The 160cc class podium for the Mini Cup by Motul at Ridge Motorsports Park, with winner Rossi Moor (center), second-place Jesse James Shedden (left), and third-place Kayla Yaakov (right). Kyle Wyman was one of the trophy presenters. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Currently, there are very ​few pathways that lead American youth riders to professional careers in U.S. or international motorcycle road racing. So, in order to ​​create a youth feeder system to help develop the next Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, or Nicky Hayden, MotoAmerica created the Mini Cup by Motul as a prototype series to run in conjunction with three rounds of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship. Road America, Pittsburgh International Race Complex, and Ridge Motorsports Park played host to the inaugural​ series, and the grid for each of the three race classes was made up of youth riders aboard three models of the Ohvale GP-0 mini road racing motorcycle—110cc, 160cc, and 190cc.

Rossi Moor takes the checkered flag in the 190cc class. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

FORZA GP team rider Rossi Moor put on a series of riding clinics at ​all three of MotoAmerica’s Mini Cup by Motul events and won the 190cc class at Road America​, ​ Pittsburgh International Race Complex, and the Ridge​ Motorsports Park in dominant fashion to walk away with the 190cc class championship.

Mikey Sanchez with one of the two number-one plates he won after wrapping up both the 110cc and 160cc class titles. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Sanchez Racing’s Mikey Sanchez was a double champion, winning the 160cc class title over Moor, and battling it out with Gouker Racing’s Nathan Gouker to also take the 110cc class championship.

Road America Recap:

​Mikey Sanchez dominated Round 1 ​of the 110cc class ​at Road America, ​with Nathan Gouker​ ​collecting second and Mahdi Salem (Historic GP) filling out the podium. Kensei Matsudaira (Kensei Matsudaira Racing) was fourth with Ella Dreher (Bad Boys Racing) ​completing the top five. 

Ella Dreher (#211) aboard her pink Ohvale GP-0 110cc machine at Road America. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

After jumping off his 110cc and climbing aboard his 160cc, Sanchez quickly took the lead in the middleweight class. ​Rossi ​Moor—yes, named after the Valentino Rossi—​gives the other riders in the class a huge height and weight advantage, and he had to fight his way through traffic after a slow start. Moor put his head down and set sail after Sanchez. Moor passed Sanchez to take the checkers first. Logan Cunnison (Speed Demon Racing) secured the final podium spot with Jesse James Shedden (Atlas Speed Factory) and Travis Horn (American Racing Team) rounding out the top-five positions.

Moor commented, “I’m just too big for this class. I love racing them, but boy, do I pay the price on the starts.”

With more than half of the ​MotoAmerica ​Superbike riders in attendance to watch the kids battle it out, everyone in the Mini Cup paddock had their race faces on. ​After all, it’s one thing to race at a local event with your friends and family cheering you on, but it’s quite another to have Josh Herrin​, ​Toni Elias, Kyle Wyman, Cameron Beaubier, Jake Gagne, Cameron Petersen​, and others stopping by your pit area to wish you luck.​

When the lights went out to start the 190cc class race, Moor put on an ​impressive display of riding​, and nobody had a chance to show a wheel to the FORZA GP rider. Julian Correa (American Racing Team) ​tried to keep Moor honest, but he settled for second ​with Jesse​ ​James​ Shedden​ third. Cody Kitchens (Cody Kitchens Racing) and Kayla Yaakov (American Racing Team) rounded out fourth and fifth, respectively.

Pittsburgh International Race Complex Recap:

Mikey Sanchez picked up where he left off in the 110cc class at Road America by jumping out to a quick lead with Mahdi Salem, Nathan Gouker, Kensei Matsudaira, and Ella Dreher quickly on his tail. Sanchez then gapped Salem and Gouker in the first half of the race, but Gouker found his second wind, first getting by Salem, and then setting out after Sanchez. With the white flag out, Sanchez seemed to struggle but had enough to keep Gouker at bay until the final corner. With the checkered flag waving, Gouker dove up the inside of Sanchez. Sanchez looked back, and Gouker’s drive was enough for him to inch past Sanchez at the line to take the win. Lesson learned, never look back.

Sanchez, doing double duty in back-to-back race classes again, was able to shake off the 110cc defeat after a little chat with his team manager (who also happens to be his mom). When the lights went out for the 160cc class, Sanchez jumped to the front again and never looked back. Jesse​ ​James Shedden, Travis Horn, and Logan Cunnison quickly got into the mix, but it was for the second and third podium spots because Sanchez had set sail. Whatever his mom told him definitely worked. While Shedden, Horn, and Cunnison​ ​battled ​it out for second, it was Shedden who got the nod for second with Horn collecting the final podium spot.

Julian Correa (#40) leads a pack of riders at Pittsburgh International Race Complex. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

With the final 190cc event of the afternoon staged, all eyes were focused on Moor. However, there were 16 other riders who wanted to showcase their talents, and with much to prove. When the lights went out, Moor jumped first with Shedden, Correa​, Avery Dreher (Bad Boys Racing), ​Logan Cunnison​, and Kayla Yaakov​ rounding out the top five. Shedden, along with the others in tow, were making sure Moor didn’t check out on them. Nobody seemed to get close enough to Moor to show him a wheel. As the riders started to settle in by lap 7 of 14, ​​​​It was Yaakov who started to make her move. Yaakov​ got by ​Dreher​ and then, a lap later, ​Correa​. Moor was able to gap Shedden, but ​Yaakov was on the advance​. In the end, Moor won his second Mini Cup by Motul 190cc class race. Shedden secured second with ​Yaakov​ third. Dreher​ crossed the finish line in fourth, and ​Correa​ rounded out the top five.

“I love racing the Ohvale’s,” Moor said, while holding his first-place trophy with a big smile. “The power on these bikes is so fun and fast. I just love it.”

Travis Horn (#12), Jesse James Shedden (#9), Kayla Yaakov #31), Julian Correa (#40), and others bend it like Beaubier at Ridge. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

Ridge Motorsports Park Recap:

With the 110cc championship on the line, Mikey Sanchez and Nathan Gouker were tied on points, so whomever finished ahead of the other would take the title.

Sanchez kicked off the first race of the evening by getting the holeshot over Kensei Matsudaira, Gouker, and Reese Frankenfield (Reese Frankenfield Racing). There was a sense of urgency on Gouker’s part as he saw his championship hopes slipping away. Gouker moved quickly by Matsudaira on lap 2 of 10. The showdown for the championship was now set. Gouker was all over Sanchez, but Sanchez would not buckle. Gouker pushed it a little too much going into the corkscrew on lap seven and lost the front-end, dashing his championship hopes.

Sanchez went on to capture the win and the 110cc title, while Matsudaira held his ground to finish second with Frankenfield rounding out the podium. Mac MacClugage (Macc Racing/Broward Motorsports/Tequesta Ohvale) and Gouker rounded out the top five.

“I felt good,” Sanchez said. “I got the holeshot, and I knew Nathan (Gouker) would be coming after me. I kept to my lines and didn’t look back until towards the very end because I didn’t hear anything. One quick glance, didn’t see him, and cruised home for the win.”  

When the lights went out on the 160cc class, it was Sanchez, who was riding back-to- back classes, jumping into the lead with Rossi Moor, Travis Horn, Gouker, and Jesse James Shedden in tow. Moor had his hands full trying to get by Sanchez, while Horn and Shedden tried to get by Moor.

The Mini Cup by Motul race course at Ridge is almost an exact duplicate, albeit smaller, of the main race course. Photo by Brian J. Nelson.

After a red-flag restart, Moor made a daring pass on Sanchez in the back section and made it stick. Moor tried to gap Sanchez, but there was no pulling away. Moor brought home the win in very convincing fashion, but it was Sanchez, however, taking his second championship title of the night. Horn rounded out the podium in third, Gouker secured fourth, and Shedden was fifth.

In the final event of the night, Horn got the holeshot in the 190cc class. Shedden, Moor, Logan Cunnison, and Kayla Yaakov rounded out the top five on lap 1 of 12. Yaakov was the first to make a move as she got by Cunnison going down the corkscrew. Moor then got by Shedden in the back section and set out after Horn.

By lap three, Moor made an inside move on Horn, and that was all the Pacific Northwest rider needed as he was never headed. Shedden was also able to get by Horn as was Yaakov with seven laps to go. Shedden, Yaakov, and Horn all seemed evenly matched with no one being able to pull away from the other.

A hard-charging Julian Correa tried to get into the mix, but there was no catching the freight train of Moor, Shedden, Yaakov, and Horn at the front. With the checkers waving, Moor, Shedden, Yaakov, Horn, and Correa made up the top five.

A smiling and very happy Moor said, “I really, really wanted this win. I love racing these bikes, and I just felt great out there. Once I got by Horn, I settled into my pace. I’m just so happy to get this championship.”

Stay tuned for an even bigger, better MotoAmerica Mini Cup by Motul ​Championship coming in 2021.

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