Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes and Stats: Rockstar Energy Hangtown Classic MORGANTOWN, W.V. (May 19, 2010) - The long-awaited 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is quickly descending on the dirt-bike racing world. Just...
Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Notes and Stats: Rockstar Energy Hangtown Classic
MORGANTOWN, W.V. (May 19, 2010) - The long-awaited 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is quickly descending on the dirt-bike racing world. Just two weeks following the conclusion of an exciting season of AMA Supercross competition, the world's best riders return to the track for their annual summer-long test of endurance and physical challenges. This Saturday, May 22, the Rockstar Energy Hangtown Classic makes its return as the season-opening round of the 12-race championship.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Defending premier 450 Class champion Chad Reed enters the 2010 season with a new team, Monster Energy Kawasaki, the new role of father, and a fresh outlook on the rest of the year after sitting out the majority of the supercross season due to injury. One year ago, the Aussie was undoubtedly the busiest rider in the entire industry, competing throughout the majority of the entire 2009 calendar year. While his injury during supercross was a disappointment for Reed, his team and the fans, it served as a blessing in disguise and now the most successful international competitor in the sport's history will attack the outdoors unlike ever before in a quest to defend his crown. Veteran Nick Wey will join Reed this season under the Kawasaki tent, taking the vacant spot left by Ryan Villopoto. For Wey, this opportunity is the chance of a lifetime and he's excited about the upcoming season.
"My supercross season didn't go as planned," said Reed. "But now I'm healthy and focused on defending this title. We had some good tests this past month and I'm ready to get back on the top step of the podium."
"Being a part of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team is great," said Wey. "Ryan is a good friend of mine and this isn't how I wanted to get this ride, but I'm going to go out there and ride as best as I can. I think we have the speed to be competitive this year."
Over at Reed's former team, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, the smiles continue from where they left off in 2009. After sweeping both the 450 and 250 class championships one year ago, the Roger DeCoster-led team kept up the momentum by capturing the 2010 AMA Supercross title with its newest rider Ryan Dungey. The Minnesota native's move into the premier division of the sport has been smoother than many anticipated and he appears to be naturally suited for the more powerful 450cc machine. In his first ever competition aboard the big bike outdoors, Dungey led Team USA to a Motocross of Nations victory this past October, grabbing the MX1 individual overall title in the process. He hopes that success translates over to this summer and after claiming the 250 Class title last season, in addition to being just the second rookie in history to grab the premier supercross championship, there is little reason to think he doesn't have a chance to become the first rookie in history to sweep the year's championships.
"I've been doing a lot of testing for outdoors, and I feel good," said Dungey. "The team has been working really hard to get the bike dialed in, and I'm excited to get out there and race. It's a whole new series and injured riders are returning, and I'm really looking forward to racing everyone."
Also making his long-awaited debut for the Rockstar/Makita Suzuki team is Australian rookie Matt Moss. An impressive Australasian Supercross Lites championship resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the young rider in America, but injuries have left him on the outside looking in so far. He will line up on the gate this Saturday for his U.S. debut and could be one of the many surprises this summer.
Honda Red Bull Racing
Honda Red Bull Racing will attack the 450 Class championship with a two-rider lineup. Perennial front-runner Andrew Short is still in search of that elusive first career victory, but after an injury allowed the busiest rider in the sport a chance at some time away from competition during supercross, he enters the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship fresh and rejuvenated and hungrier than ever to not only capture that inaugural win, but make a run towards the championship as well.
"I really want to take my outdoor racing to the next level and win in 2010," said Short. "I'm known for always being right there in the mix, vying for the top spot, but I'm determined to step it up and see Honda Red Bull Racing on the top step of the podium more often this year."
An up and down supercross season left Davi Millsaps yearning for more. Despite capturing a victory this winter, Millsaps couldn't find the consistency he was hoping for, but still was able to finish on the championship podium in third by season's end. While motocross and Millsaps haven't had the best relationship in past years, the Georgia native looks at the 2010 season as his opportunity to break through and become the regular challenger many hope he can be.
"I'm feeling really good heading into the outdoor series this weekend at Hangtown," said Millsaps. "There's not much of a break between the supercross series and start of the motocross championship, but I'm confident I can do well this season. Last year I struggled with injuries but still managed to grab a win on my Honda Red Bull Racing CRF450R."
Mike Alessi's anticipated return to Jagermeister KTM this season will be one of the most followed storylines in 2010. The two-time winner from 2009 will debut the innovative 350cc machine at Hangtown this Saturday and many are curious as to how the bike will stand up against the larger 450cc bikes. After emerging as one of the fastest riders in the series over the last two seasons, there is no doubt Alessi has the talent to make the bike succeed. However, after season-ending injuries have put him on the sidelines early over the last couple years, he is determined to stay healthy and claim a championship he feels could be his to lose.
"We have the bike pretty much dialed in and are very excited about racing it for the first time in the U.S.," said Alessi. "The 350 SX-F has been working really well for me in practice and I can't wait to show everyone how it performs at the track."
Muscle Milk/Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing enter the outdoor nationals with two of the youngest and most talented riders in the field. Josh Grant was able to break through with his first career victory last season, but suffered a year-ending injury as the championship headed to the home stretch. After sitting out the entire supercross series, he is back and better than ever and looks to add to the championship mix. For teammate Justin Brayton, 2009 ended on a high note when he claimed his first career moto win. His transition to JGR has been smooth and he has more confidence than ever coming into the nationals.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
The 250 Class will welcome a new champion for the 2010 season as reigning champion Dungey has moved on into the premier class. Headlining the list of championship favorites are a pair of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki riders in Christophe Pourcel and Jake Weimer. Pourcel was the antagonist to Dungey's championship run last season and turned a lot of heads in his first full season on American soil. Add to the fact that the Frenchman is fresh off a AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Regional title and you have a target for all riders to go for this summer. For Weimer, 2009 was a breakout year in which he captured his first three motocross victories. He carried over the increased confidence to supercross where he was almost flawless en route to a Western Regional title and Las Vegas Shootout win.
"Last year I won some races and this year my goal is the title," said Weimer. "There are a lot of good riders out there and even the competition under our tent is going to be tough. I'm just going to go out and relax and try and get as many points as I can each moto."
In addition to Pourcel and Weimer, Tyla Rattray looks to continue his adjustment to American motocross. The former MX2 World Champion showed he has what it takes to run at the front last season, but he took time to adjust to the different tracks and different format of the nationals. With the experience in tow, he feels ready to take his riding to the next level. After a stellar close to his amateur career in 2009, reigning Horizon Award winner Dean Wilson makes his professional debut outdoors. The Scottish-born Canadian was fun to watch during supercross and gained considerable experience at the front of the pack. Now he transitions to an environment he is much more comfortable with and could turn some heads.
After winning the title last season, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki returns with a new face to continue the tradition. After spending some time at the rival Pro Circuit stable, Austin Stroupe has done his best to take advantage of a golden opportunity at Suzuki. The program is a proven winner and Stroupe has shown stellar speed on the bike. After sitting out the final rounds of supercross with injury, he is 100% and ready to reclaim the magic that brought him his first career motocross victory in 2008 and keep the number one plate at Suzuki.
"Hopefully we can start off in motocross where we left off in supercross," said Team Manager Roger DeCoster. "If Ryan can be consistent as he was in supercross and can get good starts and be aggressive enough on the track, we'll have a good outdoors season. It will be good to get out there and see how Ryan does, and also Matt since we haven't gotten to watch him in a race in the U.S. yet. And hopefully Stroupe will come back as strong as he was in the supercross series, because he was very consistent and getting good finishes."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Like last year, the GEICO Powersports Honda team is loaded with young talent. While veteran Brett Metcalfe moves on to the 450 Class, a fast foursome of riders are prepared to attack the track this summer. Trey Canard leads the way as the most experienced rider on the team. He was a regular at the front of the field last season before bowing out with an injury and many feel it is only a matter of time before he breaks through. Justin Barcia was the surprise of the outdoor nationals in 2009, grabbing an impressive victory and Rookie of the Year honors along the way. So far he has lived up to expectation and is primed to take the next step to championship contender. Blake Wharton continues to develop at the pro level. The Texas native is undeniably quick, but he has had trouble finding the consistency needed to be there each and every week. With a full year under his belt, he should be ready to move forward. The newest member of the squad is amateur sensation Eli Tomac. The GEICO Powersports team has groomed Tomac to be its next big star and now the time has come for him to prove what he's capable of. In a story that plays out strikingly similar to Barcia's, it will be intriguing to see how he performs.
"Motocross racing is a very different beast compared to supercross racing," said Canard. "Motocross is all about endurance and stamina. It's a long season of back-to-back racing so you need to be consistent and stay healthy if you want to be up there in points going for the title. The GEICO Powersports Honda team does an awesome job preparing my race bike and I'm confident we'll have a great motocross season."
"I love racing outdoors so I'm ready to get this season started," said Barcia. "For the first time since turning pro last year, I will know the tracks I'm racing on. It's been a year of going to new places each and very week so being familiar with the tracks is definitely a big help. I finished on the podium nine times last year and won at Southwick, which was great for my rookie season. My goal for this season is to keep winning."
"I spent the last week in California testing with the team and I'm feeling on top of the world going into Hangtown this weekend," said Wharton. "My goal this season is to be in the top three every weekend, ultimately winning races. I want to improve on my eighth overall in the championship last year. With Tomac joining Barcia, Canard and I on the GEICO Powersports Honda team in the 250 class, it's like we're back racing in the amateur days only the competition is a lot tougher!"
"I'm really excited to make my professional debut with the GEICO Powersports Honda team at Hangtown this weekend," said Tomac. "I've worked really hard and tested with the team a lot in the lead-up to the first race. I've had a lot of success riding the CRF250R in the amateur ranks, so it definitely helps my confidence to ride the bike I know I can win on. I've grown up around and at times raced against some of my teammates in the amateur ranks -Justin Barcia, Blake Wharton and Trey Canard-so it's good to be on a team with familiar faces."
Team FMF/KTM rider Tommy Searle also performed well during his first season on American soil. The British rider was a podium finisher on a few occasions and appeared to get more comfortable as the season moved forward. Like his international counterparts, the familiarity he has with the tracks will play into his favor this season and will surely lead to a regular appearance at the front of the field.
"I have been working really hard after my injury at the beginning of the supercross series," said Searle. "My goal is to finish on the podium at each race and I feel I am ready to do so at Hangtown."
DNA Shred Stix/Star Yamaha
The DNA Shred Sitx/Star Yamaha team brings four riders into the mix for 2010 - Nico Izzi, Martin Davalos, Broc Tickle and Max Anstie. For Izzi, Davalos and Tickle, their experience will be key to running up front on a consistent basis. Each rider has taken their spots in the lead pack on several occasions and will look to use that to their advantage throughout the season. Tickle's first career professional victory in supercross is a surefire confidence booster and he will look to carry the momentum into the nationals. For Anstie, his rookie season was a mixed bag. He showed signs of speed, but didn't possess the all important consistency. As one of the youngest riders in the field, his results are impressive and he hopes to turn some heads throughout the 12 rounds.