Location: Perris, CA
Date: December 15, 2009
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 1DS Mark II
Lens: 70-200mm f/2.8
Focal length: 70mm
Exposure: 1/1000 sec.
ALUMINUM FRAME 2017 SUZUKI RM125
MXA FIRST RIDE: 2017 KTM 450SXF
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: JEREMY SEEWER
Click here to read the interview.
TWO-STROKE SPOTLIGHT: KELLY SKEEN’S 1980 YAMAHA YZ125
“I thought you might like seeing this. I like to spend time buying old bikes and bringing them back to life. It can be a painfully expensive and time consuming job, but it is great therapy and keeps history front and center. I raced YZ125s back in 1980, so this bike had meaning to me.
“I found this bike in a local ad and in really rough shape. It did not run and the more I dug into it, the more I found it needed lots of work. I replaced the crank and top end. Someone along the way had sleeved it down to 100cc and I took it back to 125cc. I also replaced the tires, chain and sprockets, seat, plastics, levers, CDI, airbox, filter, bars, wiring and cables. I also had to replace the gas tank, because it actually had a hole in it! I also powder coated the frame. Everything was gone through and the bike was a ground-up restoration.
“I spent a fortune on the bike, not to mention time, and sold the bike to Eric Phipps, the owner of Works Connection. It sits on display in their shop today. The bike turned out great and keeps a piece of history alive.”
THREE QUESTIONS WITH MIKE FORKNER
Mike, have you and your wife adapted to the Pro schedule now that you’re three quarters through Austin’s first Pro National season?
It’s different in the sense that there are more races. There’s practically a race every weekend. In the Amateurs, we were building towards the big five Amateur Nationals. Austin would build up, and then take a week or two off from riding afterward. The goal was to peak at Freestone, Daytona, Loretta’s, Monster Cup, and Mini O’s. The main difference is getting used to a new schedule. Monday is kind of a light day for Austin. On Tuesday he rides a lot. On Wednesday he will road bike, but not ride the motorcycle. If maintenance needs to be done with the bike I’ll do it on Wednesday. Thursday isn’t a light day, but it’s not as intensive as Tuesday. Normally we’ll fly out on Friday for the race on Saturday.
Are you pleased with Austin’s results?
Our goal when we started out was to have Austin finish inside the top ten in every moto. A top five finish would be really good, and a podium moto finish would be tremendous. After figuring out things and getting the pace down, we’re now shooting for fourth to sixth place in every moto, and to get on the podium whenever the situation presents itself. It’s not easy, with the Martin brothers, [Cooper] Webb and Joey [Savatgy]. You gotta have things kind of go your way to get on the podium as a rookie. He’s exceeding what I thought he could do by a little, but I also knew he could do pretty darn good. I figured he would be fairly consistent, because he has done that his whole race career.
Does racing in the big leagues change your family dynamic at all?
No. My wife and I still get to come to the races every weekend. I’m with Austin during the week to take care of his bikes. Julie sees him on the weekends. Austin probably sees more of me than he probably wants, but oh well [laughter]. That’s too bad! We still race as a family, and we’ve had a lot of family come to the races. Millville is our closest race, and 15 to 20 people drove up to watch him. For us, racing will always be a family thing. I’ve said before that if Austin didn’t wind up racing Pro and making money, we still would have raced motocross at the local level. It’s better than what a lot of kids do on their weekends. There are a lot worse things you could be doing than spending time at a motocross race with your kid. Austin has to be a kid. Everybody has to be a kid, but I feel like I have a little control over who he’s with and what he’s doing at the track.
SCOTT PROSPECT GOGGLE LAUNCH
The generous folks at Scott USA invited MXA up to Park City, Utah this past week to take a look at their all-new Prospect goggle. Daryl Ecklund was the lucky winner of the Rochambeau office battle and earned the right to ride downhill mountain bikes at Deer Valley and sweat in the new Prospect goggle with the Scott group.
What’s the big deal about the Prospect goggle? There are several key highlights.
(1) The lens is a robust 1mm thick.
(2) Four posts on the lens allow for tear-offs or Scott’s special roll-off system.
(3) A 50mm wide silicone-backed strap prevents the strap from slipping on a helmet.
(4) There’s a lens locking system, meaning the lens will never pop out.
What were Daryl’s first impressions?
“The Scott Prospect offers excellent vision. I like how it fits well in a variety of helmets, thanks to the outrigger system. Most outrigger systems on competitive brands are stationary, but the Prospect system moves. As a result, the goggle seats well against my face. The multi-post tear-off design is cool, although I have yet to use any of Scott’s tear-offs. A big strap is nice, as is the beak (nose) protector. The lens is very rigid, and with the locking system, I don’t have to worry about catching a rock in my blinker (eye). I can’t wait to ride in the Prospect goggle some more. Special thanks to John Knowles, Nick Sims and the staff from Scott USA. The trip was rad!”
There you have it, folks. The Prospect retails for $89.99. Click here for more information.
LORETTA LYNN’S PHOTO GALLERY: DOWN AT THE RANCH
MXA’s own Dennis Stapleton has qualified for two classes at the grandaddy of all Amateur Nationals, Loretta Lynn’s. Located in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, Loretta’s is the place to be if you’re an aspiring Pro. Or, if you’re Dennis Stapleton, it’s a good spot for shedding water weight, shaking hands and telling war stories of past races. Dennis is wearing several different hats this week in Tennessee, including cell phone photographer expert. Take a look at some of the images he snapped on his Apple iPhone before the Monday afternoon/Tuesday morning deluge hit.
VIDEO: DUNLOP TIRE CHANGE WITH “TWITCH”
THE VOICE OF CLARITY: TOM BRINKMAN
My buddy, Tom Brinkman, owns one of the premiere motocross tracks in all the world–Monster Mountain (www.monstermx.com/live/). I am not exaggerating when I say how fantastic his place is, which I was fortunate enough to ride several years ago for the Yamaha YZ250F introduction. Seriously, I have dreams about churning up Monster Mountain’s perfect dirt and flowing around the expertly laid out track. Anyway, Tom just posted this gem on Facebook. I couldn’t have said it any better myself!
GRAND PRIX NEWS: EMX300 CLASS BACK IN
The press release from MXGP:
Following the release of the provisional calendar for the 2017 FIM Motocross World Championship, which did not include the European Championship EMX300 as a support class, it was bought to Youthstream’s attention that a large number of manufacturers, teams, riders, partners and fans would like to see the EMX300 championship continue.
Due to its increase in popularity over the last few years, Youthstream have agreed to add the European Championship EMX300 class to the 2017 MXGP calendar.
FIM Europe President Dr. Wolfgang Srb said, “I am very happy about this solution. The EMX300 class has developed very well and it is good for all of the parties involved that this European class remains within the FIM Motocross World Championship.”
MINI-VIEW: ARNAUD TONUS
By Jim Kimball
Arnaud, let’s take a trip down memory lane. What do you recall of your first experience being on a race team?
I was first with HTI KTM team, which was not a factory team, but maybe they got some help from KTM. It was a French team and it was really like a big family there. It was funny; the grandparents of the team manager were involved, and traveling with the truck and doing the food. It was really good for me in my first year. I felt like I had no pressure, and I just had to do the best I could and enjoy being at the GP’s. I realized that it was my dream to race, and it was just happening! I was kind of riding free and without pressure. I was getting some top five finishes, which was pretty good as it was my rookie year. It is funny, because I came to the first race and I won the qualifying race in my very first shot at Grand Prix series. It was like, “Whoa! Is this really happening?” After that I realized that I had the speed to ride with the top guys.
Did racing come easily for you?
Kind of. In the first two races things came pretty easy, but after that I had a lot of ups and downs. I came into the series and I was fired up. I felt great the first race, and after that I realized that it was a long championship. It was a good year for me for my first season of racing the GP’s. Of course, you always want to do better, but I really had to learn all the tracks. There are a lot of different tracks and conditions in the GP series. I went around the world, so it is a tough series, but it all went pretty good. I opened some eyes, and then got a ride with factory Suzuki for the following year.
How quickly did you turn into a promising motocross racer?
It was at the age of ten or so when I started doing well. Back then there was no such thing as the European Championship. I went to France to race, because I knew there was a big French Championship series. I won a 65cc championship at that time. My dad had a little experience with the sport and he knew that if I wanted to get better and be on top, that I had to move from Switzerland. Even though we had good races back home, the different series stayed pretty small. Racing in France is what put me in a better position to improve. If I had stayed in Switzerland I wouldn’t have improved. This is what Swiss rider Jeremy Seewer has done, too. Seewer went to Germany, and then traveled to France. As soon as you are at the top there [in Switzerland], you have to find another level, because in Switzerland it is not the highest level in the sport.
I went to the Steve Dixon Yamaha Bike-It team, where I signed for two years. We had really great bikes, and Steve is a guy that is so involved with the mechanics. He used to be a mechanic, so he has so much passion and love for that. He was involved in all the engine stuff and the process of making it better. Steve was so into it. It was crazy and good to see that a manager can be so involved with the bikes and it was working really well. Steve was known for making some very fast motors. We had great bikes, and this was before fuel injection. I think he had a lot of experience on that carbureted engine, so he did a great job.
Then you moved to Kawasaki’s factory 250 team. What was that like?
We were working with Mitch Payton and Pro Circuit during my first year there. We had a guy named Harry Nolte, who was taking care of the engines, so we had good bikes. Unfortunately that first year with Kawasaki I was injured. I broke my leg and I had a really tough year. The year after that the team had parted ways with Pro Circuit, and instead they were doing their own stuff. We had pretty good bikes and I had my best year in 2014. That is where I won my first Grand Prix, along with taking a lot of podiums. I was in the championship hunt for a little bit and then I hurt my shoulder, but I still had my best year.
I realized that I really do not know anything about the body, because even the doctor did not have many answers about what was going on. They knew it was Epstein-Barr. They knew this and that, but everybody is different, so there was really no quick or clear recovery plan. So what could I do? I just had to struggle and listen to what my body was saying. I would try doing something, and try to learn the reaction of that. I was always asking myself if I could keep going, or if I needed to stop, because it was really about the feeling. It was tough, because when you are an athlete you just want to train, and when there is fatigue you try to overcome it. You have to go through and push harder, but I just had to stop. I was always asking myself, “What kind of fatigue is it? Is it because I have really done a lot, or is because of the virus?” It just kills you, because you just don’t know, and that is the hardest thing I have been through. If you break a bone then it is pain, and you can deal with pain. That wasn’t the case with Epstein-Barr.
You injured your shoulder in Supercross and could have elected to get it taken care of. Instead, you’re racing the 250 Nationals. Why?
Well, I had a choice to have surgery and come back for the last three rounds of motocross, or to just tough it out and race. It took me a little bit to decide. Continuing to race was probably the risky choice, but I had to do it. The first few rounds I was not great [outdoors]. I was not totally up on everything, but I started to feel better. As the series has moved on I have been riding better. I wanted to be better than what I have done, but considering everything that I have been through, it was all right. The good thing was that every weekend was better, so that is what we were looking for. I am trying hard to finish the season strong.
THEY SAID IT: MAX NAGL
Why this quote is interesting: Would you ever expect Eli Tomac or Ryan Dungey to say something remotely close to what Nagl said above and admit defeat? Tomac knows that he has a minuscule chance of winning the 2016 AMA 450 National Championship, but I don’t think he would suggest that he’s focused on finishing second in the title hunt. They certainly do look at things differently across the pond. In a way it’s refreshing, because a guy like Max Nagl doesn’t sound delusional about his current placement among the motocross hierarchy. I’ll take honesty over delusions of grandeur any day of the week.
FASTEST OF THE FAST: AMA NATIONALS
An ongoing list of the top qualifiers and holeshot winners from each round of the 2016 Lucas Oil AMA 250/450 Nationals.
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 450 CLASS
Glen Helen…Eli Tomac
High Point…Jason Anderson
Muddy Creek…Christophe Pourcel
Red Bud…Christophe Pourcel
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 250 CLASS
Glen Helen…Cooper Webb
High Point…Zach Osborne
Muddy Creek…Adam Cianciarulo
Red Bud…Adam Cianciarulo
HOLESHOT AWARDS: 450 CLASS
Glen Helen…Trey Canard / Ken Roczen
Lakewood…Ken Roczen / Trey Canard
High Point…Ken Roczen / Justin Barcia
Muddy Creek…Cole Seely / Broc Tickle
Red Bud…Justin Bogle / Justin Bogle
Southwick…Justin Bogle / Justin Bogle
Millville…Justin Barcia / Marvin Musquin
Washougal…Phil Nicoletti / Marvin Musquin
HOLESHOT AWARDS: 250 CLASS
Glen Helen…Tristan Charboneau / Jeremy Martin
Lakewood…Cooper Webb / Adam Cianciarulo
High Point…Jeremy Martin / Adam Cianciarulo
Muddy Creek…Adam Cianciarulo / Shane McElrath
Red Bud…Austin Forkner / Shane McElrath
Southwick…Jeremy Martin / Cooper Webb
Millville…Alex Martin / Alex Martin
Washougal…Alex Martin / Cooper Webb