MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT (06/20/12)

June 20, 2012
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By John Basher

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: PART 1

    Shooting photos for bike tests is a pretty creative and fun part of my job. It allows me to get away from the computer and out of the office. More importantly, I’m able to hang out with buddies at the track and think of unique ways to photograph these friends on brand new bikes.
 
    By now everyone probably knows what MXA is famous for?blowing out berms. No soft pile of dirt is safe when an MXA photo rider is looking for a turn to hit. The explosion of soil, coupled with an aggressive style, always makes a cool photo. Does it get overplayed? Maybe. My job, along with the photo rider, is to find something altogether different.

    In the middle of the day on Monday at Gorman, a bone-dry track located in the mountains about 40 minutes outside of Valencia, California, test rider Daryl Ecklund and I met up to shoot the 2013 KTM 250SX (for you youngins it’s a two-stroke). Although the track was in poor shape, Daryl made magic happen. He scoured the track looking for photo opportunities. What he found was a natural terrain jump that he carved out of the side of a bank. The landing wasn’t pleasant, but Ecklund still launched the KTM into the air for my camera. Above is the result of his handiwork.    

COME RIDE RYAN VILLOPOTO’S OUTDOOR KAWASAKI KX450F

 
MINI-VIEW: JUSTIN BARCIA

Cue the “Eye of the Tiger” song.

    Justin Barcia is quickly proving himself as one of the few contenders for the 250 National title. Currently second in points, Barcia has won an overall (Thunder Valley) and has yet to place outside of the top five in a moto. These results are considerably better than what Justin was getting last summer. I rang “Bam Bam” up to discuss what changed since last year, what it’s like to do battle in the 250 class, and his plans for the off-weekend.

MXA: Does the confidence from winning the 250 East Supercross title carry over to the Nationals?

Justin: Winning the Supercross championship, not having a break, and then going straight into the outdoors is tough, but I had confidence from winning. In my opinion, the Nationals are a whole new series and it’s a completely different ball game. The confidence changes quite a bit. The first race at Hangtown is a big deal, and that’s where anyone who does well gets their confidence from. If you do well then you get that confidence, but if you do badly then you have your work cut out for you.

Well you certainly did well at Hangtown, finishing second overall. Did you have any inkling about where you would possibly finish in the opener before heading to Hangtown?

Going into Hangtown I knew that I was more prepared this year and I felt really good, but honestly I didn’t have a clue about where I would finish. I set a goal for myself, and that was to finish in the top five every single weekend. So far I’ve done that. A top five finish isn’t awesome, but it’s a pretty good finish in the 250 class. Last year I really struggled outdoors, so I had to set my sights on a goal that I thought I would be able to accomplish. So far this year I’ve exceeded that goal. I knew that I could run up front, because I have the speed, but I didn’t know if I had everything else needed to really succeed.

What has been the biggest change in your program from last year, where you struggled, to this year, where you’re second in the point standings with an overall win?

The biggest change has been myself. I’m smarter, I’m a little older, my confidence is better, and I’m healthy. The past few years I’ve had injuries bother me, and that has really hurt my abilities. I’m a lot stronger, I have a good program, and I’m healthy. That’s huge for me.


Justin has been doing significantly better in the 2012 outdoor campaign than his results showed last summer. He wants to end his 250 career on a high note by winning the 250 National title. Photo: Karl Ockert

Did you have any second thoughts about racing the 250 Nationals this summer after moving up to the 450 class at the end of last year and doing so well?

Obviously it was running through my mind. The 450 class is where it’s at. I gave it a thought, but I knew that it was unrealistic. I have a contract with the Geico/Honda team in the 250 class. I feel that I haven’t proven myself in the 250 class. I figured that I should try to finish out what I started.

Between Blake Baggett, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and yourself, you guys are setting a blistering pace up front outdoors. How insane is it being in the mix?

The top guys are really gnarly! It’s crazy that every weekend I know that I’m going to have some tough competition. To win motos and be on the podium in the 250 class is huge. We’re all young and we all want to win. You’re not going to win a race easy. You have to put everything together, and it all begins with a good start. There’s not much room for error.


The 450 class got a taste of Barcia last year. He’ll bring excitement to the premiere class in 2013. Photo: Karl Ockert

What’s your mentality as you approach the starting line before a moto? I’ve noticed that you have a fire in your eyes, while other guys are laughing and joking around. You look like you have your eyes on the prize.

Everyone has a different way on how they approach a race. There’s certainly a time and a place to joke around. That time for me is before the race. I like to relax and have fun, but when I get on the bike and head down to the starting line my mind switches. I’m ready for war. The 250 class is war. That’s the best way to explain it. You never get to rest in the 250 class. I’m not saying that the 450 class isn’t gnarly or fast, but it’s showing this year that the top guys in the 250 class are ready to kill.

What are you doing on the weekend break before Red Bud?

The plan is to do some testing. I’ve been struggling a little bit with bike setup, especially for the second motos. I’ve been going to the gym, as well. I took a day off of riding on Monday, which is unusual. I’m going to be working hard during the break. I know that no one else is resting. Who knows? Maybe they are resting, but I’m going to stay on my game and keep moving forward. Jeff Stanton is coming down to my place next week to train with me. There certainly won’t be any rest when he’s here [laughter].

Thanks for the interview, Justin. See you at Red Bud.

Thanks, John.  

SUIT UP! RIDE A LAP AROUND MILLVILLE ON THE 2013 KAWASAKI KX250F
    Maybe you’ve already seen this video. Maybe you haven’t. Regardless, it’s time to get on your gear and (virtually) ride a lap around Millville on the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F. Have you always wanted to blitz the sand whoops? Jump the Chadapult? Experience crashing without getting hurt? We have you covered. Just remember to lean back through the whoops and hit the Chadapult in third gear wide open.

MINI-VIEW: JESSICA PATTERSON

Jessica and her mechanic/number one fan/boyfriend Eddie Ray.

    A six-time champion, Rockstar Suzuki’s Jessica Patterson is poised and ready to capture her seventh title. With a sizeable lead after only three rounds, Jessica is in the driver’s seat. However, the X Games are coming up, an event that she has crashed out of quite a few times. I caught up with Patterson to discuss her change to a new motorcycle brand, racing after dislocating her shoulder, and her thoughts on Sue Fish getting inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame.

MXA: Before the season started MX Sports planned on changing the women’s race to a one-moto format. You were a strong advocate for the two-moto program. Why?

Jessica: The amount of traveling that we would have done for a single moto wouldn’t have been all that great. There’s also the issue to think about what would happen if you screwed up one moto? Maybe you drive all of the way across the country, crash in the first turn and bend up the bike, and then you’re done for the weekend. It’s good to have two motos.

The Rockstar Suzuki ride came together quite late in the season. Without much time for testing on the Suzuki RM-Z250, how have you been adjusting as the series moves onward?

The Suzuki really wasn’t that difficult to adjust to. The handling and cornering characteristics are amazing! I’m still learning about the bike, though. Everything reacts way differently on the Suzuki than the Yamaha that I rode last year or even any other bike. That has been my biggest challenge. My standard settings from the Yamaha didn’t carry over that well to the Suzuki. I’m still switching things up, and between races we’ve been testing. I’m trying to get a bit more comfortable. Even at the opening round at Hangtown I wasn’t dialed in. Now I’m feeling a lot better, and it has been a fun year so far.


Jessica (second from right) has done exceptional this year, even despite dislocating her shoulder at Hangtown. She’s tougher than a boiled owl.

Speaking of Hangtown, you crashed in the second moto, dislocated your shoulder, and still came all of the way up to finish a close second. How in the world did you manage to recover and continue on?

[Laughter] When I crashed and got up, my shoulder felt like it was out a little bit. I tried to get up really fast, and [Meghan] Rutledge and [Tarah] Geiger were battling about the same time that I was getting up. I got between the two of them, and over a jump Tarah and I hit. The impact knocked my shoulder out even more. I was freaking out, because I couldn’t get my arm back in the socket. I was able to pop it back in and started catching up to the leaders again. Then the arm came out another time. I figured that my shoulder would keep dislocating, so I backed my speed down a little bit. Once I did that and realized that my arm was pretty strong I got going and passed Tarah. I nearly won the moto but ran out of time.

What’s the big difference for you this year compared to last year? You certainly had the speed last year, but this year you’re leading the point standings.

This year I’ve been more consistent. I won a lot of motos last year, but the motos I didn’t win I had really bad finishes. Obviously in our class, with the same group being on the podium all of the time, I need to be consistent in order to win the title. Even though I have crashed this year, I’ve come back and salvaged some points. I know that I have to podium in every race.

There is quite a separation from the top girls and everyone else.

Yeah, it’s hard. The guys have a tendency to really mix things up. Someone will get a fourth in the first moto but might finish 17th in the next. In the women’s class the fast pack is further ahead. Losing three or five points in a weekend is a big deal in our class.

Sue Fish is being inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. What are your thoughts on Sue getting the nod, and does it excite you to think that you, too, could be inducted once  you retire?

I was super happy to hear that Sue Fish is getting inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. I’m glad that they are finally recognizing the accomplishments of Sue, and women in general. Hopefully one day I can be inducted and be there with Sue.


It’s hard to believe that Patterson has been racing Pro for 12 years. She has helped the women’s class grow and is a good ambassador for the sport.

Your first title came in 2000. Out of the championship triumphs, what wins really stand out?

The first championship, in 2000, was really cool. I was 16 years old and it was my first full year as a Pro. Also, the last year that I won the title [in 2010], was very special. I had gone through a bunch of bad crashes and won even though I wasn’t 100 percent. Having the whole team behind me at that time was great.

Are you going to be racing the X Games?

I will be attending.

So…are you racing?

[Laughter] I will be out there racing.

I know that in the past you’ve been extremely fast at the X Games, but you’ve had some ugly crashes.

Yeah, that’s why I said that I will be out there. I’m racing. The goal is to finish the race this year. It doesn’t matter what place I come in. I can finish last for all I care, but I just want to finish the race and not get hurt.

That’s going to be tough, because you’re extremely competitive person. What is your relationship like with Tarah, Ashley Fiolek, and the other girls that you race against?

Tarah and I are cool. We talk a little bit. I don’t really hang out with any of the other girls. I don’t say a whole lot to Ashley, other than congratulate her or say hello. That’s about it. We’re all pretty civil, but racing is racing.

How many more years are you thinking about racing professionally?

I’m not too sure. It depends on the opportunities. I have a couple of things going to where I could possibly ride for two more years. I think that’s the plan right now.

To view our video of Jessica from last month, please see below:

MXA TEST RIDER AUSTIN POLITELLI WINS INAUGURAL SPY DEL MOTO DERBY INVITATIONAL!

[Press Release] The inaugural SPY Del Moto Derby Invitational?the first motocross event in San Diego County Fair history?brought a new type of horsepower to the Del Mar Fairgrounds with professional and amateur motocross riders putting on a show for the ages this past Father’s Day, Sunday, June 17. The highly contested Pro Division, saw Austin Politelli putting together the fastest time of the day to claim the SPY Del Moto Derby crown, and the $2,500 prize purse.

    “We couldn’t be happier with the caliber of riding and the enthusiasm of the crowd,” said Victor Sheldon, SPY motorsports marketing manager. “All of the riders put on a great show and some good, clean races. We can’t wait to bring the excitement of motocross racing back to the coast again next year.”

    In less than 24 hours SPY and its track designer, Randy Mennaga, converted the Chevrolet Del Mar Arena from a flat field of horse show dirt into a finely groomed, flowing layout of world-class berms, whoops, tables and double kickers fit for any pro level race. The unique San Diego County Fair venue, which sees over 90,000 visitors per day, showcased amateur and professional arena-style motocross racing in 450cc and 250cc classes, as well as 65cc and 85cc for young riders.

    Hometown hero, and seven-time AMA Supercross Champion, Jeremy McGrath, treated the crowd to his famous tail whips during an expression session stacked with top pro riders. McGrath was joined in the exhibition by his fellow SPY teammate Grant Langston, who celebrated his 30th birthday at the race and went on to place third in the Pro Division.

    Professional motocross racer Kevin Windham, currently sidelined by wrist injury, was also on hand to sign autographs and cheer on his fellow SPY team riders. “Knowing the importance of the fair to the community, it was exciting to be a part of this event,” said Windham. “Racing in this area is top-of-the-world. San Diego is kind of like Mecca for motocross racing.”

    SPY’s partnership with Be the Match?a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing bone marrow transplants?resulted in a substantial number of potential donors being added to their database. In addition to the $30 race entry fee that went entirely to Be the Match to cover screening test costs, an additional $2,400 was donated by SPY?totaling $4,800. The event’s partnership hits close to home because Be the Match recently helped McGrath’s wife, Kim, find a bone marrow match to help cure her current battle with leukemia.

    “The marrow drive was a huge success,” said McGrath regarding the fundraising aspect of the moto race. “For SPY to get a motocross event going at Del Mar is just an amazing deal, and we are so thankful for the help and awareness raised about this issue that affects many families.”

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: PART 2

    Like father, like son (only without the mountain bike pedals)? Photo: Karl Ockert
    
MINI-VIEW: DAVE OSTERMAN

    I really enjoy talking with TwoTwo Motorsports team manager, Dave Osterman. “Dave O” and I go back to the beginning of my career at MXA, back when he was steering the Yamaha of Troy ship. If you know Dave then you know that he’s quite frank and candid in his opinions. Osterman has yelled, laughed, scolded and complimented me?often in a single conversation.

    I was happy to hear that Dave was going to be Chad Reed’s team manager before the 2011 season. Osterman was unemployed after working for Buell, spending his time with his family, mountain biking, and looking for an opportunity to reenter the motocross industry. Reed gave him a shot, and the pairing has worked well. It has worked in my favor, too. Whenever I want to find out TwoTwo Motorsports news or information on Chad I can call up Dave. That’s exactly what I did.

MXA: Will TwoTwo Motorsports be sponsored by Bel-Ray for 2013?

Dave: No. That’s over and done with. Next question.

Is Chad going to be racing next year?

10-4. Yes. We’re hoping that he returns for the Monster Cup. It’s up to Chad, though. He has ants in his pants to go race. Even though he’s expecting a second child and he’s building a go-cart track at his facility, he’s full speed ahead.

Chad has really taken to car racing. Is that a concern?

No, I think Chad is just looking to the future. He’s not a young racer anymore. When he was a child he aspired to go race on four wheels. If you look at our sport, so many guys have gone the way that Chad wants to go in the future. Eventually he’ll put his boots away in exchange for driving shoes. If the opportunity presents itself through a connection or because of the name that he has built for himself then more power to him.

What has the team been doing this summer?

We did some data acquisition stuff for a while, but then we put that away once the outdoors got into full swing. The Honda staff was really busy with their own guys, so we focused on a few particular areas of the bike. After Ben Townley got hurt we regrouped for 2013 and for Chad’s return. We’ve also done some work on our rig. Lars Lindstrom [Chad Reed's mechanic] is going to make an appearance by racing at Mammoth on the vet weekend. I’ll also be up there, but on my mountain bike or with a fishing pole in hand. Right now everyone is chilling.

What are your thoughts on the 2013 Honda CRF450?

I’m excited about it. You know, it’s a model change from the 2009-2012 CRF450. We got this year’s bike working really well. We had a good package. When Chad stopped due to injury we were in a good position to win the Supercross title. From the outdoors last year to Supercross this year we had the bike worked out. Again, I’m excited about the bike. We’ll be on the forefront of figuring it out. From what I’ve heard already, a lot of guys are saying that the bike is pretty good.


Despite a greatly shortened 2012 season, Chad Reed and the TwoTwo Motorsports team have made big gains. Right now they’re waiting to get back in the game, which will require a healthy Chad Reed.

In all likelihood will TwoTwo Motorsports have a second rider on the team for 2013?

I believe in Chad’s thinking that it is what he wants to do. It’s all on how everything pans out. I think we are going in that direction. I can’t say who it is, but we’re looking at having two riders.

A lot of riders have contracts up after this season.

Yes, that’s true. A lot of guys are up. There are name guys, and then there are name guys that have results. There not one in the same all of the time. It gets tricky. You have to really be savvy on settling with someone.

There’s news that Millville is going to rename the jump that Chad crashed on last year as the “Chadapult.” What are your thoughts on the naming?

I don’t know. Well, there’s Henry Hill at Budds Creek. The Reed crash was spectacular and seen by everyone all over the world, most of them people who could care less about motocross or motorcycling, in general. Chad walked away from the crash and lived to tell about it. As much as you don’t want to rehash it, I think that the crash will be replaying forever. I’m just happy that Chad walked away. Regardless of the rider, whether it’s Chad or not, my hope is that they walk away without a problem.

What do you think about Chad earning U.S. citizenship?

There has been a lot of internet talk about it. It’s a positive thing that he earned dual citizenship. He’s a world traveler. Chad and his wife are very close, and having a full-time residence in Florida, it was necessary to become a U.S. citizen. Chad and Ellie said that it was a nice experience. I think that’s he Australian first, all of the way. Will he ever ride the Motocross des Nations for the U.S.? I don’t think it’s about that at all. It has more to do with business and traveling and logistics. It was smart for both of them to do it.

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