The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team concluded a long summer of AMA Pro Motocross racing on Saturday with the 12th and final round taking place in Rancho Cordova, California. RJ Hampshire pushed through adversity all day long to come away with 2-6 moto scores and third overall in the 250MX class, while his teammate Joshua Varize made the most of his fill-in ride with a standout performance and eighth overall at the season finale.
Battling an ongoing illness late in the summer, Hampshire came into the weekend still feeling under the weather but he put in a big effort to come away with a strong finish to the 2021 season. In Moto 1, he grabbed a great second-place start and pressured the leader right away on the opening lap. Relentlessly charging, Hampshire kept the pressure on for the entire 35-minute race, finishing only 3.6 seconds back for second-place.
Moto 2 proved to be much more of a challenge for Hampshire, as he went down on the opening lap and was forced to come from 20th early on. He did his best to push in the second moto, rallying all the way up to sixth with two laps to go. Hampshire dug deep to close out the season with on a positive note, claiming sixth in the moto and third overall for the day. With 11 moto-podiums and a Round 4 overall win, Hampshire sealed fourth overall in the 250MX Championship standings with plenty of incredible performances in 2021.
“It was a good day to finish the season off,” Hampshire said. “I still don’t feel that great but we managed through the day and saved what I could in that first moto. In the second moto, I got a decent start again and ran into the back of someone first lap and went pretty far back. I knew a podium was in the cards, so I dug deep at the end. It’s a good way to end the season off on the podium, so I’m stoked on that. I’m looking forward to a good off-season.”
With riders Jalek Swoll and Stilez Robertson still missing from the team’s 250MX lineup, Joshua Varize filled in once again at the season finale. Varize earned his best-career finish at the previous round aboard the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing FC 250, giving him great confidence in his second ride with the team. In Moto 1, Varize had a great jump off the start and he went to work battling inside the top-five for the first four laps. The rookie held his own in the tough conditions to ultimately finish a career-best seventh in the first moto.
In Moto 2, Varize had an incredible start to secure the holeshot and early lead in the race. He maintained the lead for a long opening lap before championship points contender Justin Cooper overtook him just before the start of lap two. Sitting in second, the young rider fought hard with veterans of the class early on before shuffling back a few positions later in the race. With a solid ride, Varize finished 11th in the second moto and eighth overall for the day, matching his career-best at the previous round.
“It was an amazing day at Hangtown,” Varize said. “The highlight of today was getting the holeshot in Moto 2 and not having to worry about anything in front of you. I’m super stoked that I led a lap but then I just dropped the anchor and fell back to 11th. I saw a couple guys behind me and I found a bit more energy to push and stay in that spot. I’m stoked to end the season on a good note by tying my best overall finish and we’ll bring that into next year and push harder.”