SOUTHWICK AMA NATIONAL MOTOCROSS SERIES: IT’S ALL OVER FOR REEDY, BUT TEAM PRO CIRCUIT KEEPS ON KEEPIN’ ON


Brett Metcalfe (left) and teammate Ryan Dungey shared the podium.

With only two races left in the 2011 AMA National Motocross Championships there was bound to be one race that would shake up the status quo. That race was Southwick. Here are ten things you need to know about the happenings at the the ‘Wick.

ONE: SKIPPY GAVE IT A VALIANT GO, BUT IT’S OVER
Hats off to Chad Reed! Even though the mud at Southwick ate his Honda CRF450 and his 2011 title hopes, Chad and his team can hold their heads up. Two DNF’s spell an end to what could have been a fairy tale season. Chad was in the running for the Championship from the drop of the first gate back at Hangtown and, perhaps, if he hadn’t gone orbital at Millville he could have stayed in the hunt to the end. Chad achieved several things over the last 10 races:

(1) He resurrected his image. That is no small task. Chad hasn’t been well thought of in the motorcycle industry over his career (which is why no one wanted to help him when it came to a contract at the start of the year). But, his all-new personality, upbeat manner and open smile has changed the attitude of many.

(2) He made the privateer strategy work. Okay, it didn’t pay off in either the Supercross series or the AMA Nationals, but it could have in both. It might well be the new paradigm as the factories look for ways out of the financial plight they are in.

(3) Now, Chad needs sponsors to pay the bills. With only one major sponsor, money is tight and a Championship would have made entree’ into the corporate offices easier for Chad’s fledgling team. He didn’t get that, but if he can find one or two more sugar daddies, his team can expand, add riders and be a player for years to come.

TWO: MUD RACES ARE CRAP SHOOTS
A mud race is a thing of wonder…with every rider wondering if they are going to finish.

In the 450 class at Southwick, Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey had totally different days. Although they raced together in the first moto, especially near the end, the second moto involved different strategies for both contenders. Villopoto, by his own admission, just wanted to finish. He is conscious of the fact that with only a couple races left, that the biggest thing to worry about is the big mistake. Thus, Ryan settled for fourth in moto two?rather than risk losing big points in a crash.

As for Dungey, his star-crossed Suzuki RM-Z450 almost cost him the Championship (if it didn’t already when it blew up, boiled the gas or ran out of gas at Freestone). Dungey had to hang it out in moto two because he missed the start. Dungey took chances?because he had to and it paid off. Ryan didn’t lose big points, but you can imagine how tense things will be at Team Suzuki this week.


Ryan Dungey lived to fight another day.

THREE: WHERE’S RYAN’S BIKE?
The AMA has a rule that states that if a rider has an issue on the starting line and fails to go when the gate drops, then he must get going before the leader finishes the first lap. This rule is designed to keep a rider from jumping into a race, already a full lap down, and creating havoc at the front of the pack. It is not a rule that comes into play very often, but it did at Southwick when Ryan Dungey’s bike did not show up for staging. It did not show up for the 30 second board. It did not show up for the gate drop. In fact, Suzuki’s mechanics couldn’t get it running until the pack was just about to hit the finish line on their first lap. Dungey squeaked onto the track in time to not get disqualified. What was wrong with Dungey’s bike? We will await the official Suzuki announcement (if there is one), but we can eliminate a broken chain guide, cracked cases or running out of gas.

FOUR: JOHN DOWD DOES THE DEED
In order to keep his AMA National number for next year, John Dowd needed 22 points at Southwhick. Guess what, he earned 25 points at Southwick with an eighth overall (9-8). As always, the aged Over-40 Vet rider was the crowd favorite as he motored his way to a top ten finish. John currently has 28 point (thanks to earning 3 points at Millville).

FIVE: BRETT METCALFE WINS
Southwick owed Metcalfe a win (although really, whoever filled his gas tank last year at Southwick owed him the win). After running out of gas while leading last year at Southwick, Metcalfe’s Suzuki didn’t run out of gas this year. He was elated to win a race…largely because in his eight years in the USA, he hasn’t won before. Team Suzuki, of course, was relieved, not just that he didn’t run out of gas this year, but that Metcalfe put a good spin on the fact that Dungey’s bike wouldn’t run in time for him to make the start of the second moto. That is karma of a good kind for Metty and Suzuki.

SIX: TEAM HONDA HAS ALL OF THEIR PROBLEMS SOLVED
Although contract talks are winding down at every team in the next week, Team Honda had a gift handed to them in the form of Geico 250 rider Justin Barcia. It would appear that if Honda doesn’t win the “Ryan Dungey Lottery” against Team KTM, then they could just move Justin Barcia to the 450 class and call it a successful signing year. Barcia is the real deal on a 450. He could save Honda’s bacon in the future. If Barcia’s bike hadn’t expired in moto one (as Reed’s did also), Justin would have won the 450 overall at Southwick (in only his second 450 race). Instead, he had a 36-1 day. Although Barcia is signed to the Geico team, Honda pays the bills for the Geico team and could easily draft Barcia to join them. And, although Geico would lose one of their star 250 riders, what do you think Honda would rather do? Win the 250 East or the 450 Supercross and AMA National Motocross Championships. As for Barcia himself, as the current 250 East Champion, he has to move to the 450 class in 2013 anyway. He might as well go a year early.

SEVEN: DON’T TAKE SOUTHWICK’S RESULTS TOO SERIOUSLY
On the official results, some riders stunk up the place at Southwick, but don’t take the results at a mud race as an indicator of a rider’s worth. You have to consider the whole season before judging 450 riders like Nick Wey (14-14), Michael Byrne (15-17), Kyle Regal (37-13), Jimmy Albertson (28-39) or 250 riders like Eli Tomac (14-32), Cole Seely (15-31), Kyle Cunningham (34-37) or Martin Davalos (38-38). By the same token, great mud performances, like those of 250 riders Gareth Swanepoel (1-5), Alex Martin (10-3), Gannon Audette (4-16) and 450 riders John Dowd (9-8), Les Smith (8-9), Kyle Chisholm (11-10) and Colton Facciotti (5-36) have to be taken with a grain of salt and an eye towards what they did in the nine races before this (although Facciotti has been in Canada all year). Although doing well at a mud race holds more water than doing poorly.


KTM’s Marvin Musquin (125) is happy to be racing the 250 Nationals after missing the Supercross series and getting hurt at Freestone. Photo: Hoppenworld

EIGHT: IT’S A PRO CIRCUIT WORLD, THE REST OF THE RIDERS ARE JUST VISITING
Tyla Rattray and Dean Wilson went 1-2 at Southwick. What a surprise! Well, actually, the surprise was that Blake Baggett didn’t make it a 1-2-3 sweep for the Pro Circuit team (Baggett was fifth overall). Pro Circuit riders have won every 250 race this year…they are engaging in a private AMA 250 National Championship…and no one else is invited to play. Next year Pro Circuit will lose two of its riders, but it probably won’t hurt the team at all. Broc Tickle and Josh Hansen both have to move to the 450 class?but Rattray, Wilson and Baggett will still be on Mitch’s team. Plus, Mitch will get to add one lucky soul…and every rider on the circuit would kill to be the one new Pro Circuit guy (we say “one” because Pro Circuit probably won’t replaced Josh Hansen…since he was a special Monster Energy adoption anyway for Supercross only).

NINE: BARCIA AND BOGLE ARE THE NEW NORM
The 450 class is full of old guys just waiting to be replaced…and after the solid results by Barcia in the 450 class and Justin Bogle in his two weekends in the 250 class, it is obvious that many of the old-line place fillers are just be allowed to ride out their careers because none of the youngster have moved to the 450 class yet. The arrival of Barcia (and Jake Weimer) didn’t affect Dungey, Villopoto or Reed too much, but it pushed everyone else back two more places. Equally true, in the 250 class was the fact that Bogle came out of the amateur ranks and started running top five almost immediately. Motocross might well be a cruel sport, but it has been very good to some rather mediocre performers (and incredibly mediocre race teams). Perhaps, B&B (Barcia and Bogle) will open some eyes.


Southwick 250 winner Tyla Rattray.

TEN: IT’S NOT OVER UNTIL EVERYBODY GETS THEIR FILL
Dean Wilson came oh-so-close to having his 38-point AMA 250 National Championship points lead whittled down by 22 points at Southwick. His bike started steaming at the midway point. No big deal. Steam is proof that there is still water in the radiator. Then, with 10 minutes to go, it stopped steaming. Bad news because no steam means no water. Amazingly, Wilson, aware of a problem because of the frantic hand waving of his pit crew, but unaware of what all the fuss was about, started to cruise it home. “They wrote on the pit board that I shouldn’t rev the engine,” said Deano. Amazingly, without water, Dean’s KX250F finished the race in second place and second overall and he now has a handle on the 2011 AMA 250 National Motocross Championship…barring a disaster in the next four motos.

The 450 Championship is still in doubt. Southwick was the death knell for Chad Reed, but Dungey saved his title hopes by riding from dead, dead, dead last to seventh in moto two. He is still within 8 points of Villopoto with 100 points left to earn. If his bike hadn’t finally started in the pits, he would be full moto behind Villopoto. Reed is now 66 points back.

ELEVEN: ARE THE TV ANNOUNCERS WATCHING WHAT WE ARE WATCHING?
Everybody can forgive the TV announcers when they can’t figure out who is we winning the race…that is the fault of the AMA’s points system for overall wins. But, when they can’t tell the difference between a parade lap and the start of a moto that is strange?especially on national TV. Wouldn’t 40 guys roaring into the first turn at the same time, be a clue that this wasn’t a one-at-a-time parade lap? Wouldn’t Chad Reed flying over the bars in a big first turn pileup give you pause to think? Wouldn’t the fact that nobody went back to the starting line tell you something? The answer is, nope. Who knew that the announcers don’t actually watch the race…but instead are watching TV just like the rest of the couch potatoes? And their TV is hand-cranked or something. Get them a window. Hey, mistakes happen. Does it make you feel better that the announcers are locked in booth with a bum TV…probably not.

SOUTHWICK RESULTS: 250 CLASS

1. Tyla Rattray…2-1
2. Dean Wilson…3-2
3. Gareth Swanepoel…1-5
4. Alex Martin…10-3
5. Blake Baggett…9-6
6. Marvin Musquin…7-8
7. Broc Tickle…5-12
8. Gannon Audette…4-16
9. Justin Bogle…18-4
10. Darryn Durham…8-13
11. Malcolm Stewart…11-11
12. lance Vincent…13-10
13. Tyler Medaglia…12-15
14. Ryan Sipes…6-35
15. Jason Anderson…35-7
16. Jimmy DeCotis…36-9
17. Josh Clark…21-14
18. Dalton Carlson…17-18
19. Eli Tomac…14-32
20. Cole Seely…15-3
Other notables: 21. Jeremy Medaglia (16-29); 26. Ryan Morais (20-26); 34. Nick Paluzzi (31-34); 37. Kyle Cunningham (34-37); 38. Martin Davalos (38-38).

SOUTHWICK RESULTS: 450 CLASS
1. Brett Metcalfe…3-2
2. Ryan Villopoto…2-4
3. Ryan Dungey…1-7
4. Justin Brayton…7-3
5. Mike Alessi…4-6
6. Jake Weimer…6-5
7. Justin Barcia…35-1
8. John Dowd…9-8
9. Les Smith…8-9
10. Kyle Chisholm…11-10
11. Colton Facciotti…5-36
12. Shane Sewell…17-11
13. Nick Wey…14-14
14. Robby Marshall…10-34
15. Michael Byrne…15-17
16. Kyle Keylon…12-20
17. Ben LaMay…23-12
18. Kyle Regal…37-13
19. Travis Sewell…13-25
20. Tye Simmonds…38-15
Other notables: 21. Fredrik Noren (22-16); 27. Dakota Kessler (21-23); 38. Jimmy Albertson (28-39); 39. Chad Reed (35-35).

450 AMA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
(After ten of 12 races)
1 Ryan Villopoto…431
2. Ryan Dungey…423
3. Chad Reed…366
4. Brett Metcalfe…304
5. Mike Alessi…243
6. Jake Weimer…221
7. Andrew Short…196
8. Kevin Windham…193
9. Davi Millsaps…173
10. Justin Brayton…163

250 AMA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
(After ten of 12 races)
1. Dean Wilson…438
2. Tyla Rattray…400
3. Blake Baggett…398
4. Kyle Cunningham…264
5. Eli Tomac…246
6. Gareth Swanepoel…241
7. Broc Tickle …220
8. Justin Barcia…181
9. Martin Davalos…175
10. Alex Martin…170

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