PRO TAPER PRESENTS MXA’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER


PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s coming down the pipeline. Rest assured that MXA is committed to testing new bikes, regardless of cubic displacement. And so it goes with our review of the 2016 TM 85 Junior, piloted in this photo by Carter Dubach. You might recognize the last name. Carter is the son of million-time World Vet Champion and Supercross main event winner, Doug Dubach. I’m not sure if Carter has aspirations of turning Pro, but he certainly has the style to be an MXA photo rider.

MXA VIDEO: FIRST RIDE ON THE 2016 HONDA CRF450

MINI-VIEW: GARED STEINKE

Competing in the grueling Amsoil Arenacross is Gared Steinke’s primary focus. The Woodland,

By Jim Kimball

California, native is obviously catching on to racing in the tight confines of Arenacross, evidenced by the fact that he took his first main event overall win this year. However, once the series ended Steinke had very little to do, aside from ripping around on a Yamaha YZ125 for fun. He had the brilliant idea to take his coveted two-stroke to the Lucas Oil AMA 250 Nationals and battle the more powerful 250 four-strokes. His goal was to make the show. Beginning at High Point, the recently turned 24-year-old has been making the 40-rider gate (except for Red Bud). While Steinke is a privateer and doesn’t have much support, he has become a favorite among fans.

MXA: Gared, why are you racing a 125 two-stroke, which is obviously underpowered compared to the highly-tune 250 four-strokes, in the 250 Nationals? I just thought that it would be really cool to be the only one attempting to do it! I started out on a Yamaha with a deal that I had with Cool it Thermotech. That deal finished at Red Bud, and then Motorsport Hillsboro hooked me up with a KTM 125SX to finish out the series on. It’s been a great accomplishment to be the only 125 out there qualifying for many of the Nationals. I didn’t make the gate at Red Bud, where the dirt was just a little deep for me. I qualified 26th at Washougal and was pretty happy about that.

Many would say that a 125 two-stroke is simply not competitive in professional racing. Why try it? I just feel that if you put a good enough rider on any bike that they will ride it to their potential. There are riders out there better than me on 125’s. Racing a 125 in the 250 class is very hard. You have to put in a lot of effort on the track and ride the 125 in a different way. You cannot make any mistakes, like when you may get off the main line and get in the soft stuff. That really slows you.

Are there any advantages to racing a 125 two-stroke? Yes. Having the fans on your side is for sure a big advantage! They love to hear a two-stroke way more than hearing the 250 four-stroke. The only advantage I have on the track is that a 125 is really light. I can put this bike where I want it to go, and it goes there. The 250 four-strokes are heavier bikes, but the 125 is underpowered.

In many ways you have become a folk hero. Everyone loves it! They are all cheering me on, giving me the thumbs up, and yelling out my name. It’s all about having fun racing motocross. We wouldn’t be out here racing if it wasn’t for the fans. It’s a great feeling knowing that they are cheering you on and that they support you. It’s awesome out to be cheered on by the fans.

How are you getting to the races this summer? Before High Point I was staying in Ohio. Now that I have changed it up with Motosport Hillsborough I hop in my van and do my own program. I have my girlfriend and my dog with me. It’s just all about getting it done. You have to do everything that you can to get to the races, and that’s what we do.

Is the KTM 125SX much different than the Yamaha YZ125? The KTM that I am racing right now has an aftermarket pipe and silencer, an oversized front brake rotor, and a different chain and rear sprocket. It’s stock other than that. It’s 100% faster than the YZ125 that I was racing. I would say that the YZ125 is a little bit dated in the bottom-end. The whole entire feel of the KTM is different. It rides completely different maybe due to the steel frame it has versus the aluminum frame on the Yamaha. I also like the KTM 125SX because I ride a KTM 250SXF and KTM 450SXF at home during Arenacross. The KTM 125SX rides a lot like the KTM 250SXF that I have, especially with the feel of the bike. The Yamaha YZ125 rides differently than the Yamaha YZ250F, so I feel it’s easier for me to go back and forth between the different KTM’s.

It’s too bad you aren’t racing the all-new 2016 KTM 125SX. Have you ridden one? No, I have not, but I have seen one. It would be great to race a 2016 model, because it’s so improved. I don’t think that it would work out with all the homologation rules.

Are you meeting your expectations? Yes, for the most part. At High Point I just wanted to qualify, and I did that. Once I did that I set my goal to reach the top twenty, which I am still working towards. My best finish was a 25th, so I have been close, but I really just want to be able to score points! I do feel like I have a top 20 in me.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? I want to do all the remaining Nationals, hit some local money races, and then begin focusing on the upcoming Arenacross series. My main focus is on my Arenacross career. That’s what I am best at. I had two main event wins, and an overall win last year. Riding and racing is for fun, but Arenacross is where I really put everything into.

Any final thoughts? I really want to thank all my fans. I gained about 5000 Instagram followers since High Point. It takes a lot out of me getting this 125 around a motocross track, and the fans keep me going. Hearing the fans cheering by the side of the fence or blasting their air horns are the things that motivate me to push ahead.

MILLVILLE REVISITED: BRIAN CONVERSE’S BEST

Take a look at the Millville National through Brian Converse’s Nikon

BIKE SPOTLIGHT: RIDE ENGINEERING’S PROJECT RM-Z450

TEAM USA: THE OPTIONS

The announcement of Team USA for this year’s Motocross des Nations, to be held in Ernee, France, will soon be revealed. Ernee last held the MXDN in 2005, which was won by the American trio of Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham and Ivan Tedesco. Team USA will fight a serious uphill battle before heading over to Europe, because rumor has it that disinterest from the American racers to compete at the MXDN is widespread. Ryan Dungey has apparently little interest in racing, and the barrage of injuries suffered by the U.S. contingent in recent years–Jeremy Martin broke his foot last year and Eli Tomac had a massive get-off in Germany back in 2013–which adds up to a serious challenge for the powers-that-be to pick a team.

There’s another kicker. KTM and Husqvarna are asking their factory riders to contest the Glen Helen USGP, which falls a week before the MXDN in France. It adds another event to an already full plate for riders like Ryan Dungey, Zach Osborne, Jason Anderson and more. With the profitable Monster Energy Cup less than a month after the MXDN, it doesn’t leave much time for the riders to transition to Supercross. Anyway, here are the notable candidates for Team USA:

450/Open classes:

Ryan Dungey

Obviously the first choice for Roger DeCoster to anchor Team USA, but will Dungey agree to race again? He has represented America at the MXDN from 2009 on. He won the first three, but lost the last three times. Will there be a seventh trip?

Justin Barcia

A question mark only a few months ago, Barcia has begun to find the confidence and speed that he once had. Keep in mind that Bam-Bam has been on Team USA twice before–2012 and 2013–both losing efforts. It’s clear that Dungey and Barcia are the standouts in the AMA 450 Nationals. Justin would make a great choice for the Open slot or, if Dungey bows out, he could slide into the number-one slot.

Blake Baggett

Blake has been on the team twice before, both times on a 250. He knows the unusual intricacies of the MXDN race format, and he would make a solid team player. The question is whether Dungey and Barcia are on the team. If so, Baggett would likely be out (he shouldn’t get chosen to ride a 250 over guys like Jeremy Martin and Cooper Webb). Baggett is, at best, a darkhorse for the Open slot.

Trey Canard

A lot of people were hanging on Trey’s potential to come back from a nasty Supercross injury and set the field on fire at Washougal, subsequently forcing the AMA to make a tough decision. Should Canard be on Team USA? Well, he’s from Oklahoma, a superb talent, and would represent Team USA the best way possible. Heck, Trey is pure American. However, he is a wild card.

Jason Anderson/Broc Tickle/Weston Peick

These riders are doing relatively well in the 450 National point standings, but how will they stack up against Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin, Evgeny Bobryshev, Clement Desalle, Kevin Strijbos, Shaun Simpson and Jeremy Van Horebeek?

250 class:

Jeremy Martin

Jeremy has the speed, and he holds the 250 National points lead, but how excited will a guy who got hurt racing overseas last year, followed by a delay in preparation for 250 Supercross, be to sign up for Uncle Sam? It’s obvious that Martin needs to improve his Supercross skills, so skipping the MXDN is probably enticing. What sort of blowback will there be if he decides to forego the opportunity?

Zach Osborne

Could it be possible that Zach Osborne, a former 250 Grand Prix racer, finally race the MXDN under the Stars and Stripes instead of Puerto Rico?! Osborne sits third in the 250 outdoor standings and has finished on the podium in six motos out of 18. He is likely familiar with the French circuit and has tons of experience. Osborne would also make a great team player and will line up on the gate at the Glen Helen USGP the week before. Decisions, decisions…

Cooper Webb

It’s hard to overlook Webb, who has done wonderfully in 2015 (aside from missing Las Vegas and four of the opening five Nationals due to injury). He won the past two outdoor rounds and is riding high on confidence (some would call it cockiness). Webb could either fill the 250 slot of Martin bows out, or fill the role as the Open rider if Dungey skips the race this year and Barcia is in the number one slot. Keep in mind that Cooper has experience racing a 450–he waxed the field at the last round of the Japanese Nationals last fall.

Joey Savatgy/Alex Martin/Jessy Nelson

Up and down results, coupled with a lack of experience, will hurt their chances of earning a nod. Remember that the MXDN will probably have a 250 field of Valentin Guillod, Tim Gajser, Max Anstie, Pauls Jonass and Jordi Tixier. Those guys are no joke.

Look for an in-depth analysis on all of the teams at the 2015 edition of the Motocross des Nations in a future Mid-Week Report. I shouldn’t let the cat out of the bag, but it’ll be hard for anyone to take down the defending champions–France–on home turf.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: FMF RACING CARBON FIBER HEAT SHIELD

Press release: FMF Racing has introduced the all-new Factory Carbon Fiber Megabomb, and Yamaha-specific heat shields. The carbon Megabomb heat shield fits all titanium and stainless steel FMF Megabomb headers. It includes the clamping system, unless for a 2014-2016 Yamaha YZ250F/YZ450F, which uses the stock screws. The part retails for $99.99 and is sold through www.fmfracing.com.

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS? BIG WHEEL YAMAHA YZ450F CONVERSION KIT

XFR (Extreme Fabrication Racing) has an interesting idea that has taken form. They have created a Big Wheel Conversion kit for a Yamaha YZ450F. They’re able to put the wide wheels–reminiscent of the Yamaha Big Wheel and Honda Fat Cat–on by creating a custom swingarm, their own wheel assemblies, and wider CNC-machined triple clamps. Take a look at the images below. For more information, click on www.bigwheelconversion.com.

PHOTO OUT-TAKES: 2016 SUZUKI RM-Z450 SHOOT

No, that’s not me, but instead its Daryl Ecklund wearing my gear while punishing berms at Milestone.

RED BULL VIDEO: “MX NATION” EPISODE #3

*Warning: there is subtle profanity toward the end of the video, but profanity nonetheless.

VIDEO: FOLLOW BLAKE BAGGETT AROUND WASHOUGAL

brian conversefrancegared steinkeinterviewJOHN BASHERMID-WEEK REPORTmillvillemotocrossmwrmxdnryan dungeywashougal