Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Date: February 27, 2016
Photographer: John Basher
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Exposure: 1/1000 sec.
MXA VIDEO: JASON ANDERSON ON A SMOKER
Since we’re on the southeast kick, here’s a video of Jason Anderson on a Husqvarna TC250 that was shot in Florida for the New Year.
SECTION 1: ATLANTA SUPERCROSS
Let’s forget about the 450 drama for a minute and take a closer look at the 250 East. Who are the main players? On paper, it would appear that Martin Davalos and Malcolm Stewart are the front-runners for the title. However, one race doesn’t make a champion. Take a look at the average lap time from the Atlanta main below of the five fastest riders. Interesting how Stewart was fastest, yet finished second. More surprising was Justin Hill, who fell off the start and worked his way up to fifth by the checkered flag.
Rider/Average lap time/Actual finishing position
*Of the riders who finished the main event
1. Malcolm Stewart…48.931 (2nd)
2. Martin Davalos…48.943 (1st)
3. Justin Hill…49.122 (5th)
4. Aaron Plessinger…49.126 (3rd)
5. Jeremy Martin…49.559 (4th)
What will happen if Justin Hill doesn’t fall on the start? Or Martin Davalos doesn’t get a good jump off the gate? Time will tell. But first, they must endure punishment this weekend at Daytona.
PIRELLI RIDERS SHINE IN ATLANTA
The eighth round of the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, was held Saturday night inside the Georgia Dome. In addition to being Pirelli’s hometown race and the series’ first event inside of a dome, it was also the start of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship and the season debut for Pirelli racers Jimmy Albertson, Marshal Weltin and Matthew Bisceglia. Regular Western Regional 250SX racer Kyle Cunningham made the jump up to the 450SX Class for the first time this season.
BTO Sports/WPS/KTM’s Justin Brayton started his night off right with an impressive victory in the 450SX Heat 1, his first heat race win of the season.
Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha’s Weston Peick qualified into the Main Event via a second place finish in 450SX Semi 1, followed by TPJ Racing’s Nick Schmidt in fourth.
Following his BTO Sports teammate’s lead, Davi Millsaps got off to a great start in 450SX Semi 2 and led wire-to-wire for his first semi win of the season.
In typical fashion, Brayton got out of the gate quickly, collecting his second 450SX Main Event holeshot in the process. His teammate wasn’t far behind and within a few laps the duo were racing side-by-side. 20 laps later and both Millsaps and Brayton took the checkered flag with season-best finishes of fourth and fifth, respectively.
The three other Pirelli riders in the 450SX Main Event all rode consistent races, with Peick finishing in 12th, Cunningham in 18th and Schmidt in 20th. An unfortunate first-lap crash in 450SX Heat 2 collected both Andrew Short and Phil Nicoletti, marking premature ends to both their nights.
When the gate dropped for the 250SX Main Event, Weltin led the trio of Pirelli riders around the sweeping first turn with a top-5 start. Albertson and Bisceglia followed running mid-pack. Weltin was riding well for the first half of the race before dropping a few spots near the mid-point. Albertson and Bisceglia both settled into a groove early, picked off a couple of riders throughout the 15-lap race and crossed the finish line in 10th and 11th, respectively. Weltin followed in 15th.
The ninth round of Monster Energy Supercross takes place next Saturday, March 5th from the iconic Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the riders will be presented with arguably the most challenging track of the season.
SECTION 2: SOUTHEAST SAUNTER
It has been an eventful few days for Dennis Stapleton and I. On Friday I made the eight hour drive southward to Atlanta from North Carolina. Dennis flew to ATL from LAX (don’t you just love airport acronyms?), whereby I picked him up and headed downtown. Saturday was spent mobbing through the Georgia Dome, dodging bike-wielding NASCAR drivers, and covering Round 8 of the Supercross series. The Atlanta race proved once again that motorsports racing is alive and well in the southeast. While there’s no Atlanta encore this year, it’s an area worthy of another Supercross at some point in the season–although not back-to-back. But I digress.
Parts Unlimited, the huge aftermarket accessories distributor, holds various dealer shows throughout the year. They welcome dealers that are aligned with Parts Unlimited for the purpose of showcasing new products, entertaining them (Parts provided tickets and pit passes for the Atlanta Supercross to their invited dealers), feeding them (a free meal is always nice), and strengthening the dealer/distributor relationship. It’s more intimate than, say, the AIMExpo, because there’s less floor space and only Parts Unlimited-supported aftermarket companies. I was able to get face time with Cycra Racing, Wiseco, Thor Racing, ODI, 100%, Moose Racing, K&N, and several other major brands. It was a fun time.
After the Parts Unlimited show concluded, Dennis and I pointed the Chrysler Town & Country soccer mom mini van south. The GPS directed us to Tallahassee. A scenery-filled 4-1/2 hours later we rolled up to the hotel. We entered the moto mecca of the southeast. Ricky Carmichael’s Farm, Millsaps Training Facility, Georgia Practice Facility, Justin Barcia’s stomping grounds…all within a relatively short drive from Tallahassee. Monday we hopped in the energy drink-stained mini van and stomped on the gas pedal. We were late to Ricky Carmichael’s training facility.
Things move slowly in the south. Case in point, the farm was relatively quiet when we pulled up. Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy was cutting in lines on the outdoor track, but he was the only one riding. Quite a few motorhomes were spread around the pits, a bevy of amateur riders waiting for the afternoon’s open riding session to begin. Those riders, young and old, signed up for Ricky Carmichael University. The fortunate few were going to be taught by Ricky and his mother, Jeannie, for three straight days leading up to this weekend’s Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross event in Daytona. Kawasaki amateur sensation, Stilez Robertson, was in attendance.
Gavin Faith, the Babbitts Kawasaki Arenacross racer and current points leader, rolled up to the farm as Joey Savatgy wound down his first riding session. Faith met with MXA videographer, Travis Fant, and the two mapped out a plan for shooting footage. Look for that video with Gavin in the not-too-distant future. It’ll be a good one, I can promise you that.
Gavin rode Carmichael’s front Supercross track (RC has several on his expansive property), while Savatgy worked a technical section of the long motocross track under the watchful eye of Jeannie Carmichael. He must’ve hit the section for 30 minutes straight. Lesser riders would have quit. Not Joey. He attacked the corners with unwavering ferocity. Once Savatgy hit his quota, he got the green light from Jeannie to call it a day–at least with the riding portion of his strict training regiment. Joey took a few minutes to answer several burning questions that are likely on every fan’s mind. You can read that interview farther down in this Mid-Week Report.
On Tuesday, Dennis and I ventured to Climax Motorsports Park in Climax, Georgia, with Ken and Glen Laivins from Cycra Racing, as well as Dan Fitch from Moose Racing. Stapleton and I tested Xceldyne’s Yamaha YZ450F, with the engine done by Joe Gibbs Racing. We also threw a leg over a crazy expensive Honda CRF250 owned by Pablo Holgado, owner of PHXtreme (a motorcycle superstore in Miama). The CRF250 had factory Honda footpegs, tons of titanium, Showa SFF Air A-kit suspension, and several parts other parts worth thousands of dollars. You’ll be able to read full tests of those bikes in a future issue. For now, soak in static photos of the glorious bikes.
Pablo Holgado’s Honda CRF250 has a blend of factory components and premium aftermarket parts. It’s the real deal.
Today we’re busy running after amateur kids at Millsaps Training Facility, and then hopping the fence to Georgia Practice Facility. The rest of the week will be spent chasing down riders, doing interviews, covering the Daytona Supercross, setting land speed records in the Chrysler Town & Country, eating at Waffle House, and finding an alligator (Dennis can’t shut up about wanting to wrestle a gator).
MAXXIS & MCGRATH EXPAND PARTNERSHIP
In an expansion of its previous sponsorship of Jeremy McGrath, Maxxis will now be the title sponsor for the racing legend in 2016.
The recently signed three-year deal raises Maxxis’ already high profile in the world of off-road racing. McGrath will return to the Lucas Oil Off-Road Racing Series in a new Maxxis/McGrath Pro-2 truck. Maxxis has sponsored McGrath since 2014. In addition to his racing efforts, McGrath will serve as a brand ambassador for Maxxis’ various market segments. The company’s products include tires for all of the disciplines in which he has competed, and for the past two years, he has assisted Maxxis engineers in motorcycle and race tire development.
“We are excited to enter this new phase of our relationship with Jeremy,” said Brad Williams of Maxxis. “He is such a natural fit for the Maxxis brand. His achievements as a driver and an athlete span the range of tires we offer.” In addition to being an off-road racer, McGrath is a seven-time AMA Supercross Champion, avid mountain biker, ATV rider, and is in both the BMX and AMA Motorcycle Halls of Fame. “His multi-discipline lifestyle makes him the perfect ambassador to showcase Maxxis’ various product lines. We’ve been proud to be linked with him for the past two years, and we’re thrilled to build on that relationship,” Williams added.
Commenting from his Southern California race shop as he prepared for the upcoming season, McGrath was equally pleased: “Maxxis has been dedicated to my team since day one. Their commitment and passion for racing helped me get on the podium five times last season and to win my first race as a team owner. Knowing I have the best tires under my truck gives me the confidence to race hard and get back on the top step. I am very happy and could not ask for a better partner than Maxxis Tires!”
The LOORRS season begins March 19-20 in Chandler, Arizona. Maxxis is proud to sponsor Jeremy McGrath and looks forward to cheering him on to victory throughout the year.
SECTION 3: SOUTHEAST PHOTO GALLERY
Gavin Faith put in several hard motos on one of Ricky Carmichael’s Supercross tracks on Monday. Faith is trained by Ricky and his mom, Jeannie. The pairing is obviously working out, as Gavin is the Arenacross points leader heading into the Omaha round this weekend.
Up close and personal with Gavin Faith.
HONDA HOSTING DAYTONA KICK-OFF PARTY
To help gear up for this weekend’s Daytona Supercross by Honda and the beginning of Daytona Bike Week, Honda is inviting fans to attend the Honda Daytona Kick-Off Party at the Honda tent this Friday in Daytona International Speedway’s new Midway area from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The event will feature autograph signings and interviews with a lineup of Honda Red Riders, including Honda HRC’s Trey Canard and Cole Seely; GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle, Malcolm Stewart and RJ Hampshire; JCR GNCC racers Chris Bach and Trevor Bollinger; and AMA Pro Flat Track racer Shayne Texter. Signed jerseys will be raffled, and to celebrate the 25thyear of Honda sponsoring the Daytona Supercross, a collection vintage Honda MX race bikes will be on display.
Attendees are encouraged to make a $5 donation, with proceeds going to Ride for Kids, for which Honda is the presenting sponsor, and which supports the work of the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The Ride for Kids project bike—a Honda Gold Wing F6B customized by Klock Werks—will be on display.
“We’re really pleased to bring back the Honda Daytona Kick-Off Party,” said Mike Snyder, Senior Manager of Powersports Marketing at American Honda. “It gives our fans the opportunity to meet their Honda heroes across a broad array of racing disciplines, and it’s a great opportunity to commemorate our 25th year of partnership with the ‘World Center of Racing.’”
SECTION 4: PERSONALITIES
MINI-VIEW: JOEY SAVATGY
The Carmichael’s run a serious program. It’s very intense and also intensive. Yes, everything that we do is beneficial and productive. We don’t like to waste time. If we’re having a day where we’re doing motos, but it isn’t productive, then we’ll change the program up. Things are very structured, which keeps us accountable. I’m not just putting in laps, but instead riding with a purpose. This is a good place for keeping me honest about my training. Not only that, but everything we do has a reason behind it. I’m not just trying to put in the fastest lap time, but instead putting in fast lap after fast lap.
What is the biggest thing that has changed about your riding since signing on to the Carmichael program? I’ve learned to be accountable. I haven’t necessarily changed my riding ways, but instead in the way I think. I learned that sometimes you have to slow down in order to go faster, and also be a little bit more aware of what’s going on.
There’s a break in the 250 West series, so you’re preparing for the Nationals. Is it hard to jump back and forth between riding Supercross and motocross? The first day was a bit of a struggle for me. That’s pretty normal, though. You go from stiff suspension and riding bowl turns and whoops, to softer suspension and higher speeds. Everything comes at you quicker in motocross. Right now I’m not focused on the [250 West] title. I’ll worry about that when things get closer. If the title is meant to be, then it’s meant to be. All I can do is put in the hard work and be prepared going into the race weekend.
You’re 11 points down with two races to go. The title isn’t too far out of reach. Winning the title is doable. Things are going to have to go my way a little bit, but we’ve dug our way out of a bigger hole than this. It’s one of those deals where I can’t change anything. All I can continue to do is be prepared and show up on the race weekend and do what I do during the week here at the Farm. It’s not up to me, but instead what the man upstairs has in store.
Does the run-in with Christian Craig in Arlington through the whoops play through your mind at all? Obviously, yes. It’s one of those deals where it’s frustrating. In the same breath, it’s a little setback. I like challenges, and while this isn’t the type of challenge I would like, it’s something that I’ll live with. We’re going to keep working hard. I’m getting on the outdoor grind. Next week I’m testing with the race team, and then a week or two before Santa Clara I’ll get back on the Supercross track. I’m going to stay hungry like I’ve never won a race.
Did Pro Circuit Kawasaki make many changes to the KX250F for 2016, since the latest production model remained unchanged from last year? We actually made a lot of changes. Between Bones [Bacon] and Adam [Walters, Showa] we made a lot of internal changes. The bike is constantly getting better. After Glendale we made another change, and it was a night and day difference. It wasn’t an extreme difference everywhere, but instead in little spots on the track. The team is always looking to get better, and so we’re always improving. The bike is a lot better than it was last year. It’s not that last year wasn’t good, but they found a way to make the bike better than it was.
Concerning the 250 West Championship, if you win the title then you’ll be forced to ride the 450 class in 2017. Thoughts? It’s not something I have really thought about. I take it one race at a time, and I want to win main events. At the end of the series, if I win the title then that’s awesome. That’s the goal. I know some riders who have thrown it away in the past just so they wouldn’t point out. I’d never do that. I go out there for one reason, and that’s to win. If we win the title and I point out, well, it’s meant to be. At the end of the day, the title is way more important to me than staying in the 250 class.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: TIM FERRY
Click here to read the full interview.
COBRA ANNOUNCES 2016 TEAM
Officials at Cobra Moto, the USA-based makers of the world’s premier competition mini cycles, along with the families of America’s top young, up-and-coming stars of motocross, are pleased to announce the Cobra Moto-backed Factory, Elite & Development teams for the 2016 competition season.
Beginning March 7th with the seventh annual Ricky Carmichael Daytona Amateur Supercross (RCSX) at Florida’s Daytona International Speedway, Cobra Moto-backed racers will embark on what will prove to be another highly successful campaign on the top motocross tracks across the nation and around the globe.
Graduating from the 50cc Sr. class this year and leading the way for Cobra Moto on the revolutionary/American-made CX65 will be defending Rocky Mountain MX Amateur Motocross Championships, presented by AMSOIL – aka “Loretta Lynn’s – 50cc Sr. class champion Casey Cochran of Tennessee. Cobra Moto’s lone “Factory” racer for 2016, Cochran had one of the moto amazing competition mini bike seasons on record, returning from injury to win the national title.
All the major accolades aside, Cochran’s going to have to re-earn that status at the major amateur national MX events as Cobra Moto’s Krystian Janick (Illinois), who joined Cochran on the Loretta’s podium (3rd) then won the 7-8 50cc MX title at Mini O’s (Gainesville, Fla.) over Cochran to finish the season, will keep him honest in the 65 class from the beginning to end of the 2016 amateur national MX season.
“This is going to be one of those years, coming off a year where Cobra Moto was young in the 50cc Senior class, where we’re set to have some epic battles on the CX65 bikes,” said Cobra Moto President Sean Hilbert. “From a factory standpoint Cobra Moto couldn’t be positioned any better up top in the 65cc 7-9 class than we are with Casey & Kristian to start this year.”
Joining Cobra Moto’s Cochran and Janick on the CX65 and poised to battle for the major national podium hardware are California’s Parker Ross, who placed 4th at Loretta’s last summer in the 7-9 65cc class and Wyatt Mattson (Illinois), who placed 5th last year in the 65cc 10-11 class at Loretta’s. Michigan’s Cole Kish, Arizona’s and Maryland’s Noah Geyer, both longtime Cobra Moto-backed racers, along with Arizona’s Julien “Juju” Beaumer, give the CX65 additional podium shots at all the major regional and national events.
And that dominance, as it always does, carries over to the 50cc Senior and Junior classes for Cobra Moto. Returning no less than two Loretta’s Junior class champs, including Pennsylvania’s Will Canaguier, the 4-6 Limited class champ and Canyon Richards (New Jersey), the 4-6 Shaft Drive champ, Cobra Moto’s 50cc lineup for 2016 also includes Texas’ Hayden Cline and Kace Evans, Mason Dixon (Tennessee), along with Pennsylvania’s Mason Tucker and Tennessee’s Drew Adams. Also noteworthy: All of the aforementioned Cobra Moto 50cc class racers will also contest the 65cc 7-9 class on their CX65s!
Rounding out Cobra Moto’s Development Team efforts for 2016 are:
Jonathan Getz, Seven Henderson, Cash Ficenic, Reed Harrison, Caden Murphy, Wyatt Brock, Nathan Dulaney, Jayden Palmer, Wyann McGrath, Luke Fauser, Mikah Carpenter and Diesel Thomas.
SECTION 5: THE FASTEST OF THE FAST
An ongoing list of the top qualifiers and holeshot winners from each round of the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 450 CLASS
San Diego 1…Ryan Dungey
Anaheim 2…Ken Roczen
San Diego 2…Eli Tomac
FASTEST QUALIFIERS: 250 CLASS
San Diego 1…Cooper Webb
Anaheim 2…Zach Osborne
San Diego 2…Zach Osborne
HOLESHOT AWARD: 450 CLASS
San Diego 1…Chad Reed
Anaheim 2…Davi Millsaps
San Diego 2…Ryan Dungey
HOLESHOT AWARD: 250 CLASS
San Diego 1…Jordan Smith (West)
Anaheim 2…Jimmy Decotis (West)
Oakland…Christian Craig (West)
Glendale…Jimmy Decotis (West)
San Diego 2…Jordan Smith (West)
Arlington…Christian Craig (West)
Atlanta…Shane McElrath (East)