MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER (10/9/13)

October 9, 2013
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK

    Yes, that’s Chad Reed on an all-white bike. Yes, it’s a Kawasaki.

MINI-VIEW: ZACK FREEBERG

    For every Ryan Villopoto there are dozens of privateers that go unrecognized. It’s sad, actually. There are so many pivotal people that make up this great sport, yet so few get the credit that they deserve. Though a racer like Villopoto makes the rest of the 450 class look silly, there’s something to be said for the guy who makes the main event and fights to death for National points. Without these guys then no matter how fast the factory riders are, no one would pay attention.
    Zack Freeberg, National number 65 for 2014, is not a slouch on a motocross bike. The 21 year old from Florida, relatively new to the professional race scene, has finished as high as eighth in 250 Supercross and has a promising future in the sport?just as long as he can find a ride.
    After a major gaffe on my part from last week’s edition of the Mid-Week Report, where I wrote that Freeberg lost his National number for 2014 (he didn’t), I decided it would be sweet retribution if I gave Zack the spotlight he deserved. Meet Zack Freeberg, one of the hardest working athletes in the sport.

MXA: Hey Zack, I have to start this interview by apologizing. I’m the idiot that wrote about how you lost your National number for 2014 when, in fact, you improved your standing by going from 71 to 65.
Zack: Don’t worry about it. I understand. Well, I missed the last two 250 East Supercross races and half of the outdoor series because I broke my leg at Houston. I had to have surgery, so that put me out until midway through the outdoors. I came back at Budds Creek and had a bad get-off on a 250. That’s where I realized that I should make the switch to the 450, because I just didn’t have enough power on the 250. Ever since then things seem to be clicking a lot better for me.

Still, you did very well in 250 Supercross. Your best finish was an eighth place at Daytona, but you scored points in five rounds.
I was happy with my finish at Daytona. That was my best finish in Supercross. I was having a really good race in Houston. I almost got the holeshot in the heat race. I was running second, but bobbled and crashed on my own. I holeshot the main event and was in third for a while. I went back to fifth, but had a big get-off when I hit a hay bale, which kicked me sideways, and I put my leg out. That was the end of that. I had a decent Supercross season, but I found out that it was tough. You have to get a good start.


Freeberg at the Utah National, where he went 16-27 for 21st overall.

You mentioned how things started clicking for you once you moved to the 450 class in the outdoors. Why was that?
It was a world of difference for me! I’m one of the heaviest guys on the gate. I’m 6’2″ and I weigh 170 pounds. A 250 doesn’t pull me around the track very well when the dirt is tilled really deep. I struggled making the jumps, and I didn’t have enough motor. I decided to sell my 250s and buy a 450. My first race on it was at Washougal, but I had some issues. The next round at Millville I crashed in the first turn and came all of the way back to 19th, which I was happy with. In the second moto I finished 12th. That was a big turnaround for me, and it gave me a lot of confidence. The rest of the rounds I was right inside the top 15. Jumping to the 450 was one of the better decisions that I’ve made, and I’ll be riding Supercross on a 450 this next year. I’m done with the 250s for now!

What do you have lined up for 2014?
There’s nothing set in stone. I’m talking to a couple of people, but I haven’t signed anything yet. All offers are welcome. It’s tough out there right now. There aren’t many rides. Unfortunately me and my family aren’t capable of paying to go racing. If I don’t get help then I’m pretty much done with racing. It’s not in the budget, and I can’t afford it. Like I said, it’s tough. Hopefully we get some things worked out.

You’ve been racing your whole life. It must be disheartening to reach the highest level and attain success, but discover that it’s fiscally so tough to make a career in this sport.
Exactly. Last year was tough for me. I had some ups and downs. The outdoor season wasn’t so bad. I rode for LWR/Langston Racing. That gave me experience and was a big help. I was able to get my name out there. I was on a solid team, but I had a couple of things that didn’t work so well on the bike, but the team continued to work hard and figure things out. This year was a decent year for me, so I’m pretty happy.

What’s your intent for 2014?
I’ll be racing 450 Supercross and the 450 Nationals. I’m feeling confident on a 450. I know that it’s going to be tough, but I can do it. Right now I plan on racing on a Honda, unless something changes.

Let’s pretend that you’re on a job interview. What sets you apart from everyone else, and why do you deserve a ride for next year?
I know that I haven’t been racing professionally for that long, but some of these other guys have been racing for a long time and keep getting rides. It’s time to give someone else a chance. I beat half of the guys on teams in the outdoors, and I know that there are people that see it. If I would just get the chance to test, then I’ll prove myself to these teams. I’m not asking to sign a contract or give me anything. Just give me the chance to test. If they don’t like what they see then I’ll go home and not make a big deal out of it. I’ll thank them for giving me the shot. It’s black or white. It’s good or it’s not. No one has to sign me on the spot, but I’d love to have the chance to show what I can do for a team.  

Finally, is there anyone you would like to thank?
For sure. I’d like to thank Scott and Kelly Witt, Maykers, Hinson, List Designs, Dubya, Pro Circuit, Bell, Scott, Fly Racing, Alpinestars, Pit Posse, Outlaw Racing, Cycra, Dunlop, VPM engines, ICW Radiators, Extreme Powersports, Renthal, Engine Ice, Renegade Fuels, Moto Seat, DTI Filters, and Scott Southhill.

Good luck to you, Zack. Sorry again for the gaffe.
No worries, John. Thanks for your time.

PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: FASTWAY KTM SHOCK PRELOAD COLLAR

    The Team at Fastway Performance teamed with the suspension guru’s at Stillwell Performance and developed the new KTM Rear Shock Pre-load Collars.
Each set is CNC machined at Pro Moto Billet world headquarters in Idaho using USA made 6061 billet aluminum, and then anodized brilliant orange; before the Fastway logos are laser etched on. There collars feature 14 position adjustments, and come with a custom billet adjustment wrench. Fits all KTM Linkage models. The retail price is $99.95, includes both collars and the billet wrench. One caveat, you have to take your shock completely apart to install the shock collar. For more info go to www.promotobillet.com

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: MXA‘S 2014 450 SHOOTOUT

MXA‘S 450 SHOOTOUT OUTTAKES
Meet the riders, see the bikes, and check out a sequence of Daryl Ecklund boosting a hip jump just for fun (and don’t worry, his ankles are just fine).


Clean graphics and numbers, courtesy of Ron Joynt, Nic Wright and the fine folks at www.decalmx.com.


Our test fleet before action got under way. We had a perfectly prepped Glen Helen Raceway all to ourselves for the final phase of the 450 shootout process.


Daryl Ecklund rode the Kawasaki KX450F for the video. More on that below…


Emil Foldager, the pride of Denmark, twisted the throttle on the KTM 450SXF for our video. In the video, he gives a little shout out in Danish for his friends back home.


Tye Hames manhandled the powerful Yamaha YZ450F for our photo shoot. At the exact moment this photo was taken he was probably dreaming about driving his Fiat on a twisty mountain road at sunset.


Trent Pugmire was on our Honda CRF450. This may look like a turn, but it is ascrub and the photo doesn’t do the scrub justice. Trent thought it would be cool to scrub by pushing his rear end out instead of scrubbing with his front end. Trent is one of those guys that deserves a ride. He could easily finish inside the top 15 consistently in 250 Supercross.


Our resident test rider, Dennis Stapleton, was on the Suzuki RM-Z450. Dennis is coming back from a shoulder injury, but looks primed and ready to dominate in the 30+ Pro class at the World Vet Championship at the beginning of November.








That’s Daryl Ecklund getting sick-nasty on the 2014 KX450F during our shoot. This guy can do this on a motorcycle and type stories. Need proof? See below.

HOME FROM SWEDEN & THE 2014 HUSQVARNA NEW BIKE INTRO
By Daryl Ecklund

Daryl Ecklund. Number 10 on paper, but number one in our hearts.

    It is a long flight to Sweden from California, and I was allotted a total of 36 precious hours to get the most of this faraway country. I arrived just in time for dinner at my hotel with the Husqvarna crew at the Stenungsbaden Yacht Club. I was wined and dined, and then it was off to bed to get ready for a full day at the historic Uddevalla race track where every year they hold a round of the World Motocross Championship series.


Nirvana?

    The next morning, as we rolled into the track, there sat Husqvarna’s lineup under a dark heavy sky. A total of 22 brand-new bikes were lined up ready to do some damage. The Husqvarna folks had set up two different test tracks. One was the motocross track for the “Cross” lineup, while the other was a nine-mile enduro course for all the Husky offroad models. Both of these tracks were epic. There was a light rain falling the entire day, but the Swedish dirt soaked up the moisture rather well. The motocross track had a lot of elevation changes with big steep tabletops, most with quick 90 degree corners directly after, which kept you on your toes. The enduro course was all singletrack that went up and down through the forest with slippery tree roots (that I crashed on numerous times), big rocks everywhere and the occasional water crossing.


Berm-blasting action from Ecklund.

    I was able to ride the majority of both the cross and offroad line-up, ranging from the 125 two-stroke to Husky’s biggest thumper, the 501 enduro bike. I can say with confidence that every bike I rode I enjoyed, but every bike also had its niche. I know MXA doesn’t talk about enduro bikes very often, but I have to say that I was very surprised how well these bikes handled in the tight rocky trials. The suspension on the enduro models was extremely plush. They absorbed every rock that entered my path?I wish they had been as good on slippery tree roots. Then again, hen I brought any of the enduro bikes over to the motocross track I would bottom out on the first jump I would hit.


Streaky fall foliage outlines a white-clad warrior.

    Specificity. This is what Husqvarna is banking on. Making a special bike for each specific person that is tailored to their needs is the heart and soul of niche markting. This appraoch is what worked for KTM, and since Husky is now a sister company, they are following suit. Smart? I would say so. Hopefully the Japanese manufacturers catch on soon. If not I can predict pure dominance by the European brands in the near future.
    
2014 HUSQVARNA MODELS RELEASED
(U.S.-based motocross bikes only shown)

2014 Husqvarna TC250.

    Pres release: Motocross has changed a lot since first coming to the United States at the hand of Edison Dye in 1966. Armed with two Husqvarna motorcycles and a Swedish world champion named Torsten Hallman, Dye kicked off America’s fascination with motocross racing. The machinery has progressed significantly since then, but the Husqvarna marque remains the definitive emblem of the era. This emblem will once again adorn state-of-the-art motocross bikes, as Husqvarna’s 2014 line is elevating the brand back to a world-class level.
    Husqvarna is breaking ground in the youth motocross segment in North America with the all-new TC85. “We see quite a bit of opportunity in the minicycle segment in the United States,” said Husqvarna’s Andy Jefferson. “We’re excited to introduce the Husqvarna brand to the youth motocross crowd.”
    The TC 85 brings Husqvarna’s full-size performance into a small package. Young racers have a no-compromise approach to motocross with the same quality components as the big bikes – WP suspension, hydraulic clutch, and a high-performance two-stroke engine complete with power valve and six-speed gearbox.

2014 TC125.

    Step-by-step advancement into the premier ranks of motocross is possible through Husqvarna’s 2014 model range. Joining the TC85 in the two-stroke motocross category are the TC125 and the TC250. Both the 125 and 250 feature class-leading two-stroke performance fed by Boyesen reed valves, and are tunable through a power valve and two pre-set ignition curves. The TC125 and TC250 ride on WP suspension, featuring the closed-cartridge fork and CNC machined triple clamp up front, and a fully adjustable link-mounted shock in the rear.
    On the four-stroke side, Husqvarna has the FC250 and FC450 duo ready to go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. Husky is headed straight to the top of motocross competition with the all-new FCs, featuring potent engines, the ultimate in chassis and suspension technology, fuel injection, electric start and a host of state-of-the-art components.
    The dual-overhead DOHC cam design of the FC250 features a K”nig forged box-type piston, titanium valves and DLC-coated finger followers. Fed by Keihin EFI and a 44mm throttle body, the FC250′s power is put to work by a five-speed gearbox. The Brembo hydraulic clutch enables smooth and consistent operation of the CSS (coil spring steel) clutch.
    The FC 450 is powered by a single overhead cam engine, featuring DLC-coated rocker arms, Pankl crank and connecting rod. Like the 250, the FC450 is equipped with a K”nig forged box-type piston and five-speed gearbox, but the 450 utilizes Husqvarna’s innovative DDS (damped diaphragm steel) clutch. Brembo clutch hydraulics ensure smooth action and easy control of the FC450′s exceptional power, which climbs to a breathtaking 60 hp.
    The power plants of both the FC250 and FC450 come together in streamlined, compact designs thanks to the advanced production process of the engine cases. High-pressure die-casting allows for thinner wall thickness and lower overall weight without sacrificing strength. To reduce weight even further the FCs do without the kickstart casting.
    Dunlop MX51 tires, a tapered aluminum 827 Renthal Fatbar, hand guards and Brembo brakes complete the finishing touches of Husqvarna’s 2014 motocross family.

MODEL HIGHLIGHTS:

2014 Husqvarna FC450.

All models (excluding TC85):
WP suspension front and rear
CNC-machined triple clamps with four handlebar positions
Link-mounted rear suspension
Polyamide rear subframe
Black D.I.D. rims, CNC-machined hubs

2014 TC85.

TC (85, 125, 250):
Closed-cartridge WP fork
Power valve
Boyesen reed valves*
CDI with two ignition curves, switchable by plug*
Hand guards, Dunlop MX51 tires*, tapered aluminum 827 Renthal Fatbar
TC85 has Formula brake and clutch hydraulics, six-speed gearbox, black Excel rims with CNC-machined hubs.
TC125 has Vertex piston, Magura hydraulic clutch, standard coil clutch system and six-speed gearbox.
TC250 has DDS clutch with Brembo hydraulic clutch and five-speed gearbox.
300cc kit available for TC250 through Husky Power
*Excludes TC85

2014 FC250.

FC (250, 450):
Closed-cartridge 48mm WP fork
Pankl crankshaft and connecting rod
K”nig forged bridged-box-type piston
Electric start only
Keihin EFI, 44mm throttle body
Five-speed gearbox, Brembo clutch hydraulics
FC 250 has DOHC engine with DLC-coated finger followers and standard coil clutch system.
FC 450 has SOHC engine with DLC-coated rocker arms and DDS clutch.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: MATRIX CONCEPTS TEAM TENT
Matrix Concepts Launches All New 10′ X 10′ Collapsible Team Tents

    Made with professional, heavy-duty grade polyester fabric with vibrant colorfast print and strong steel powder coated frame. The tents come in all 5 team colors. Features Include: (1) Collapses into it’s own heavy-duty portable carrying case. (2) Has an elevated center design for increased headroom. (3) Has 6 pull pin auto-sliders for smooth opening and closing. (3) Includes: Pop-Up Canopy, Carrying Case and 8 Ground Stakes.

    Visit Matrix Concepts and 1.7 Cleaning Solutions at: www.MatrixRacingProducts.com and see why 30 of the top teams in Supercross & Motocross use and depend on Matrix Concepts garage and track necessities.

VIDEO: FOX MXDN HIGHLIGHTS
Check out the Fox highlights from on and off the track at the 2013 Motocross of Nations event in Teutschenthal, Germany.

MONSTER ENERGY CUP TO AIR LIVE ON FOX SPORTS 2
 
    Feld Motor Sports announced today that the highly anticipated Monster Energy Cup will air live on the recently launched FOX Sports 2 from Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium on October 19 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Fans will enjoy 3.5 hours of live coverage as the biggest names in the sport battle it out for $1 million. The following day, FOX Sports 1 will re-air the entire race at 1:00 p.m. ET. The popular team of Ralph Sheheen, Jeff Emig and Erin Bates will call the action as the world’s top racers, including Justin Barcia, Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart and Ryan Dungey, lay it on the line for a shot at  $1 million on a fresh, new track designed by five-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael.
    ”It’s great to hear that FOX Sports 2 is providing the fans at home 3.5 hours of live coverage from the Monster Energy Cup as I defend my title against the sport’s heavyweights in Las Vegas,” said defending champion Barcia.
    ”Heading into its third year, the Monster Energy Cup has quickly grown into one of the most anticipated races of the year, and showcasing it live on FOX Sports 2 will deliver this world class race to a new, multi-sport audience,” said Ken Hudgens, COO, Feld Motor Sports.
    FOX Sports 2, an extension of FOX Sports 1, is a new national 24-hour multi-sport cable channel launched by FOX Sports on Aug. 17, 2013. FOX Sports 2 content platform focuses on a broader spectrum of live sporting events from around the globe, including the Monster Energy Cup, and connects with fans through entertaining studio shows and original programming.
    ”It’s awesome to be able to share a showcase event like the Monster Energy Cup live on FOX Sports 2,” said FOX Sports SVP of Programming and Research Patrick Crakes. “This world-class race delivers a very passionate, young and growing fan base. And while final touches are still being put on the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross programming schedule, we can now say that most of the season’s races will air live on FOX Sports 1, America’s new sports network.”
 

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