PHOTO OF THE WEEK
MXA VIDEO: TANNER STACK
TWO-STROKE CHAMPIONSHIP OUT-TAKES
Here’s what the day’s racing looked like through my Canon camera (click on the photos to enlarge them)
FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: RYAN VILLOPOTO UPDATE
Read what RV2 has to say about his time thus far in the Grand Prix series
By Ryan Villopoto
First off, Happy Easter to everyone and your families. Hope you get to share it with the special ones in your lives!
It’s been a hectic last couple months, but feel like its time to update all of you on what’s been going on. So let’s start from the first race in Qatar: Definitely, didn’t go the way we wanted. Our bike set-up was quite a ways off and therefore I was struggled the entire weekend. To make matters worse, in the second race I somehow got a rock wedged inside the rear brake and you can imagine no brake, no bueno. The Entire second half of moto two was sketchy. The whole weekend was just off, but it’s about learning and moving forward. So it was time to get our test on.
Back to Belgium, we tested for two days and made some good progress. Its tough because our tracks in the states are much different than the tracks here. The speed you can ride is so much different. We can push on our tracks, but on theirs the dirt is very particular and you have to be very aware of when you can and cannot push. Sometimes you have to go slower to go faster, which for me is hard to wrap my head around. The bike settings are much different as well because of the dirt. You have to run a softer fork setting because you don’t have the same load on the suspension. I think we are getting closer each day so we can more or less do some fine-tuning from here on out.
The racing itself over here is just different as well. In America, I like to say, we play checkers. While here, they play chess. There is a lot of strategy involved since the races are stretched out over two days (I am on a big learning curve). On Saturday we do two 20-minute practices and a 25-minute race so that by itself is a lot of riding. Then we do another practice plus two more motos the next day! Talk about seat-time. The Starting gate is much different too because of FIM rules. You are not allowed to go to the line with your mechanic, so I have to pack my own gate. Do I build a ramp? Kick some dirt around? Wide? Tight? Again, learning.
That said, next stop, Thailand. This track was a bit more my style, but man was it hot. Like a nice hot humid day in FL. We went 1-3 for the overall so that was definitely better and a step in the right direction. However, we are looking for a 1-1 so there is still work to be done. While in Thailand we got to do some crazy exploring.
We stayed in Bangkok and the place is just bazaar. But we got to see how people live and conduct business in alleyways. It was all just really weird, but a cool experience nevertheless. Watch Hangover 2 and you’ll get an good understanding of it. For example, you’ll see a little kid standing on the tray of a scooter with his dad driving it, and another kid on the back, no helmets, all three of them just ripping. Unreal…
After that we had two weeks off which we used to our advantage and put more work in. Then off to Patagonia we went.
Didn’t really know what to expect but WOW, Argentina is a beautiful place. I could definitely go back there and do some fly fishing and exploring. It kind of felt like home, or like Mammoth, California. One of the coolest places I have ever been hands down!
The track, which was only built for the race was really similar to Mammoth, too but it had fine pieces of porous volcanic rock. There wasn’t a lot of grip yet it was one of the better tracks we’ve ridden so far because it was a lot bigger, wider. And the fans…. absolutely crazy! Never knew people loved moto so much. I had to have guards everywhere I went. It was just that nuts. But it was cool to see people so pumped.
Also got to spend some time with my buddy Casey Stoner, his wife Adriana and their daughter Ally who flew in from Aussie. Cool having him around as he is pretty good with track stuff and its always helpul to get another perspective. Racing itself was okay with 4-4, but once again not exactly what we had in the plans. Got some decent points and things to make better. Work Time!
That’s about it for now. I’ll check back in with you after the next race in Italy in two weeks. – RV
To find out more about Ryan and see photos, click on www.rv2.com.
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: WORKS CONNECTION NO AIR LOSS ADAPTOR
Works Connection’s No Air Loss Adaptor ensures the air pressure you set is the air pressure you get! No air loss, no hassle. Takes the guess work out of setting your air fork or air shock pressure as the PSI remains accurate to your desired setting when disconnecting the No Air Loss Adaptor. Easy and accurate every time.
· No air loss at disconnect
· Especially helpful when accessing lower air chamber
· For use on Air Forks and Air Shocks
· Perfect for motorcycles and mountain bikes
· Works with all Schrader type pumps
AN ODE TO SEAN COLLIER
These days Sean has a full-time job, working as a water treatment technician. He still rides, but spinning laps is hard to do for a guy with a 9-to-5 job and a son. The Fasthouse crew sponsors Sean at the races he gets the opportunity to contest–notably the Red Bull Day In The Dirt and the Two-Stroke Championship. In fact, Collier was the two-time defending Two-Stroke winner, and should have won again this year if not for a broken shock bolt. In that race Sean piloted his father’s mighty Kawasaki KX500. His smooth and effortless style matched up perfectly with the raw power of the KX500, but Lady Luck took glory away from him as she had done so many times before. That didn’t bother Collier, who still had a blast at the Two-Stroke Championship. The guy is all smiles no matter what.
I’ve personally known Sean Collier for over a decade. He was actually a MXA photo rider in 2005. I still remember him dragging the handlebars at Gorman on a TM 250 two-stroke. We partied together–responsibly, of course–and his demeanor has never changed. So often the Professional racer lifestyle changes a person, but not Sean. He has been a stand-up guy despite the triumphs and tragedies he has overcome. For that reason, and many more, Sean is a shining example of what a motocross racer should be. You’ll probably see him line up to the gate at Hangtown and Glen Helen this year. If he does, make sure to reach over the fence and scream your head off every time the #207 comes roaring around the track.
Look at the following photos and note how buttery smooth Collier is on a KX500.
TWO-STROKES OF THE MXA WRECKING CREW
We look forward to the Two-Stroke Championship every year, and this time around was no different. Typically we scrounge up as many two-strokes as possible and then draw straws to see who gets first choice. Somehow Jody always wins, but maybe that’s because he’s the one holding the straws. He’s also the boss, so what he says goes.
The 2015 edition of the FMF Two-Stroke Championship was a difficult one for the MXA gang. Between Jody Weisel, Dennis Stapleton, Daryl Ecklund and myself, only Daryl was healthy enough to line up to the gate. That’s not quite true. Jody raced on Saturday, but he elected to race for glory at REM, which was just up the hill from the National track. Poor Dennis Stapleton was nursing a broken bone in his right hand, while I couldn’t throw a leg over a bike because of a wretched bad back. Sciatic nerve pain is no fun.
Two months ago the MXA braintrust decided to build a fleet of two-stroke race bikes. This was long before the palatial MXA towers became more like an infirmary than a hub for all things moto. We each picked a stock bike from our litter of two-strokes and were responsible for making it into our dream machine. Daryl Ecklund phoned Husqvarna to see if they were interested in helping with a TC250 build. Husky did Ecklund one better by taking over the project build and equipping the TC250 with everything and anything Daryl could think of. The MXA gang razzed Daryl for taking the easy way out; Ecklund didn’t have to spin a single wrench! However, Daryl had the last laugh, because his Husqvarna TC250 donned works suspension, a carbon fiber subframe, and a 300cc engine.
Jody must have a soft spot in his heart for longtime test rider, Dennis Stapleton. Why? Our fearless leader gave up his prized Yamaha YZ250 and offered it to Stapleton. Jody and a YZ250 go together like peas and carrots; peanut butter and jelly; goggles and tearoffs; a gear bag and flies. Dennis didn’t waste the opportunity. Serious effort went into the YZ250 build. It had an aluminum gas tank and other trick parts that no sane 250 two-stroke owner would think of. However, that’s what makes Stapleton’s bike so unique. Unfortunately Dennis was so busy scouring the marketplace for parts that he wasn’t able to finish the bike build in time for deadline. He did provide us with a camera phone photo. Dennis was never good at meeting deadlines…
What did Jody build if it wasn’t a YZ250? In what was a rather predictable move, he opted for the KTM 250SX. Why was that such a logical choice? The guy has so many KTM parts sitting in his barn that he could practically build a spare KTM. Instead of calling up companies and ordering parts he cleaned out his barn and found a horde of orange trinkets and doo-dads. Some parts were stuffed behind his heaping pile of leathers. Others were camouflaged in a layer of dust from sitting around for so long. What you see in the photo above isn’t just Jody’s KTM 250SX dream bike, but the result of a cleaning spree. I’m sure that Lovely Louella was plenty pleased to see Jody tidy up his man shack.
We all came together as a collective unit to build a KTM 150SX that was void of all the fluff. The goal was in building a race-spec bike that didn’t break the bank. We succeeded in our quest. It might not be all that exciting to look at, but the 150SX sure was a runner.
Naturally I picked the Yamaha YZ125. It is the Sonny to my Cher; the Yoko Ono to my John Lennon; the Taylor Swift to my Joe Jonas/Lucas Till/Taylor Lautner/John Mayer/Cory Monteith/Jake Gyllenhaal/Eddie Redmayne/Zac Efron/Conor Kennedy/Harry Styles. You get the picture. Me being me, I had extraordinary expectations for my YZ125 bike build. However, while I swung for the fences I whiffed on more than one occasion. I yearned for an aluminum or carbon fiber hand-made gas tank, but that didn’t happen. Titanium fasteners were on the list, but I only heard crickets from Met-Tek. I wasn’t dissuaded from my end goal–build the ultimate YZ125. Maybe it’s not the best YZ125 project bike ever, but I’m quite proud of how it turned out. There’s Think Technologies crazy light seat foam, Ride Engineering triple clamps with a steering stabilizer, a Hinson clutch, Dubya wheels, Pro-Pegz titanium footpegs, Boyesen Rad Valve and X-Wing, Twin Air Powerflow kit, Cycra black plastics, Pro Circuit pipe with carbon fiber silencer, Renthal TwinWall 997 bend handlebars…the list goes on and on. I think you’ll agree that the bike turned out looking very nice.
If you want to find out more about our two-stroke dream machines, be sure to pick up a copy of the July issue. Or if you’re not into that whole reading thing then be sure to visit our website frequently, because we’ll be releasing videos of each bike. Special thanks to our friends at Motul, T.M. Designworks and Dick’s Racing for supporting our two-stroke video series!
VIDEO: RONNIE RENNER GOES SNOW BIKING
MXA’S TWO-STROKE ACTION PHOTOS
Building the project two-strokes has been a long process. We began by dreaming up a parts list, followed by ordering the desired items. After that we slapped the bikes together. At that point you’d think that we would be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Nope. Instead we took each bike to the track and shot video and stills in unique locations. Only then were we able to put tire to track, shooting action photos and video until we were satisfied with the results. Then came testing, and finally the Two-Stroke Championship race.
Take a look at some of the photos that I snapped of our MXA test riders at Competitive Edge, LACR and Glen Helen. You might see some of these photos in the July issue of MXA, or they won’t make the cut. Regardless, enjoy checking out photos of our test riders having a blast.
MXA PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: PRO-VUE 100% PRESCRIPTION GLASSES
WHERE IT’S AT: HOUSTON SUPERCROSS
The 250 West heats up again after an eight-week layoff. Here are some notes to bring you back up to speed on what’s happening in the series:
Cooper Webb: The Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha rider has a 30-point lead with two rounds to go. He can win his first Supercross title if he (1) Wins. (2) Finishes anywhere on the podium. (3) Finishes fourth and Jessy Nelson finishes second or worse. The worst finish for Webb through six rounds was a 7th at the Anaheim opener. Otherwise he has finished first (four races) or second (one time).
Jessy Nelson: The Lucas Oil Troy Lee Designs rider started the series off with a bang by winning, but since then he has been up and down in the results. Podium finishes in Phoenix and Anaheim 3 have been great; poor results, particularly at Oakland and San Diego, were enough to drop him down significantly in the point standings.
Three-way battle for second: Only four points separate second and fourth place. Jessy Nelson (106 points), Tyler Bowers (104) and Zach Osborne (102) are fighting for that elusive second spot. Bowers, with three podiums and two fourth place finishes, seems the most logical choice to end up second–a terrible Anaheim 3 showing mired him down in the standings–but racing is not logical.
Two left: Only Houston and the new Santa Clara round are left in the 250 West, as the Las Vegas finale returns to the 250 East/West Shootout and doesn’t count towards the final point standings.
The race for fifth: There’s a tight race for second place, but take a look at the battle for fifth. Only 11 points separate fifth place (Shane McElrath) from ninth (Alex Martin). There’s solace in finishing fifth overall, especially for a rookie like Aaron Plessinger (currently sixth) or journeyman Alex Martin (currently ninth).
Time is running out: Justin Hill had a great showing at the Monster Energy Cup in October, but in the 250 West the Red Bull KTM rider has struggled. He only has one podium finish. Meanwhile, his teammate on the East, Marvin Musquin, has been crushing it. There’s no way that Hill can still win the 250 West, but a main event win would sure make his boss, Roger DeCoster, happy.
Who’s left: Mathematically, there are only four riders that have a shot at winning the 250 West. The final four are Cooper Webb, Jessy Nelson, Tyler Bowers and Zach Osborne.
Hot streak: Shane McElrath scored his first podium of the season–a second at San Diego–before the series went on break. Will that confidence carry over to Houston?
Jeldera’s ready: It’s a shameless plug on my part, but I can’t help but root for privateer Johnny Jeldera. The #275 on a privateer Honda scored points at A2 and A3, and he’s making the long trek to Houston for another chance at making the main. Fortunately the $500 he won this past weekend by sweeping both motos in the 125 Pro class will pay his gas to Texas and back.
THIS WEEK’S LACR TRACK SCHEDULE
Note that LACR has a revised schedule on Wednesday. See you out there!
Main Track & Kids Track
$25 per rider & $10 50cc Pee Wee’s
Main Track, Vet Track, & Kids Track
$25 per rider & $10 50cc Pee Wee’s
Main Track, Vet Track, & Kids Track
$25 per rider & $10 50cc Pee Wee’s
For our complete schedule go to www.lacr.mx