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Columbus Supermoto preview

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 1, 2003) -- It will be a busy weekend for Troy Lee Designs Honda's Jeremy McGrath. Not only will he be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, but he'll also be renewing a friendly rivalry with former AMA ...

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Oct. 1, 2003) -- It will be a busy weekend for Troy Lee Designs Honda's Jeremy McGrath. Not only will he be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, but he'll also be renewing a friendly rivalry with former AMA Motocross/Supercross foe Doug Henry in round three of the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship Sunday, Oct. 5 at PromoWest Pavilion in downtown Columbus, Ohio.

McGrath and Henry are just two of the star-filled lineup of riders slated to compete in Columbus. McGrath, who'll be inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in a dinner ceremony Saturday night, will be on the track Sunday attempting to win his first AMA Red Bull Supermoto race. He was third in the opening round at Mazda Laguna Seca in July, and was among the leading qualifiers for the August round in South Boston, Va. McGrath is an eight-time AMA National Champion. Henry, a three-time AMA Motocross Champion, is making his supermoto debut in Columbus, riding a factory-supported Yamaha.

Henry thinks his motocross background gives him an edge. "I'm used to a motocross bike and I know how it reacts and how it handles to certain obstacles and certain situations, so I feel like I have a little bit of a jump on maybe a road racer or a flat tracker who is coming off of a different type of a machine," he says. "Flat track bikes are similar to motocross bikes, but they don't use brakes very much. I think that we motocrossers will have an advantage with the braking over the flat trackers. With road racers I think we'll have an advantage because we're riding more of a motocross bike."

It was former multi-time AMA Motocross and Supercross champ Jeff Ward who won the first round and three-time AMA Superbike champ Doug Chandler who won round two, so maybe it will be a flat tracker's turn to win in Columbus. There's no shortage of top-level flat track racers slated to race in Columbus. Brett Landes is hot off a victory in the AMA Progressive Insurance U.S. Flat Track Championship this summer and he's scheduled to ride on the CMH Exhaust McAllister Motorsports Honda. Joining Landes from the flat track ranks is 2002 Ricky Graham AMA U.S. Flat Track Rookie of the Year Jake Johnson. Johnson will ride a Moroney's Johnson Honda. Rusty Rogers and Steve Beattie are also hoping to give the flat track community its first supermoto victory.

Other big names in the Columbus Supermoto race in include former Daytona 200 winner David Sadowski, Freestyle Motocross champ Mike Metzger and former AMA Supersport champ Mike Smith.

While the big name riders are getting most of the attention, some lesser known riders are trying to steal the spotlight with their excellent supermoto skills. Australian Mark Avard is enjoying great success with the Pacifico Supermoto Suzuki team. Avard is a leading supermoto racer in his native Australia and is a former ISDE rider. Along with Avard is Mark Burkhart, a rider from AMA Pro Racing's hometown of Pickerington, Ohio. Burkhart was a promising motocross racer before injuries put a damper on his career. He reportedly trains with Larry Pegram at a local Columbus-area kart track. After finishing in the top-10 in each of the first two rounds he's proven that he's found a new home in supermoto racing.

In the team competition it's Red Bull HMC KTM Supermoto Racing Team 1 that holds a strong lead in that category. Troy Lee Designs Honda is second and McAllister Motorsports Honda is in third. Top teams will be awarded a year-end championship bonus. The individual riders are vying for premium starting positions for the championship finale in Las Vegas on Nov. 21.

Chris Fillmore, a 16-year-old phenom, is leading the Supermoto Unlimited class. Fillmore, who won the South Boston round came up in motocross, but could be the first American to race supermoto exclusively as a professional. He's leading Superbike and dirt-track journeyman and Red Bull HMC KTM Supermoto Team 2 teammate Larry Pegram. Pegram, from nearby Baltimore, Ohio, will have plenty of hometown friends and family in Columbus to cheer him on.

The AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championships will be televised on Outdoor Life Network (OLN) this fall. For additional information on the event at PromoWest Pavilion call (800) 326-4000 or visit www.amaproracing.com and click on the Supermoto tab.

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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Jeff Ward , Jeremy McGrath , Doug Chandler , David Sadowski , Chris Fillmore , Mike Metzger , Mark Avard , Mike Smit , Doug Henry