JOHN BASHER’S MID-WEEK REPORT (3/26/14)

March 24, 2014
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK

PhotoWeek

I should provide a little background on this photo. A month ago we set off to build a retro-style 2014 Yamaha YZ250F, replete with butterscotch-yellow Cycra Racing plastics, Dubya gold wheels and custom Factory Effex graphics. It was an arduous process, but I was pleased with how the project bike turned out.

Last week Daryl Ecklund and I embarked on a journey to AV Motoplex in order to shoot action photos of the YZ250F. Daryl was riding for the photos (as usual) and I was behind the lens (another normal happening). We had a nice session going. Daryl was throwing down some massive scrubs that had me howling. I swore that I was going to be driving him to the emergency room. That’s when you know that a scrub is top notch. Ecklund then proceeded to rail some berms, which he did with perfect form.

The photo above? It’s actually quite terrible. Not only does Daryl look like a goon, but I think the actual photo is amateur hour. There’s no perspective, the angle is funky, and the lighting is shadowed. However, it’s necessary to explain what we were trying to achieve. Given that our YZ250F was all retro-styled like we were back in the mid-1970s, Daryl and I thought it’d be cool to do get a photo of Daryl doing an old school whip. I pulled out my iPhone and punched in a Google image search for Danny Magoo Chandler doing a whip. Naturally the famous pancake, one-handed whip shot popped up. I showed Daryl what he should try to emulate. This is the result.

I’m not posting this photo to put Daryl on blast. Heck, it’s just as embarrassing to me that I’m featuring such a horrible shot that I took in Photo of the Week. The reason is that Daryl and I tried to recreate a classic shot on a whim. This is how it turned out. This shows that even though guys like Danny Chandler were stars while motocross was still in its infancy, what they did should no less be discounted. Magoo was the man, and we are merely apprentices.

MXA GOES TO CLUB MX WITH OSBORNE, MARTIN, NICOLETTI & MORE

MINI-VIEW: MATT GOERKE

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    Maybe you have been wondering about BTO Sports KTM rider Matt Goerke, and why his results have not been better. The fact of the matter is that the Floridian has been riding without the use of his index (clutch) finger since Anaheim 1. Maybe this would be a minor issue with a weekend warrior like you or me, but with a Supercross Pro it’s a much different story. Without pins in his finger Matt is back on track. We caught up with him in Toronto where he finished 10th in the main. Now 14th in the 450 point standings, Matt has something left to prove.

By Jim Kimball

MXA: Matt, you’ve been toughing it out with an injury since the beginning of Supercross, right?

Matt: Yeah, I destroyed the tip of my finger at the very first race and had to get surgery on it. They put a couple pins in it, and I’ve just struggled trying to get points ever since. Buts it’s been getting better; actually one of my pins just came out on its own and came through my glove. Then the week before Daytona I got my other one out. After that I was able to get a lot more movement. It’s been a lot better since then, but still difficult to fully use my finger.

Are you close to being at 100% now?

No, not yet. I still cannot really use my pointer finger. I’ve been using my two fingers now and getting a little more comfortable with that. I cannot use my one finger like I like to on the clutch before I broke it. But as I said I am getting more comfortable with using two fingers. My speed is close to being 100%. So, my injured finger is not at 100%, but I feel that my speed is. That’s why I did better at the recent races.

This is now your second year with BTO after they joined forces with KTM to get factory support. How is it going?

It has been going great here. I broke my wrist last year, and it took me a while to recover from that. I did have a great off-season and was pretty prepared for 2014. The team has been great; it’s just unfortunate that I got hurt at that very first Supercross, which has set me back. I’ve been trying to manage things and still get points, and I hope to be doing better for the last five races. Overall, the team here is great, and our bikes are really good–basically the same as what Dungey and Roczen have.

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Are you thinking much about where you want to be when the series ends?

At the beginning of the series I was thinking a lot about where I wanted to be in the series, but then after my finger injury I was just trying to salvage points. Now that I am feeling better I am just going to try my best to get into the top ten in points.

I know that we are still in Supercross, but what about outdoors? You have had some of your best finishes at some of the most grueling motocross races.

Motocross does seem to come a little more naturally to me. I think that I am good when it gets really rough, and the harder it is the better I am. With Supercross I have just had to work harder. I’m definitely better in Supercross than I was, but outdoors just seems to come to me easier. It takes me a couple weeks of riding Supercross to get used to it but just a day to get back into riding motocross.

Matt, what about some final thoughts?

In Supercross I just want to keep improving, and getting up into the mix in the top ten at each race. Hopefully I will be 100% for outdoors, feel like I used to and be near the front.

IS TREY CANARD BACK? PANIC REV SAYS YES!

Canard

VERTEX PISTONS PRESENTS: WESTON PEICK

SCOTT MALLONEE’S TORONTO PHOTO GALLERY

MXA photo hound Scott Mallonee has been hitting a bunch of the East Supercross rounds. He’s been improving his skills every weekend (be sure to check out some of his action photos in the upcoming issues). Guess what? I’m giving you a glimpse of Scott’s work below, for free! Take a look at what Mallonee captured in the great white North.

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Carnage in turn one.

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Martin Davalos is now in the points lead.

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One happy privateer–Matt Lemoine. Congrats!

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It was not a good day for the Pro Circuit boys in Canada.

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Ivan Tedesco was pumped to make his 100th Supercross main. He was not pumped, however, to go buck wild over the bars.

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Ryan Villopoto guts it out in the opening ceremonies while trying to keep from being green (all puns intended).

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Champagne fight for the 250 podium.

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Justin Barcia reminds James Stewart that he won the race.

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Although Jason Anderson has been waiting until the series returns West, his bike has been taking a tour around the country.

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That’s one happy father.

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Justin Bogle throws out some leg swag upon winning his first Supercross race.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: RIDE ENGINEERING KTM TOP CLAMP & BAR MOUNTS

Ride

Press release: Ride Engineering Offers Top Clamp & Bar Mounts for all KTM models from 2010-2014 (22mm Offset). Now rider’s on a budget can just replace the top clamp and bar mounts to alleviate the vibration and impacts transmitted to the handlebars by the stock KTM triple clamp’s metal to metal design.

KT-BTC22-BA (BLACK) msrp $229.95 includes rubber cones and mounting hardware

KX-BBM00-CA bar mount required msrp $99.95  

KT-BTC22-GE (ORANGE) msrp $229.95 includes rubber cones and mounting hardware

KX-BBM00-CA bar mount required msrp $99.95

Application: 2010-14 SX/XC/XC-F/EXC/XCW ALL (except 65/85/105)

FMF UNSUNG HERO: RYAN COX

FMF

Check out @fmf73 latest ad campaign featuring the Unsung Heroes of our sport! Who is your Unsung Hero? Hashtag #fmfunsunghero

MINI-VIEW: TONY BERLUTI

    There are few people in the pro pits who have seen more than longtime mechanic Tony Berluti. In this sport for over 25 years, the remarkable achievement Tony has is that he has remained so loyal to Suzuki. Now in his second year with RCH Racing, Tony and the rest of the team have been having a breakout season so far. We tracked down Tony at a recent Supercross to get his thoughts on his chosen profession.

By Jim Kimball

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Tony Berluti’s rider, Broc Tickle, was showing signs of improvement as the Supercross series. Unfortunately disaster struck this past weekend in Toronto when Tickle broke his T7 vertebra. Heal up, Broc!

MXA: Tony, how long have you been doing this?

Tony: I started as a mechanic back in 1987, and I was with Suzuki for 20 years after that. Now I’ve been with Hart & Huntington–now known as RCH–going on five years. Suzuki treated me very well, and it was a great experience. Working there really spring-boarded my career. I stood behind them, and they stood behind me. The brand was great, and it’s still a great brand. I have no regrets working for them. But a few years ago they had to downsize and lay off a lot of people, and I was one of them. I was living in Las Vegas, and got this opportunity to work for Hart & Huntington. It was a perfect fit. When I was getting laid off, I worked right into the deal with Carey Hart. He has treated me phenomenally.

You are still working with the same brand, Suzuki. Has the environment changed at RCH?

The environment here at RCH is probably a little less stressful, and it’s a little less corporate. I don’t really miss the corporate politics that we had at Suzuki, but with saying that, I did learn a lot with them. Now that I am with RCH I feel that I am pretty much back at Suzuki, because we have all the factory parts. In fact, the spot that I have now is the same spot that I had back at Suzuki. RCH closed the Hart & Huntington Las Vegas race shop, and we are all now in California.

What’s the best part about your job?

I have always been interested in mechanical things. Working on the bikes is what has kept me in this career. I chose this, as it is something that I truly love to do. Working on the bike is the best thing about this job; it’s what I love to do. It has been great to travel around the world and all through the United States. However, the travel wears me out. Besides the mechanical aspect for me, it’s all the great relationships that I’ve made. In life I feel that if you find something that you really enjoy, whether it’s being a mechanic or an accountant, you follow your passion. Work is work, but if you do something that you are truly passionate about, it’s all that much better!

Dirt bikes are always evolving. What areas of a motocross bike can be improved?

Suspension is always something that you are going to try to make better. To me that’s the number one thing that you can improve. As of now, the bikes are getting lighter. We use the Showa SSF air forks. There are no springs in them, so they are probably two pounds lighter. The KTM team also has an air shock, so if you have air forks and an air shock, I believe that is the next generation. Suspension is the most important part. Engine development will get better with more controlled power and more electronics. Eventually you will see a lot more electronics in the game, and we will have a lot more data to help us. Mainly it will be with electronics and suspension that you will see further improvement in. Motocross bikes make so much power now, especially a 450, that suspension and electronics will see the biggest improvements.

I know so many people that would love to be a factory wrench. Is it a rock star lifestyle?

I don’t think of myself as a rock star in any way. It does keep me young though, as I work around a lot of young people. The travel is the part that really wears me out, but being at the races is the best part. I know that with all the different social media out there, even the mechanics get a lot of fanfare. As I said, the travel can wear you out, but I still love my job of working on the bikes and trying to get my rider to the next level.

Let’s talk about some of the riders that you worked with. Who do you remember the most?

I’ve really worked with a lot of great riders and have developed good relationships. When I first started Buddy Antunez was a rookie, and I was new to the factory team at the time. Together we developed, and he had a tremendous rookie year. Then in the second year he struggled a little bit, but I remember Buddy a lot. Later I worked with Ezra Lusk when he was a rookie. It was fun helping rookies with the experiences that I had, and Lusk went on to do some great things. Robbie Reynard was like a brother to me; his personality and mine fit together so well. He was finicky on the bike, but on certain days there was no better rider. Sebastian Tortelli was a stand-up good guy, as was Michael Byrne. I really gelled with Byrne and had two good years with him. As far as natural ability, Michael Pichon was great on a motorcycle. I enjoyed working with him. I worked with Damon Huffman back in 1994 and 1995 when he won his two championships, so those were very memorable years.

The number 20 seems to be a consistent theme with you.

Yeah, that’s funny. Buddy Antunez, Damon Huffman, and now Broc Tickle all had the number 20, so I’ve definitely had the number 20 a few times.

Talk a bit more about Broc Tickle.

First of all, the sport has really changed over the years. In the beginning of my career, especially in the days of the box van, you worked a lot more one-on-one with your rider. It’s not like it used to be, but it’s still very mental. I try to give my rider as much motivation and positive energy that I can. But it’s my feeling that once the gate drops there is not much more than I can do for him. I can put stuff on the pit board like “Breathe” or “Relax”, like all us mechanics do, but that’s about it. I see my job as mainly to support him and gain his trust in my ability as a mechanic. Once the rider knows that then the relationship can grow. Broc completely trusts in me, and I completely trust in him.  It’s great to have a rider like Broc, who puts as much effort into it as I do. He trains as hard as anyone I know. It’s so awesome to have a rider put so much effort into it.  He’s been riding so well in Supercross, much better than last year. RCH as a team has gotten much better. We have brought in a couple of new guys, and we now do our suspension in-house. I think that plays a role with Broc’s success; he knows that there are people here to support him. Whether it’s a suspension guy or an engine guy, I know that this helps Broc mentally. Without a doubt, Broc has stepped it up this year. [Note: this interview was done with Tony a week before Broc crashed in Toronto and broke his T7 vertebra].

I’m not sure that you read all the motocross sites, but there are a lot of rumors about who RCH may have in 2015.

Well, I am a fan of the sport, so I definitely read that kind of stuff when I have the time. RCH is a growing team. We have Ricky involved, and Carey Hart is so beneficial with getting sponsorships; so we have some great sponsors aboard. We have Soaring Eagle, Sycuan, Suzuki, Dodge, and Bel-Ray to us. So with these kinds of sponsors, they bring some money. Next year we may even have more sponsors. So with that level of sponsorship, you have the money to get the best riders. Every year since I have been here, first with Hart & Huntington, and now RCH, we get bigger and better. This team will get a championship!

TORONTO AFTERTHOUGHTS

Photos by Scott Mallonee

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The Toronto Supercross was the type of race that you show to your “other” friends. You know, the friends that don’t understand or care about Supercross. Why should you convince these (unaware people you call your) friends to sit on the couch and invest a few hours of their lives in order to check out Toronto? Because it was the best race of the year! Toronto had everything. Triumph and tragedy, victory and despair, awesome racing and big crashes.

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This man was on a mission Saturday night.

Your mind is undoubtedly over-saturated with all of the happenings from Saturday night in Canada. How couldn’t it be? James Stewart jumped his way to victory (and jumped his way into second place all-time on the Supercross win list). He’s the man! Adam Cianciarulo dislocated his shoulder not once, not twice, but THREE times and still tried to finish the main event. The kid has guts! Ryan Villopoto was almost taken out by a stomach bug that could’ve cost him dearly in the points race, but he soldiered on. That’s why he’s the champ! Then Justin Bogle, a day shy of his birthday, won his first ever Supercross. What fortune!  Ivan Tedesco went tumbling through the whoops in what was his 100th Supercross main. Ouch! You get the picture of how wild the Toronto race was.

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Adam Cianciarulo had a disastrous night in Toronto. On the upside, he earned a whole new legion of fans for his gutsy performance.

Here’s the thing. It’s unlikely that the Supercross series will see another race this season like it had on Saturday night. I hate to burst your bubble. That’s the nature of the sport. Even the highly anticipated Metlife Stadium race in New Jersey, with all of the glitz and glamor of New York City, won’t live up to those expectations. And that’s okay. Why? For one night, in the frigid climate of another country, Supercross turned back the clock to years ago when the sport was exciting at every turn.

In recent years Supercross has become a bit stale. Ryan Villopoto crushed everyone on a weekly basis for the past three seasons. The pyrotechnics and laser light show started to become ho-hum. Who doesn’t rolled their eyes every time they hear the growling voice that announces the riders at the opening ceremonies? Even the Monster girls looked bored by the happenings, and they’re paid to always smile! However, Toronto supercharged Supercross. It’s sad that it took a gross number of disasters to make that happen. Heal up Adam Cianciarulo, Broc Tickle, Ivan Tedesco, and anyone else eaten up by the whoop section or had thrown up bad sushi. The only question I have is, will James Stewart wow the fans again this weekend in St. Louis? Who knows. The city with the arch could very well be the place that serves as the most exciting Supercross race EVER. That’s the excitement of Supercross.

MINI-VIEW: MARK KALPAKOFF

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    Mark Kalpakoff, of L.A. Sleeve, flies the two-stroke flag. Bless his heart. L.A. Sleeve has decided to put up a $4000 Pro purse for the World Two-Stroke Championship, held at Glen Helen on Sunday, April 6th. Last year the race was a huge success. Kalpakoff hopes for more of the same this go around. Find out the latest news in two-stroke land from Mark.

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MXA: Mark, L.A. Sleeve is putting up $4000 in Pro purse money. There’s a nice payday for someone willing to dust off the old two-stroke and race at Glen Helen on April 6th.

Mark: Yes sir! Two-strokes are big business with L.A. Sleeve. We want to put support back into that market. It just straight up makes sense.

Are two-strokes relevant?

Yes, in a big way. People just don’t have $10,000 laying around to get a new bike these days. We have found a lot of late 20- to mid-30-year-old racers that are trying to keep food on the tables and keep paying the bills. These guys are opting for late model two-strokes on Craigslist. For under $3000 they can swing by L.A. Sleeve and get a top-end rebuild for around $200. It’s very inexpensive.

Some people don’t think that two-strokes are important to the motocross industry. What’s your take?

I would like to see the manufactures offer two price point 450 four-stroke models– an electronic fuel injected, $10,000 pro model and a carbureted $5000 model. This way people would have a choice based on their budget. However, that probably won’t happen. In that way, because there is not a less expensive four-stroke, two-strokes are important!

Who do you foresee racing the MTA World Two-Stroke Championship?

Just like we saw last year, I think that there will be quite a few privateers and those who don’t race professionally anymore. I expect racers from WORCS to Supercross privateers to Baja racers. This event has a very old-school feel to it. The track develops very differently ruts and lines compared to when four-strokes are racing around Glen Helen. For the new generation of four-stroke racers it’s a unique event.

Is it true that there is also a women’s Pro class?

Yes. STI has kicked some money in to bring the women out on the two-strokes. It’s very cool!

What else can you tell us about the race?

If you don’t have a two-stroke, there will be a four-stroke cheese ball (support class) . Also, I can say the Pro classes are a blast to watch. There is something about Pro racers who haven’t ridden a two-stroke in some time show up. It’s interesting how they are trying to figure out how to ride a two-stroke again in the first moto, and then they step it up for the second moto.

2013 WORLD TWO-STROKE CHAMPIONSHIP VIDEO

KTM ANNOUNCES 11TH ANNUAL ADVENTURE RIDER RALLY

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Interested applicants can register by clicking on the photo above.

 

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