MORGANTOWN, W.V. (June 25, 2009) - The 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship ventures to mile high territory this Saturday with the Toyota AMA Pro National from Thunder Valley MX in Lakewood, Colorado. Coverage of the race will be...
MORGANTOWN, W.V. (June 25, 2009) - The 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship ventures to mile high territory this Saturday with the Toyota AMA Pro National from Thunder Valley MX in Lakewood, Colorado. Coverage of the race will be showcased LIVE on SPEED beginning at 11 p.m. ET.
Just two weeks ago, the series underwent a shift atop of the standings in the 450 and 250 classes, leaving High Point Raceway with a pair of new points leaders. Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed won his first career premier class race with an impressive 1-1 moto sweep to overtake injured teammate Mike Alessi from the top spot. In the 250 Class, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel captured his first career moto sweep to unseat previous points leader Ryan Dungey.
The WMX Class continues to be dominated by Honda Red Bull Racing's Ashley Fiolek who captured her fourth overall victory of 2009, and remains undefeated for the season thus far.
With the win, Reed asserted himself at the top of the standings. He currently sits 19 points ahead of Alessi. It took the Australian native seven years to capture his first 450 Class win, but at this point his return from a two-year hiatus of racing outdoor Motocross is proving to be worthwhile. Fellow Australian Michael Byrne is also getting into race shape after a lengthy recovery from injury. His fourth place finish in Mt. Morris is a season best. With the night race this weekend, both riders are excited.
"I'm excited about racing at Thunder Valley," said Reed. "I've raced there before and have done well. I really enjoy the track and I'm interested to see how the racing is under the lights there."
"Everything has been really, really good," boasted Byrne. "I've worked pretty hard during this week off to build more strength in my shoulder and get it a little bit stronger. I think everything has been going well. I feel better than I have on the Rockstar Makita Suzuki RM-Z450 and I like the Thunder Valley track. Its fun and racing at night is always cool. It should be a good event."
Honda Red Bull Racing
The Red Bull stable is having arguably its best season in many years. Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco have been at the top of their game all season and each are on the cusp of claiming their first premier class victories. Short currently sits third in the standings, 34 points behind Reed and five points behind an injured Alessi. He returns to his home state this weekend and to a track that he has always performed well at. Tedesco sits fifth in the standings despite missing an entire moto at the series' opening round. He has run up front consistently and so far has been the breakout performer in 2009.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
Through two races with the team, Ricky Dietrich has been a bright spot for Kawasaki. The off-road racer turned part-time motocrosser posted a fifth place finish in his first race with the team and backed it up with a sixth place finish at High Point. The Washington rider is 12th in the standings, just five points out of the top 10.
"I've gotten a top-five finish already," said Dietrich. "Now I want to move up to the podium. Last race was challenging because I was doing the national and the WORCS race, but we're in a break in the WORCS season now so I can concentrate on MX. I've worked a lot on my starts the last two weeks so hopefully I can get through the first turn better than I have."
The Joe Gibbs racing team has been solid throughout the 2009 season. Josh Grant came out of the box quickly to start the season, establishing himself as a title threat. While he continues to show the speed, he has had difficulty in finding consistently over the past two races, including an tough outing at the series' last round. Despite his hard luck, Grant still holds down the fourth spot in the standings. Gibbs' other rider Cody Cooper is beginning to find the stride that made him last season's breakout rider. The New Zealand native put in his most impressive ride of 2009 at High Point and is currently sixth in the points. While Cooper did not have a strong race in Colorado last season, Grant engaged in a stellar second moto battle in the 250 Class with eventual winner Ryan Villopoto and hopes to repeat that.
Justin Brayton continues to prove his move into the premier 450 Class was a good decision this season. The Southern California rider posted another top 10 finish in Pennsylvania and inches his way up the ladder each and every week. His ninth place finish at High Point matches his position in the standings.
"I just stuck to my training program and rode every day I possibly could," explained Brayton. "I'm very close to finishing inside the top five and I will continue to work hard to get there and then on the podium before the end of the year."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Pourcel's win in Mt. Morris proved to be the biggest of his early U.S. Motocross career. The French rider rode almost flawlessly throughout the day, running away from the field in moto one and letting the race come to him in the final moto. His bike will be adorned with the red plate for the first time under the lights at Thunder Valley, his debut at the track. South African teammate Tyla Rattray is quietly putting together a stellar rookie season. A fourth place finish at High Point solidified his fourth spot in the standings, just four points out of the top three. Like Pourcel, he will race in Lakewood for the first time. The third member of the Pro Circuit stable Jake Weimer failed to score points in Pennsylvania, adding further frustration to what has been a difficult season for the Idaho rider. Last season, he posted an eight place finish in Colorado.
"I'm where I want to be right now," stated Pourcel. "I've won championships before and I know I have to be consistent. I'm going to keep working on getting better in the second moto. My stomach is still bothering me a little, but I think I'm getting better."
"The break was good for me," said Rattray. "After the first four races, I saw the things that I needed to work on and now I've had the time to do it. I'm almost there as far as competing for wins so hopefully everything I worked on will get me back on the podium.
For the first time in 2009, Ryan Dungey will not wear the red plate. High Point was also the first race in which Dungey did not capture a moto victory. Small bouts of misfortune prevented the Minnesota native from performing at his best, but despite losing the points lead, he still is just two points out of the top spot. Additionally, he has finished on the podium at every race and is arguably the most consistent rider in the series. Dungey has never finished better than 11th at Thunder Valley and will be looking to change his fortune on Saturday.
"Yes, I have struggled there a little bit in the past, but the past is the past," explained Dungey. "To be honest, overall I really like the Thunder Valley track. It's a cool set-up, the way they have it on the side of a hill. It's a little higher in elevation and that affects the bikes but it's a really fun track and I'm looking forward to the race. Like I said, the past is the past and I'm looking forward to making improvements in the future there."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Hard luck hit the GEICO team hard at High Point. The red bikes were the most consistent team overall this season with all four riders in the top 10 in points. However, their front-running efforts took a big hit in Pennsylvania when Trey Canard, who sits third in points, crashed out of the lead in moto two, breaking his wrist. He will miss the remainder of 2009. Blake Wharton, Brett Metcalfe, and Justin Barcia were solid in Mt. Morris. Wharton grabbed fifth overall while Barcia followed right behind in sixth. While Metcalfe only posted a 13th place result, he overcame bad luck in the first moto to grab a hard-earned 19th place finish. He followed that with a seventh place effort in the final moto. Of the three riders, Metcalfe is the only with experience in Lakewood, finishing 13th there last season.
The Muscle Milk KTM team found itself on the podium for the first time in Pennsylvania when British rookie Tommy Searle captured third overall. Searle is still adjusting to the pace of American Motocross, but is getting closer to the front each week. He sits fifth in the points and will visit Thunder Valley for the first time. Teammate Wil Hahn had a rough outing at High Point, finishing 12th overall. Last season, he brought home a 15th place result in Colorado and will look to improve upon that Saturday night.
"I was happy to get my first podium recently and hope to stay on the box the remainder of the season," said Searle. "I lost some points early on and I need to finish inside the top three every weekend to make up for that loss."
"I took this week to really focus on speed work," explained Hahn. "I trained with my brother (Tommy Hahn) near our hometown in Texas during the break and I feel that I should be able to move up and finish inside the top ten on a regular basis."
Fiolek put forth arguably the most impressive performance of the 2009 season at High Point. She capitalized on her factory Honda equipment to gap the field and never looked back in either moto. Jessica Patterson continues to chase closely behind Fiolek, but has struggled with her consistency. Rookie Vicki Golden and Sherri Cruse are engaged in a heated battled for the final spot each week, but a dominating second moto victory at Thunder Valley by Cruse one year ago should play into her favor.