MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!
MY TWO CENTS:
2014 Supercross 450 Heavy Hitters
RYAN VILLOPOTO: DEFENDING CHAMP
This guy is a animal. No one can count out the defending Champion. Last year at every single race he put everything he had on the table. He took chances, made mistakes, and had his share of crashes, but learned from each negative event rather than it bring him down. Ryan is a Champion because of his mental toughness. He doesn’t let any negativity creep in that keeps him from moving forward. At the end of the day there are no what ifs, coulda-woulda-shouldas, or regrets as every time Ryan hits the dirt he lays it on the line to capture that number one plate.
JAMES STEWART: CARRYING MOMENTUM
Once known as the fastest man on the planet might have just re-lit the touch after winning the Monster Cup this October. He not only looked good, but composed himself very well under pressure from Villopoto inevitably making Ryan crack. James has put blame in many directions for his results over the last few years whether he is having issues with bikes or injuries, but so far it looks as if the stars are once again aligning.
CHAD REED: GOING GREEN
We all know that Chad had a few issues dialing in the redesigned 2013 CRF450 Honda last year. Was is the air forks he couldn't get used to, was he under the weather, or did he lose his mojo? I think the experienced veteran of Reed is just stuck in his old ways and just knows what he likes and wont settle for any less. Reed had a few manufactures to pick from for 2014 and went with what he felt comfortable with, the KX450F. Chad is no stranger to the Green Machine as he was teammates with Villopoto on the KX450F back in 2010. We are looking for a hard change from the TwoTwo team.
JUSTIN BARCIA: BAM BAM 2014
Okay Justin, you are no longer a rookie now lets see what you got! A part of me felt Justin was holding back last year. He went from off the rev limiter Bam Bam Barcia to a much more reserved rider when he jumped up to the 450 class. Now that Justin has a year of experience under his belt he will be under pressure from the Honda crew to produce a Championship. I hope we will be welcoming back Bam Bam come A1.
ELI TOMAC: FILLING SOME BIG SHOES
MXA snuck up to Colorado to pay Eli a visit to see how everything was going in the off season. He looked nothing but exceptional. Eli’s smooth precision style fits his CRF450 perfectly. Then again that's only practice. We have all seen Eli turn heads with his break neck speed but we have also seen him fall apart when the pressure is on. If Tomac can focus solely on himself then we will see great things from the rookie. Eli has some big shoes to fill taking the reigns for crowd favorite Kevin Windham.
KEN ROCZEN: KENNY THE KID
Broken, cracked, bruised or injury free, whatever the rumors are Ken says he is still in for A1 and I am excited! This kid is still a teenager and will be a heavy hitter in the big boy class. Ken has everything he needs to win a 450 championship except one thing, experience. This 19 year old might not win a a title his first season but expect him to be in the mix.
RYAN DUNGEY: THE DIESEL
In the off season things always seem suspiciously quite for Ryan Dungy. He is probably off on some secluded tropical island off the coast of Africa soaking up some rays. Well, on second thought when you have Roger Decoster as your boss and you have the determination as Ryan the only vacation I can see him taking is to the test track. Ryan is the diesel train that just keeps on going. He is fit, healthy, and determined to regain the number one plate once again.
BRETT CUE AND HIS MASSIVE WHIPS
BILKO & AUSSIE RACER CHEYNE BOYD IN A QUARRY IN AUSTRALIA
DR.D LAUNCHES YZ250F EXHAUST
Norco, CA. (December 23, 2013) – Dubach Racing Development (DR. D) is proud to announce the release of their all new 2014 Yamaha YZ250F NS-4 exhaust system. The YZ250F has undergone a countless amount of hours throughout testing the past several months by Doug Dubach. As a 29-year Yamaha test rider and owner of DR.D, nobody knows the Yamaha better than Doug Dubach.
The exhaust system is currently available in stainless steel/aluminum material, reducing weight by 1.9lbs over the stock unit. Horsepower gains are found throughout the powerband, increasing throttle response and improving top end over-rev. The complete system retails for $599.95 and a slip-on can be purchased for $359.95. All exhausts come with a USFS approved spark arrestor that can be installed.
FLY RACING WINDPROOF TECHNICAL JERSEY
New from FLY Racing, the Windproof Technical Jersey is ideal for cooler weather, high intensity action sports. Front and arm panels provide protection from wind and water penetration in the comfort of a lightweight jersey. Breathable back and armpit panels provide heat exhaust and sublimated, high-def logos provide the highest quality and fade free graphic. Colors: Black, Blue or Red. Sizes: S-2XL. Price: $74.95. To order visit your local Fly Racing dealer, or go to www.flyracing.com to locate a Fly Racing dealer near you.
FMF Racing To Air on Discovery Channels How It’s Made
FMF Racing is pleased to announce it will be on the upcoming season of the World Famous show How It’s Made December 26th. The segment on Motorcycle Exhaust Systems will be airing on the Science Channel/Discovery Channel at 9pm EST or 6pm PST. How It’s Made was intrigued by FMF’s ability to produce all of our exhaust performance products 100% In House in the USA.
2014 TEAM HONDA MUSCLE MILK
MXA FITNESS TIP OF THE WEEK: GOOD SQUAT EQUALS GOOD RIDING TECHNIQUE
Doing a squat sounds simple for most, but to execute a squat with good form is another story. Establishing good form squatting will automatically transfer to better riding technique. Your hips and hamstrings will become flexible allowing you to push your hips back on the bike. This transfers the weight evenly throughout the entire bike. This allows for increased control, stability, and safety. Below is a video that shows some easy steps to a proper squat.
MINI-VIEW: JOSH HILL
Back in 2008 Josh Hill was on the fast track to Supercross success. In only his first season on a 450 he won the Minneapolis Supercross, before being named the Rookie of the Year. However, 2009 and 2010 weren’t quite as kind to Hill. The reason? He suffered a near career-ending injury while practicing for the X Games. In an effort to win the Speed & Style event, which blends speed around a miniature Supercross track along with judged tricks, Hill decided to learn the back flip. It didn't work out. He under-rotated his second attempt to dirt and broke his right femur, right humorous, fractured his pelvis and partially collapsed a lung. The prognosis looked grim for a return to racing.
Josh Hill persevered, returning to the Supercross circus this year with the RCH Suzuki team. Unfortunately an early season injury once again sidelined Hill. He returned at San Diego and earned points in 11 of the 17 rounds. Then he traveled to Australia and finished third overall in the Aussie Supercross series. Now, just before the 2014 AMA Supercross series begins, Hill is determined to make 2014 count!
By Jim Kimball
MXA: Josh, what is different about your preparation for 2014 Supercross as opposed to 2013?
Josh: To begin, I am not sure that people really knew just how serious my injuries were [after the failed back flip attempt]. I still had a lot of problems with my leg. Often after training or racing one day, I would be back on crutches the next day just to alleviate the pressure on my leg. This year I am pretty over that. I had surgery right after the 2013 Supercross series ended, and I think that it’s been evident with my racing in the X Games and the Australian Supercross series. I am now quite a bit healthier than I was in the past.
Talk about your health a bit more. Are you close to being 100 percent?
I still cannot feel the bottom of my foot or my toes. I have about ten degrees of motion in my ankle, so if I had to put myself at a percentage in a running race I would probably be about 30 percent. But I have changed and adapted to how I ride a motorcycle. I also have some protective equipment that seems to work for me. Now when I ride my dirt bike I feel about as good as I ever have.
By the end of the Supercross series this year you looked pretty good. Do you think you progressed much during Supercross?
Not really. I think that I came into the series very ready. I was actually top three in lap times at one point before I crashed. It was a really weird little crash that actually set me back a lot. I had to regroup and start over, and it kind of put that fear of a crash or injury back into me. It really took until Houston or Minneapolis before I got back on the gas. I won the heat race in Minneapolis, and then I started to get quite a few top tens.
It appeared like everyone, from fans to competitors, were glad to have you back racing. Did you notice that?
I did notice that. It’s kind of funny that it takes something bad to happen to you to see that you are a good person and that you work hard. I got a bit of a bad rap earlier in my career because I was a friend with someone that the sport did not see eye to eye with [editor's note: Jason Lawrence]. Like I said, it’s a little strange that it took something bad to happen to me to get support, but it’s better late than never. I’m still the same person, but I have learned a lot about what it takes to make it in this sport. It’s not coming as easy as it used to, and I’m working harder than ever.
How has it been to see your brother, Justin, race as a pro this past year?
My little brother is awesome, and he’s riding really well right now. I wish that I could ride with him more, but we are on different teams, so we ride at different tracks. When I do get to ride with him it’s a blast. We push each other a lot, and neither of us wants to be the slower one! Every time we are riding we talk trash and battle for lap times, but in a friendly way. I think my little brother will have a great year. Last year he was actually battling through some injuries that a lot of people were not really aware of. But now he’s back from that and he’s healthy and strong. The kid is truly an animal. He trains as hard as anyone and has a great attitude. He’s really a funny kid.
Did racing the Australian Supercross series help you for 2014 Supercross?
It was good to get over there and race with the guys. The gate time really benefitted me, and it gave me something to work for during the summer, because I didn’t have a ride for the outdoors here. The only problem was that I thought that I would have a lot of support from Suzuki Australia, but that didn’t really happen. It put me through the wringer with finding the right mechanic and other help. The first two rounds were embarrassing with all the bike problems that I had. I think that if I had not had all those problems at the opening rounds then I would have won the series and wrapped it up. I would not even have had to go back for that last race. Once I got a good mechanic and a good bike I was pretty dominant, except for Weston Peick edging me out at one of the races.
Getting back to your deal for 2014, you are signed on for both indoors and outdoors?
Yes, that’s correct. I am pretty excited about racing motocross again. Back in 2012 I raced two of them and had a pretty rough go of it, but those were really my first two pro races back from injury. Outdoors will be tough. I only have had one podium so far in the 450 class, and I’ve really only done about one-and-a-half seasons outdoors in my entire 450 career. But I believe that it is something that I can do. During my amateur race career I did very good outdoors. It’s just that after I turned pro I probably put a bit more focus on Supercross. Hopefully this year I will have a solid outdoor series. I want to go back to Oregon and have my dad help me get prepared for the motocross series. I’m going to need some help, but I am really looking forward to racing outdoors again.
Have the dynamics changed much from when you first joined the RCH Suzuki team?
Well we have to go back to 2011 when Carey Hart first signed me, as I was still in a wheelchair. From that point to now you wouldn’t even recognize the team. The staff of Carey Hart, Kenny Watson and Tony Berluti is still the same, but the professional level has increased so much. I would say that the level of professionalism is second-to-none. We just hired both Kaipo and Sergio from Kawasaki. Mark Johnson is the Team Manager, and the team has really come together. I don’t think that we could have a better group of people than what the RCH team has.
There are so many good memories of your rookie season in 450 Supercross. You were on fire! Can we see that in 2014?
I really think so. I want to be back in the form that I was before I got hurt. In 2008 I won a race and got a few second place finishes. Back then I was the youngest 450 rider to win a race. I’m still only 24 years old. I have learned a lot and worked through a lot of adversity. I’m really hungry to get back to where I was and be on the podium!