By John Basher


    MXA tester Dennis Stapleton takes bike testing to a whole new level. He goes as far as testing the handlebars, grips and levers in crash situations. Here, the 2012 KTM 250SXF passes with flying colors.


    “Yelling is a good technique. I remember coming up on the inside of another rider and yelling my head off. I think the guy thought I was out of control, because he backed off the gas and gave me the spot! I didn’t really intend on gaining a position because of yelling, but it worked sometimes. I always remember yelling at Jean-Michel Bayle, but he didn’t fall for that trick [laughter].”


It’s time to rate the riders!

Chad Reed – (268 points, 1st 450): Reed is the media darling of the year, thanks in part to his new team, his decision to race the Nationals, and his new attitude toward the fans and media. It’s like 2011 brought out Chad Reed, Version 2.0. I’ve always known Reed to be a downer and aloof…but maybe that’s in the old Reedy? Time will tell, but for now it’s nice to see Chad happy and smiling. He should be happy and smiling, anyway. The TwoTwo Motorsports owner has a 16 point lead over second place, and he has won four of the six Nationals. The worst he has finished is fifth (first moto at High Point). Every other moto this season he has been on the box. If Chad continues his podium trend and splits moto wins, he will win the 450 National crown (again).

Ryan Villopoto – (252 points, 2nd 450): I’m surprised that Villopoto doesn’t have more overall wins at this point in the series. Sure, it’s his first (hopefully) full 450 outdoor venture, but RV is no stranger to long motos in the summer sun. He battled illness at the first two Nationals, but looked rejuvenated at High Point and closed the gap on Reed. Still, he needs to avoid catastrophe (first turn crash at Red Bud) if he wants to win the title. Washougal and Pala are his types of tracks, so watch out.

Ryan Dungey – (246 points, 3rd 450): 2010 was a year of tremendous fortune for Dungey. And, for 2011, Ryan’s luck is beginning to balance out. When his fuel evaporated in the second moto at Freestone Ryan could only throw up his hands at his misfortune. With his fuel went 25 valuable points. Had he won the moto he would be leading the point standings by six over Chad Reed (271 to 265). Unfortunately for Ryan, he doesn’t have much help up front. No one, aside from the occasional Kevin Windham or Davi Millsaps appearance, has stepped up and challenged the duo of Reed and Villopoto. Dungey needs a buffer between himself and the two riders ahead of him in points. If he doesn’t get the help then he better hope that RV and Reedy suffer mechanicals.

Brett Metcalfe – (178 points, 4th 450): Metty is nearly 100 points back in the chase for the title, but he’s only six points ahead of Kevin Windham (K-Dub sits in sixth). The disparity in points between Metcalfe and the big three shows two things: (1) The battle for fourth in the point standings is a slugfest between Brett, Millsaps, Windham, Short, Craig, Alessi, Weimer, Dietrich and Hahn. (2) All of these riders are not in the same time zone as Reed, Villopoto and Dungey. It’s no secret that the rider that earns fourth place in the 450 Championship will earn the distinction of “The Best of the Rest.” There’s no real shame in that.

Davi Millsaps – (173 points, 5th 450): Surprise! Davi Millsaps likes the outdoors! It’s stretching the truth, but it’s nice to see what a healthy Millsaps can do outdoors on a 450. Davi should aim for the podium in every moto and not be satisfied until he is on the box every race.

Dean Wilson – (258 points, 1st 250): It’s exciting to see that Wilson is so consistent in only his second year on tour. He hasn’t won as much as I thought he would through six rounds, but I bet he’s happy to be in the driver’s seat for the 250 title. In 12 motos he’s failed to finish off the podium only once (the next most consistent rider on the podium, Tyla Rattray, has been off the podium four times). Right now Wilson has a 14 point lead, but it’s evaporating quicker than a loogie under the Tucson sun, thanks to Blake Baggett.

Blake Baggett – (244 points, 2nd 250): Baggett is…wait for it…the fastest 250 rider on the planet right now. Blake’s competitors had better hope that he has more Freestone rides and less Red Bud finishes. When he’s on, there’s no one that can stop him. Blake has made it a very exciting series, but it could turn boring quickly if he strings together a bunch of moto wins. What’s particularly interesting is that Blake hasn’t raced any of the remaining Nationals before (he went down with an injury last year at Budds Creek). And by the way, the “Chupacabra” nickname that has been bestowed upon him is stupid. When I think of Blake Baggett, I don’t picture an animal that looks like a drowned coyote.

Tyla Rattray – (242 points, 3rd 250): The series can turn on a dime, evidenced by Rattray’s points lead. Tyla was in great shape after Budds Creek, but a cold streak of fifth place finishes has left him 16 points back in the chase. I expect Tyla to continue being strong late in the motos, but it seems that Wilson and Baggett have picked up the pace. That could spell disaster for Rattray.

Eli Tomac – (176 points, 4th 250): Eli is trailing Dean Wilson by almost 100 points. 100 points! Tomac isn’t having the season that everyone expected him to have. A DNS day for Eli at Red Bud dropped him significantly in the standings, but even before the last National Tomac struggled. He should be winning motos, and yet he hasn’t finished second in a moto. Come on, Eli!

Kyle Cunningham
– (163 points, 5th 250): The Star Racing rider is either on (Freestone) or off (Hangtown). Kyle has a great riding style and he’s so fun to watch outdoors. It would be nice to see him as excited off the track that he is on the track. Every time I see him he has a scowl on his face. I wonder if maybe Kyle had fun at the races his results would improve. Hey, I’m just thinking out loud here.  

A sampling of tweets from James Stewart last week. Self analysis in 140 characters.


Bristol Core, a muffler material manufacturer, has established the “Local Hero Award” to recognize the hard working privateer riders who are the heroes of local motocross racing around the country. The award going to the privateer rider who puts down the fastest, non-qualifying lap time at each week’s AMA 250/450 National motocross. The riders get a check for $275 for their efforts. The Bristol Core Award alternates between between the 250 and 450 class each week.

Hangtown……….Michael Giese (250)
Freestone……….Tucker Saye (450)
Mt. Morris………..Gared Steinke (250)
Budds Creek……Nicholas Jackson (450)
Thunder Valley…Preston Mull (250)
Red Bud………….Steve Roman (450)


    From ESPN’s Colin Bane: Josh Lichtle, 23, died early Monday morning after complications from heat stroke sustained during the 450 class Moto one race on Saturday at the 2011 Rockstar Energy Red Bud National in Michigan, the sixth stop of the AMA Lucas Oil Motocross Championship.

    Lichtle tangled with Ryan Villopoto and Tommy Hahn in the first turn of Lap one, but recovered and was making his way up in the pack before collapsing on his bike on turn 18 of the 10th and final lap. Lichtle got up and tried to restart his bike, but fell again and began going into heat-related seizures. He was treated by the track doctor and on-site EMTs before being taken to nearby Saint Joseph’s Medical Center.

    “He was doing really good, running some lap times right there with the best of them, right there with Ryan Villopoto and Davi Millsaps, and he was really going for it,” said Bill Lichtle, Josh’s older brother. “He got overheated, basically, and by the last laps he was practically passing out on the bike. He just wouldn’t quit. That was Josh: He just had so much heart and he wanted to be back competing at this level so bad that he wouldn’t have quit for anything.”

    Temperatures in the area were in the low 90s during the race, not uncommonly high for summer motorsports events, but physical overheating is an inherent danger of the sport. Doctors induced a coma to attempt to stabilize Lichtle’s core body temperature, according to his brother, and he appeared to have been stabilized by Sunday night. Despite apparent progress, Lichtle died around 2 a.m. Monday morning, surrounded by family and loved ones. “My parents really supported him through every stage of his racing career, and they’re just devastated now,” said Bill.

    Lichtle, a former amateur champion, saw his pro career stopped short after a severe ankle injury in 2006 and had been trying to stage a comeback over the last several years, racing partial East Coast Supercross seasons in 2009 and 2010. He qualified for this weekend’s Red Bud National in 30th place out of a 40-rider field.

    “My brother and I both started racing when we were like three years old,” said Bill. “This was his life, but after than ankle injury he lost all his sponsorships and had to start over from scratch. It was a real struggle for him. Josh was an amazing athlete — he was the fastest guy on the track here in Michigan, for sure — and he was a champion in all aspects. He’d won a bunch of amateur championships and just never let go of the dream of making it as a pro racer. That’s what got him, unfortunately: He just wouldn’t quit.”

    “MX Sports and the entire motocross community sends its condolences to the family,” said Roy Janson, a spokesman for the event’s promoter.

    MXA NOTE: In lieu of flowers, memorial donations should be made to the Lichtle Family to establish a fund in Josh’s memory. The funeral service will on Thursday, July 7, at the Modetz Funeral Home, 100 East Silverbell Road, Orion, Michigan 48359.


Congratulations to Matrix Concepts’ riders Chad Reed of Two Two Motorsports, Ryan Villopoto from Factory Kawasaki, Ryan Dungey, and Brett Metcalfe from Factory Suzuki. Matrix Concepts is halfway there and holding strong. Round 7 of 12 takes place at Spring Creek MX in Millville, MN, on July 16th.

1st…Two Two Motorsports – Chad Reed 1-3
2nd…Factory Suzuki – Ryan Dungey 2-2
3rd…Factory Kawasaki – Ryan Villopoto 9-1
4th…Factory Suzuki – Brett Metcalfe 4-5

    About Matrix Concepts: Matrix Concepts is based in Valencia, California founded in 2009 and is used by the top MX/Off-road race teams in the world and offers a complete range of track/garage necessities that include personalized off road motorcycle Stands, Loading Ramps, Tie Downs, Utility cans and Worx Mats. For more information on Matrix Concepts products, visit:,, and Follow us on Twitter!


    How fast was Blake Baggett going at Competitive Edge yesterday? Fast enough to displace a rut!


     As reported here last week, Wildomar businessman Gio Nanci has reached an agreement to open the dormant Lake Elsinore Motocross Park. “We are reopening the track?that is what is happening. We’ve scheduled a target date of September. We’re going to do a lot of new things. It will be a lot different from what was previously there. It’s going to be big for the community and Southern California.” said Nanci. Lake Elsinore planning officials confirmed they have had discussions with the property owner and a representative of the future operator. Planning Manager Warren Morelion said the city has told the operator he can use the property as long as he complies with an existing permit. Read more: