AMA

Oregonia preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 8, 2003) -- The 2003 AMA U.S. Hillclimb Championship presented by Pace American Inc. concludes at the traditional season-ending venue, the Devil's Staircase in Oregonia, Ohio, this Sunday, Oct. 12. The 800 class is coming...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 8, 2003) -- The 2003 AMA U.S. Hillclimb Championship presented by Pace American Inc. concludes at the traditional season-ending venue, the Devil's Staircase in Oregonia, Ohio, this Sunday, Oct. 12. The 800 class is coming down to an exciting conclusion with three riders, David Watson, Tiger Strank and James Large, battling for the series crown. Oregonia will be the last race of the season. The cancelled Sept. 21 event at Haydenville, Ohio, will not be rescheduled.

The pressure is on for the leading 800 class competitors at Oregonia. Watson leads the series with 138 points over Stank with 134 and Large with 133. The championship scenario is amazingly similar to last year's intense series race where Watson came into Oregonia with a 5-point lead and was able to hold off Strank by a single point. This year Strank is hoping that the pressure finally gets to his good friend and fellow competitor Watson. Large is sitting in a spoiler position and could come from third to win the title with a strong performance in Oregonia.

Strank leads the series in terms of 800 class wins with four, but Watson has been more consistent earning podium finishes in all but one round, including three victories. Large also has three wins. Those three riders have won all 10 rounds coming into this weekend's finale.

"I feel more confident coming into Oregonia this year," said Watson, who also swept the two classes in 2000. "Last year I didn't feel at the top of my game, but this year I've been riding really well and the bike is making a lot of horsepower. I think we've proven that we have the bike to beat. If I get a clean ride I think I'll be right there for the win. I definitely have momentum on my side."

At least Watson can breathe a little easier since he already clinched the 540 class title by winning seven of the 10 rounds leading up to Oregonia. The battle for second in that series will be decided between fellow Pennsylvanians Phil Libhart and Tiger Strank.

Watson is going for his second straight clean sweep of the 800 and 540 classes. Last year the 25-year-old from Ludlow, Mass., earned a nomination for the AMA/Speed Channel Athlete of the Year Award, a rare feat for a hillclimb competitor.

AMA Pro Racing also announced the schedule for the 2004 series. The series will open on May 16 in Middlebury, Ind., and conclude in Oregonia on Oct. 10.

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