MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT: (03/21/12)

By John Minert

MXA INTERVIEW BLAKE WHARTON

Wharton focusing on the holeshot.

Justin Barica’s win streak has ended at the hands of former teammate Blake Wharton. Right from the start of the East Coast series, Blake showed that he wasn’t going to get beat without a hard fight and Barcia and Wharton have had some heated battles and close calls this season. We asked Blake to weigh in on his win, the staggered start and his battles with Barcia.

MXA: What made the difference for you in taking the win this weekend?

Blake: I’ve been showing up to the races to try to ride my best and to try to win. It hasn’t happened until this last weekend, but I put forth the same effort very weekend. Just because you don’t win the first few races doesn’t mean you can give up. You keep pushing for the podiums and for the win. I can’t say that any one thing made the difference. The win is great for the team, as well. I’m really proud that we won, but you can’t celebrate too long over one victory, but I’ll take it while it’s there. It has taken awhile for me to win another race after my last win in 2009, I know how much effort it takes to win. It’s not just one dude showing up to races, it’s the effort of me, the team, Randy Lawrence and my family. There’s a lot of really good things working for me right now.


Blake (left) and Barcia’s (right) battles have been a highlight of 2012 Supercross racing.

Tell us about you battle with Barcia in the heat race last weekend and the battles this season.

He bumps into anyone, anytime, anywhere. That’s his style, he likes being aggressive. I’m fine with that. But when someone gets aggressive with him, he doesn’t like it. He’s been winning races and doing good, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get up there and race with him. I was just doing what I anyone would do. If you’re in first place, you’re going to try to stay in first place, you can’t just give it away. We have had our incidents in the past and we were teammates for a while.

Do the battles stay on the track or is there tension off the track too?

We don’t really talk. I think the funny part was his word choice after the race, he said that I “cool-guyed” him. Does he expect people to just give it to him? That’s not how the game’s played. If you want to race, we’ll race and that’s the way it should be. Supercross tracks are tight. There has always been bumping and grinding. To a certain point it’s good and to a certain point it’s unnecessary.

Take us through the restart. Was there anything you would do different knowing about the staggered start?

It’s really easy to look back and think of what you could have done differently. There’s always something that you could have done better. Even this weekend I thought, “man I should have done this and I could have one that.” But you have to live in the situation you’re in and trust the decisions you make. As strange as the restart was, everyone was sitting there getting pretty hot on the start straight. We couldn’t take our helmets off and take a break. I felt like I handled it pretty good. They lifted the flag up and I took off. I got into second place pretty quick and just put in my laps. I don’t know how you would prepare for a staggered start. Honestly, I should probably read the AMA rule book. It’s not something most people pick up. They don’t go to bed and think hey ‘I’ll read my rule book.’ It kind of looked like they were making stuff up. ‘Hey let’s do a staggered start.’ The important thing was that the rider [Kyle Cunningham] was okay and that he walked off the track.


Blake and his awesome mane in the Daytona mud.

What are you thoughts going into the upcoming rounds and tracks?
I’ve raced the East Coast before. I’ve been to Canada, Houston, New Orleans and obviously Vegas happens every year. It’s easy to get wrapped up in thinking “Oh, we’ve got to win, we’ve got to do this, we’ve got to do that.”  The best thing for me to do is to go out there and race as hard as I can. I think there should be some good racing coming up. Canada is always cool, I did well there last year. I’ve done well at Louisiana. I have some good tracks coming up. But the competition is stiff. I’m just going to do what I can.

How much time will you take away from Supercross riding to prepare for the Nationals?

I don’t know, it would be nice to get some outdoor testing in. That’s the trick with the 250 East Coast series, you don’t have much time before the outdoors starts and it can bite you when you get there. I think there’s definitely a certain amount of time you should take away and set it aside for motocross?because it is gnarly. You don’t want to get a late start, but you don’t want to take too much away from Supercross either. I can’t honestly say right now, but it’s getting to be that time and in the coming weeks we’ll figure it out.

ARE YOU HARDCORE? ALPINESTARS ONE GOAL, ONE VISION VIDEO

To watch the video CLICK HERE.

MINI-VIEW: JEREMY ALBRECHT
Team manager for the JGR squadron

J-Bone.
 
MXA: How has the team adjusted to James, and how has James adjusted to the team?
Jeremy: It’s going well. Several of us on the team have worked with James in the past. Now we’re all kind of grown up. We are getting along really well, but we haven’t accomplished what we have wanted on the track. We’ve had some good talks. We’re going to keep working hard, and we know that he’s going to keep working hard. All we can do is keep plugging along. Our job for Yamaha is to help with the bike development and keep the sponsors satisfied. For Pirelli, they haven’t had a guy in the U.S. at the level of James and Davi before. Pirelli is really excited and they’re working hard.

It has to be frustrating, because it seems like Lady Luck hasn’t been very kind to James.
Even in the first few races, James could have easily finished second, but he had a few small crashes. A lot of people want to blame the bike. If he fell over in a corner every single time he crashed then I would say it’s the bike. However, when he falls somewhere else then how can anyone say that it’s a bike problem? There were a few races where we struggled. At Anaheim 1 we didn’t have the right setup. James didn’t look comfortable there. We also struggled in the heat race in San Diego. Other than that, our tires have been really good. There are races where James has clearly looked the best. The good thing is that we’re not putting blame any on James, and he’s not putting any blame on us. We have to make good decisions as a team. James is trying to take his time, and it’s something that he has always needed to work on. He’s getting better at it. It’s hard, because when you want to win really badly you don’t necessarily make the best decisions at the time. The last couple of weeks were going really well. We got the win at Daytona, and Davi finished second. Then James crashed at Indy, but Davi finished on the podium. It hasn’t been our year so far, but we’re still trying to move forward.


Sometimes James rides so fast that he literally skips above the ground.

Do you ever know in first practice how James is feeling, based on his body language?
I’m pretty much able to tell. At Phoenix James looked great all day long. He crashed on the steep sandy jump, but other than that he rode great. At Oakland James rode really well all day, but not as well as he could have. Each week he looks better and better. We just haven’t gotten the results that shows how good he’s really riding.

Why are people so tough on James?
I think people expect him to win. People want to know why James isn’t winning, and he’s not always the best at explaining himself. People want to pick on him for that. He’s also changed his mind a few times, and people don’t like that. I just think that people are tough on him. Even when Ryan Villopoto jumped on the red light in Atlanta people said that James was whining about that. You know what? A rule is a rule. It was wrong that nothing was done about what happened, but I can’t do anything about it. People tweet me and say, “Well why do you care? James would have gotten beat anyway.” I see all of that stuff, but I don’t respond. I read it just so I know what people are thinking. On the weekends there are definitely more fans that like him than don’t. You can’t make everyone happy. We just try to do the best that we can.


Davi and James had much to celebrate after they went 1-2 at Daytona.

How is Davi working out in his second year on the team?
He’s getting better and better each week. He had a slow start to the season, but he’s picking it up. He’s had some great starts, and his attitude is positive. He’s loving his bike, and that’s really nice.

[Note: After speaking with JGR team owner Coy Gibbs, he informed us that James Stewart will try to ride the bike today and see how he feels about racing this weekend in Toronto.]

THE FASTEST PARTY IN TOWN MOVES TO GLEN HELEN RACEWAY

Left to right: Troy Lee, Glen Helen’s Lori Bryant, four-time 250 Champion Gary Jones and Fasthouse’s Kenny Alexander.

“A Day in the Dirt,” is moving to the world famous Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, California for the 15th running of this annual SoCal Classic. The event is hosted by Troy Lee Designs and the Hollywood Stunt & Film community. What started as a one-day event has turned into what some people call “MX Woodstock.” It’s a gathering of families and friends doing what they love most, riding dirt bikes. It not only attracts some of the fastest racers in the world and the “who’s who” of the moto industry, but also riders and moto fanatics worldwide.

Seven-time AMA National champ and an ADITD regular from day one, Ricky Johnson, along with legend Gary Jones, will work with presenter Troy Lee and Producer Kenny Alexander to design this year’s course. With blessings from the Glen Helen crew to “get creative,” they will incorporate some hills, some asphalt, and you name it, to build one of the coolest Motocross Grand Prix courses ever!

“A Day in the Dirt is such a special event,” says Kenny Alexander. “For those who have been, it’s one of the races you look forward to all year. And for the newcomers, it’s the beginning of a brand new Thanksgiving tradition. This year we’re moving the event to Glen Helen Raceway, a world-class facility that has hosted the outdoor nationals and the USGP. We’re really excited to bring such a fun event to such a great venue.” Whether you’re an A Day in the Dirt regular or a newcomer, you can expect a race like no other. The event takes place over Thanksgiving weekend November 23rd – 25th, 2012 so mark your calendar today.

For more info visit: www.adayinthedirt.com and www.glenhelen.com

PERSONAL UPDATE FROM JAMES AFTER HIS CRASH IN INDY

James in the Indy pits pondering the rest of the season.

“I just wanted to personally take the time to check in with you all after this weekend’s race.  Over the past few weekends we as a team have been working really well and built up some solid momentum that carried us straight into Indianapolis. The practice sessions were good. We were able to go fast and the team and I were really excited to get out there and race. But unfortunately it didn’t play out the way we expected it to and I was unable to finish out the night.

“As for right now, I’m heading in for further checks and after that we’ll reevaluate this weekend’s race in Toronto.  We’ll keep you all in the loop as this goes, but right now I wanted to thank all of you for the support. To my fans, my team, my sponsors, my family, my friends; everyone out there that’s been supporting me; THANK YOU.  I’ve seen a lot of posts online, been reading through the well wishes and everything else.  And it’s really cool to see you guys looking out for us riders.”

Thank you,
James Stewart #7

HOW AND WHEN TO CHANGE FORK OIL HEIGHT WITH NOLEEN J6’S CLARK JONES

With a Noleen revalve, you get free admission to a Noleen suspension seminar with Clark Jones.

Adding and removing fork oil is a very useful suspension tuning technique that’s simple enough for anyone to do with the investment in a couple tools. Noleen not only sells the tools, but will show you how.

Tools needed:
Noleen fork cap wrench ($29.95)
Noleen fork oil syringe ($6.95)
Cup, beaker or ratio-rite

When should you consider a fork oil height change instead of a clicker change?
Clark: Let’s say that the forks feel really good in turns and over bumps but there is a big bump or G-out that’s causing them to go through the stroke and bottom. Then the damping and clicker settings are good but you need to cure the bottoming. Adding fork oil will keep them from going through the stroke too quickly without upsetting the damping through the turns or smaller bumps.

On the other side of the coin, let’s say your suspension feels very stiff and your travel gauge tells you that you a couple inches from bottoming. You’ve messed with your adjusters but it still feels harsh, and the bumps feel squared instead of rounded. You go into turns and the front end feels high, and like it’s pushing back at you. This is when you want to remove a little bit of oil.


If you think you need to remove 5cc, remove ten. It goes in easier than it comes out.

How to remove fork oil:
You have to take the fork off of the bike. You have to loosen the outer nut that’s on the twin chamber fork. The easiest way to do it is with a beaker or any sort of graduated cup. You don’t have to pour out a lot. Then, you use an oil syringe to suck out the desired quantity. If you think you only need to remove 5cc, I recommend taking out 10cc because it’s so much easier to add oil then remove it. Lastly, you pour the oil from your cup back into the fork. You don’t have to loosen the inner chamber bolt. You are only replacing the oil in the outer chamber to change the air spring.


When adding oil, compress the forks and squirt oil while releasing them.

How to add oil:
The easiest way to add oil is to remove the air bleed screw. You don’t need remove the forks from the bike. Suck the oil into the syringe. Sit on the bike or have someone help you compress the forks. As you release the fork squirt the oil and it will suck the oil in. It’s best to only do one side at a time, or oil can squirt out.

BEN TOWNLEY TO TWOTWO MOTORSPORTS TO REPLACE SKIPPY FOR THE OUTDOORS

Press Release: TwoTwo Motorsports is pleased to announce the signing of former world champion and multiple AMA race winner Ben Townley to contest its 2012 Lucas
Oil Pro Motocross Championship campaign. With team owner and rider Chad Reed sidelined as he recovers from his AMA Supercross injury, the team sought a rider that could race competitively at the head of the 450 class while assisting in the ongoing development of the Honda CRF450 motorcycle.

“Prior to the Supercross season I had been speaking to Ben about racing competitively in the US again, and we’d spoken about the possibility of running a bike built by Mitch Payton from our truck for selected rounds. “After the injury, surgery and the initial realization that I would be sidelined from competition for some time, I needed to consider the team’s ongoing development and if there was a rider that could step in and be competitive in the role” said Reed. “We believe in Ben’s talent and work ethic, and combined with the great crew we have at TwoTwo Motorsports, I feel we have the formula to not only represent our sponsors but also challenge, win races and compete for the number 1 plate.

“I’m excited and I know the whole team is looking forward to getting back racing and supporting Ben. The decision was made in consultation with various parties and sponsors, with Reed remaining committed to providing the most value possible to those that have supported his newly-established team. “Our core sponsors – Bel-Ray, Honda Motorcycles, Shift, Etnies, Skullcandy and Fox – have stood behind us from the beginning and have been a big part of our success on and off track,” Reed continued. “We’re not just going racing to have a presence at the events, we strongly believe Ben is a rider that can challenge for race wins and we will give Ben every opportunity at success and getting the Honda on the podium.

“He will have the same factory support that I did and we will begin testing in the coming weeks to ensure he is comfortable and prepared for the series. “I would like to thank Honda Australia’s Tony Hinton and Yarrive Konsky for allowing Ben to pursue this opportunity.” Townley looks forward to maximizing the opportunity with TwoTwo Motorsports.

“I’m really looking forward to racing the AMA Motocross Championship with TwoTwo Motorsports,” said Townley. “It?s an incredible opportunity and one I will be grabbing with both hands. I can’t wait to work with the team to race and further develop the bike throughout the season. I also need to thank the Carlton Dry Honda Thor Racing team for supporting me with this opportunity,” Townley added.

RACE TECH AND AUTISM MX PARTNER FOR AWARENESS

The Autism MX Project was founded to bring awareness, understanding, and acceptance to Austism within the Motocross community. With no known cause of Autism, we only hope that projects like Austim MX can help find the missing pieces of the puzzle. Race Tech has partnered with Autism MX to spread awareness and raise funds to research Autism.

“I first heard about Autism MX because quite a few of our support riders were running Autism MX logos on their bikes. My nephew, Elijah, is autistic and the son of a racer; it hit close to home and gave me hope that some day the little boy in my life would be able to ride just like his dad and uncle. After speaking with Mathew and hearing his story, Race Tech had to get involved. Our involvement with this project will definitely continue to grow,” said Race Tech’s Director of Marketing Chris Riesenberg. Race Tech will be on hand April 15th to donate prizes and provide suspension setups at the 1st Annual Ride for Awareness Day presented by Autism MX and Cahuilla Creek MX. If you are in the area, plan to be at a great event for an amazing cause.

To learn more about Autism MX, the 1st Annual Ride for Awareness Day, or the Autism MX day camps; please visit www.AutismMX.com.

YOU COULD OWN CAPTAIN AMERICA’S BIKE

Captain America’s Harley is up for bids.

Press Release: Profiles in History is proud to announce the inclusion of some very fast and very cool superhero rides at their Captain America: The First Avenger Auction at this year’s C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL 60616 at 6PM Central Time on April 14, 2012. First up is Steve Rogers’ hero motorcycle. A contemporary Harley Davidson bike, modified, painted and dressed to reflect a WW2 military period look. The motorcycle is a detailed representation of the Harley Davidson classic WLA military motorcycles that the HD company began producing to US Army specs in 1940, it is the most period-correct Harley Davidson motorcycle available today. This custom replica is fashioned from a modern Harley Davidson with spring-mounted solo saddle and springer fork.  Steve Rogers as Captain America rides this bike into the heart of the Hydra Base, pursued by a troop of Hydra cycles in the final confrontation with Red Skull. The motorcycle is not operational and special shipping arrangements will apply. Estimated to fetch $12,000 ? $15,000.

You can also bid on the hero Hydra Fastrac. This imposing Hydra Fastrac is commandeered by the Howling Commandos during their liberation from the Hydra Factory. Constructed of a metal and fiberglass shell built on a JCB 3190, 4-wheel drive “Fastrac” tractor. The operating weight of the base vehicle is 17570.8 lb (7970 kg). The vehicle rides on four Michelin “Multibib” 540/65 R30 tires. The ominous, protruding cannon on the turret represents Hydra’s Cosmic Cube weaponry. The vehicle’s battery and fuel cells are located in a back compartment. This is a one-off hero vehicle in excellent condition and with expertly applied studio dirt and mud in the wheel wells. A spectacular, iconic, Daniel Simon design for the movie vehicle collector. The vehicle is not operational and special shipping arrangements will apply. Estimated to fetch $12,000 to $15,000.


The Hydra bike began life as a CRF250X. This would gun down the competition at your next race.

Finally, up for auction is a Hydra Motorcycle. The motorcycle consists of a fiberglass, gunmetal-painted, lightweight, custom shell built on an actual Honda Motocross bike model: CRF250X. The sleek Hydra shell features an embossed Hydra insignia on the gas tank and sides of the bike. The bike handlebars protrude from an opening in the top of the tank shell and there are two guns protruding from the front. There is a black, padded single-seat and the back of the bike features a wraparound frame, back wheel guard and rear foot pegs.  On the back lower frame, there is a rack fitted with three resin and rubber German grenade props. This machine is one of a group of Hydra bikes featured in the high-speed chase when Hydra troops are pursuing Captain America. The motorcycle is not operational and special shipping arrangements will apply. Estimated to fetch $4,000 ? $6,000

LAKE ELSINORE MOTORSPORTS PARK ADDS SHORT COURSE TRUCK TRACK

Lake Elsinore is back open for motocross business, but they aren’t stopping there. The third and fourth rounds of the 2012 Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series are coming to the all-new Lucas Oil Short Course Track on April 21-22 at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park. The all-new Lucas Oil Short Course Track features some of the toughest obstacles drivers will face all season, including huge jumps and technical rhythm sections that will test the skills and nerves of even the most seasoned drivers. Fans will be able to watch the action as it unfolds from the grandstands that offer a great view of the entire track.

The all-new Lucas Oil Track at Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park will test drivers’ skills and nerves with a challenging new layout that features technical rhythm sections and huge jumps. Tickets will be available for purchase online at lucasoiloffroad.com/spectators.htm#ticket.

Ben Townleyblake whartonchad reedcoy gibbscrf250hondaJeremy Albrechtjoe gibbsJOHN MINERTmotocrossmotocross actionmxanoleenSUPERCROSSyamaha