Tuesday, 31 May 2011

2011 CMRC Monster Energy Motocross Nationals MX1 preview

If the 2010 CMRC Monster Energy Motocross nationals taught us anything, it's that you should expect the unexpected when it comes to motocross racing. No lead is ever safe, either in the standings, or on the track. Last year, defending MX1 champ, Colton Facciotti, won every moto he finished, but two huge crashes left him on the sidelines. That left his Blackfoot Red Bull Yamaha team-mate, Dusty Klatt, to reclaim the crown he won in 2006. But it wasn't easy for Klatt, as a pair of mechanical DNFs at Edmonton set him back a ways in the 9 round series. Still, he charged on, never giving up, and in the end, it paid off. He was even able to clinch the title with one round remaining on the calendar, as a double DNF by OTSFF Rockstar Suzuki's Bobby Kiniry at round 8 allowed Dusty to claim his second CMRC MX1 title, and fourth CMRC national title (2004/2005 MX2 west champ.)

In 2011, there's no doubt that Colton Facciotti (2011 #10) and Bobby Kiniry (2011 #3) will both be back looking for redemption against Dusty Klatt (2011 #1). But the competition doesn't stop there.

2009 MX2 champ, and last years MX2 runner up, Teddy Maier (2011 #12), has picked up an MX1 ride for the Monster Energy Leading Edge Kawasaki team. Teddy will no doubt be a front runner with his smooth style and high fitness level, not to mention his experience racing the Canadian tracks over the years.

New to the Leading Edge team for 2011, will be Matt Goerke (2011 #101). Matt was, at one point, doubtful to even line up for the Canadian series this year, as he was injured at the Jacksonville supercross, in a first turn crash that also involved James Stewart. However, Matt is in Canada and is working hard to be as ready to go as he can be when the gate drops this weekend. Matt could perhaps be considered the fastest guy on the starting line if healthy, as he is the only rider in the field to have an AMA 450 national overall victory on his resume. (Southwick, '09)

Another rider who will be looking to step up and make a run at a championship, is Roal Distributing KTM rider Kyle Keast (2011 #4). Kyle has never won a moto or an overall, but has hit the podium many times and on certain tracks has shown that he definitely has the speed to pull off a win. Armed with his new factory ride, perhaps the longtime privateer Honda rider can step up to the next level.

Also on KTMs in MX1 this summer, are Robby Marshall (2011 #774) and Michael Willard (2011 #62). Robby is a bit of a darkhorse, but has shown plenty of speed at certain AMA nationals in the past, notably Southwick. Willard is a two-time CMRC MX2 east champ, so he knows how to win titles in Canada.

The above riders are all capable of being near the front of the pack, but as usual with the Canadian nationals, there are always surprises when the first practice rolls around. Late entries and guys who have been flying under the radar, commonly have fans wondering, "Who's that guy?" Who will they be talking about this year? We can only guess, but there's bound to be at least one rider who comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone.

At the end of the day, I think it's hard not to be excited about this season. The depth of the class seems to be as good as ever, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the riders who missed out last year will have done to ensure they don't miss out again. And what about Klatt, the defending champ? Will he have stepped it up even further to make sure he keeps his #1 plate? Time will tell, and we won't know for sure for a few months, but I believe that in less than a weeks time, we'll be on step closer to having some answers.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Las Vegas 2011 Supercross Finale

Well, the final round of the 2011 Monster Energy AMA/FIM World Supercross championship in Las Vegas has came and went. As you would expect if you watched any of the races this year, it contained plenty of excitement and drama. It also contained, for the first time ever, 4 main events, 3 of which would determine the years Supercross champions.

Things started off with the Lites East Main event. This race acted as a heat race of sorts for the famed East/West shootout, in addition to being the championship deciding race. Justin Barcia had a big lead in the points and didn't need to win this one to clinch the title. Justin rode smart to finish a solid 3rd, finishing just ahead of the other championship contender, Dean Wilson, claiming his first career pro title for the GEICO Powersports Honda team. Blake Baggett took his 2nd win of his rookie season, and Ryan Sipes finished 2nd.


In the Lites West main event that followed, there was plenty of drama. Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Broc Tickle held a slim 2 point lead over GEICO's Eli Tomac heading to the line. The 2 of the riders started in close proximity a little ways back in the pack. They worked their way through towards the front, battling the whole way. As they came up on a group of riders near the front that included Cole Seely and Tickle's team-mate, Josh Hansen, Tickle was able to make a big move and put himself ahead of Tomac for good. Tickle would finish the race in 2nd and clinch his first career pro championship. Tomac was forced to settle for 4th. Ken Roczen took his first career SX Lites win on his Red Bull KTM.


The top 9 in each of the Lites main events transferred to the 10 lap East/West shootout, as well as an additional 2 that transferred in through a last chance qualifier. East rider Ryan Sipes took the over the top spot when the leader went down, before handing it over to 2nd place Cole Seely. Later on in the race, Seely returned the favour, handing the lead back to Sipes. Sipes would take the win on his DNA Shredstix/Star Racing Yamaha, while Seely finished 2nd on his Lucas Oil Troy Lee Designs Honda. West main event winner Ken Roczen worked his way from a start just inside the top 10, to finish on the podium in 3rd. West champ Broc Tickle was victim of a poor start and could only work his way up to 10th, while things were even worse for the east champ, Barcia. He was up front leading the early laps, before crashing. Another crash later in the race would see him finish 16th.


With the Lites events out of the way, all eyes shifted to the main event for the premier division. Ryan Villopoto put himself in great position last week by taking the win in Salt Lake City and carrying a 9 point cushion over Chad Reed to the finale in Las Vegas. The main event saw all of the major players up front early on, with James Stewart in the lead followed by an energized Kevin Windham. Villopoto was in 3rd followed by his championship pursuers, Chad Reed and Ryan Dungey. Stewart tried to sprint away, but was matched at every opportunity by Windham. On lap 6, Stewart, as he has done so many times this year, made a big mistake in the whoops and took Windham down, along with himself. This allowed Villopoto to take over the lead with Reed and Dungey hot on his heels. VIllopoto, no doubt feeling the championship pressure, seemed to decide that he should let Reed and Dungey by and that's exactly what he did. Dungey put on a charge with a few laps remaining and got close to Reed, but could never make the pass. Villopoto hung on to finish 3rd and claim his first career 450 title. Neither Stewart nor Windham finished the race.


With Chad Reed's win, he solidified the runner-up spot in the championship hunt while Dungey finished in 3rd. Villopoto took the #1 plate by 4 points over Reed, and was absolutely elated on the podium following the trophy presentation.

Another season of Supercross has came and gone, and this was arguably the best one ever. Every race was more unpredictable than the last, and nearly all of the contenders stayed healthy to the end. I'm sure 2012 is already on many peoples minds, I know it's on mine.


Lites East Main Event:
1. Blake Baggett
2. Ryan Sipes
3. Justin Barcia
4. Dean Wilson
5. Malcolm Stewart
6. Matt Lemoine
7. Lance Vincent
8. Hunter Hewitt
9. Les Smith
10. Justin Sipes
11. Chris Gosselaar
12. Taylor Futrell
13. Levi Kilbarger
14. Tyler Bright
15. AJ Catanzaro
16. Johnny Moore
17. Killy Rusk
18. Ricky Renner
19. Brad Ripple
20. Gannon Audette

Lites West Main Event
1. Ken Roczen
2. Broc Tickle
3. Kyle Cunningham
4. Eli Tomac
5. Cole Seely
6. Tyla Rattray
7. Ryan Morais
8. Travis Baker
9. Martin Davalos
10. Josh Hansen
11. Bruce Rutherford
12. Nick Paluzzi
13. Jake Canada
14. Ben Evans
15. Casey Hinson
16. Dakota Tedder
17. Landon Powell
18. Tommy Weeck
19. Gared Steinke
20. Topher Ingalls

Lites East/West Shootout
1. Ryan Sipes
2. Cole Seely
3. Ken Roczen
4. Dean Wilson
5. Martin Davalos
6. Eli Tomac
7. Kyle Cunningham
8. Lance Vincent
9. Travis Baker
10. Broc Tickle
11. Tyla Rattray
12. Blake Baggett
13. Nick Paluzzi
14. Matt Lemoine
15. Ryan Morais
16. Justin Barcia
17. Les Smith
18. Malcolm Stewart
19. Jake Canada
20. Hunter Hewitt

Supercross Main Event
1. Chad Reed
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Ryan Villopoto
4. Chris Blose
5. Andrew Short
6. Jake Weimer
7. Austin Stroupe
8. Nick Wey
9. Kyle Regal
10. Tye Simmonds
11. Tyler Bowers
12. Weston Peick
13. Davi Millsaps
14. Michael Byrne
15. James Stewart
16. Kevin Windham
17. Tommy Hahn
18. Mike Alessi
19. Justin Brayton
20. Bobby Kiniry