MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT: (05/14/10)

May 14, 2010
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MOTOCROSS ACTION MID-WEEK REPORT
By John Basher

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

    This past week I spotted Chad Reed preparing for to defend his number one plate in the Lucas Oil AMA Nationals. Only ten days until the Nationals begin!

QUESTIONS THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE MAGAZINE: GRANT LANGSTON

Grant is always a great guy to talk to.

    Every once in a while we have to cut out material due to spacing issues in the magazine. Recently I did an interview with Grant Langston. Always entertaining and extremely smart, Langston had plenty to say. Unfortunately I had to cut two questions out of the interview. What were they? Read on and find out.

MXA: Growing up, who did you look up to?
Grant: Greg Albertyn. He was the first guy I met that I considered a hero. He’s a great guy and a tremendous ambassador for the sport of motocross. He gave people like me hope and the belief that it doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from. As long as you’re fast on a bike, no matter your background, then that’s all that matters. Greg was a great role model for South Africans and our sport in general. He opened the door for me. I always loved his never say die attitude. Greg is a genuine person. I don’t think that you will meet anyone that will say something bad about Greg. Now people don’t laugh anymore when they hear about a talented kid from South Africa.

What experience most changed your life?
Moving from South Africa was quite an experience. Everything since then has been unbelievable. Now here I am racing in the U.S. It’s not easy coming from where I did and doing what I’m doing. Leaving South Africa gave me so many new experiences. I’m thankful for that.

OOPS! CORRECTING A MISTAKE

Townley is a great guy to talk to. That is, when he’s not mad at you.
   
    Believe it or not, writers make mistakes. Although it’s hard for any writer to swallow pride and admit a wrongdoing, it happens. I’m going to live up to a mistake I made two weeks ago in the Mid-Week Report. It didn’t become known to me until this past Thursday, when I noticed my so-called buddy Ben Townley out on the track at Glen Helen. I waved to him as I took photos. He shook his head at me (not in the nice way). I thought nothing of it. Later, while cruising the pits, I approached him. Normally amiable and social, he looked at me like I was befouling the air he breathed. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey Ben, how are you?
Ben: Don’t talk to me.
Me: Huh? Why not?
Ben: You know why.
Me: Are you messing with me?
Ben: No. Seriously don’t talk to me.

    With that, he huffed away. I was left scratching my head. After all, this was the same guy that I had spent a day at the track with two months ago doing a huge interview with. Ben had typically been one of the nicest riders to talk to. Not only that, we’re like twins! Okay, not really, but we do have (almost) matching scars from recent surgeries. So why was he mad-dogging me? I failed to mention him as a contender for the AMA 450 National title this summer in a recent Mid-Week Report. Cry me a river.
    Ben (because I know that you’re reading this), sorry. You probably should have figured when you didn’t see your name mentioned anywhere on the list that I made an error. Oops. Now get over it. You’re fast. Of course you have the chance to win the title, especially if you remain healthy. This should go without saying, considering that MXA devoted a good chunk of editorial space just for you – yes, you. Now do me a favor and put that Troy Lee Designs/Honda bike on the box. 
     
FROM SEB’S MOUTH: SEBASTIEN TORTELLI RELIVES HIS HONDA DAYS

        “Supercross didn’t come easy for me at first. When I was on the Honda factory team with Ezra Lusk, Mickael Pichon and Kevin Windham, it was tough! Ezra and Kevin joked with me all of the time when we were at the Supercross test track. They would say things like, “Hey Sebastien, can you try to do that jump first? The landing is a little peaky and we need someone to shave it off.” I always cased landings!”  

REMEMBERING ANDREW “SHARKEY” MCFARLANE

    I didn’t know Andrew McFarlane all that long, or very well, for that matter. Yet the friendly Australian made an immediate impact on me. I was instantly drawn to him for reasons that I couldn’t understand at the time. Only after seeing him talk with fans did I realize how charismatic and outgoing he was. He seemed like a glass half full kind of guy – a rare personality trait.
    Over the past week I’ve spoken with several people who worked very closely with him during his years racing in the U.S. They have all said wonderful things about “Sharkey.” In fact, there hasn’t been one word of negativity spilled during the hours of conversations that I’ve been a part of.
    For me, I’ll always remember the one day four years ago when, strapped with a camera on my back, I rode a bicycle back to the sand wash behind the MXA office. A blue streak crossed along the horizon, followed by plumes of dry sand spewed from the rear tire of the #124 Yamaha of Troy YZ250F. Approaching the track, I noticed his fluid and effortless style as he dug lines around a course that would have most motocross racers weeping in agony.
    Done with his moto, I sat down on the tailgate of his truck as he cordially talked about everything but motocross. It was refreshing to hear about his life away from motocross. And during our conversation I started taking photos of him hanging out. It was then that Andrew flashed the peace sign as I pressed the shutter button. That’s the guy that I will always remember – happy and friendly. Shortly after I took the photo he put his jersey back on and logged another moto. I watched in awe, admiring his riding style almost as much as his personality. Andrew McFarlane will be missed.
    Below are a few quotes from those who were friends with McFarlane. Godspeed, Andrew.

Bill Keefe – Andrew’s MotoSport/Kawasaki team manager
    “Andrew had unlimited potential. He knew what he wanted and he was willing to work to get the results. He was very methodical and professional in everything he did. He and his mechanic, Rene Zapata, clicked and worked so well together. It was such a tremendous experience to spend some time with Andrew in what was an all too short life. I’m going to miss him. “

Dave Osterman – Andrew’s Yamaha of Troy team manager
    “Andrew was always very detailed. It was the way he did and said things that really made our jobs easier. He was a good development guy and a huge asset. He was a champion’s champion. He was simply a pleasure to work with and be around.
    “I remember that Yamaha of Troy had a contract with a helmet company, and they were about to launch a new helmet. At the eleventh hour Andrew tells me that he didn’t feel safe in the helmet. I went after the helmet company and told them that they had to fix the helmet. I wanted Andrew to feel safe, and when he said what he said, I didn’t even question him. His credentials made me feel that I didn’t need to question him. I respected everything he said, because he deserved that respect.”

Grant Langston – Andrew’s friend
    “We spent a lot of time together, his family and mine, during the outdoor Nationals. We would all stay in our motor homes and basically live in them when we raced the Nationals. We would barbecue and hang out with our kids. A lot of people that didn’t get the chance to meet him don’t know how amazing of a father he was. He had a mother’s touch. He was one of the few fathers I met that cared so much about his kids, almost acting as a second mom. Andrew was a great father, a great husband, and a down to earth guy. He didn’t back stab people or trash talk. He was a straight-up gentleman, which are few and far between in our sport. Andrew will be always be remembered by those who knew him as a fantastic guy.”  

EAST VS. WEST: THE STRONGER COAST?

    Ever since the 125 class split into two coasts, there has been a long-standing debate over which coast has the deepest talent. Every so often the tide changes. For the past few years it seemed that the West coast had a deeper talent pool. What about for 2010? Good question. A solid barometer is the Las Vegas East/West shootout. When the dust settled, here’s who won the points chase at Las Vegas:


Jake Weimer capped off his 250 career with the prized East/West Las Vegas shootout.

West:
    Rider (place at Las Vegas):
    Jake Weimer (1), Josh Hansen (2), Broc Tickle (6), Travis Baker (8), Ryan Morais (9), Trey Canard (10), Cole Seely (11), Hunter Hewitt (12), Phil Nicoletti (13), Jake Canada (15), Robert Kiniry (16).
    136 total points

East:
    Rider (place at Las Vegas):
    Christophe Pourcel (3), Dean Wilson (4), Justin Barcia (5), Martin Davalos (7), Michael Willard (14), Adam Chatfield (17), James Decotis (18), Ryan Sipes (19), Kyle Keylon (20). 
    85 total points

    But wait! There were several riders missing from Las Vegas. Here’s the breakdown:

West:
Wil Hahn
Blake Wharton
Jeff Alessi


Brett Metcalfe was busy preparing for the 450 National chase. He missed Vegas.

East:
Brett Metcalfe
Austin Stroupe
Blake Baggett
Kyle Cunningham – raced 450 in Las Vegas
Matt Lemoine
Troy Adams

    Which coast is stronger? It’s a tough call, but I give the slight edge to…the West coast. It’s very close though.

YOUR CHANCE TO HELP A GP TEAM

    The Suzuki Beursfoon motocross team (www.suzuki-motocross.nl) is looking for three spare Suzuki bikes (two RM-Z450’s and an RM-Z250), as well as a pressure washer to borrow for the Glen Helen USGP. The Suzuki Beursfoon team will have their race bikes, but they are looking for spare back-up bikes just in case. The riders are Jose Butron (MX2 rider from Spain), Marc de Reuver (MX1 rider from Holland), and Kevin Strijbos (MX1 rider from Belgium). Please contact jarno@oldenijens.nl if you are interested in helping the cause. 

MINI-VIEW: TOMMY HAHN

    Rockstar Energy/Suzuki’s Tommy Hahn has been the only rider carrying the 450 flag on Bill Keefe’s managed race team. Hahn caught fire during the Nationals last year. If it wasn’t for a few preseason Supercross injuries, Tommy would have finished higher than ninth place in the overall point standings. At Seattle, Hahn pushed through the ruts and sludge to card second place. With the Nationals just around the corner, Tommy is ramping up for a great summer.  

MXA: Overall, were you happy with your Supercross results?
Tommy: I’ve had injuries that have been hard to work though, but I will say that I’m happy with how the last few Supercross races have gone. I got on the podium at Seattle and at Salt Lake City I had the third fastest lap time, so my results have been improving. After the break I was able to get more healthy, and it seems like I found another gear.

Seattle was a pretty tough track, and while nearly everyone floundered in the deep ruts and sand, you were one of the only riders to keep pushing forward. It was the most impressive ride that you’ve had since winning the Steel City National last year.
What really made the difference for me was that I found comfort in the track. I grew up riding in nasty conditions like what was at Seattle. I always used to ride in river beds, so everything felt familiar. The only scary part about the track was the big triple. I just kept reminding myself to stay smooth and keep from riding over my head.

    “I grew up riding in nasty conditions like what was at Seattle. I always used to ride in river beds, so everything felt familiar.”

Over the last few years you moved from a Honda to a Kawasaki and now you’re on a Suzuki. Has it been difficult adapting to the RM-Z450?
Surprisingly, no. It has actually been the easiest part of the whole deal. It has been so difficult getting through my injuries and healing up while riding, practicing, and racing. I got hurt right before the season started. I broke some ribs in the crash, and then not long after that I separated my shoulder. It has been one thing after another, but now I’m healthy and I’m starting to show myself.

You’re the last guy to win a National. What is it going to take for you to win two in a row?
I have to make sure that my bike setup is spot on. I also need to be prepared. I’m doing motos and getting everything settled on my end. People always talk about how important the start is, but at the Nationals it’s crucial. I’ll need to consistently get good starts and put myself in the position to win right off the bat.

PRESS RELEASE: TEN QUESTIONS WITH RYAN DUNGEY

    Brea, Calif. ? Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, the 20-year-old rookie phenom from Belle Plaine, Minnesota, is officially the 2010 AMA/FIM World Supercross Champion. Only the second rookie ever to take the title, and the youngest ever, Dungey has put together an amazing racing resume in his short career. Going into the final round of the Supercross series tomorrow at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, Dungey answered 10 questions about his championship year aboard the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450.

Q: When did it sink in that you had won the title?
Ryan Dungey: It really didn’t hit me until I was back home in Florida after the St. Louis round, but even then it didn’t really sink in I guess until after the championship celebration on the podium in Seattle. Having that No. 1 plate handed to me was something I will remember for the rest of my life.

Your family has been important to your success. How have they reacted to your Supercross Championship?
They have been there with me at every single race in my career. They’ve obviously been huge in getting me to where I am today, but seeing the looks of enjoyment on their faces while I was up there getting my No. 1 plate was something pretty cool.

How important is the bike in Supercross? Was the RM-Z450 a big part of the equation?
I’ve only ridden a Suzuki since I turned pro, and I came up through the Suzuki Amateur program, and I truly believe Suzukis are the best bikes out there today. I was able to ride Ricky’s RM-Z450 before making the jump up to the 450 class, so when the time came to ride the big bike it felt really, really comfortable. It is an easy bike to ride, both indoors and out.

How about the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team: Roger, Ian, Goose, all the guys. How important is it to have a team like that behind you?
What more needs to be said about the Rockstar Makita Suzuki guys? The championships tell the story. I mean Roger is “The Man” for a reason. He brings so much experience to the team; he has done it all in our sport. And Mike Gosselaar is such a good mechanic, and a good man to have on the line, too. Ian on the motors, Adam on the suspension, Ray and Shane?all of them?what a great team!

You’ve been riding with Suzuki for a long time now, and the relationship you have there seems very strong. As the season wore on, you had a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. At some point does it get to you? How do you deal with the pressure so well?
Like I said earlier, I feel really comfortable on a Suzuki. It’s my bike. And the responsibility really ramps up once you move to the big bikes. I mean people told me that it would be different but I couldn’t imagine how much different it was. And the fact that I was in the championship hunt from the start probably added to the pressure buildup. It was OK though, it’s what I’ve wanted since I was a little guy. I mean it’s what all of us want, right? The shot at winning the 450 Supercross title? Absolutely.

Rockstar and Makita are great sponsors, and you seem to have a really good relationship with them (as well as all the team sponsors). Obviously the results are there, but you are thought of as being one of the most “marketable” guys in the sport. What’s your secret?
It takes a great team to support one rider in our sport. Rockstar has been with me since the early days and so has Makita. It takes consistency to make things work in our sport, and I don’t just mean on the track. I’ve got to do my job at home during the week and the team has to do theirs in the shop. It takes both to get results on the track. The sponsors make it all happen.

The race in St. Louis was described by Ian Harrison as being “high intensity.” When you are in a race like that, where you and Villopoto were turning laps one second faster than the heat races, do you focus more on your lines, the other rider, or a combination of things?
I try to stick to my game plan in those situations. We prepare for races like that. They’re definitely high intensity and you have to try to remain calm and remember to ride your lines and stay focused on your race, and not what’s happening around you. And when you crash mid-race, you have to really rely on your fitness at that point because your heart goes through the roof.

You have won quite a few titles now in your young career. How do you keep focused on winning these titles…or do you just concentrate on race to race?
I definitely try to be prepared for long seasons. It takes consistency to win championships and to be consistent you have to be prepared. And yes, race to race is very key. This is a long season in the 450 class and you have to be prepared for the ups and the downs so that you can handle it all and keep moving forward.

What is your focus going to be heading into the Nationals?
We will take the necessary time to get the bike ready for the Outdoors. We’ll be out in California before Hangtown working hard on getting ready for 12 big races this summer.

A KIND NOTE FROM “BAD” BRAD ABOUT “MAGOO”

R.I.P., Danny.

[Press Release from Brad Lackey]

    It is with mixed emotions that I write to Danny’s friends and the world. While we are all extremely saddened by the sudden passing of our friend and my little motocross brother, we are also happy that Danny is at peace now. He is probably already looking at how to turn one cloud’s double into a triple and see if he can do it with one foot off and one hand off his bent handlebar!

    Danny and I grew up racing in Northern California together and taking on our rival “SoCal” racers knowing that we would have something to prove. Danny was always up for the challenge. The redheaded dynamo from the Sierra Nevada foothills always amazed me and other much more experienced and accomplished riders with his fully-pinned approach to straights, turns and of course, jumps.

    I was very proud of him yet hardly surprised when I learned that he had decimated the competition at the 1982 Trophee and Motocross des Nations winning all four motos. It’s what I would have expected out of Danny. It brought a smile to my face later when I heard a story about an official from one of the des Nations events. Apparently he complained to Danny’s team manager and my friend Roger DeCoster that Danny was riding too crazy, clipping trees on his jumps, etc. He said he was going to hurt himself. Roger simply just showed the official Danny’s lap times and walked away.

    This is how we all will remember Magoo.

    In the past 12 months a lot of great people and I have worked toward getting Danny a new van to improve his way of life, which had deteriorated since his 1985 accident in Paris. I know Danny was excited about it and extremely appreciative to all those who contributed. He was genuinely surprised and humbled at the outpouring of support by all of his fans. Although he never got the chance to ride in his new van, he did see pictures of it and approved the new graphics that were being applied at the time of his passing. He really thought they were cool.

    I just wish I had started the van project sooner.

    As they say about hindsight, even a year or two earlier would’ve given Danny the opportunity to enjoy his life and do more of things he wished he could have done before Tuesday, May 4th. Now, as this is all swirling about for Lori and I, we are conscious of what should happen with the unfinished van project and all the fine individuals and companies that contributed. There will be decisions made in due time; all with Danny’s and his family’s best intentions in mind. The van was going to improve Danny’s life by giving him the ability to get out and continue his passion for teaching kids motorcycle and motocross safety and I’m confident and hopeful that we can continue to fulfill at least part of Danny’s mission. As soon as Danny’s affairs have been settled, we’ll have a better idea of what to do and we’ll let the public know. Please bear with us and understand that whatever decisions are made, they will be done with concern, forethought and guidance by others close to Danny and the van project.

    I will miss Danny with all my heart and I want to thank everyone around the world who felt the same about the incredible Mr. Magoo.

    – Brad Lackey

MINI-VIEW: PRESTON TILFORD

Tilford (left) and Alan Olson (right) are a winning combination.

    Preston Tilford is a local SoCal racer with unlimited potential and backing from several great people and sponsors. The MXA wrecking crew has come to know Preston very well, and we have nothing but great things to say about him. Tilford has pro level speed, a charismatic outlook on racing, and determination. The only difference between Tilford and most of his competitors? Preston is black. I caught up with him this past week to talk about racing, the future, and why it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is.

MXA: How long have you been riding and racing?
Preston: I started riding when I was 12, so it’s been seven years since I started. I’ve been racing REM for about three years now. I really like the long motos, because it’s good for training. Plus the schedule goes pretty fast, so I’m not out at the track all day long waiting for my race.

Before the amateur season began, you made waves in the motocross industry by signing with Vance & Hines to be their test rider. In return, they support you in the Amateur Nationals. How did that deal come along?
I was racing REM, and Alan Olson from Vance & Hines saw me and asked if I could test some pipes for him. A couple of months before I signed with the team I started testing various exhaust pipes for him. He had me riding all of the time on a bunch of different bikes. Then Vance & Hines approached me with a deal, and I jumped at the opportunity.

Why did you decide to ride Yamaha’s?
Obviously Alan and his son, Tim (Yamaha’s Media Relations Coordinator) have close ties with Yamaha. I don’t know all of the specifics on how everything came together between Vance & Hines and Yamaha, but that’s the way that they wanted it.

What’s your plan for the next couple of months?
I’m planning on racing the Prequel at Glen Helen. I also would like to race amateur day at Hangtown, as well as Mammoth and Loretta Lynn’s. I rode Loretta’s last year, but I was on a different program. I had help from my parents, MXA, and John Burr Cycles. I rode Kawasaki’s.

    “It’s just that there aren’t many black racers. I always try to make sure that I present my image well.”

Is it difficult being a black person in a sport that’s comprised mostly of white people?
It’s not that difficult. It’s just that there aren’t many black racers. I always try to make sure that I present my image well. I don’t want to be one of those guys that people don’t like. I also always have to make sure to be careful of what I say. But you know what? It’s really worth it, because I love to go riding.

That’s very unfortunate that you’re under the microscope just because of the color of your skin. However, it’s great to see that there are more black people becoming involved in motocross.
It’s definitely good. The sport is really fun, and I’m glad to see that more people are starting to enjoy it.

Jim Tarantino held the nickname of “King of Saddleback,” because no matter how deep the competition, he seemed to have everyone handled at Saddleback. If there’s any “King of REM,” I would have to lean towards Tony Amaradio. Still, you’re making quite a name for yourself by beating some stiff competition at REM.
Yeah, I love the track. I live ten minutes away from Glen Helen. It’s my home track, and I love coming here. It’s cool that all of the guys at Glen Helen are my friends, and we get to hang out and ride.

I’ve seen your mom now for the last couple of years. Is she a mother that sits back and lets you do your thing, or does she get really involved by making sure you are doing your motocross homework?
She’s very hard on me! She’s always making sure that I stay on top of things, that I ride, and that I eat healthy food. She wants to see my succeed because she understands that I’m good at racing motocross.

Do you plan on turning pro next year?
I don’t know. We’re still figuring that out. If I’m ready to turn pro then I’ll go for it. If not, then I’ll do another year in the amateur ranks.

It’s pretty neat that you have former factory mechanic Alan Olson helping you out.
I’m so happy that he’s helping me! I’m truly blessed, and it’s great working with him. He has helped me realize that being a professional motocross racer is what I really want to do as I get older.

Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
I want to thank God, Vance & Hines, Thor, Renthal, Parts Unlimited, Alan Olson, Josh, Terry, my family, and everyone that supports me.  

PRESS RELEASE: TYE HAMES TO HAVE FACTORY KTM RIDE AT HANGTOWN

    Murrieta, CA ? Michael Sleeter and his KTM Factory Services/One Industries Team are proud to announce Tye Hames as the winner of the Rider for a Day contest at the opening round of the MX Sports AMA Motocross Series at Prairie City Raceway.

    With over 70 entries to the competition, Tye Hames came out the winner. “We are excited to add Tye Hames as a member to our KTM Factory Services/One Industries Team for the opening round at Hangtown,” remarked Mike Sleeter. “We were looking for a rider who was capable of qualifying for an outdoor national and with our help could finish above his expectations.” In Hames case, his goal is to finish inside the top 20 in order to score national points at the first round of the season.

    Hames received notice this morning of his new ride. “I am really excited to ride the KTM 450 SX-F. I was stoked when I found out about this competition because it gives a privateer like me a chance to ride on equipment that is far better than I can afford. I hope that my results at Hangtown will impress the crowd and hopefully help me to gain more exposure and potential sponsors.”

    Hames, a Palmdale, Ca native, has been racing professionally for four years. He competed in the west coast Outdoor Motocross Nationals in 2009 and plans to race the entire circuit for 2010. “I think this is a great opportunity that KTM is giving to the privateer riders. I feel more than fortunate to have been selected for such an amazing opportunity,” remarked Hames.

    As the winner of the contest, Hames gets to race a fully prepped KTM Factory Services 450 SX-F, his own mechanic and will be provided One Industries gear from head to toe, Von Zipper Goggles, Alpinestars boots and DVS shoes. His expenses for the weekend will be paid for by the team. He will truly be treated as a Factory rider for the weekend.

    Fans can look for the orange #732 bike of Hames as the third member of the KTM Factory Services/One Industries Team. He will be joined by his teammates Sean Borkenhagen competing in the Lites class and Mike Sleeter competing in the 450 class aboard his KTM 250SX two-stroke race machine.

    KTM Factory Services and One Industries would like to thank all applicants that applied for the competition and wish everyone a great racing season.

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