MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER (10/23/13)
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Time and again we’ve seen the aggressive riding style of so many racers become detuned when they jump to a bigger bike. Take a look at Justin Barcia, who’s not really “Bam Bam” anymore. Having said that, Ken Roczen looked like an animal on the KTM 450SXF at the Monster Cup. As you’ll see from this photo, K-Roc wasn’t scared to get down and dirty over this triple in practice. He continued to lay it flat all night long. It’s going to be an exciting 2014 Supercross series.
BIKES OF THE MONSTER CUP
Ryan Villopoto’s Kawasaki SR450F.
Justin Barcia’s Honda CRF450.
Ken Roczen’s KTM 450SXF.
Josh Grant’s Yamaha YZ450F.
Dean Wilson’s Kawasaki KX450F.
Super Mini racer Carson Brown and his KTM 85SXS.
VIDEO: JEFFREY HERLINGS’ PAST & FUTURE WITH LEATT
VIDEO: FOLLOW JAMES STEWART AROUND THE MEC
DARYL ECKLUND’S MONSTER CUP MOMENTS
As the sun dropped down on the horizon a full moon greeted the Monster Cup fans. There was a hysteria throughout the entire night. There were the oohs and ahhhs of big crashes, huge whips and a fireworks show like it was the 4th of July. There were high-pulse battles, a malfunctioning split starts and forgetful riders that filled the night with edge of the seat entertainment.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER:
As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” James Stewart has always been rocket ship fast, but with his long string of inconsistency and bad luck we just never knew what we were going to get. Last week I gave him 8:1 odds, I almost didn’t mention him, because the Bubba we once knew was fading. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but after his performance at the Monster Cup?how he kept composure amidst the pressure of Villopoto?I want to say that Bubba is back! Bubba was strong as ever and took home the win with an 8-1-1.
STEWART VS. VILLOPOTO
Out of the three main events only one was burned into my memory with the epic battle between Bubba and Villo. Stewart got the holeshot with Villopoto in tow. Stewart busted out a huge rhythm a few laps into the race and put some distance on Ryan, but Villopoto stepped up and followed James over it the next lap. Ryan stalked his prey and made an aggressive move, cutting in on the inside of a corner. He made the pass and I thought it was game over for Stewart. To my surprise James came right back and made an immediate pass. They went back and forth banging bars the entire race. The white flag came out and neither of them went through the Joker Lane yet. As James dipped in, Ryan made the pass going around it! He was in the moment and forgot. Directly after that he lost his composure and came up short on the big rhythm he followed James off. His foot came off and it was game over for Ryan.
THE JOKER LANE
I have mixed feelings about what they call the Joker Lane. I really like the looks of the big illuminated sign that says “Joker Lane” on it. It looks cool, but that’s about it. As a racer I know how you can just get in the zone and go on autopilot. It is a challenge to be able to break your concentration in the heat of battle and pick a lap to take an alternate route. Everyone had to deal with it though. It is just a bummer that two top guys?Villopoto and Dungey?totally forgot about it! Was it good entertainment? In the third main of the night it mixed it up a bit, but it was still confusing to keep track of who and when everyone took a turn down the whooped out Joker Lane.
THE BOO BIRDS WERE OUT
There were cheers when Ryan Villopoto got on his feet after his horrific crash, crickets when Bubba was introduced in the opening ceremonies and boos not after the first time the gate didn’t drop but the second time. The crowd was patient to let one slide, but after the second faulty gate boos roared through the stadium. Live TV coverage and a malfunctioning gate?somebody was in hot water after those bugaboos!
Back in 1998 I raced the US Open of Supercross on a mini bike. I lined up with the likes of James Stewart, Davi Millsaps and Broc Helper. We rode the same track as the Pros and let me tell you we did not belong out there. Then 13 year old Stewart tried jumping the triple, coming up short and breaking his wrist. I broke a thumb and just about half the other riders got carted off on stretchers. We just did not have the equipment or skill level to be on a Supercross track on mini bikes. Now, I was in awe watching the mini guys at the Monster Cup hucking the giant triple. Watching these young superstars made me realize how much our sport has progressed in the last decade. Our sport has a bright future ahead of us!
Out of every race I have attended or watched this year the Monster Cup was by far the most entertaining. It is jam packed with non-stop entertainment the entire night. Plus it is in Vegas! There were some hiccups throughout the night, but all in all I feel that to progress the sport and attract more fans more races need to be as exciting as this one.
MINI-VIEW: LES SMITH
Beginning his career as an AMA Pro privateer back in 2009, Les Smith has had his share of highs and lows. Certainly the high points must be his stint as a fill-in factory rider in 2011. Twice he filled in for injured JGR Yamaha riders?both Justin Brayton and Davi Millsaps, That same year he filled in for Jason Anderson at Rockstar Energy Racing. Smith impressed many in the pro pits with his adaptability and work ethic, which landed him a ride with the newly formed LWR (Langston Witt Racing) team for 2012. After a semi-successful year, Les was re-signed for the 2013 season. Unfortunately soon after that the LWR team folded, but owner Scott Witt continued to help Smith. Although a difficult injury sidelined the South Carolina native for the second have of the motocross series, Smith is now back riding and prepping for 2014.
By Jim Kimball
MXA: Les, can we begin with the season-ending crash that you had during the outdoor series? Didn’t it take you out for the rest of the Nationals?
Les: Yeah, that was a real bummer. It was the Thursday before Washougal when I crashed and broke both arms. I was practicing down at the Carmichael farm, and I had an electrical issue on a jump. As I said, it was definitely a bummer deal!
Going back to the Supercross series, it may have been a little rough at the beginning, but near the end it appeared that your results were improving.
Supercross was very tough. I did feel like my riding was getting a lot better, but the class was really strong the past season. It was a lot of fun though; I did learn a lot and really felt that I was getting better.
Les Smith (54) blasts off the line at Muddy Creek.
You were a privateer but also getting some support through the BTO KTM team.
Overall it ended up working out being a good deal for me. After the LWR team closed its doors at the end of 2012, I already had my contract for 2013. Scott Witt, the owner, held his promise to me. He worked out a deal for BTO to transport my bikes and for me to be able to use their semi. Witt honored all the terms in my contract. It’s rare to meet people these days like Scott; he held his word and is a great guy!
Continuing along the “support” subject, you have been a privateer, and a factory rider with fill-in jobs at both JGR Yamaha and Rockstar. Is there a big difference in support?
Absolutely there is a big difference! It’s such a change of pace when you are riding for a factory team. With a factory ride you can truly focus on the one thing that’s most important?the riding! You don’t have to worry about all of the many other things that it takes to race.
What have you been up to lately?
Well I came back to South Carolina when I broke my arms, and have been here ever since. I just started riding a few weeks ago. I have been trying to just take it slow, and trying not to rush to get back into the swing of things. It was a pretty difficult injury, but my arms have healed up pretty well. I want to just take my time and make sure that I am 100 percent before I start doing anything too crazy.
Will your 2014 deal be very similar to 2013?
No sir, it will be different for 2014. Everyone knows how stressful it can be in our sport at this time of year. It’s no fun to be a part of it right now, but I hope to have some things worked out and finalized very soon. I cannot really expand any further. There is some stuff on the table, but it’s still all up in the air.
What further can you say about 2014?
I feel great about 2014! I learned so much this past year racing the 450 in Supercross, and I think that it will benefit me a lot next year. Even after my injury I still had a lot of confidence in the things that I learned racing Supercross, and I cannot wait to get back out there. I’m not really sure which class that I will be racing yet, but I know what I am capable of. I just hope to come out swinging, start the year off well, and improve every week!
VIDEO: TAKE A TOUR OF THE AIMEXPO
2014 KTM JUNIOR SUPERCROSS SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
KTM North America, Inc. is excited to announce the 2014 schedule for the KTM Junior Supercross Challenge (KJSC) Program, the popular intermission show of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. For 2014, the program will expand to include ten total Supercross venues. The schedule and application deadlines are below:
Phoenix Supercross ? January 11, 2014
Application Deadline: December 13, 2013
Anaheim II Supercross ? January 18, 2014
Application Deadline: December 20, 2013
Anaheim III Supercross ? February 1, 2014
Application Deadline: January 3, 2014
Arlington Supercross ? February 15, 2014
Application Deadline: January 17, 2014
Atlanta Supercross ? February 22, 2014
Application Deadline: January 24, 2014
Indianapolis Supercross ? March 1, 2014
Application Deadline: January 31, 2014
Toronto Supercross ? March 22, 2014
Application Deadline: February 21, 2014
St. Louis Supercross ? March 29, 2014
Application Deadline: February 28, 2014
Houston Supercross ? April 5, 2014
Application Deadline: March 7, 2014
Las Vegas Supercross– May 3, 2014
Application Deadline: April 4, 2014
The KJSC is an intermission program where 15 randomly selected riders race aboard identically prepared KTM 50 SXS motorcycles. Throughout the day, riders get to go on a track walk, participate in two practice sessions, sign autographs for their fans, be introduced during opening ceremonies and race a three-lap exhibition race during the Supercross night program.
Interested applicants must be 7-8 years old and meet the full requirements listed in the official rules. All rules and online entry forms can be found at the KJSC event website www.ktmjrsx.com. Entry is now open. Any additional inquiries about the KJSC should be directed to local KTM dealerships or through the ?contact us’ section of the website.
EVENT REMINDER: DAY IN THE DIRT
VIDEO: CHATTING WITH 2013 WORCS CHAMP ROBBY BELL
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