Supermoto season winds down in Las Vegas

Three history-making championships still on the line for star studded field. PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Nov. 14, 2003) -- The inaugural season of the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship wraps up on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las...

Three history-making championships still on the line for star studded field.

PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Nov. 14, 2003) -- The inaugural season of the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship wraps up on Friday, Nov. 21, at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The two riders who win the Supermoto and Supermoto Unlimited titles this weekend will forever be remembered as the historic first champions of AMA Supermoto. With all of that on the line excitement runs high for the season's finale. A total of 74 of the leading supermoto racers from around the world have qualified for Las Vegas and will converge on the glittering desert oasis for the live televised championship round. In addition, the overall Supermoto team championship will be decided Friday as well.

In the Supermoto class, leading contenders based on the five events leading up to Las Vegas are Pacifico Suzuki's Mark Avard, Troy Lee Honda rider Jeff Ward, Red Bull HMC KTM's Ben Carlson, Doug Henry of Team Motodynamics Tuluie Yamaha, Jeremy McGrath, also of Troy Lee Honda, and privateer Mark Burkhart on his RAD Racing Disanto Yamaha. In addition to those series regulars many expect FIM World Supermoto stars Boris Chambon, Kurt Nicoll and Jurgen Kunzel, all of the powerful Red Bull HMC KTM team, to be major contenders to take home the AMA title.

The circuit awaiting the riders at the Rio will be a mile-plus long, 21-turn layout incorporating road race, flat track, TT and motocross elements. The track was specifically designed with the championship in mind. There's also a unique "Urban Cross" section featuring two sections on the road course where bikes will catch air above the pavement. Many of the corners have been shaped to promote spectacular rear-end slides on entry. Spectators will be treated to an up-close view of the action, at virtually every vantage point around the course.

The main events will be held at night with the glowing lights of the Las Vegas skyline serving as a dramatic backdrop.

Ward, the former multi-time AMA Motocross and Supercross champ who won three Supermoto rounds this year, feels the strategy at Las Vegas will be a little different than the other five rounds this year. "You'll probably want to run really hard in practice to find the limits," Ward said. "The last thing you want to do is push too hard in the heat races and tip over and find yourself starting back on the fourth row or something in the final. Getting into the superpole qualifying will be important so you have a chance to start from the front row. In the race you're going to want to go for a good start and be in the top two or three and not let anyone get away. It's going to be tough to do with the European riders since they are able to set a blistering pace in the early laps."

Ward's teammate Jeremy McGrath led many laps in this year's AMA Supermoto races, but couldn't quite find a way to take the top spot. The seven-time AMA Supercross Champion is expected to be a leading contender in Las Vegas. Former 500cc World Champion Grand Prix road racer Kevin Schwantz is expected to compete in Las Vegas on his Suzuki DR400. Other notables qualified for the Las Vegas Supermoto championship round include Ben Bostrom, former AMA Superbike champ; Mike Metzger of Freestyle Motocross fame; Larry Pegram former factory AMA Superbike rider; Joe Kopp, former AMA Grand National Champion; and other well-known riders such as Jake Zemke, Roger Lee Hayden, Brett Landes, Mickey Dymond and Mike Smith.

The Supermoto Team Championship is coming down to the final race. Red Bull HMC KTM has a fairly significant lead, but Troy Lee Designs Honda is hoping to score big in Las Vegas to earn a come-from-behind victory in the team series.

Also at stake in Las Vegas is the Supermoto Unlimited class championship. Again the European KTM riders Kunzel, Chambon and Nicoll are expected to be the riders to beat, but AMA regulars such as the up-and-coming pair of Ben Carlson and Chris Fillmore are hoping to challenge their more experienced European KTM teammates. Steve Drew is one of the few leading contenders in the Unlimited class not riding KTM. Drew is on a White Brothers Moto Master Brent Honda XR650R-based machine and he hopes to give Honda an upset win in the finale.

Outdoor Life Network will present live coverage of the event beginning at 9 pm Eastern.


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Series AMA
Drivers Larry Pegram , Kevin Schwantz , Jeff Ward , Jeremy McGrath , Jake Zemke , Roger Lee Hayden , Chris Fillmore , Jurgen Kunzel , Mark Avard , Ben Bostrom , Mike Smit , Doug Henry