Monster Energy Motocross National Team Previews and Series Statistics MORGANTOWN, W.V. (August 20, 2009) - The chase for the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship has hit the home stretch. With just three rounds remaining, the premier...
Monster Energy Motocross National Team Previews and Series Statistics
MORGANTOWN, W.V. (August 20, 2009) - The chase for the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship has hit the home stretch. With just three rounds remaining, the premier 450 Class title fight appears to be nearly wrapped up by Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed who holds an impressive 82-point lead over Honda Red Bull Racing's Andrew Short in second place. In fact, with a strong enough performance and some misfortune from his foes, Reed has a chance to wrap up his first career outdoor motocross championship on Saturday.
In the 250 Class, the series has had a summer-long back and forth battle between Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel and Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Ryan Dungey. Virtually every weekend has seen a change in favor of one rider in one moto and right back to the other in the next moto. Heading into last weekend's race at Unadilla, the duo was tied, marking the first time two red number plates signifying the points leaders were used. Currently, the difference between the only title contenders in the class sits at a miniscule six points with six motos left to be run.
This weekend, the series heads to the Eastern seaboard for the first of three rounds from coastal states in Mechanicsville, Md. and the infamous Budds Creek MX Park for the Monster Energy Motocross National which will be featured LIVE on NBC, Saturday at 3 p.m. ET. With high temperatures and even higher humidity, the final trio of events will be a true test of will power for all of the riders, showcasing one of the primary characteristics that makes American Motocross one of the world's toughest sports: endurance. Budds Creek has been the site of many memorable events since joining the series in 1989 and it will likely play that role again this weekend.
Prior to his full-time return to the series this season, Reed's last appearance in the outdoors was at Budds Creek in 2007. That day he brought home a third place finish and since coming back, he has not relinquished that consistency that makes him one of the best riders in the world. With his fourth overall victory at Unadilla, Reed has now won six of the last eight motos, including two straight 1-1 sweeps. Barring an unlikely turn of events, it is only a matter of time before the Australian grabs his fourth career AMA #1 plate. Teammate Michael Byrne continues to come on strong. The fellow Australian has arguably been the second strongest rider during the second half of the season, posting another podium result last weekend. His 4-3 performance tied him for second overall in points, but he ended up third by virtue of second moto finishes. He currently sits comfortably in fifth spot in the standings, but will be looking to move up over the next three weekends.
"Budds Creek is awesome and it's one of my favorite tracks," exclaimed Reed. "I'm looking forward to the race because I think this track will favor the Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki RM-Z450. Also, we've been working really hard on winning this championship and this weekend is another chance to gain some more points over the competition."
"Budds Creek is a lot of fun," boasted Byrne. "It has a lot of elevation changes and a lot of big jumps. The soil there is really good and I enjoy that track. Hopefully, we can keep on getting stronger and finish out the season on a high note."
Honda Red Bull Racing
After posting its worst collective outing of the season at Washougal, Honda bounced back strongly at Unadilla, placing every rider within the top 10 overall. Andrew Short led the way with a runner-up finish to keep his chances alive in the title fight. It also helped the Colorado native gap teammate Ivan Tedesco who sits third in the standings for what is shaping up to be an exciting battle till the end. A resurgent Davi Millsaps showed stellar speed with a third place moto one result, but was bit my misfortune yet again in moto two, dropping to 11th for fifth overall. As for Tedesco, his promising starts in each moto did not translate into the results he had hoped for, finishing 6-8 for seventh overall and losing 10 points to his teammate. Last season at Budds Creek, Short held the Honda flag high with third overall. Tedesco, who was forced to miss the race, is eager for a return while Millsaps hopes to continue his strong riding and earn a little more luck.
"It felt great to put the Honda Red Bull Racing team in second place on the podium last weekend," stated Short. "I have every intention of being back on the podium again this weekend. Budds Creek is an awesome track and I grabbed third overall there last year. With three rounds left to race I'm definitely chasing podium finishes and hopefully get that breakthrough race win I promised myself at the start of 2009."
"It's been a while since I've raced at Budds Creek," said Tedesco."I'm really looking forward to laying down fast laps in Maryland this weekend. There's a good buzz about the team this week after finding out I'd been chosen as part of Team USA for the 2009 Motocross of Nations, so I want to harness that positive energy toward another good performance this weekend."
With the loss of Josh Grant, New Zealander Cody Cooper led the way for the Joe Gibbs Racing team. After a breakout performance in 2008 at Unadilla, hopes were high for Cooper last weekend, but bad luck hit him in each moto, resulting in hard-luck moto finishes of 17th and 30th for 19th overall. Christian Craig made his professional debut for the team in Grants absence and showed signs of speed, but like his teammate, was a victim of hard luck, finishing 33rd. With a sixth place finish to show for at Budds Creek one year ago, Cooper hopes to bounce back.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Timmy Ferry's difficult season received a boost last weekend when the veteran rider posted his best result of 2009. In just his fourth race this season, Ferry was able to earn points in each moto for the first time, finishing 11th and seventh for 10th overall. With a small swing of momentum behind him and a runner-up finish at Budds Creek last season, Ferry could be a wild card for a podium finish on Saturday. Joining Ferry under the canopy this weekend will be Australian Jake Moss. Riding Honda's all season long, Moss will need to make a quick adjustment to the new bike, but the talent he has shown in what has been a breakout year for him should make for a seamless transition.
"Budds Creek is one of my favorite tracks," boasted Ferry. "I rode pretty well last week and I have some confidence heading into the race this weekend. My goal is to get back on the podium and I think I can be there this weekend."
After posting a career-best fourth place finish at Washougal, Justin Brayton replicated that result at Unadilla, continuing to inch closer to that elusive inaugural podium result. Despite unlikely finishes of eighth and fourth in the motos, Brayton has been consistent in recent weeks and is a sign of the depth within the 450 Class. With confidence riding high, Brayton will look to be another new face at the front of the field.
"I continue to get closer each week," explained Brayton. "I am determined to put my KTM on the podium for the remaining rounds."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Nothing appears to phase Christophe Pourcel. The calm, cool and collected Frenchmen witnessed a nine point lead dwindle to nothing over the course of two rounds, but rather than let his emotions get the best of him, the former World Champion made a statement at Unadilla with a dominating 1-1 performance that gave him sole possession of first place in the standings. With just three rounds to go, he knows now is the time to make every moto count. Teammate Jake Weimer bounced back at Unadilla as well after a pair of disappointing results by his standards. His third overall provided a boost of confidence for the Idaho native and with two wins under his belt already this season, he is hungry for number three. In his first race back since injuring his hip at the series' second race of the season, Austin Stroupe showed the speed that makes him a threat to win each and every week. After misfortune dropped him to 34th in moto one, the young rider rebounded to finish sixth in moto two to salvage 11th overall. Also rejoining the team this week is South African rookie Tyla Rattray. After injuring his thumb four rounds ago, he returns hungrier than ever to reclaim his spot at the front of the pack and return to the podium that has eluded him since the season's opening round.
"I'm going to be patient and just take what comes to me," said Pourcel. "I've won titles before and I know what I need to do to get the number one plate. We should have fun in these last three races."
"Last weekend was good, but I want to get another win," explained Weimer. "Once you get one win you want more. I've been riding well this week and we did some testing so hopefully that will help me get on the box."
"I really like the track," stated Stroupe. "It fits my style and I always seem to ride well there. I hope it's a good weekend for me."
With two wins in a row, it appeared as though Ryan Dungey was prepared to make a strong run at the championship. However, his momentum was slowed thanks to the performance of his rival. Despite missing out on his fifth win of the season, Dungey still minimized the damage by posting a pair of runner-up finishes in an impressive ride through the field. He sits just three points back and has a runner-up finish at Budds Creek one year ago to give him the extra boost of confidence he needs to get back on top. With just three races to go, its crunch time for Dungey and he needs to make it count every time the gate drops. Perhaps providing some support for Dungey in his fight this weekend will be Cole Seely. A Suzuki support rider, Seely will debut with the factory 250 team this weekend, marking the first time all season a pair of bikes will come from the Rockstar/Makita team.
"Budds Creek is a great track," stated Dungey. "It's a lot of fun and it's one of the better ones on the racing circuit. We've been working really hard as a team and trying to chip away at the points on the championship so it would be great to get a win there this weekend. So we're just going to keep doing what we've been doing and do our best at Budds Creek."
GEICO Powersports Honda
The GEICO Powersports Honda crew was strong at Unadilla, with all three riders running in the top five at some point in each of the day's motos. Australian veteran Brett Metcalfe led the way and has been very consistent throughout the latter part of the season. His pair of fourth place finishes gave him fourth overall and further solidified his third place spot in the standings. Last season, he rounded out the podium at Budds Creek and expects to do equally as well this weekend. Justin Barcia was eager to do well in front of his hometown crowd and was strong throughout each moto, but some misfortune caused the rookie to drop slightly at the end of each moto with seventh and 10th resulting in eighth overall. Blake Wharton was also strong. After a solid fifth place run in moto one, the Texas native was making a bid for the podium in moto two before a frightening crash took him out of the race to 28th and relegated him to 11th overall. Wharton has shown a tendency to recover well from bad luck and will look to do so again on Saturday.
"So far this season, I think I've done really well," remarked Metcalfe. "I've definitely been building momentum and have become a real contender for the championship podium. I feel pretty good positioned third in points with three rounds to go. I successfully finished third on the podium at Budds Creek last year and I typically enjoy racing on the Maryland track; it should be a good weekend for me."
Tommy Searle's second half of the season has not gone the way he had hoped, especially after posting three straight overall podium finishes. At Unadilla, the British rider found himself deep within the top ten in each moto, garnering 10th and 7th place finishes to bring home seventh overall. He hopes to bounce back this weekend and regain the momentum he had just a few rounds earlier. In his first race of the 2009 season after returning from injury, Ryan Sipes put forth a respectable performance for 16th overall. He looks to build on his race conditioning for the remainder of the season.
"I attempted to race Unadilla and performed decently the first moto but really suffered from my wrist in the second moto and was forced to pull off," explained Sipes. "I am hoping my wrist has improved and that I can maintain my pace through both motos this weekend."