REM GLEN HELEN MOTOCROSS RACE REPORT: BRIAN SJOGREN, DON GRAHN & A PACK OF FOREIGN RIDERS INVADE GLEN HELEN
Rickard Hansson is enveloped in a cocoon of roost on his way to third overall in the 450 Pro class.
What do the names Marko Vihria, Pekka Karjalainen, Perttu Sihvola, Maxime Godin, Lorenzo Brogi, Toni Konttinen and Elia Zinetti have in common? Other than their rarity in an American phone book, they all flew from Europe for a chance to race motocross in the USA…and were at Glen Helen to race this week’s REM event.
They weren’t the only foreign riders at REM?just the ones with the hardest to pronounce names. Richie Leech (England) was second in the 450 Pro class, while Rickard Hansson (Sweden) was third. The winner was Brian Sjoberg, and while that might sound like the name of a Swedish rider, Sjoberg is a 16-year-old Loretta Lynn rider from Reno, Nevada. Sjoberg’s father is drag boat racer Eric Sjogren and his brother is pro racer Tony Evans.
Brian Sjogren (661) took the 450 Pro victory.
Sjogren ended up with an easy win, although his 3-1 makes it look more difficult than it was. Sjogren was helped by Richie Leech’s 1-4 and trouble for Tony Amaradio (9-2), Kris Keefer (2-12) and Rickard Hansson (5-3). The final 450 Pro top ten was Brian Sjoberg, Richie Leech, Rickard Hansson (Sweden), Tony Amaradio, Chris See, Josh Park, Jason Ramsey, Kris Keefer, Brett Hottel and Elia Zinetti (Italy).
Intermediates Jarrod Spano (49) and Jason Bunch (624) had a rough day at Glen Helen. Spano DNF’ed and Bunch went 11-8 in the 250 Intermediates.
In the 250 Pro class Drew Weaver and Ricky Diaz traded 1-2 and 2-1 days with the win going to Weaver.
Very talented Jace Owen swept the 250 Intermediate class with routs of both motos. Andrew Silverstein, Russ Wageman, Jake Gowan and Brian Nelson rounded out the top five.
This is the section of the REM track that no one but the racers get to see. It is tucked in behind Mt. Whitney. Dennis Boulware (44) doesn’t even take time to look.
Idaho’s Don Grahn became the fourth different winner of the Over-50 Expert class in the last five races of 2011. With a full gate of riders born before 1961 on the line, there were some surprises. Grahn (1-1) was not a surprise, he has won REM’s incredibly talented Over-50 Expert class before and the second place of Dennis Boulware (3-2) could have been predicted since Boulware is the current REM Number One rider. But, Mike Monaghan (5-3) had his best performance since returning to racing. Monaghan was a former Team Pro Circuit rider from back when they were a Husqvarna team that sponsored Jeff Jennings, Tony DiStefano, Steve Wiseman, Troy Lee and Bill Keefe. Following Monaghan in fourth was Brian Allen, Bruce Ashmore fifth, Baja star Bob Rutten sixth, Greg Groom (who didn’t jump the gate this weekend) seventh, Joe Pena eighth, Willie Amaradio a disappointing ninth (with a 2-14) and Marc Crosby tenth. Other notables included John Perry (who came from Colorado to race), Pete Vetrano (the newly named TM importer) and Ken Ehlers (back in action after his bad Catalina Grand Prix crash).
Mike Monaghan (blue) was one of Mitch Payton’s Team Pro Circuit Husqvarna riders in the 1980s. He took about 30 years off before returning to racing.
WHAT ABOUT THE FOREIGNERS?
The vast majority of the foreigner riders were from Finland and they packed the Vet Novice class. It was for all intents and purposes the Finnish National Championship. There were four Finns in the top five with Marko Vihria taking the win in front of countrymen Jani Munne, Pekka Karjalainen and Pettu Sihvola. TM importer Pete Vetrano, who is well over the age of 50, dropped down from the ancient mariners class to duel with the 30-year-old Finnish riders and got fifth.
You don’t get to see a couple of Honda CR125s at the front of the pack very often anymore, but Alan Julien (70) and David Antillion (42) reversed the trend in REM’s 125 Adult “A” class.
The era of domination by Australian Dan Alamangos, who has managed to win both the 125 Adult “A” class and the Over-40 Intermediates for the majority of the 2011 season, came to an end this weekend. First, in the 125 “A” class Alamangos (4-4) ended up third behind David Antillion, South African Alan Julien and former Jeff Emig mechanic Steve Butler (also an Australian). The racing was tight up front and only a last lap pass by former Indian Dunes pro Antillion on Steve Butler put Antillion in first and Butler in third. The South African Julien (1-3) won the first moto, but ran out of gas (him not his bike) in the second moto. John Perry (6-5) borrowed Joe Melton’s YZ125 after Melton ran off the track in practice and had a tree branch slap through the eyeport of his helmet and cut his face. Melton went for stitches, while the Durango rider took the borrowed bike to fifth overall.
OTHER NOTABLE RIDES OF THE DAY
John Park (115) and Craig Johnston (145) had a little contact in the Over-50 Novice class, but they managed to stay up.
The guys behind them weren’t so lucky.
Over-40 Novice: Mark Romero went 1-1 in the Over-40 Novices, but the most notable ride was that of Grand-Am sports car racer Ernie Becker, who came out after a along layoff to go 3-2 for second overall. Becker was another Pro Circuit Husqvarna rider from the 1980s.
Over-50 Novice: Craig Johnston proved that consistency counts when he used a 2-2 to take the win over the 5-1 of Ian Pederson and 1-6 of Brian Underdahl.
Craig Johnston (145) would go on to win the Over-50 Novice class.
Over-40 Intermediate: Always a battle ground, the Over-40 Intermediates fell to another 2-2, this time by C.T. Falk. The first moto winner as South African Alan Julien, but he DNF’ed moto two. The second moto winner was Bryan Friday, but he DNF’ed moto one. Tim Harris two-stroked his way to second overall with a 3-3, while Sam Ramirez went 4-4 for third. Dan Alamangos went 5-6 for fifth. He vows to start training on Monday.
Other winners: John Minert won the 450 Intermediate class and Harry Sillwood the 450 Novices.
The last couple of weeks Suzuki rider Rick Richards has been a hero in the Vet Novice class. Not this week, Rick couldn’t discern between the brake and throttle at the bottom of the big downhill and cleaned out an innocent Timmy Klimko. Richards’ Suzuki actually highsided over the unlucky Yamaha.
Tom White extended his streak of victories over Alan Olson to two when Olson got a flat tire (last week Olson crashed and his bike wouldn’t start). Lyle Sweeter was second overall, but dodged a bullet when he violated the rule about second gate riders not being allowed on the first gate of the starting line before the first gate leaves. All of the REM riders were warned at the riders meeting that if the gate fell for the first gate and they were sitting on the line waiting for the second gate they would be penalized a lap. Second gate riders must remain off of the concrete starting pad until the first gate leaves. Sweeter did the no-no in the first moto, but REM cut him some slack and just warned him. Lars Larsson, from Sweden, was third. Ray Pisarski was third in the first moto, but got taken out in a first turn crash that broke his clutch lever off. His 3-9 was only good enough for sixth.
Marc Crosby (21) is pursued by Kevin McCarthy (711), Greg Groom (12) and Mark Hall (84). Of the four, Groom would do the best by working his way up to seventh overall in the Over-50 Expert class.
REM races again next Saturday, February 19. Practice starts at 9:00 a.m. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com