Tough day at Peoria TT,” Gautier said. “I felt great over the jump; just wasn’t there in every other part of the track. For my first time being there and the track being in rough condition, I would say I just wanted to come out in one piece. Got to thank all my sponsors for getting me out to all the Nationals this year. Had a DNF in the main due to a mechanical, but I’ll take it, and on to the next National in New York. Prayers sent out to everyone that crashed yesterday.”

We’ll second that motion: Thoughts and prayers to all the racers who crashed, and their families.

Check out these video highlights from the Peoria TT…

Peoria Motorcycle Clubgrounds
Peoria, Illinois
Results: August 14, 2016 (Round 11)

GNC1: 1. Henry Wiles; 2. Jared Mees; 3. Jake Johnson; 4. Rob Pearson; 5. Jarod Vanderkooi; 6. Jake Shoemaker; 7. Jeffrey Carver Jr.; 8. Michael Kirkness; 9. Sam Halbert; 10. Davis Fisher.

GNC2: 1. Hayden Gillim; 2. Andrew Luker; 3. Jesse Janisch; 4. Ben Lowe; 5. Jacob Lehmann; 6. Ryan Wells; 7. James Monaco; 8. Tristan Avery; 9. Austin Luczak; 10. Kolby Carlile.

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Category: Flat Track, National, TT, Video

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