Andre Ochs exceeds expectations at AMA Roadrace Grand Championships
October 20, 2012
Story by Steve Master
Photos by Jen Muecke
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Andre Ochs walked away from his final practice session at Daytona International Speedway today worried he would be among the also-rans in his Expert SuperSport 600 competition.
“I felt like everybody was going to be a lot faster than me,” the 16-year-old Californian said.
The Fallbrook, Calif., resident took the lead from the start, and held off a competitive field of riders to take the checkered flag in his Daytona debut.
Ochs was one of three riders to claim titles on the first day of competition in the AMA Roadrace Grand Championships. Jeremy Cook claimed the Expert SuperSport 1000, and Joel Spalding won the Expert SuperSport Twins.
No. 46 Andre Ochs leads No. 104 Daytona Anderson on day one of the AMA Roadracing Grand Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla.
The championships conclude with eight races Sunday. The day will end with the presentation of several awards, including the prestigious AMA Roadrace Horizon Award, given annually to the competitor with the greatest prospect for professional success.
Ochs certainly flashed such promise Saturday. Riding the No. 46 Yamaha 600, the high school 10th-grader enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory in a 13-bike field that included another Horizon Award candidate, Daytona Anderson of Riverside, Calif.
Anderson, also a 16-year-old 10th-grader, hung close behind Ochs for the entire race, and closed within three bike lengths on the final dash to the finish. Ochs had an average lap time of 2 minutes, 5.33 seconds, edging Anderson by about a half a second.
“I could hear his bike at certain points, but I never knew he was that close,” said Ochs, the 2011 AMA Youth Roadracer of the Year. “I did a lot better than I thought I would do. I got a great start, along with Daytona Anderson, and just pushed it from beginning to end. I never looked back.”
Jeremy Cook, a 31-year-old from Pasadena, Md., won a dramatic shootout with Paul Decouto in the Expert SuperSport 1000.
Piloting a BMW 1000, Cook led from the outset, lost his lead to Decouto with two laps remaining, but regained the advantage with a charge in the chicane en route to a half-second triumph.
“I was having to figure out how to outbrake him,” said Cook, a second-year pro who won the ASRA Amateur Superstock event last year at Daytona. “That was the big part. I felt weaker in turn one and the dogleg, and as soon as he came past me I was like, ‘all right, I guess I’ve got to brake deeper now.’ “
Spalding, who won the AMA Heavyweight Twins SB and SS Expert national titles a year ago in Indiana, dominated the Expert SuperSport Twins in his No. 36 KTM 1190. That he was never seriously challenged was a welcome scenario, considering the hurdles he faced leading up to the race.
“I’ve gone through three clutches this weekend and don’t have a lot of track time, so I only wanted to go as hard as I had to,” said Spalding, a Huntley, Ill., resident. “This was our final solution with the clutch. If it didn't work, I was done for the weekend. I didn't even know if it was gonna make it through the race.
“It’s difficult to have everything come together and to end up in the winner’s circle at Daytona, so this means a lot,” Spalding added.
Amateur winners Saturday were Brad Plemmons (SuperSport 1000) and Jordan Imrie (SuperSport 600).