Alanf’s blog…
Scattered thoughts

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Rock On…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

Just a quick follow-up to a post I made in February about Mike Larocco. For the first fourteen rounds of this sixteen round Supercross season, Mike Larocco has been stunning. He’s only been out of the top five four times. He’s been on the podium four times, had three straight fifth place finishes and, other than the second race of the season, has been in the top ten every race. Coming into the penultimate round he was forth in points behind Carmichael, Reed and Windham. He’s just flat sticking it to the young guys which is freakin’ awesome!

Mike Larocco

Sadly, this amazing streak ended last weekend in Houston when Larocco had a bad crash during his heat race, the crash happening when Larocco came up short on a triple. He got bounced off in the landing and slammed into the face of the following jump. The impact resulted in a bad concussion and a injury to his shoulder. Perhaps the most lingering affect will be his falling down one spot in the championship battle, with his final ranking likely to a fifth behind Vuillemin. Still, he will almost certainly finish the season ahead of factory riders like Ferry, Tortelli, Fonseca, Voss, Byrne, Pastrana and probably even the super star of Bubba Stewart.

I’m sure Larocco is disappointed with his season because racers race to win not come in fifth. Being the best of the rest, given that the top four of Carmichael, Reed, Windham and Stewart have dominated most of the races, won’t be consolation to someone with the racer’s drive to succeed, no matter what their age or how good their equipment. But I hope that Larocco can have some sense of perspective and see just how good his performance this season has been. I suspect all the factories will continue to look for fresh, young blood for their factory bikes in the hopes of signing the next Ricky, Bubba or Chad. Hopefully Honda will continue to see the value in having an incredibly fast veteran like The Rock out there to show the younger riders the ropes and also to keep the team managers casting a critical eye at the performance of their young rookies. The young kids have to know they better be able to beat the old guy, if they ever hope to beat the other talented young bucks they’ll race against the rest of their careers.

Best of luck to Mike Larocco in his healing and a hearty “Well done” shout out for his performance in 2005.

[image from the AMSOIL web site.]

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Watch this, Bubba…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

ESPN2 screwed up their grid guide this past Sunday so I was unable to watch the Seattle round of the AMA Supercross race on TV. Nonetheless, from what I’ve read it appears that the top four riders were all news makers.

Bubba Stewart and Ricky Carmichael

First, Bubba Stewart pulled another performance like at Dallas a couple of weeks ago and simply crushed the field. From start to finish he was plainly faster than anyone else. More importantly, he kept it upright and didn’t throw the bike down the track. If he does this a few more times, maybe he’ll start making habit of it.

Second, Kevin Windham put in a tremendous ride to get a second place, his best finish since the second round of the series back in Phoenix. Beating both Carmichael and Reed is going to be another boost to his confidence and he’ll need that for the upcoming motocross season.

Next up, Ricky Carmichael rode a smart and safe race to fill out the podium and get the final points he needed to take the World Supercross GP championship. He also finished ahead of Reed and thus kept his points lead for the AMA Supercross title.

Finally, Chad Reed gets a consolation prize. After getting parked in the first turn and punted off the track by a sliding Windham and Stewart, Chad turned in an amazing ride to charge back to forth. While it doesn’t do much for his title hopes, it does show he’s got the speed needed to consistently beat early season rival Carmichael.

My thoughts from this one are pretty simple. Stewart continues to show just how phenomenal a rider he has become by effortlessly turning lap times a second a lap faster than anyone else. Windham always seems to do best when his confidence is high and he’s gaining momentum here at the end of the season but will have to deal with the Stewart show from now on which may be worse than anything Ricky has dished out thusfar. Speaking of Carmichael, RC is playing it smart but has to be worried about Stewart’s speed. With Stewart committed to running a proven two-stroke in the outdoors, Carmichael may be reconsidering his decision to run the new four stroke. Finally, Reed really needs to get some sort of award for mental strength since he just keeps coming back again and again. Crushing defeats, crashes, mistakes and getting punted off the track but he still turns in fantastic rides.

My only other comment is the near complete meaninglessness of the “World Supercross GP” title. The FIM has decided that tacking on a mandatory pair of Canadian rounds onto the front of the AMA Supercross series somehow qualifies it for a separate “world class” championship. There needs to be more non-American rounds and a lot more non-US riders to get any sort of world title status. Right now it is just a bonus the AMA Supercross champ gets for running a couple of practice events before the official season starts. Ideally, a World Supercross series would differ enough from the AMA series that riders couldn’t run both, meaning they either race for money in the US or for a world title in a seperate series. At the moment the AMA series has the best Supercross riders in the world but a World championship should at least be unique whether it has the best riders or not.

[image from the Moto X Sports website.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

We Build Excitement…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

Okay, so this is about Pontiac, Michigan and not the Pontiac cars…in case you didn’t catch the connection, I snagged the marketing slogan for the GM subsidiary as the title of this blog entry…

The excitement in Pontiac this past weekend was two fold as the AMA 125 East division would crown its champion and the 250 class would see another head-to-head battle among its star studded ranks.

Langston digging in

In the 125 class, it was an interesting race. Not because of the close racing but because of the point battle and the required finishing positions of the three men in the title hunt. In the race, Josh Hansen pulled out to an early lead, which was pretty much required since he has a long list of enemies that would have been happy to put him into the tuff blocks and because the AMA probation after his altercation with Josh Grant meant he in turn had to be cautious around other riders. Grant Langston and Davi Millsaps both had bad starts giving Hansen a mathematical chance at winning the title. Millsaps, with nothing to lose, charged through the pack to eventually finish second to Hansen. A great ride but not enough to swing the championship his way. Finishing third was the relatively unknown Joaquim Rodrigues. He rode an excellent race but unfortunately his podium was overshadowed by the point battle between other riders. Langston had to bring the Kawasaki home in forth to tie Hansen in season points, at which time Langston’s superior number of wins would determine the tie-breaker and give him the championship.

After looking very smooth in most of the races this season, Grant looked particularly sloppy in the 125 main. He took a major slide in the first corner on the start, nearly ending his race right there. All through the race he was visibly riding worse that is his norm but yet he still managed to hold onto forth position though the middle stages of the race. Late in the race Steve Boniface started to challenge but Grant ultimately held it together for the forth place finish and the 125 East title. In the post race interview he admitted to being very nervous and riding very tight. Fortunately, he’s talented enough that even when riding poorly he could do what he had to do.

Congratulations to Grant on his Championship.

In the 250 race, everyone was watching the Stewart-Carmichael-Reed show. Fortunately, after a string of races in relative obscurity, Windham was able to re-emerge as a front runner by winning his heat race over Reed. Stewart again beat Carmichael in the second heat, giving these four the primary gates for the main. The rest of the gates might as well have been empty, now that these four riders have so completely taken over the focus of the Supercross spotlight. Everyone was else was out there just to fill out the grid…

When the gate dropped there was another surprise as Windham pulled the holeshot and started to lead the race. After having been so thoroughly beaten by Stewart, Carmichael and Reed lately, I’d basically written the Honda rider off but he showed he’s still a solid rider by keeping everyone at bay for over half the race. I think he has been slow to rebuild his confidence in his riding but this day appeared to be a big step forward for him. If he can keep these performances up for the last few races, he should be in great shape to start the outdoors back in the role of a title contender.

Stewart was the next one to shake things, as he put the Kawasaki into the dirt on lap four after gaining a position on each of the previous laps. He crashed while going after Carmichael for second position. Last week, I was raving about Stewart and his dominating win in Dallas. Well, this week I’d have to say the doubts are back. He’s crashed in all but one of his 250 SX races, meaning he’s tasted dust in four of five appearances. While its commendable that he came back to finish forth after his crash the trend is still something to be concerned about. People that regularly crash, no matter how talented, will eventually get hurt. In Bubba’s case, that would be hurt again since he just finished healing up from his wrist injury sustained at Phoenix. Sure, the front four riders are so good that even if they crash they’re nearly guaranteed a fourth place finish but that’s playing dangerous odds. Stewart still has to learn the patience not to push too hard to soon, the ability to pace himself so he only rides as fast as necessary to win and the championship mentality of taking points when you can, even if it means passing up standing on top of the podium.

Reed showed solid form in running down Windham and Carmichael, then going on to take the win. His string of wins have to be helping rebuild his confidence, something that will help keep his SX championship dreams alive and put him in good shape for the upcoming outdoor season. He’s won four SX races so far this season, second only to RC’s seven, and three of those wins were in the last four races. Certainly a positive trend for the Aussie rider.

Finally, the real winner coming out of Pontiac was Ricky Carmichael. He has, at least momentarily, put his crashing trend behind him and rode with skill and brains. He was able to run down Windham in the middle part of the race, then ride smart after being passed by Reed, since he knows that a second place puts him closer to the title. Had he tried to run with Chad and ended up making a dumb pass on a backmarker or sliding out on the very hard and gravely Pontiac track, he would have lost more than he possibly could have gained. At this point he needs to sew up the title, then try to return to the psychological warfare against his opponents at the season closer in Vegas.

But at the end of the night last Saturday, it wasn’t the 250 guys that made the front page news. It was Grant Langston who finally, after four years of trying, finally brought home an AMA Supercross trophy. That’s building excitement!

[image from Grant Langston’s web site.]

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Better late than never…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

The last two Supercross races have brought two of the most visible racers back to the series after recovering from injuries and had two completely different results.

First, the bad news. As many, including myself, predicted Travis Pastrana’s return to the Supercross season was short lived. Very short lived. In fact, he made it through morning practice but crashed on the second lap of the first heat and injured his right leg. He came back a little later to win his semi-final and earn a spot on the gate for the 250 main but a gash in his leg, general body bruising and that all too frequent sense of deja-vu meant he didn’t make the race. Now I know that accidents happen and I know that Travis has sometimes been taken out in the past by other riders but really now, how many times does someone have to miss most of a season with injuries before he gets bounced off his factory ride? Sure, Travis is a PR and Marketing gold mine but if he’s on Suzuki’s insurance policy, he’s already cost them more than they would have spent just giving people free bikes. Ultimately, Travis seems to lack focus. Maybe he wants to race Supercross, maybe he wants to do Freestyle, maybe he wants to race Rally cars, maybe he wants to race SCCA cars, maybe he wants to race beach races, maybe he doesn’t know what he wants. I don’t know either. I do know the guy is talented but in the end the history books only list the folks with championship titles, not the ones that had a big fan base for a couple of years. Suzuki has given Travis more than enough chances…he isn’t spending much time on the SoBe Suzuki so give it someone with the will and focus to win.

Bubba flying high

But Travis crashing, yet again, is such small news compared to the bombshell of the Dallas SX that it is hardly worth mentioning. The real headline news was James “Bubba” Stewart. After his impressive showing at Orlando, which lead to his third crash in three races, there was still a big question mark in the air about whether Bubba could get it together. Well, consider those concerns were well and truly squashed.

Let me back up a second and give a quick re-cap of the season up until the Dallas round. Basically, the AMA Supercross season had boiled down to two riders: Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed. In fact, it didn’t really boil down to that, it boiled down to Carmichael consistently stomping the field with Reed struggling to find the pace. Periodically, Reed would surge and get the job done but mainly it looked like RC had the whole season under control. In the last few races, RC started having uncharacteristic front end problems, leading to crashes, but generally he still seemed to be able to run a faster pace than Chad and certainly faster than anyone else. Summary: Ricky Carmichael is the best Supercross rider on the circuit. That has been the case in both SX and MX for the past few years.

Now, lets catch back up to this past weekend and Stewart’s performance. After crashing out of the lead in Orlando, Bubba apparently had that mystical moment of transcendence. All was clear and Stewart came to Dallas full of confidenceand ready to race. He then put on a showing that surely shocked everyone. From the first lap of practice he was fast but it was in the races that he really blew everyone’s mind. When the gate fell in his heat race, he pulled three bike lengths in the sprint race to turn one…that is amazing enough but Ricky Carmichael was in that heat not just a bunch of mid-pack guys. Eye opening! Within three laps, Bubba had a *six* second lead. A six second lead over the person that has demolished the Supercross field. Carmichael tried to pick up the pace and run with Stewart only to crash. Twice. Okay, so maybe RC had a problem. You can’t judge a man on one race alone.

Well, then it comes time for the main. Before the start, Bubba explained in an TV interview that he realized in Orlando that he could slow down and still win races. Whew, that’s confidence! Stewart, Carmichael, Reed, Windham and everyone else lined up for the main with all the anticipation originally built up for the opening race at Anaheim last winter. The gate drops and *boom* there goes Stewart with another two bike lead going into the first corner. Three laps later, its another six second lead this time over Reed. He pulls out to an eight second lead by mid-race, then cruises for awhile. Reed and Carmichael give chase but aren’t really getting close to the incredible lap times thrown down by the Kawasaki rider in the opening laps. With a few laps to go Bubba cranks it up again and wins easily. In the end, James “Bubba” Stewart gets his first 250 Supercross win. Reed gets taken out by a back marker and RC gets second to extend his points lead in the championship. In the post-race interview, Bubba explained that he lost his front brake after the first lap and ran the entire race without it. Wow.

What does it all mean? Well, it means that Stewart is truly an awesome rider. He’s another Galileo showing the earth isn’t flat…before this weekend everyone thought that Carmichael was the best Supercross rider in the world. Now Bubba has shattered that belief. I’m still in disbelief over what I saw. It also means that, for the first time, Ricky Carmichael’s mental strength is going to be challenged. He came apart in his heat race in Dallas so we’ll see how well he responds to this pressure for the rest of the season. As for Chad Reed, I didn’t think I could feel any more sorry for the guy but he was again a sad case after Dallas. He’s taken a beating from RC all season and dug deep to rebound again and again. Now the pressure has been ratcheted up again. How will he respond this time? And the big picture? Well, its too late for Bubba to win the SX title this season but when the outdoor Motocross season starts this summer, he could be re-writing record books every weekend.

As a final note, I do want to again commend Ricky Carmichael on his sportsmanship. When he’s been beaten this season by Chad Reed, he’s always publicly congratulated him and lauded the accomplishment. When he got trounced by Bubba at Dallas he again showed what a fantastic representative of the sport he is by being the first to congratulate Stewart and even going so far as to hold Bubba’s hand in the air. RC is not only full of talent, he’s full of class too. Bravo!

[image from the MX Large web site.]

Monday, March 7, 2005

My Suzie Q…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

Say that you’ll be true
And never leave me blue
My Susie Q
— Credence Clearwater Revival

First, let me say that yes I have heard the saying “Don’t count your eggs before they hatch” and I’m not yet talking about chickens. However, I am predicting that the folks at Suzuki may have a lot of poultry on their hands at the end of the year. Suzuki has consistently hired great riders and then given those riders great bikes. What makes this exciting is that Suzuki is the third largest of the four Japanese manufacturers and thus works with a budget that is probably half what Honda or Yamaha have available. Clearly they have something figured out both in how to make motorcycles and how to motivate riders to race under the Suzuki banner.

RC throws the Nac in San Fran

Where to start is easy…Ricky Carmichael. I have run out of cliches to use in describing what the guy has done to the 2005 Supercross field. I don’t think I’ve used annihilate yet, so that will have to do. I thought that Ricky’s win last week after crashing in Atlanta was going to be the highlight of the season but I think his annihilating the field at St. Louis has topped it. From the first practice until the waving of the checkered flag, RC was at least a second a lap faster than anyone else in the field. He has radically changed Supercross this season and is also changing the other riders. Chad Reed, a great Supercross racer, looked demolished on the podium at St. Louis. He had ridden a perfect race and was down *5* seconds after the first three laps. I don’t know if Reed has the stamina to keep picking up the shattered pieces of his self image after every race. Kevin Windham, on the other hand, looks like a guy on valium. He yet again got a 1-2 punch from Carmichael and Reed, this time finishing 20+ seconds down on RC and 14 seconds behind Reed. On the podium the guy seemed to be staring off into another world while describing how happy he is with his riding. The AMA better bring in a team of psychologists fast, while there are still some shreds of ego left to work with. What really highlights the job Carmichael has done with SX is to look further down the time sheets. Names like Tortelli, Vuillemin, Fonseca, Byrne, Short, Ferry, Preston, Larocco and even McGrath would be headline news just a few years ago. Now the best of them finishing more than 30 seconds behind the winner. With a 49 second lap time, most of them are being lapped. Carmichael has created a new sport which just happens to take place on a Supercross track and so far no one else can play. There are still seven races left in the season but I’m sure Suzuki’s PR department is already writing up the ads about their winning the AMA SX title for the first time in 20+ years.

Second on the excitement list has to be their start to the World Superbike series. After dominating the pre-season tests, the Alstare Suzuki team swept the season opener in Qatar by swapping 1-2 finishes. Now I’m not saying that the WSBK title is already being engraved with Suzuki’s name but surely their Marketing department is busy re-learning how to spell “World Superbike” since they haven’t even had the hope of doing well in that series this millennium.

Third would be returning to the domestic stage to talk about Mat Mladin and the rest of the Suzuki teams in AMA Superbike. 5 time AMA Superbike champ Mat Mladin gave some insight into his determination by running fast laps at the Daytona tire test, and the other pre-season tests in California. He has a new monsterously powerful GSXR1000 and was able to start pre-season testing earlier this season than last. Considering how well he raced last year, giving him even more testing time spells trouble for the other racers. Even if Suzuki doesn’t want to put all the proverbial eggs in one basket by hawking Mladin, just look at his team-mates at Yoshimura Suzuki. Until his disastrous 2004 season, Aaron Yates looked like one of the few men in the paddock who could run with Mladin. It remains to be seen if Yates can bounce back from last season’s troubles and return to form. Superbike rookie Ben Spies is the most exciting thing to happy to AMA Superbike racing since Nicky Hayden. The kid is unbelievably fast and after two seasons racing the GSXR in Formula Xtreme and Superstock, he is already comfortable with the bike. I think Spies has to be a title favorite in both Superbike and Superstock in 2005. That would certainly get the publicity hacks at Suzuki in a fervor.

That not enough for you? Okay, then imagine how much press Suzuki is going to generate in 2005 thanks to the Michael Jordan Suzuki team. Riders Jason Pridmore and Steve Rapp should be front runners in Superstock, if not Superbike. Rider Montez Stewart brings much needed ethnic diversity to the grid, which should bring in new fans, and he should rapidly improve his riding this season thanks to his two team-mates. If Montez can up his game, the press levels will ratchet up even higher. But most of all, just having Michael Jordan walk in the front gates of a race track will get Suzuki more street creed than anything else. He brings with him a flood of publicity from Nike to Sports Illustrated to ESPN to People magazine and that is guaranteed to bring more people into Suzuki dealerships all across the country.

If Suzuki really wants to brag, they can talk up their development agreement with Kawasaki. When this was first announced, I think a lot of us were disappointed as we were afraid we’d start seeing Ninja’s that looked a lot like GSXRs. What has happened is that both manufacturers have learned from each other and gone on to produce unique bikes that out perform those of Honda and Yamaha, both companies whose R&D budgets are bigger that the total company budget of either smaller brand. The result has been the new ZX-10 and GSXR1000 power houses, the KX and RM 125 and 250 four stroke motocrossers, the zx-6RR and GSXR-600 which lead the Supersport class in power. It has also resulted in Kawasaki and Suzuki dominating 125 Supercross races in both the East and West series. Kawasaki winning the ultra competitive AMA Supersport series. Suzuki ruling the AMA Superbike series. Suzuki has also dominated other forms of racing like the AMA Grand National Cross Country series and the ATV MX series. Kawasaki is also challenging for wins in AMA Superstock and Enduro series. Clearly Suzuki has a lot to be proud of in their cooperation with Kawasaki. Add that to the bullet points that Suzuki can use in their Marketing campaigns. In fact, it is only the MotoGP series that is giving Suzuki an ounce of humility at this point…

In 2003, Suzuki swept all but two of the AMA road racing championships with Superbike (Mladin), Superstock (Hayes) and Formula Xtreme (Spies). That year their Marketing and PR departments had the opportunity to go nuts. I’m predicting that 2005 may give them another chance.

[image from the Motoworld Racing web site.]

Monday, February 28, 2005


Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

Thus far this season, Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed have made the rest of the AMA Supercross field look like novices. With the exception of the muddy first race of the season, won by Kevin Windham, these two riders have run away from everyone else during the Supercross season. The exclamation mark to this was the San Diego round where Carmichael and Reed lapped up to *3rd* place. That is just staggering…

But even with these two riders stomping the rest of the field, there is another person that is really showing up the rest of the riders…Mike Larocco. Supercross is a young man’s sport. Riders get started in their teens and have usually hung up their jersey by their mid-20s. The abuse the body goes through during a 30 minute moto requires physical conditioning that is usually restricted to folks whose bodies are still growing. The fact that McGrath has come back to the sport at the age of 33 years old is amazing and the fact that he is getting top ten results even more so. But that is nothing compared to Mike “The Rock” Larocco, also 33 years old.

Mike Larocco

While McGrath has been busy showing up the young guys with his top ten finishes, Larocco has been embarrassing them with consistent podiums. Heady stuff for someone with the “old man” label. He has been on the box with a second at Anaheim 1, a third at San Francisco and a third at San Diego. His worst finish was a 15th at Phoenix but if that is ignored for a moment, his next worse finish is a sixth at Anaheim II. He sits third in the AMA Supercross series points battle and second in the World Supercross points battle. That is a remarkable record for anyone, especially this season with two riders controlling the top two steps on the podium.

When one rider can finish in the top five at six of eight rounds, finish on the podium three times and then casually mention that he is 33 years old, it makes me think the younger riders aren’t really aware of just how focused they need to be to compete in this series. Maybe there are a lot of riders who don’t think they can run with Carmichael and Reed. Well, Larocco is showing they they can’t run with him either. With all the factory and semi-factory rides that are available, Larocco and McGrath are making a lot of riders look like chumps and probably have a lot of team managers casting a questioning eye at their rider lineup. These “old guys’ have a thing or two to teach everyone and the other riders better start learning fast. Otherwise guys like Jeff Ward and Doug Henry are gonna dust off their gear and come back from some of the glory (and money) as well…

[image from the Supercross 2005 web site.]

Monday, February 7, 2005

The mental edge…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

“Half this game is ninety percent mental.”
– Philadelphia Phillies manager Danny Ozark

In any sport, being mentally ready is as important as being physically ready. This is as true in motorcycle racing as in any other sport, perhaps more so because the rider as an individual plays such a crucial role in determining his or her success.

The examples are liberally sprinkled across all the marque classes of last season. Two of those are both Rossi and Mladin who jumped out to early season leads with decisive victories and then built on that mental advantage throughout the season. Any time a rider can win early in the season, it gives a psychological edge but to win big compounds that advantage exponentially. If a rider can gel with his bike setup, tires and the track, he can pull away while his competitors struggle with their own problems. The trailing rider is then forced to either ride over their head and risk crashing or back off and settle for second place. Either is a crushing mental blow.

Rossi, in particular, has a history of doing this. He wins early races spectacularly, then in subsequent races will stalk his rivals pressuring them into mistakes. One by one, riders like Checa, Biaggi and Gibernau have succombed to that pressure crashing out and losing the mind game as well as the race. By season’s end everyone except Rossi is basically racing for second place.

Mladin, also, plays this game with the skill of a master. His wins at the first two or three stops on the AMA Superbike calender handing him the championship advantage, not just in points but in the head games as well. Mladin also knows how to play the press to strengthen his game, even if it pisses off most of the fans (myself among them). At subsequent rounds, Mat can afford to relax while the other riders have to push harder and harder to regain the lost ground. Near season’s end it just takes one more coup de grace race win for him to burst the confidence bubble of everyone else and take home another championship.

The competition just sees Carmichaels rear tire

Well, as of this past weekend, you can add Ricky Carmichael to the list of psychological masters. He’s playing mind games with his competitors that would make Hannibal Lector proud. Of the first five races of the AMA Supercross season, he’s won four of them and was on the podium at the first muddy Anaheim race. This past weekend, he threw down a win by more than 20 seconds, a crushing defeat in a season that was originally forecast to have close racing and with a whole pack of guys possible championship winners.

RC’s domination has already slammed the book shut on those rumors. Once possible title contender Kevin Windham has come apart like a cheap suit, having big crashes at three of the five rounds, all while chasing RC. Reigning champ Chad Reed seems to have settled for getting second place, after nearly crashing trying to keep up in San Francisco. In fact, the bulk of the field seemed in awe at Carmichael’s performance at Anaheim III, with other possible race winners failing to impress. McGrath crashed out, Larocco was sixth and Fonseca struggled to fifth. Ricky now has almost two race wins worth of points over Reed in second place. That is nearly game-set-match and we’re not even a third of the way through the season.

[image from Rick Johnson’s Supercross web site.]

Monday, January 24, 2005

AMA 125 Supercross excitement…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

Last week I commented on how dominant RC is already looking in the 2005 AMA 250 Supercross series and predicted he would run away with the series. Well, I’ll start this week off by talking about Kawasaki’s Ivan Tedesco and his performance thus far in the 125 series.

Ivan Tedesco flies

With three races in the bag, Tedesco is proving to be consistently fast. Like RC on the big bike, Tedesco has appeared remarkably smooth throughout the race weekends while still running a pace the other riders are having trouble matching. The major contenders thus far (Short, Hepler, Ramsey and Sipes) have had moments of impressive riding but always appear a little ragged. At this early stage in the series, I think Tedesco can comfortably run a pace that pushes the other riders to the ragged edge when they try to match it. As a result they are missing their jumps, running wide on corner entrance, loosing traction on corner exit or just plain crashing.

The 125 series has been so dominated by Stewart over the past few seasons that other talented riders have been just off the radar. It appears that Ivan is now showing he is deserving of that attention for this season and hopes to put his own stamp of dominance on the series for 2005.

While I don’t think the 125 series will be a Tedesco riding clinic, I do think he’s showing he’s a notch above the rest of the riders straight out of the gate. I hope the others can make the leap necessary to challenge him as it will make the 125 class a more exciting race class than the supposedly main event 250 “Carmichael show”.

[image from the MX web site.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The more things change…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

With all the hype around this year’s AMA Supercross series, it looked like things were really up in the air. Well, with the second round in the books, I think one things is still very clear. Things have changed but they are also the same. Ricky Carmichael is so talented on a motorcycle that titles are his to loose.

Ricky Carmichael at play

With the Phoenix event held indoors, it was guaranteed to be dry. Something which would help answer all the questions raised before Anaheim but not resolved when it turned into a mud bath. Well, from practice until the final waving of the checkered flag at Phoenix, Ricky was the fast guy. All the folks thinking (hoping?) that his jumping ship from Honda to Suzuki would slow him down have to be shaking their head in disbelief.

Sure, its too early in the season to be predicting another season of Carmichael dominance but it was amazing to see just how fast Carmichael could be and just how confident he was at this race. With Stewart out for a few months with a broken bone, the real question is whether Reed or Windham will find what it takes to shake up the new king of supercross.

Bravo to Ricky and his team for showing us all how silly it is to question his ability to step up to new challenges, whether its a new bike or new competition.

[image from Dirt Rider Magazine web site]

Monday, January 10, 2005

Supa-dupa AMA Supercross…

Author: site admin
Category: AMA MX/SX

I only casually watch Supercross racing, as I’m mainly a road race fanatic. When I do watch off-road racing, I generally prefer rally, dirt track or motocross. However, with all the hype lately, I had to tune into ESPN2 and watch the opener of the AMA Supercross season in Anaheim. What I saw was a series organizer’s wet dream!

The field is incredibly deep. It was only a few years ago when LaRocco, Tortelli, Vuilliemin and Pastrana were headliners, last week they weren’t expected to break into the top five. McGrath is back, Carmichael versus Reed, Bubba on a 250, four stroke versus two stroke and with the opening race, deciding who could survive the mud. Jeez, how could you not get someone excited about this race?

Anaheim SX 05 podium

Better yet, I think Anaheim raised as many questions as it answered so the series can keep the wave of hype going for another week. This may be the best publicity situation the AMA has found itself in for nearly a decade in any of their series. The first thing that was shown was that all the talk about the Big Five (McGrath, Carmichael, Reed, Stewart and Windham) was right on the money. All five showed their stuff at Anaheim. It also showed that the 450cc four strokes may be a serious threat in a series with “250″ right in the title. Surely that raises some eyebrows, just as the 250 four stroke domination in the ?125″ class has done.

But all that mud also meant any results have a question mark next to it which won’t be answered until this coming weekend. Does Windham really have what it takes to win? Is Stewart going to crash or step up? Does McGrath have what it takes to run with the young guns on a dry track? Can Reed back his championship against Carmichael? Did the four stroke only shine because of its power delivery in the mud?

I might even tune in this weekend to find out…

[image from AMA Motocross/Supercross web site]