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Series 2009 season preview

Thor/Parts Unlimited Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Nationals Season Preview With one of the most memorable seasons in supercross history in the books, less than one week remains until the season premiere of the new-look Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross...

Thor/Parts Unlimited Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Nationals Season Preview

With one of the most memorable seasons in supercross history in the books, less than one week remains until the season premiere of the new-look Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Legendary Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif., will serve as the opening round of the 2009 championship that is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in history.

Continuing the tradition of We Support the Sport®, Parts Unlimited, along with Thor Motocross, will resume its first class sponsorship during the 2009 season with a premier presence at the nationals. The well-renowned Parts Unlimited/Thor hospitality compound will be present throughout the summer at all 12 rounds, providing the perfect retreat for dealers and supporters from the summer heat.

Additionally, Thor has taken a more prominent role at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship by serving as the title sponsor of the Media Center. As the world's premier motocross championship travels the country, the Thor Media Center will operate as the home base for the hundreds of media members as well as the site for series, team, rider and race-related press conferences.

"We are committed to providing the highest level of support for motocross," exclaimed Vice President of Sales for LeMans Corp. Greg Blackwell. "The outdoor nationals are the foundation of the sport and Parts Unlimited is excited for what will surely be a memorable season."

Blackwell and Parts Unlimited Motorsports Manager Hylton Beattie are some of the most familiar faces around the motocross pits and during the season, they will continue to build upon the company's tradition both at the track and within the dealerships through the highly-anticipated dealer showcases at various rounds.

While its presence in the pits is second to none, Parts Unlimited and Thor are also well represented on the race track with a lineup of some of the world's fastest riders. Leading the way in each of the newly-named 250, 450, and WMA classes as title contenders are members of the Thor/Parts Unlimited family.

Garnering the most attention after a breakout rookie campaign in supercross is Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto. The three-time AMA Pro Motocross champion compiled a dominant 250 motocross career, never failing to win the national championship. He is regarded as one of the best outdoor riders to ever compete and with his move into the 450 class is already considered a heavy title favorite thanks in large part to his sensational conclusion to the supercross season in which he won two of the final three races.

Joining Villopoto in the 450 Class is Factory Yamaha competitor Josh Hill. An up and down supercross season slowed by injury has lit a fire within Hill, who has shown he has what it takes to win at the highest level of the sport. The Oregon native sat out the final three rounds of the supercross season in order to rest up for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, meaning he will be at the top of his game once the gates drop at Glen Helen.

The 250 Class is headlined by arguably the most talented field in the 37-year history of American Motocross. Five of the names on the list of contenders fall under the loaded Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki banner. For 2009, Mitch Payton is pulling out all the stops with an impressive list of championship-caliber riders featuring two past World Motocross champions and three of the fastest young talents in the sport today.

Christophe Pourcel made a splash in his move to America by winning the East Region Championship in the Supercross Lites Class. With a 2006 FIM MX2 title to his credit, the ultra-smooth style that has made the Frenchman so successful throughout his career will be sure to play into his favor during the challenging 30-minute plus two lap motos in the U.S.

Rattray is a virtual unknown to American Motocross fans, but his success in Europe has given him the credentials to warrant the considerable pre-season hype he is receiving. As the reigning MX2 World Champion, the soft spoken South African will let his riding do the talking.

Jake Weimer has made the most of his first season under the Pro Circuit tent. The Idaho native won three races during the supercross season to finish runner-up in the West Region Championship. While he has had mixed results throughout his young motocross career, Weimer has achieved success and is eager to continue his outdoor development.

Austin Stroupe kicked off the 2008 AMA Pro Motocross championship with a victory at Glen Helen and would like nothing better than to replicate last season's performance to start off 2009 on the right foot. While he was forced to sit out a large portion of the nationals last year due to illness, he knows he has the ability to win and has his sights set on the title.

Ryan Morais will make his debut at the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship a little later in the season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder. The most experienced member of the team is looking for his elusive first AMA victory and has his best opportunity with Mitch Payton's crew.

Another Thor rider forced to sit out the beginning of the nationals is Rockstar/Makita Suzuki's Nico Izzi. A scary incident at the final round of the Eastern Regional Supercross Championship has put Izzi on the sidelines for the time being, but the 2008 Rookie of the Year is anticipating a return this summer in search of a first AMA victory of his own.

New to the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship is the addition of the WMA Class as an integral part of the series schedule. The nation's fastest women will compete in eight of the 12 rounds and will receive more exposure than ever before. Rookie Sara Price has captured considerable buzz heading into her first professional season after an extremely successful amateur career. The 16-year old Southern California native has the support of Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green, giving her a leg up on the competition. She is without a doubt one of the fastest women on a motorcycle and many will be very interested to see how she fares at the top level of women's motocross.

Additionally, New Mexico rider Vanessa Florentino will also fly the Thor flag. Despite being just 20 years old, she is a veteran in the WMA and has posted strong results throughout her career. Still in search of that first victory, she will be a familiar face at the front of the pack each and every weekend.

With an impressive roster of talent, the support of the name synonymous with motocross and the most dedicated sponsorship the sport has ever seen, the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship will without a doubt be one to remember for the Thor/Parts Unlimited family.

-credit: ama

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Series AMA
Drivers Jake Weimer , Christophe Pourcel , Ryan Villopoto