Kai Aiello is one of our first athletes and to see his dream becoming reality is something that motivates us as a brand. Below are some words from Kai recaping his fist AMA motocross race at Hangtown last weekend.
Hangtown marked round one of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series. I was more excited than usual for this season to kick off because instead of watching on TV, I would finally be lining up against the best of the best.
My family and I left Thursday afternoon and rolled into Sacramento that night. Friday morning we got to the track bright and early to set up our pit. Press day was originally scheduled for Thursday, but was pushed back to Friday because of all the rain leading up to the weekend. Once we were settled in, I rolled my bike through tech inspection for approval, and then got geared up to get some track time.
We were given a 30 minute session on Friday. My goal was to use that time to get a feel for the track and stay loose for racing the next day. To no surprise, the track was deep, muddy, and wet. Each lap got a bit better and I could tell that the track would shape up nicely for Saturday. After getting cleaned up, we left the venue to eat a big dinner and get some rest before the big day ahead.
Saturday morning came sooner than expected and after eating a solid breakfast we got to the track around 6:45. There was a riders meeting scheduled for 7:20 to go over the rules and expectations for the day of racing. After that was finished, I got geared up for my first practice/qualifying session. Because this was my first professional event, I was put in the B group of riders. This meant I would be the first one on the track. I knew it would be ripped deep so we set the bike up accordingly to make sure I was as prepared as possible.
The first qualifying session went very well. I was able to put down some consistent laps at the beginning of the session and then finish it off with one heater. My best time on the last lap was a 2:21.7. That was good enough to put me 6th on the board after the first session. I was satisfied because I stuck to the plan for the first qualifier. I had a little over an hour to rest before the 2nd qualifying session. My crew and I kept an eye on the times of the other sessions to see how the track was developing. It was getting rougher, which meant the times were getting slower. I put down a few solid laps early in the second session, and then used the remainder of the 15 minutes to get a feel for the bike, look at lines, and conserve as much energy as possible for the motos ahead.
After all of the qualifying sessions were finished, the lists were posted for the main event roster. In combined qualifying times, I sat 30th overall out of 65 total riders. I transferred to the main event where the fastest 40 riders would race two "30 minute + 2 lap" motos. My family and I were very happy with how the day was going and I was excited to get behind the starting gate.
Moto one was off and running in no-time and I found myself towards the back of the pack off the start. I got pushed out wide in the first corner and got shuffled backwards. I was able to settle into a good groove and make some passes. The track was rougher than ever and I had to be creative to find the smooth lines. At the end of 35 minutes the checkered flag waved and I crossed the line in 31st in my first ever professional moto. In between motos I refueled my body with plenty of food so that I would be ready for the second race. About 30 minutes before moto two, rain started to fall steadily and the track began to turn to mush. I opted not to take a sight lap before the moto, in hopes of keeping my goggles clear, body dry, and bike clean. I got a slightly better start in this moto, but struggled to find my flow in the mud for the first few laps and lost some positions. I rode a little better in the middle of the race and was able to make some passes. Rain continued to fall during the race and each lap the track got more and more treacherous. 35 minutes felt more like an hour! I kept it on two wheels the entire race, but definitely struggled because I am not used to riding in those conditions! I ended up crossing the line in 31st again, to conclude my first day of racing.
I was so stoked to finish my first day of professional racing at 18 years old with consistent motos. The 250 class is very deep this year- it has upwards of 25 factory team supported riders. It was a dream come true to race at the highest level of the sport. I have been in love with motocross since I was three years old. I have worked for 15 years to make this dream come true. Taking that first sight lap and seeing the hillsides packed with thousands of fans was truly surreal! I came into the day with no expectations other than to give it my all. We left happy, healthy, and hungry for more.
Thank you to PNG for the support. Along with my supportive family, friends, and all of my amazing sponsors. See you at round 2 with new goals to achieve!