MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT (02/01/12)
By John Basher
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Ricky Carmichael (far) and Carey Hart (near) share flight time with the Fox Racing helicopter up at Zaca Station last week for the Fox Instinct boot and V4 helmet introduction.
MINI-VIEW: ZACH OSBORNE
Osborne (left) shares the podium with Eli Tomac and Dean Wilson at the Los Angeles Supercross. It was his first-ever Supercross podium.
Like many people, it was hard for me to wrap my head around the news that Zach Osborne would only be competing in four 250 West Supercross races, especially after he finished on the box at the last two events. Sitting third in the point standings, Osborne is calling it quits on a great Supercross campaign. It’s all in the name of racing the Grand Prix series. Zach had a prior commitment to race the MX2 (250) GP class this year, so while the run was fun while it lasted, Osborne is now focusing his attention outdoors. And, yes, expect to see Osborne racing in the U.S. in 2013. Here’s what he had to say.
MXA: Take everyone through Anaheim 1.
Zach: Anaheim 1 went pretty well. I qualified third in day practice. I got a poor start in the heat race, but I finished fourth. It was good to qualify for the main right out of the heat, because I was really nervous. I got a terrible start in the main and worked my way up to ninth. It was a mediocre finish and it wasn’t what I was looking for. I didn’t ride that well, and I knew that I could improve on things.
How about Phoenix, Los Angeles and Oakland?
I really liked that track at Phoenix. I qualified third during the day. I qualified third in my heat race, and then I finished sixth in the main. I made a good step forward, especially after Anaheim. Then at L.A. I rode well. I qualified second out of the one day practice. I came through and was right there for the win in the heat. In the main event I finally got a good start. I rode solid and finished third. It was my first podium ever, which was awesome. At Oakland I finished third in the main event again. I rode the best I had all season at Oakland. I thought I had a shot at the win in the main, but I didn’t get a good start. I passed up to second, but then I got tight. Obviously it was awesome to get two podium finishes in a row and end the Supercross season in that way.
Zach looked mighty comfortable in Supercross right off the bat.
After improving every weekend, finishing on the podium the last two races and sitting third in the point standings, you must be a bit bummed to end your Supercross campaign early.
I’m a little bit bummed, but at the same time it’s the opportunity that I was given. I’m thankful to be given the option to race a few rounds of Supercross. It has been a good experience for me and everyone else involved. With the way things went and what we had to work with I believe things were spectacular. I was riding mostly out of my own van, along with the help from Rock River. I drove to the races in my van, unloaded, did the job, loaded up my van and went home. It’s bittersweet hanging it up while sitting third in the points, but I know that there isn’t any way I could finish the series. I couldn’t race Salt Lake City or Seattle because of other obligations.
Can we expect to see you race full-time in the U.S. next year?
Yes, for sure. This is my last year in the MX2 class in Europe, and I think that I have some good years left for me in the 250 class over here in the U.S. I’ll just have to see how things turn out.
Turning our attention to the GPs, it’s going to be slugfest for the 250 World title this year. You have a great opportunity to win the championship overseas.
I have a really good shot. I’m going to be taking the confidence that I have built over the past few weeks and use it for the season. I’ve upped my intensity and speed. I’m going to go home and prepare for two months. Then I’ll head overseas and get the job done.
Style? Osborne has it in spades.
In terms of style and bike control, you are right up there with a few other guys in the 250 class. Where do you get that confidence to throw the bike around?
I did a lot of riding from the middle of November to Anaheim 1. Racing in Europe, I learned a lot about timed practice and how to hang it out. That really helped me. It put me in good position to get good gate picks and decent starts. It really just comes down to riding a lot. Also, coming into the Supercross series I was way under the radar. No one put any expectations on me. I knew that if I had a good time then I would ride well and get the results.
It’s a bummer to see you stop racing Supercross this year, but I plan on seeing you next year in the U.S.
Yeah, we’ll see how everything goes. Thanks for the interview.
VIDEO INTERVIEW: RICKY CARMICHAEL
FOX INSTINCT BOOT INTRODUCTION
This past week the MXA wrecking crew was invited out to the product launch of the Fox Racing Instinct boot and V4 helmet – both new products in the Fox stable – held at the beautiful Zaca Station motocross facility. Rain hampered conditions the days leading up to the event, and even during the intro the dirt was rather damp. However, that didn’t dissuade us from spinning laps in the new duds. While we will be showcasing both products in the not-too-distant future as part of a rigorous product test, we’re not going to weigh you down with detailed shots of a product that isn’t quite on the market yet. Instead, check out a collection of photos that include Ricky Carmichael and Carey Hart getting silly over a tabletop. Our video guru, Travis Fant, will be releasing a video of our experience in the coming days. For now, whet your appetite with these shots.
Ricky Carmichael was on-hand to talk about the all-new Instinct boot and V4 helmet. Here he’s showing everyone what the soles of the boots look like.
A private track, “The GOAT,” “Fro,” Carey Hart, new product, and A HELICOPTER? Fox knows how to put on a good intro!
Carey Hart still rides regularly, even while being a father and race team owner. The dude knows how to get down on a dirt bike.
R.C. catching air time.
MXA‘s own Dennis Stapleton came out and rode the challenging track. Having rained a few days prior to the intro, the track was very rutted and technical. Not everyone could handle the conditions, but Dennis was right at home in the track.
Another classic Ricky Carmichael whip.
MINI-VIEW: KYLE CHISHOLM
Part of the upstart Jeff Ward Racing Kawasaki team, Kyle Chisholm is finding that the 450 class is particularly difficult this year. Chisholm switched teams during the offseason, going from Yamaha to Kawasaki, and got a late start on testing. However, Kyle has made every main event and is improving every week. I caught up with him at the 2013 O’Neal catalog shoot in a private location in Fillmore, California to talk about his season.
MXA: How has the season been going for you?
Kyle: Things have been going okay so far. I’m still trying to get some things figured out with the bike. We got a late start with testing, just like a lot of other people did. I rode a Yamaha for the past three years, so I’m working on getting comfortable on the Kawasaki again. We tried cramming as much testing in as we could before the season started. It got to the point where we did a lot of testing, but I wanted to see how the settings were in a race situation. After getting through the first four rounds I’d say that things are starting to come around. We’re headed in the right direction. I’m just outside the top ten right now, and I feel that I should definitely be higher up battling with those guys.
The Kawasaki KX450F and Yamaha YZ450F have completely different setups, even in stock form. However, you basically grew up racing Kawasaki’s. Are you finding that familiar feel with the KX450F faster than you would have on any other bike?
Since I was eight-years-old I rode for Team Green. As soon as I got on the Kawasaki I felt kind of at home. Granted, the bike has changed a good amount since 2008, but I still know what to expect. I did a little bit of outdoor riding on the KX450F, and I didn’t have to adjust much. It’s a different story for Supercross. In Supercross everything is happening faster. For me it’s just a matter of having seat time on the bike and dialing in settings during the week.
Chisholm has made every main this year.
Do you learn more on a race day, as far as settings are concerned, as opposed to testing during the week?
I learn during the week, but at the same time, I go thousands of laps on the test track. The tracks are groomed every week and they get changed up a little bit, but for the most part I can ride a Supercross test track with my eyes closed. It’s good in a way because I have the same track to compare different settings to. At the same time I’ll go to a race and the track has jumps that might be a little steeper and the whoops are different. And, obviously, I always ride faster when I’m racing as opposed to just spinning laps on the test track. It’s hard to get the same race feel at a practice track. I find that it’s difficult to make a huge gain in terms of settings over the span of one week.
The tracks have been a bit unusual, as opposed to recent years where they seemed like carbon copies of previous rounds. How does that affect you, if at all?
It’s tough, actually. They [Dirt Wurx] put the track maps out, and a lot of times they end up changing them or not building the track the way that it was drawn on the map. I give them props for trying, because we were having the same tracks over and over in previous years. You can only do so much with dirt inside a stadium. Hopefully they learn from what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard, because at one race the whoops will be four feet tall and eight feet apart. Then the next weekend there won’t be any whoops at all. We’re testing at the test track to set the bike up for bigger or smaller whoops, and then we get to the stadium and it’s something completely different. At Anaheim 1 I probably could have done the race with outdoor suspension on my bike, and it would have worked better than Supercross settings. However, on the map we saw one set of whoops. When we got to Anaheim there basically weren’t any whoops. I know that everyone is in the same boat, but it’s tough to get the bike set up for the track.
Compare the depth and talent in the 450 class to last year.
The last few years it has been harder and harder. Last year everyone was saying that it was the deepest that the field had ever been. Now this year there are three or four more guys that are stepping up. Things have changed recently, because now not everyone is healthy, but obviously going into the season the class was stacked. There are almost 30 good guys, and only 20 are going to go to the main. It’s definitely tough. Looking at lap times, guys are really close. For example, at Oakland this last weekend, I was 11th in the first practice, but on the same second as the third place guy. There were a bunch of us so close, and one guy would be on the podium and another would finish outside the top ten. Starts are more important now than ever before. Getting a good start will put yourself in a great position, and you’ll also be out of the craziness. Just look at what happened to Trey Canard and Ryan Morais in Los Angeles.
Kyle believes that the talent in the 450 class has been the deepest it has been in recent years. I believe him.
Riders seem more willing to put it all on the line this year, even in the 450 class.
The 450 class is known for having the smarter and more experienced riders. I’m not saying that Ryan Morais did anything wrong. He didn’t. I’ve noticed that guys in the 250 class are cleaning each other out on the first lap of their heat race, but there are still a lot more laps to go! This year guys in the 450 class are getting a bit more wild and doing some of the same things that the 250 class is known for. That’s happening because there are 15 good guys in the heat race, but only nine guys are going to qualify for the main. You have to bring your ?A Game’ to the gate every time.
Looking at the Canard/Morais crash, you were right there in the middle of everything.
I was right behind Trey in the first start. It was muddy exiting the first turn. Trey slid out and then caught traction going up the double. He jumped off to the left and clipped the tuff block. Immediately the cover snagged on his footpeg, and the tuff block got kicked out. I missed it, and I followed him through the rhythm section. The cover was still dangling off his bike, and into the second turn I stepped on the cover with my foot. I was almost pulled off my bike. He took off before I did out of the turn, and he veered left over the triple. I jumped the triple on his right. If you watch the footage, I landed right next to where Morais landed on Trey. It was a scary moment, and I saw the whole thing go down. Ryan Villopoto actually did the same thing on the restart and he hit the same tuff block that Trey did. Then on the triple Ryan jumped off the track.
Supercross is inherently dangerous. Do you think that there are certain precautions that the promoters could take to improve the safety and quality of racing?
A lot of stuff has been brought up since then. It’s tough to change something overnight. Some people had said to get rid of the tuff block covers and get the sponsor logos screen printed right on the foam. I can understand that it will cost them more money, but it would be a good way to avoid the problem. The promoters are smart and they know what they’re doing. I’m sure that they will come to some sort of resolution.
Kyle has been working on upping his intensity during the week.
You mentioned that everyone is so close on lap times. How do you pick up 1/4 or 1/2 of a second on a Supercross track?
It’s tough! Look at a race like L.A., where we had 12 minutes to practice. On every track we jump the stuff on the first or second lap. We’re all doing the same thing. The rhythm sections are all kind of turning into everyone doing the same thing. At Oakland there was one section where you could mix it up, but even then I jumped that section on the second lap of practice. What I’m saying is that we are all doing the same thing, and the bikes are all so good right now. Even the privateer guys can be competitive. The biggest thing in getting the edge is upping the intensity. Watching guys like Villopoto, James, Chad and Ryan, they are pushing so hard from one obstacle to the next, and they are doing it for 20 laps. It’s tough to practice like that. I got to ride with James a lot in the past on the practice track, and he practices with that intensity. It’s hard to ride like that naturally. But pushing that hard through every section will shave off fractions of a second. If you keep doing that then eventually you’ll cut off a second or two. It’s hard work, and it’s not easy.
Thanks for your time, Kyle. Good luck this weekend at A2.
Thanks. See you in Anaheim.
SCOTT VIDEO: PRO RACE GOGGLE PREP
ANAHEIM 2 TRACK LAYOUT
DRIFTING AIN’T EASY
TUF RACING ARENACROSS VIDEO
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Tyla Rattray was injured during his heat race at the Oakland round of the Monster Energy Supercross. Rattray was unable to race the remainder of the evening due to his injury. Upon further evaluation by his physician, it has been determined that Rattray suffered a concussion and a fracture to his C7 vertebrae. He will be recuperating for the next few weeks, at which time his injuries will be reevaluated. The team will make another announcement about his recovery at that time.
“I’m really bummed out about my injury,” said Rattray, “but I’m very thankful that it didn’t end up worse. I just want to thank everyone for their tremendous support. Hopefully I’ll be back soon.”
RED BULL X-FIGHTERS COMING TO GLEN HELEN ON MAY 12, 2012
The world’s best Freestyle Motocross riders will take off to the air again in front of huge crowds at some of the most legendary locations when the Red Bull X-Fighters kicks off its six-stop 2012 world tour on April 13 in Dubai. Breathtaking jumps on motorcycles flying across bullfighting rings, gravity-defying acrobatics in front of frenzied crowds and some of the most exciting bare-knuckle rivalries anywhere in the world of sports will once again be the essential ingredients of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour. The planet’s most important Freestyle-Motocross (FMX) competition features stops this year in Dubai (UAE), Glen Helen (USA), Istanbul (TUR), Madrid (ESP), Munich (GER) and Sydney (AUS).
With six stops on four continents, the FMX riders will be battling it out for championship points before enormous crowds in returning hotspots Dubai, Madrid and Sydney. They will also be taking their motorcycles on spine-tingling rides through the sky in new locations (Glen Helen, California, Istanbul and Munich in the sport’s 12th season). Dany Torres of Spain will be looking to defend his championship after dethroning American Nate Adams last year in front of crowds totaling 230,000.
Torres launched a thrilling come-from-behind battle for the title with an exhilarating victory in front of 23,000 home-town fans in Madrid midway through last season. He knows he will also face a run for his money from returning riders Andre Villa of Norway, who had a hot hand through the early stages of the season before getting knocked out of the championship by injury after a spectacular crash and ending up third behind Torres and Adams, Sydney winner Josh Sheehan (AUS), who aced a pair of double backflips in front of his home crowd, and Levi Sherwood (NZL).