Nerves and emotions were high as the women of Royal Enfield’s groundbreaking Build. Train. Race. (BTR) Road Racing program took to the track at Virginia International Raceway on Sunday for the first round of the 2022 season.
For the first time, the full grid, each aboard a Royal Enfield Continental GT 650 of their own unique build, took the green lights at the MotoAmerica North American Road Race Championship. Through the intense Virginia heat and humidity, and the most competitive grid BTR has ever seen, it was 30-year-old Kayleigh Buyck of Sodus, New York, who emerged victorious.
Buyck not only won the final race, but topped the charts in both practice and qualifying sessions. On paper it was a flawless performance, but was anything but a runaway victory for Buyck, who also had her share of drama when she crashed in Q2. Cora Tennyson passed Buyck for the lead in the early laps of Sunday's main race, only to end her efforts with a spectacular high-side. From there, Buyck resumed the lead, with Crystal Martinez relentless in her pursuit. Martinez finished less than a second behind at the checkered flag. Not far off was Chloe Peterson, who rounded out the overall podium.
"I still haven't found the words to describe the thousands of feelings from our first BTR race," said Buyck. "Being able to hold pole position all weekend even after a bad crash, and then to pull a win is a feeling I cannot describe. Being on this team, racing with 14 other amazing women who empower each other is a dream come true. We are all each others' biggest fans and having Breeann Poland, Melissa Paris and Anne Roberts there to make this all a possibility is something I will forever be grateful for!"
Even Tennyson, who didn't get to run the full distance, and also incurred a jump-start penalty, had some good takeaways from the weekend. "Despite how it ended, I am very proud of what I was able to accomplish before my crash," said Tennyson. "After a jump start and falling from second to seventh, I was able to battle back to the front. All of the ladies showed tremendous effort and resilience and I'm proud to ride with them."
Alyssa Bridges was the top finisher among the returning BTR Road Racing women, and reflected on the change from the 2021 season to the far more competitive 2022 class of racers. "This year having more people to battle with is fun," said Bridges. "I've improved a lot after being brand new to this sport last season and I'm happy I get to battle a few returning teammates, as well. The rivalries, race battles and crowded grid add even more fun, and it's a pleasure to be around even more talented personalities to learn from."
"This weekend went about as good as we could ask for," said Breeann Poland, Marketing and Communications Lead - Royal Enfield Americas. "The racing was incredible. These ladies went at it and really put on a great show. Every single rider improved throughout the weekend. Spirits were high throughout with great teamwork, and all the participants helped each other both on and off the track. We're pretty thrilled with how the opening round went.
"We unfortunately had one low point this weekend; racer Patty Paul crashed in practice and suffered a broken collarbone. We wish her a speedy recovery and look forward to having her rejoin the paddock this season.
"Thank you again to all the Build. Train. Race. sponsors. We couldn't do it without their support. And the reception from fans and the MotoAmerica paddock was more than we could ask for. We're in for an outstanding season and we're already looking forward to Road America in two weeks."