WORLD TWO-STROKE MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP: RYAN HUGHES BRINGS A SLINGSHOT TO AN ARTILLERY BATTLE

April 6, 2011
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In the front wave of the first L.A. Sleeve Pro class start, Austin Howell (2), Dennis Stapleton (32), Doug Dubach (15) and Bobby Garrison (1) fan out. In the background are Willy Musgrave (422), Steve Stultz (78), Niclas Gustavsson (37) and Austin Squires (711). What isn’t visible in this start is Ryan Hughes…but he was coming up fast.

Americans have a knack for naming everything a “World Championship”…and in most cases they have the right to do it?because everything is bigger and better in the USA (and it would be silly for any other country or group of countries to pretend that they are holding a World Championship if the USA isn’t involved). Take baseball. Yes, they play baseball in other countries, but not with the New York Yankees. Or Vet racing. Yes, Vets race motocross in other countries, but in the USA they starting holding Vet-only races 26 years ago (before the rest of the world realized that there was Vet motocross movement).

And the same thing holds true for the MTA World Two-Stroke Motocross Championship. Instead of a 125cc race for young riders, as in Europe, or one class mixed into a field of four-strokes like at many local events, the MTA-sponsored World Two-Stroke Championship is a two-stroke only race; All the races on that day; all the bikes at the track; and all the riders are there to be used in the name of “Two-Strokes.”

When you throw in a healthy purse…and a bunch of fanatics who love the smell of premix, you get a cool, laid-back day of racing that is so much like the old days that it almost makes you want to break out your Pez dispenser and eight track tapes.

But, it is a race…and a race with thousands of dollars on the line. It also got official support from Husqvarna, TM and Yamaha (who all fielded teams)…we wonder where KTM was?

Since you couldn’t be there?here is a photo report.


In the two-stroke world Austin Howell is a hero. He was a holdout at Loretta Lynn on his RM250 for several years, he won the Two-Stroke Challenge at the 2009 Glen Helen AMA National and he just missed winning last year’s World Two-Stroke Championship. Howell was unstoppable at Glen Helen this year. Howell pocket $2000 for his day’s work.


Bobby Garrison was the defending Two-Stroke Champion. Bobby is currently leading the WORCS series on a Kawasaki, but he got a one-race deal to return to Husqvarna to race the Two-Stroke race. Garrison ended up second, but if he hadn’t crashed early in the second moto he might have been able to challenge Austin Howell. Instead, Garrison picked himself up and charged back through the pack?passing both Doug Dubach and Ryan Hughes to secure second overall with a 2-2. Bobby didn’t win, but he got $1000 for second overall.


Everybody loves an underdog and Ryan Hughes put himself in that position by racing a GYTR YZ144. It was a gutsy move that Ryan believed would work…and for awhile it did. Ryan came from midpack to work his way up to second in the first moto. His plan was to get first or second in the first moto and then wait for the track to get rougher in the second moto and take the win on his lighter and more agile bike. It didn’t work. Ryan fell in a sandy turn and both Garrison and Dubach passed him. The fourth in moto one wrecked his plan. Ryan ended up third overall with a 4-3.


Doctor D is the king of the one-off Championships?having won the World Veteran Championship, World Four-Stroke Championship and last year’s Vet World Cup at the USGP. But, Doug Dubach won’t be adding the World Two-Stroke title to his resume this year. Dubach holeshot both motos, but never found his rhythm in the early parts of the race and quickly fell victim to Howell, Garrison and Hughes. Doug’s bike was equipped with a DR.D two-stroke pipe?a first (actually, the only one at the moment).


New Englanders will remember Austin Squires. Squires was looking good in the first moto with a seventh place, but his second moto was a disaster. Squires 7-15 couldn’t get him into the top ten.


Jamie Lanza ended up sixth overall, but to get sixth he had to pass the exact same riders as many as three times. Each time Lanza would move close to the top five, he would crash. Jamie would get up off the ground and start over. Thanks to the long motos Lanza managed to go 5-6 for sixth.


Women’s National Champion Jessica Patterson never got a chance to show what she could do against the men. Jessica was knocked down in the second corner of the first moto, and had to spend the whole moto chasing from behind to get up to 15th. In the second moto Jessica was in the mix when her GYTR YZ144 blew up on lap one.


MXA had three test riders in the L.A. Sleeve Pro class. Dennis Stapleton went 6-5 for fifth overall. Fellow MXA test rider Willy Musgrave (10-8) was eighth and Billy Musgrave (11-9) was tenth. Jamie Lanza was also mounted on MXA‘s project Husqvarna WR300.


Glen Helen has some of the most challenging terrain in the motocross world. This two-stage hill was first used in last year’s World Vet Championship and the riders like it so much that it will be part of the next month’s USGP layout. It is steeper and more difficult than it looks.


TM importer Pete Vetrano only took over the Italian brand a month agao, but he knows how to get the bikes on the map. Vetrano brought Swedish rider Niclas Gustavsson to Glen Helen to race the 2011 TM MX300. Niclas said that he hadn’t ridden a two-stroke since his minicycle days, but the big Swede acquitted himself well by finishing in seventh behind Howell, Garrison, Hughes, Dubach, Stapleton and Lanza.


Willy Musgrave (422) is no spring chicken. In fact, he is old enough that his 19-year-old son was racing in the Pro class with him. But the old man not only managed to beat the youngster, but he also managed to finished eighth overall. Did we mention that Willy was also the sponsor of the event ?with his MTA Distributing company.


We know exactly where Mike Monaghan got the premix for his Suzuki RM125.


Although the battle at the front of the Pro class between Howell, Garrison, Hughes and Dubach was intense, it paled in comparison to the family feud that is the Musgrave family. 19-year-old Billy Musgrave (61) never let his 47-year-old father Willy (422) get more than ten feet away for two complete 25-minute motos. Billy, on a KTM 150SX, even managed to pass his dad for half a lap…then the old man’s CR250 powered on by.


Although the World Two-Stroke Championship isn’t a vintage race, you have to admire Chris Alamangos tenacity on his 1976 CR125 Honda. Unfortunately, it blew up on lap two of practice. Chris went on to win his class on a 2011 YZ125. It wasn’t retro, but it finished both motos.


Chris Corum lives life to the fullest. Classic Bikes, classic truck and a pretty good riding style.

RESULTS: 2011 WORLD TWO-STROKE CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Austin Howell (Yam)………1-1
2. Bobby Garrison (Hus)…….2-2
3. Ryan Hughes (Yam)……….4-3
4. Doug Dubach (Yam)……….3-4
5. Dennis Stapleton (Yam)…..6-5
6. Jamie Lanza (Hus)…………5-6
7. Niclas Gustavsson (TM)….9-7
8. Willy Musgrave (Hon)……..10-8
9. Ricky Yorks (Yam)…………..8-10
10. Billy Musgrave (KTM)…..11-9

Photos by Dan Alamangos

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