Welcome to the great outdoors! After a grueling seventeen races in eighteen week grind of supercross, there was a week off and the riders and teams were thrust right back into another vortex of speed, sweat and then some more sweat. The outdoors are cool, the difference from watching the guys ride supercross and then ride a motocross track is quite a contrast and a good one at that.
The Hangtown track isn’t really anyone’s favorite but they’ve come a long way with this track from when I first started going there. It’s a little one-lined but the soil is actually pretty good for racing. The track definitely got pretty rough out there and thankfully for the first national, the weather was pretty cool. The Hangtown track can get some really hot weather but we were good this year. What wasn’t good for the teams and riders was all the traditional pollen in the air. Many a peeps were walking around sniffling and sneezing.
I did a pre-season Pulpmx podcast with some guy whose name rhymes with “Smeege” and privateer hero Jason Thomas (check it out right HERE) and in the show, Thomas (who’s one of Chad Reeds buddies) insisted that Chad was not into supercross, hadn’t really been riding supercross and would be able to “flick the switch” and be the guy to beat in the outdoors. I have been in a state of disbelief watching Reed ride around in supercross this year. After all, this was a guy that had podiumed in something like 94% of his career sx races and here he was just riding around and only able to make one podium in his six indoor races this year. So needless to say, I doubted the two-two going into Hangtown. I just didn’t think he could flick the switch.
Well about halfway through the second 450 moto I got a text and it said “Switch= flicked” and it was from JT who just had to gloat about his predictions that Reed would win the opening round. In the first moto, Chad quickly moved into the lead and checked out for the win. In the second moto, he suffered a bad start and was forced to move up from the back on a track that, like I said, wasn’t the easiest to pass on. He put his head down and chased down Brett Metcalfe (?!?) for the final spot he needed to win the overall. It was an impressive performance and he’s leaps and bounds better off than he was after round one last year when he went 4-3.
I guess you should never count out a guy that has the number 1 on his bike and has won 13 million races. That’s the lesson for today kids.
There were approximately 2,591 questions about Mike Alessi, Tony Alessi, the KTM 350 and pretty much anything that surrounds Alessi Racing. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Mike on the track and since then he had:
1-Been let go from Suzuki.
2-Signed with KTM to ride an all-new machine.
3-Did I mention that it had 100cc less than his competitors?
5- Gone to Europe to ride some pre-season races and did horrible in those (he also hurt his shoulder)
6- KTM boss Pit Beirer was so infuriated with Mike complaining about the bike, he took it away for the second moto at a race.
7- Got a Yamaha, spoke to Motoconcepts Yamaha about riding for them and almost jumped ship.
8- Stayed with KTM, rode some REM races, had a few wins, a few DNF’s and got beat a couple of times.
So as you can see, there were many questions hanging in the air about the 800 but at Hangtown he proved that most skeptics and naysayers wrong with a couple of pretty good rides. In the first moto he was in second, got pumped up a bit and dropped to fourth. He was right there though and could see second not too far in front of him. After the first moto, he reached out to his old team manager Larry Brooks for some advice and Brooks, watching at home, dished out some advice and in the second moto, he grabbed one of his patented holeshots and checked out for the win. Seems like that Larry guy might know a few things. Combine that with KTM Europe boss (and 10X World Champion) Stefan Everts who was there and current team manager (and ex-fast guy) Casey Lytle who was also there to assist and you have a dream team to help out the 800.
Want to hear some more from Stefan? Check out the podcast I did with him and Canard, Metcalfe and Alessi right HERE.
It was a great ride and he dropped the guys behind him pretty quickly. The bike looked great, his fitness was great and there aren’t too many people out there that ride better while out front than Mikey. It would have been really interesting to see what would have happened had Josh Grant and Reed started up front but it’s a long season and there are 22 more motos to go. On the day Alessi’s 4-1 was good enough for 2nd overall on the day and like I said, we now know that Mike Alessi is ok, the KTM 350 is ok, Tony is ok and the Alessi Racing program is working A-ok as well.
What is it about GEICO Honda and its ability to find these kids out of the amateur ranks and have them come in and knock everyone’s socks off? Following in the grand tradition of Josh Grant, Trey Canard and Justin Barcia we now have Eli Tomac to look at in awe. The kid with the bad-ass dad sat out supercross and made his debut at Hangtown (ala Barcia) and was very impressive. Like 3-1 for the overall impressive.
In his very first outdoor national, Tomac won the overall and followed in James Stewart’s footsteps in winning his debut race. And you know what? He might’ve went 1-1 as a late moto fall cost him the first moto win (although Christophe Pourcel gave him the gift of the lead when he tipped over) but as it was, the kid was great. Amazing ride and although I was wrong on the Reed thing on the Pulpmx Podcast, I was right about this guy. Of course, it was my conversation with team manager Mike Larocco that got me on the Tomac-train in the first place.
There were just so many questions before this first motocross race, so much to find out and us fans got some of them answered and some of them were left lingering in the air (we covered the Alessi questions earlier). Here are some more questions and the answers to them:
Question: Does Ben Townley, after taking almost two years off, have the speed to come back to where most people thought he’d be after finishing second in the 250 class three years ago?
Answer: Yes, I think he does. BT101 went 6-7 and showed some good speed but maybe a bit more fitness was needed. Hey, it’s his first race in a long time and I think he acquitted himself pretty well. If he can stay off the ground (which he wasn’t able to do this weekend) he will be a factor later on this summer. All in all, I think it was a successful debut and I hope Ping didn’t hang himself because he had some definite high hopes for BT this weekend.
Question: Would Kyle Regal come out swinging after his controversial departure from Valli Yamaha and jump onto a privateer Honda?
Answer: I would say we really don’t know yet. Last year’s surprise of the outdoors is considered either A- toxic because of an overbearing step-dad or B- a rising star who knows what he wants and is fast as hell. After a less than overwhelming 29th place qualifying time, Regal struggled to a 19th in the first moto thereby giving the people in group A the snickers. However the second moto showed group B that they were right as the kid ended up in a strong ninth place. So to summarize, the jury is still out on what Regal is going to do this year.
But I’m sure he was smiling as he ended up beating everyone on his old Valli Yamaha team.
Question: Can Grant Langston recapture the magic from the last time we saw him outdoors?
Answer: The last time we saw former World Champion/National Champion/Supermoto Champion Grant Langston, he was capturing the 2007 450 mx crown (remember that year? James Stewart got hurt and Tim Ferry won the Washougal national and jumped into the points lead with only, like, four races left in the season. Remember that? I will now poke my eyes out with a toothpick) and made a rough return to supercross this season after a BT101-type layoff from injury. Well this weekend was rough for GL as he went 21-16 and struggled to find the groove he needed. The thing is, I’m not counting Grant out for anything as he’s proved in the past he’s a winner and we’ll let this play out and see if Langston can get back into the mix.
Question: Who are the front runners for the 250 crown?
Answer: Nothing has changed from what most of us all thought going into the series. Christophe Pourcel is the favorite, Jake Weimer, Trey Canard and Justin Barcia will all be right there. I suppose we should add in Tomac now but the four above-mentioned guys filled in the next four spots after Eli. Interesting to note that many people in the pits were asking “What’s wrong with Barcia?” but he ended up 5th overall and charged from the back all day. To me, there was nothing wrong with the kids ride.
Question: Who are the front runners for the 450 crown?
Answer: Well, in my opinion Chad Reed, Mike Alessi, Andrew Short (who didn’t have the best day due to a crash but for the first time in three years he didn’t have a DNF at the first round. Baby steps man, baby steps.) & Josh Grant are the top four guys in my opinion but keep an eye open for Townley and maybe, just maybe Brett Metcalfe this summer.
Question: Who were the “Where in the hell did these guys come from?” riders?
Answer: Brett Metcalfe and Ryan Sipes. Two riders both racing their first ever 450 nationals and look at these two as they go 4th (Metty) and 7th (Sipes) overall on the day. There was a time (and I haven’t checked the lap times so this could be totally wrong) where Brett Metcalfe was the fastest guy on the track in the first moto. That’s right, I just said that. As far as Sipes is concerned, he was better than I thought he’d be and just needs to stay off the ground and good things will happen to him.
Question: How was the second season of MX Sports promotion of the nationals?
Answer: Much, much better than last year’s fiasco. Did I hear some teams complaining? Of course but these are the same guys that would complain about sitting poolside at Rehab with a bottomless expense account. The whole program ran smooth, the track was good, the passes were all there and like I said, things were great. The internet shows didn’t run that smooth and we had no internet in the press tent for a lot of the day but there were some unforeseen things that happened when you set up a little infrastructure in the middle of a field. I really didn’t like the fact that we couldn’t get printouts of the results and qualifying times and on Sunday, things were still not up but I hope (and would bet) that gets better in two weeks at Texas.
Question: GP regular Ken DeDycker was coming over to race Hangtown in preparation for the USGP at Glen Helen. Would the GP Giraffe dominate and show everyone what was up or would he suck balls?
Answer: Ken showed up with a stock motor and a pipe, some suspension, rode hard, looked super weird with his AXO gear and chest protector under it and did about what I thought he would do. A top ten overall with 8-11 finishes. Great to see him come over and nice to see his strange lines out there.
Question: Davi Millsaps is riding for a ride next year, which Davi would show up at Hangtown?
Answer: He surprisingly rode really strong all day to 3-2 finishes and looked great in ending up third overall on the day. What does this mean for the rest of the season and how Davi is going to do? I have no frickin idea.
Let’s take a look at the top 40 in each class along with some smart ass comments from me:
1 243 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF250R 3 1 45
2 377 Christophe Pourcel Groveland Kawasaki KX 250F 1 3 45- CP377 did nothing on Saturday to not make me believe he’s the strong favorite for this title. The way he cut through the pack in the first moto after a fall was all the proof I need.
3 38 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK Honda CRF250R 7 2 36- Uncharacteristic fade in the first moto followed by a strong second moto.
4 12 Jake Weimer Rupert, ID Kawasaki KX 250F 4 8 31- Jake was strong and would’ve done better if not for a fall.
5 17 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA Honda CRF250R 5 7 30
6 108 Dean Wilson Canada Kawsaki KX250F 10 4 29- Wilson crashed in the first moto and was way back, second time out he rode great and up front most of the race before dropping back to fourth.
7 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 11 5 26
8 49 William Hahn Decatur, TX Honda CRF250R 13 6 23- Wil pulled both holeshots in the second moto. Both holeshots? Yeah, because there was a red flag after the first drop of the gate.
9 19 Tommy Searle Murrieta KTM 250 SXF 2 31 22- Searle was very strong in the first moto, like surprisingly strong. Good day for KTM even with the crash and shifter problem in moto 2.
10 28 Tyla Rattray Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 8 16 18- Not a good way to come out at the first race after missing sx and being considered a better outdoor rider. Remember though, he won a moto last year.
11 48 Max Anstie Hemet, CA Yamaha YZ250F 12 14 16
12 577 Martin Davalos Cairo, GA Yamaha YZ250F 16 11 15
13 116 Ryan Morais Murrieta, CA Suzuki RMZ250 14 13 15- I don’t care how Mo does, just please make all 24 motos.
14 66 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM Z250 6 36 15
15 36 Darryn Durham Butler, PA Honda CRF250R 19 9 14
16 21 Blake Wharton Aubrey, TX Honda CRF250R 9 25 12
17 585 Travis Baker Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 23 10 11- T Bakes rode his first ever national and finished top ten in the second moto. Hey, it’s not Tomac but still a good ride!
18 341 Nico Izzi , CA Yamaha YZ250F 22 12 9
19 613 James DeCotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF250R 15 19 8
20 175 Phillip Nicoletti Bethal, NY KTM 250 SXF 21 15 6
21 200 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA Honda CRF250R 34 17 4- Was up front in the first moto before a crash and then a DNF.
22 63 Sean Borkenhagen Huntington Beach, CA KTM 250SXF 17 21 4
23 126 Hunter Hewitt Pilot Point, TX Suzuki RM Z250 26 18 3
24 87 Les Smith York, SC Honda CRF250R 18 23 3
25 92 Michael Willard Newark, OH Honda CRF250R 35 20 1
26 61 Vince Friese Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ250F 20 22 1
27 592 Jake Canada Sun City, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 30 24 0
28 99 Topher Ingalls Templeton, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 25 32 0
29 976 Josh Greco Hesperia, CA Suzuki RMZ250 29 29 0
30 185 Killy Rusk Aztec, NM KTM 250 SX-F 28 30 0
31 214 Eric Nye Corning, CA KTM 250 SX-F 24 34 0
32 85 Scott Champion Sun City, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 31 28 0- No matter how he finishes, he’s going back to Erin Normoyle after the moto. All of a sudden, 31-28 isn’t so bad.
33 211 Tevin Tapia Federal Way, WA KTM 250 SXF 33 27 0
34 452 Colton Haaker Tres Pinos, CA Yamaha YZ250F 27 33 0
35 31 Matthew Lemoine Collinsville, TX Suzuki RMZ250 39 26 0
36 354 Christopher Johnson Ramona, CA Suzuki RM Z250 32 39 0
37 859 Matiss Karro Cowfold Suzuki RMZ250 37 35 0
38 102 Christopher Gosselaar Victorville, CA Honda CRF250R 36 37 0
39 373 Drew Gosselaar Juniper Hills, CA Honda CRF250R 38 38 0- When you combine Chris’s 38th and Drew’s 39th with poppa Goose’s rider struggling for some reason and the Gosselaar household was not in a good move on Sunday.
40 370 Drew Yenerich New Lenox, IL Yamaha YZ 250F 40 40 0
1 1 Chad Reed Australia Kawasaki KX450F 1 3 45
2 800 Mike Alessi Victorville, CA KTM 350SXF 4 1 43
3 18 David Millsaps Murrieta, CA Honda CRF450R 3 2 42
4 24 Brett Metcalfe Lake Elsinore, CA Honda CRF450R 5 4 34
5 33 Josh Grant Riverside, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 2 10 33- JG33 was amazing in the first moto as he tore all his tear-offs and had to wait for the two lap board to make his move and what a move he made as he went from 4th to 2nd. Second moto, he made no bike changes and said afterwards that he suffered a bit in his bike set-up. If you want to hear more from JG33, listen to the Pulpmx Show where myself and Kenny Watson talk to Grant after his race HERE.
6 101 Ben Townley Corona, CA Honda CRF450R 6 7 29
7 46 Ryan Sipes Flaherty, KY Yamaha YZ 450F 7 8 27
8 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN Suzuki RMZ 450 10 6 26- What happened to Ryan Dungey and who rode for him this weekend? Was it some sort of Tom Hanks in “Big” switcheroo with another dude?
9 792 Ken DeDycker Yamaha YZ450F 8 11 23
10 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX Honda CRF450R 15 5 22
11 73 Ben LaMay Anchorage, AK Yamaha YZ 450F 13 12 17- Ben rode great all day and had me looking to see who in the hell #73 was out there. Good to see him back and doing well. This has to be his career best outdoor finish doesn’t it?
12 10 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX Suzuki RMZ450 9 17 16
13 3 Mike Brown Bluff City, TN KTM 450 XC 14 13 15- Like father time, Brownie keeps on ticking.
14 41 Kyle Regal Kemp, TX Honda CRF450R 19 9 14
15 122 Daniel Reardon Menifee Yamaha YZ450F 17 14 11
16 55 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL Yamaha YZ 450F 16 15 11- I expected better to be honest and Kyle told me afterwards that his speed wasn’t there.
17 35 Matthew Goerke Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ450F 11 40 10
18 26 Michael Byrne Park City, UT Suzuki RMZ 450 12 24 9
19 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI Kawasaki KX450F 18 18 6- This wasn’t a good day for the two-seven on his factory Kawasaki.
20 8 Grant Langston Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ450F 21 16 5
21 105 Sean Hamblin Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ450F 24 19 2- Hambone will get better, he hadn’t raced a professional race in a long time.
22 58 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ450F 39 20 1
23 32 Kyle Cunningham Forth Worth, TX Kawasaki KX 250F 20 39 1
24 241 Derek Anderson Arvada, CO Kawasaki KX 450F 22 21 0
25 42 Ben Evans Boise, ID Suzuki RMZ450 29 22 0
26 40 Jake Moss Temecula, CA Suzuki RMZ450 25 26 0- If I was standing next to Jake, how quick would someone make a “Jake and the Fatman” joke? .03 seconds or faster?
27 69 Adam Chatfield banning, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 23 29 0
28 43 Steven Clarke Cairo, GA Suzuki RM Z250 28 25 0- I didn’t even know Scuba Steve was riding 450’s. Makes sense as he’s such a monster and all.
29 771 Terren O’Dell Siloam Springs, AR Yamaha YZ 450F 33 23 0
30 209 Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL Kawasaki KX 450F 30 27 0
31 795 Bruce Rutherford Murrieta, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 32 28 0 Mom & Dad is listed as the first sponsor on the AMA sheets. That’s cool
32 732 Tye Hames Palmdale, CA KTM 450SXF 26 37 0- Hames won the Mike Sleeter contest to ride a tricked out KTM 450 and handled himself pretty well. Sleeter on the other hand brought a knife to a gun fight.
33 712 Matt Moss Temecula, CA Suzuki RMZ450 27 38 0- Finally! I get to see Matt. Hopefully, he gets better.
34 184 Dennis Stapleton Capitola, CA Honda CRF450R 34 32 0- Easy to spot with the orange helmet out there. I wonder if the helmet felt weird ‘cause it wasn’t at Glen Helen on a Saturday?
35 57 Jarred Browne Nuevo, CA Kawasaki KX450F 31 35 0- He’ll be better as the season goes on.
36 168 Daniel Sani Fresno, CA Honda CRF450R 36 31 0
37 236 Sean Kranyak Bakerfield, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 35 34 0- The son of the “M” in “L&M” makes the motos!
38 88 Ricky Renner Lakeland, FL KTM 450 SX-F 40 30 0
39 276 Johnny Jelderda Murrieta, CA Honda CRF450R 37 33 0
40 157 Sean Hackley Jr. Ovilla, TX Kawasaki KX 450F 38 36
That’s all I got everyone. Somehow I think 3,575 words about a motorcycle race is enough. If you still want to talk more, email me at email@example.com and we’ll start the whole thing over.