Along with Bradley Taft, profiled here (Unadilla Rookies 1),
another rookie, Jerry Robin, debuted as a 19-year-old at Unadilla -- in the 450 class. Robin was a Two-Stroke B/C (16+) Loretta champ in 2013, and he was coming
off a win in the 250 All-Star A/B class at this year's Loretta's.
Unadilla Rookies 2
While he certainly had a good year in terms of Loretta qualifying and finals, it was not quite as stellar as the sason turned in by Taft or perhaps Chase Sexton -- these two finished #1 or #2 at all of their qualifiers. For the 250 A class, Robin was 1st in his Area Qualifier, 3rd in his Regional, and 31st at the Finals (8th in Moto 1 and DNF Moto 2 & 3 -- noting, as in the other article, that Loretta's was as muddy as a week of racing can be, so many results may have been atypical and not particularly predictive); for the 250 All-Star class, he was 4th at the Area, 2nd at the Regional, and 1st in the Finals. So, Robin rode that success into the 450 pro class last weekend. Based on his track record, what should we expect?
Ranking in the 2016 250 class
With his very good 250 results in Loretta qualifying and finals, Robin grades out as around the 10th best rider in the 250 amateurs this year. Nearly up to par with Taft (who was around 5th in 250 amaterus and thus in the top 1%), Robin would be in the top 2% of the class. From there, the prediction runs very similar to Taft's from the previous article -- except one big thing: Robin is riding in the upper 450 pro class, not the 250s.
Translating 250 Amateur results to 450 Pro
As with Taft, the calculation is similar -- take the percentile in 250 amateur and penalize for moving up in difficulty. 250 amateur to 250 pro carried a penalty of 45% points for the average rider, but (as covered in Unadilla Rookies 1) we modified that to 26% for riders who finished at the top of the 250 amateur class. Robin faces another penalty, though, for going up another class to the 450s, which is 8%. So Robin was in the top 2% of the 250 amateurs, but we'd expect him to land around the 36th percentile in 450 pro (2% + 26% penalty for 250 amateur to 250 pro + 8% penalty for 250 pro to 450 pro).
And for Unadilla that meant what?
86 riders tried to qualify for Unadilla's 450 race, which is pretty typical. If we apply the 36% translation from above, then Robin would be expected to place 31st (36% * 86 riders).
Robin qualified 26th, so he was already ahead of the curve. In Moto 1, Robin placed 34th, which was more in line with the prediction. But in Moto 2, he managed to finish 19th and score 2 points. If you average those two finishing positions, you end up with 26.5 -- so somewhere around the 26th best rider on the day. So a bit better than predicted, but should we expect that trend to continue?
Prior to 2016
Looking at Robin's amateur history before 2016, he's been above average at just about every age, and very good years at 16, 17, and 18 years old. Sometimes you see a one-year blip, or possibly a two- or three-year peak that tails off pretty quickly, but for Robin that's some sustained success over 3 years:
If I see an issue there, it's that his age-17 season was not that much better than his age-16 season, and his age-18 season was essentially at the same level as age 17. For reference, we can compare Robin with Taft, and let's include Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson as some other relatively young pros from 250 and 450:
See how Taft has gotten better in the past two years while Robin has tapered off? Could be nothing -- maybe Robin just had some bad luck or any variety of other factors in 2015, plus he (and Taft) took a big step in 2016 (they each increase to the 35% range, which would be about halfway between Savatgy and Anderson's age-19 seasons (though a little closer to Savatgy)), but if I were scouting these riders I'd be trying to gauge whether perhaps Robin had already grown into his frame and didn't have much left to add in terms of strength (totally hypothetical, I've never seen either of these two riders, other than glimpses during the Unadilla coverage) or any other signs that the tapering was a sign that he'd reached his ceiling.
So it looks like both Robin and Taft are on a path to be competitive in 250. Only time will tell whether they can be legitimate 250 challengers, and whether they can take that next step and be 450 pros. That clock starts ticking this coming weekend at Budds Creek...