MOTOCROSS ACTION’S MID-WEEK REPORT BY JOHN BASHER (1/15/14)
PHOTO OF THE WEEK…ACTUALLY, THE PHOTO OF MOST SUPERCROSS WEEKS
Attention 450 Supercross racers: This man must be stopped! He has already taken the 450 Supercross title for three years running. In that time he has won 49% of all Supercross races, along with over $6 million in bonuses and purse money. Ryan Villopoto was in the driver’s seat at Anaheim 1 until he lost his front end. He rebounded by winning for the first time in his 450 career at Phoenix. Can this man be stopped? Photo: Kawasaki.
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THERE’S GOING TO BE A HURRICANE IN ANAHEIM THIS WEEKEND (TO GO ALONG WITH THE EARTHQUAKE)
Bob “Hurricane” Hannah to sign autographs at A2
Matrix Concepts’ Bob “Hurricane” Hannah will be on hand to sign Matrix Concepts Limited Edition Posters this weekend Saturday, January 18th at Anaheim Stadium (A2). Feel free to bring any of your Bob Hannah memorabilia to have him sign it. Bob will be at the following locations at Anaheim Stadium Pit Party:
1:00 pm to 2pm: at the 100% display in the pits
2:00 pm to 3pm: at the JGR Race Semi
3:00 pm to 4pm: at the Legends and Hero’s Booth
4:00 pm to 6pm: at the BTO Sports/KTM Race Semi
PHOENIX SUPERCROSS: MY THOUGHTS
Ryan is back where he belongs…or at the very least back where he can usual be found?up front. Photo: Spencer Rathkamp
Full disclosure?I wasn’t at Phoenix. Greedy me, I decided to go to Glen Helen and race. We had some testing to do and I elected to test motorcycles and then watch the race on the tube rather than make the trip to Arizona (where I would be herded around like cows in the select photographer areas on the stadium floor). Plus, I got to race instead of watching other people race. No problem, there were other MXA staffers in Arizona. And, what’s kind of funny is that I saw more of what was going on at Phoenix on the TV than if I had been shooting photos on the floor. It’s hard to see beyond the scope of the camera’s viewfinder at ground level. So, I was able to soak up the battles while avoiding the crowds while getting to listen to Jeff Emig and Ricky Carmichael bicker.
I wasn’t at Phoenix, but I still have opinions about what I saw. Here are my thoughts on the action. I’ll limit myself to one sentence on each subject. Concise is usually the best way to write anyway.
Judging by the way he sliced through the pack, Ryan Villopoto will probably win the 2014 Supercross series.
Jason Anderson is Houdini.
Cole Seely reminds me of the movie 27 Dresses, because so far he’s been the bridesmaid, but not the bride.
Ryan Dungey seems like he would be a really nice next door neighbor.
That gnarly rhythm section before the finish line had me shaking in my boots.
They should hold a winner-take-all, $10,000 prize race every weekend between Vince Friese and Kyle Partridge; at least until one of them goes down with an injury (or the AMA bans Friese for life).
Justin Brayton was some green paint away from winning his first 450 Supercross race.
I like Zach Osborne.
I admire Valentin Teillet‘s enthusiasm, but I’d hate to be his body the morng after Phoenix.
Although he’s nursing an elbow injury, I expected more fight out of Dean Wilson.
Cooper Webb is a legitimate 250 Supercross threat for the title?next year.
K-DUB AND RC GET FRISKY AT PHOENIX
MINI-VIEW: JUSTIN BRAYTON
Justin Brayton was on fire in Phoenix. Photo: Spencer Rathkamp
You made a few changes this off-season in regard to your preparation for race day. What did you change, exactly?
Every year, you go back to the previous season and look at it to see what your strengths and weaknesses are, and I just knew from 2013 that I needed to hire a full-time riding coach to work on my techniques with me, just because there are so many small things that matter. I’m trying to find 10ths, and even a half a second in a lap is pretty small, but it takes a lot to find it at this level. Going to the track and just putting in laps, over and over, can kind of get monotonous and boring and you can get stuck in a rut doing that. So, I hired Nathan Ramsey, and it’s been really, really awesome. It’s been a really, really good match on and off the track, just with the way he lives his life and the way we think. And even his career, it’s amazing how similar his story is to mine from when he raced. It’s been really fun, and it’s been a huge help to go in the right direction.
What were the immediate differences you noticed when you first got going on the new 2014 Yamaha YZ450F?
In 2013, I make no bones about it; I struggled. I struggled really bad with the motorcycle, I struggled with my fitness, I struggled with motivation, and I think it all stemmed from being at the race, giving 100 percent, and just not having the speed, and not having the comfort to run up front. The motivation just starts to go down. So, when Yamaha came out with the new bike, and I rode it, I was pumped, because one thing that we did struggle with a lot was turning. When you’re racing, you maneuver, and you’re trying to turn down, trying to pass people, so you have to be able to change lines. At the test track, sometimes you get stuck in one line, so sometimes I’d feel good at the test track, but then we’d take it to the races, and you just really couldn’t cut down in the turns. With the new bike, that was a tremendous leap forward. And bigger than that, my comfort level has just gone up. I can’t pinpoint one thing exactly, but they changed so much stuff on it that the whole package is just so much better, and once we started getting in deeper on it and really working on it, I just got more and more comfortable, and I can’t thank Yamaha and Team JGR enough for just going to work, and Yamaha coming up with a better bike ? a better platform for us to start with ? is a huge, huge help. I think I’ve got it going in the right direction for myself, in my career, and for Yamaha.
You were up front all night in Phoenix right off the start. Talk about those starts.
Once again, coming into the year, you look at the list of riders, and there’s just no way you can start in the back and still come to the front. Well, maybe you can, but I certainly don’t think it’s that possible for me to come from the back and go all the way to the front in this field of guys to win the race. So, to race at this level, with as fast as everyone’s going, and with as deep as the field is, you’ve got to be a good starter. You’ve got to work on your technique and do a lot of starts. It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by repetitive practicing. It all started in November with having a better bike, then working on starts, with the team helping, and with Yamaha being more involved with JGR, and I feel like it’s all really coming together for everybody right now.
How did it feel leading for 13 or 14 laps in Phoenix?
I felt totally fine leading. I was totally comfortable, and once again, that’s the preparation. I didn’t have that good of preparation last year, and I may have gotten a start and went back to fifth or sixth, but this year, I feel like I prepared so much better, and I’ve got a better bike underneath me. After you get that comfort that you feel like you can do anything on the motorcycle, you’re confident. And we all know what confidence does in this game. I felt comfortable up front, and hopefully we can get some more of those starts and run up front for the rest of the series, too.
When you lost the lead to the defending champ, Ryan Villopoto, you lost a little bit of time, but then you started reeling him back in. Your fastest lap of the race was on lap 16. Talk about chasing Villopoto down.
You know what? It’s funny, I was talking to my mom about this on Sunday. There’s just something about me that’s different this year, whether it has to do with me getting married or me having a kid on the way or whatever it is outside of racing, I’m so much more calm and confident, and me reeling him back in was just because I want it. I don’t have 10 more years to be racing in this sport, so time’s ticking, and you never know how many opportunities you’re going to get. In Indianapolis of 2012, he passed me with a few laps to go, and I had a chance to run it in on him and I didn’t. I’ve always said that if I ever had that to do over again, I’d run it in on him. I had a chance this weekend, but it would’ve been really dirty, and I don’t want to race like that with RV, because he raced me clean all night, and I’ll race people clean if they race me clean. Plus, I wasn’t all that close to make the move. It’s just about wanting it and believing in yourself, and I feel like I believe in myself more than I ever have.
You made a name for yourself as an Arenacross racer, and hard passes are the only way to pass in Arenacross, so a lot of us expected you to take a chance in that turn after the whoops on the final lap, but it could’ve resulted in both of you going down. Did it go through your head to give it a shot anyway?
You know, I saw that he kind of spun a little bit going into the whoops, and that had been a fairly strong point for me all night, so right when he did that, I started to go a little left to try and set up the pass, but right when I did that, I caught an edge on the face of one of the whoops and it robbed my momentum. Right then, I knew… I wasn’t going to settle for second, but I knew in the triple-triple-triple section before the finish that it was possible that I could pressure him into making a mistake there if he knew I was that close, but what can you say? The guy’s got number-one on his bike for a reason, so he’s done a lot of winning. It’s not that I settled for second at all, but I think I’d rather take second and keep building on this season, rather than possibly take us both down and we get seventh and eighth or something. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but if it’s round 15 or 16… There are a lot of different scenarios, but I’ll never go in and clean him out, for sure. I don’t like to ride like that. Arenacross guys ride like that, but even in Arenacross, I’d try to be more calculated and set up passes rather than just go in there and clean a guy out.
You were really strong through the whoops. That was a treacherous section, and you shined there, so what was the difference between you and everyone else in those whoops?
The whoops were really gnarly, but throughout my whole career, for some reason, I’ve always been really good at whoops. I feel like my bike setup is awesome right now, and once again, it comes down to comfort. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t come into the whoops as fast as you need to, and especially when they’re that slick, you need a lot of entry speed to carry your speed through them ? especially when they’re that big, too. So it comes back to comfort, and once you’re comfortable, you can enter them faster and faster and faster. Also, you need to get the drive through the whoops, which means good tires, and a good setup with the KYB guys for our suspension. There are so many things that go into it, but it’s all helping, and I proved that on Saturday night.
Where do you go from here?
I think the old me would’ve said nothing’s good enough now except for a win, but that’s where it’s good to have a guy like Nathan Ramsey The goals have changed a little, because I’m not going to go to Anaheim 2 only expecting a win. If it presents itself, I’ll go for it, but if it’s not there, then you don’t ride over your head, and I’m not going to go for it and crash out. I just want to be in the race. I want to be battling with the guys I raced with on Saturday. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.
MXA PHOTO SHOOT: 2014 KTM 450SXF FACTORY EDITION III
Rider: Dennis Stapleton
Photographer: John Basher
Release date: Test will appear in the April issue (comes out in late February)
(By the way, if you followed us on Facebook you would’ve already seem some of these photos)
THE CHAMP TAKES A TUMBLE
ROBBY BELL’S “BEST IN THE DESERT” PARKER 250 RACE REPORT
Robby in the dez.
The start to my 2014 season officially kicked off at the Best in the Desert Parker 250 in Parker, Arizona. The race is made up an eighty-plus mile loop that competitors are required to complete three times. I’ve always enjoyed the terrain there; the Parker desert offers an entertaining mix of high-speed, flat-tracking roads, intimidating rock gardens, fast sand washes, rolling whoop sections and this year came with the added bonus that the temperature first thing in the morning would be above freezing meaning there was an above average chance that I’d be able to feel my fingers ten miles into the my ride.
I would be teaming with Ricky Brabec on the THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki with our main competitors being our teammates: David and Tuffy Pearson, and the Beta team of Nick Burson and Justin Morrow. Our plan, like most of the teams was to have one rider start (Ricky would start for us) and ride about thirty miles to the “midway” pit where the second rider would hop on (that would be me) and take it a full loop, through the main pit, back around to midway. From there Ricky would do a full loop and then I would hop on for the final fifty miles or so. It was a good plan.
As always, the green flag flew at the first possible light with David first off the line, followed a minute later by Ricky and the Beta team starting a couple minutes further back, behind a few other teams. I waited for Ricky at midway and was happy to see him come in within a minute of Dave; usually the dust is quite thick, and with the course heading straight into the rising sun it’s hard to stay close to the rider ahead. With Tuffy mounted on the Kawasaki ahead of I set off with the task of trying to run him down and get into the physical lead.
It was no surprise that Tuffy was riding well; he’s a top competitor in the Hare & Hound series and it showed as he was holding his lead well ahead of me. I knew I needed to close in some as about twenty miles after midway there was a stretch of rock sections where the dust wouldn’t be as thick and that would undoubtedly be my best opportunity for overtaking. I pushed hard into the dust, feeling like I was gaining ground and as we came into the rock gardens I could just start to see glimpses of Tuffy ahead of me.
At one point I closed to within probably twenty seconds, but Tuffy had a good pace, not allowing me to get close enough and when the course hopped onto some faster roads, the dust began to billow once more. It was a little frustrating feeling that if I had clean air I had a shot of pulling away, but I decided to keep calm and not push past the edge of safety; I knew Ricky had the speed and talent to get us into the lead and I didn’t want to risk our race in the dust.
With a twenty-five mile per hour speed limit and a length of over a mile, the main pit can often times be one of the most frustrating sections of the course. I rounded the corner to head towards the pit crew, maybe twenty seconds or so away, to see Tuffy just leaving the gas-stop. For the next mile we both had to cruise through the pits, Tuffy dangling like a carrot in front of me. If only I could twist the throttle and just get by him?
Once we resumed race speed the course headed through a set of high-speed rolling whoops and then into twenty miles of fast, flowing sand wash. This is a fun section of the track, but can also be a challenge on the second lap as we began catching the back markers of the UTV class, and they can be some kind of frustrating when you’re trying to get past them. Twice the dust ahead of me started to get thicker and I couldn’t deny the thought that I was catching Tuffy from entering my head, only to be disappointed when I’d catch a glimpse of the blue and red flashing lights that are mandatory on the rear end of the UTVs. Then, just a few miles from the midway pit, the course dropped into a narrow, silty canyon and the blinding dust of a UTV ahead of me forced me to slow to a crawl, even downshifting to first gear for almost half a mile, leaving me to brood over the thought that Tuffy was pulling away from me.
Finally, after a couple more miles I came into the midway pit to hand the bike to Ricky, though in my tunnel vision I actually rode right past the pit and had to flip a quick U-turn to get him the bike. As Ricky took off I learned that after the full loop I had actually come into the pit with around the same deficit that Ricky had given me of just under a minute. I knew the dust would be thick, but I had hoped to at least come in a little closer to the bike ahead. In the end it was a credit to Tuffy’s speed but I still felt really confident that Ricky could pass Dave and get us into the lead; he’s been on fire lately.
Sure enough, we started hearing radio reports that Ricky had made the pass and was even starting to pull a lead; a report from main pit said he had over two minutes. I started to gear back up and as I waited for Ricky to return, I focused on riding smooth and really enjoying my last fifty miles of the race.
It’s always a bit of a guessing game as to when exactly your rider is going to come into the pits, but as I waited for Ricky, I started to get the sensation that he was overdue. I was starting to feel slightly anxious, and when David rounded the corner to head down pit row my worst fears were confirmed. After handing the bike the Tuffy, David informed us that Ricky was loading the bike into a truck about five miles from the pit. We had suffered a DNF.
A DNF definitely isn’t the way we wanted to start the year, but with any motorized sport, things happen. We later learned that a cracked case put us out of the race; we’ll have to diagnose whether this was from a rock impact. In the end I do feel we showed the speed to win, especially Ricky. I have no idea how he can go so fast in the dust, but he’s my hero for doing so. I want to congratulate David and Tuffy on the win; they each had a great race and it was fun competing against them. I want to give thanks to Casey and the entire BITD crew, as I know it gets tougher each year to put on events like this and they still host one classy operation. I’d like to thank the team: THR Motorsports, Monster Energy, Precision Concepts Kawasaki for providing us the opportunity, all of the team sponsors for their continued support and thank you to all of my personal sponsors: Kawasaki, Precision Concepts, Focus Apparel, USWE Sports, EVS Sports, FMF Racing, Alamo Alarm, Northland Motorsports, ATP Mechanix and Ryan Abbatoye Designs.
I actually have some big news having to do with racing on a personal: this was my last race wearing Fox. I’ve been with Fox since 2006 and I’m very grateful for everything they did for me and for the opportunities they provided me, but our relationship has come to a close. I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be representing the company I started my professional career with: MSR mx. I’m also going to be representing Shoei helmets, Sidi boots and Spy goggles and I’d like to say how grateful I am to these companies for offering to support me and how excited I am to be starting relationships with each of them.
From here it’s off to Taft, CA for the first round of WORCS and the word is there’s going to be a pretty stacked pro class. I really enjoy the WORCS series; Sean, Timmy and everyone on the WORCS staff are dear to me. I can’t wait to get out there and hold the throttle to the stop for two hours!
Robby Bell, www.robbybellracing.com
SPENCER RATHKAMP’S PHOENIX PHOTO GALLERY
Jason Anderson retains the red background for Anaheim 2.
Justin Barcia brought the “Bam Bam” back this weekend. Ken Roczen was not impressed.
Roger DeCoster remembers what it was like to be in Ken Roczen’s shoes. Now he manages the German sensation.
One of the perks of being on the Pro Circuit Kawasaki race team: special hub stickers for Darryn Durham!
Chad Reed’s son, Tate, is part of the Supercross opening ceremonies, and he’s only a few years old. What a lucky kid!
Ken Roczen liked the look of the red number plate backgrounds, but a run-in with Justin Barcia sent him down and out of the points lead.
It’s cool to see how far back Cole Seely can get on his Lucas Oils Troy Lee Designs Honda.
James Stewart has seen Supercross fireworks a time or two through the years.
THOR VIDEO: MEET DEAN FERRIS
A GOOD CAUSE: MX FOR CHILDREN & SUPERCROSS TEAM UP FOR DREAM ROOM MAKEOVER
Feld Motor Sports and MX for Children announced the MX for Children Supercross Dream Room Makeover, a new charity event for 2014 that will coincide with the Seattle stop of Monster Energy AMA Supercross on April 12. This collaborative effort between Feld Motor Sports and MX for Children will enhance the quality of life for a chronically ill child who is also a fan of Monster Energy Supercross. One child will be selected to receive a complete bedroom makeover themed with Monster Energy Supercross scenes and paraphernalia. Volunteers will work to design and build the Monster Energy Supercross-themed bedroom before the stop at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field.
The selected child will be interviewed by local media during the week prior to Seattle Supercross (April 7) and will be offered an opportunity to participate in MX for Children’s Inside Line Experience. MX for Children and Feld Motor Sports believe this effort will bring joy and excitement into the life of a sick child in the Seattle area. MX for Children’s Inside Line Experience is a Monster Energy Supercross exclusive with a unique, multi-day behind the scenes look at the sport. The Dream Room Makeover recipient will participate in a “Meet and Greet” with top Monster Energy Supercross racers in a private, informal atmosphere for autographs and pictures. On race day, the selected child will tour factory rigs, walk the Monster Energy Supercross track and enjoy the race with great seats!
MX for children will be searching the Seattle area community for volunteers and sponsors to help design and develop the child’s room into a special safe haven from the difficulties of illness. For more information on MX for Children or to volunteer, please visit www.mxforchildren.org.