PEORIA, Ill. (August 18, 2018) – Long live the King of Peoria! “King Henry” Wiles (No. 17 Bandit Industries/Wilco Racing/Willy Built Kawasaki Ninja 650) extended his reign in Saturday’s 72nd annual Peoria TT presented by The Country Saloon by claiming an astonishing 14th consecutive victory in the prestigious and legendary race.
Wiles was certainly forced to earn it on Saturday. In the race’s early stages he found himself trapped behind three AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines superstars with prior TT race wins: Briar Bauman (No. 14 Zanotti Racing Indian Scout FTR750), Jake Johnson (No. 5 Estenson Racing/McCandless Truck Center Indian Scout FTR750) and Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle Rogers Racing SDI Scout FTR750).
Wiles made relatively quick work of Mees and Johnson, but Bauman put up a serious fight for the lead. Wiles tracked Bauman down and was breathing down his neck by lap five. But it wasn’t until the end of lap eight he finally found an opening, slashing beneath Bauman as they exited the final corner. Bauman immediately mounted a counterattack, storming back in front of Wiles as they negotiated the very next corner. Wiles was ready for the move, however, holding his line and reclaiming the position moments later.
From there Wiles proved too strong, slowly and steadily building an unassailable advantage en route to the historic win. His 14th triumph at the Peoria Motorcycle Club’s Race Park puts him ahead of the “Prince of Peoria” Chris Carr for most ever American Flat Track wins at the venue.
Bauman came home clear in second, followed by Johnson, who just held off Mees at the flag for third. Up-and-coming TT hero Hayden Gillim (No. 169 Indian/Cycle World/S&S Cycle Scout FTR750) rounded out the top five.
After the race Wiles said, “I found myself as far back as I ever have in a Main here. I was able to wiggle my way through fairly quickly. Briar had a really good pace today, and he got going really quick at the front. I had to pick my way through. I got about a guy a lap getting to him. It was great having everyone behind me – the whole Peoria Motorcycle Club and so many fans cheering me on. It feels so awesome.”
Not only did today’s win keep Wiles’ remarkable win streak intact, it also kept his slim title hopes alive, if only just. Mees leads him by 92 points (305-213) with four races and 100 points left in play on the 2018 slate. Wiles is the sole rider remaining with even a remote mathematical chance of preventing the reigning Grand National Champion from repeating.
Peoria TT master Jesse Janisch (No. 132 Roof Systems/West Bend Harley-Davidson-backed Yamaha YZ450F) became the 10th different winner of the AFT Singles season with a masterful performance on Saturday.
2016 class champ Ryan Wells (No. 94 RMR/Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda CRF450) grabbed the early advantage but a minor bobble was all it took to open the door for TT aces Cole Frederickson (No. 73 Vince & Denise Holt, Ride Motorsports CRF450R) and Janisch.
Janisch then stalked new leader Fredrickson for a pair of laps before striking; in a superior display of racecraft, Janisch set Fredrickson up with a fast, sweeping line leading into the jump where he overtook him as the two sailed through the air.
Janisch pulled free en route to victory from there. Frederickson, meanwhile, was ultimately dropped to third by Wells, who regrouped from his early mistake to steal back the runner-up position.
While it may have been Janisch’s first victory of the season, the result was anything but a shocker considering it was his third Peoria TT victory (’15, ’17, and ’18).
“It was awesome,” Janisch said afterward. “Wells had the lead and Cole was second. I found a good line in Turn 1. I was just kind of waiting when Wells hit a big hole. Cole got underneath him, and I knew I needed to make a move on Wells right away. I sat behind Cole for a while, and I kind of got into him in Turns 1 and 2. I made the move and got him over the jump. Then I just tried to put my head down for like two laps. When I looked back, I had a little bit of a gap and tried to relax because was easy to make mistakes on the track today. Hats off to my whole team.”
Buffalo Chip TT runner-up Jacob Lehmann (No. 14 Vince & Denise Holt/Ride Motorsports Honda CRF450R) finished fourth, followed by 2017 Peoria TT podium finisher Ben Lowe (No. 20 Bruce Lowe Excavating/Team Green Kawasaki KX450F) in fifth.
Title leader Dan Bromley (No. 62 KTM North America/Bromley Motorsports 450 SX-F) came home sixth. As a result, Bromley’s championship advantage was narrowed to 42 points over Saturday second-place finisher Wells (243-201).