Big E’s Race Report: Anaheim 2

It’s hard to believe that there have been five rounds of Supercross this year already. Even though the first two rounds were in Europe, the series is picking up steam with every weekend that goes by. According to Clear Channel Entertainment, this is the 31st Supercross held in Anaheim. It seems like Supercross was born right here in Anaheim.

Pre-Race Notes

In the first 250cc practice there were some factory riders left sitting on their wallets by the time it was done. Among them were Grant Langston, David Vuillemin, and Ricky Carmichael. After practice, Grant Langston decided to sit out the race due to a broken bone suffered in a crash in last weekend’s main event. When I spoke to Grant he told me that it wasn’t the pain, it was that he did not have enough power to hold on. Probably a smart call on his part. The whoops for this race seem a little bigger than in previous rounds, so a lack of gripping power could translate into another chance to do an Anaheim mineral survey.

You’ve probably also heard that Travis Pastrana will be absent for at least the next few races due to a shoulder injury sustained last week while doing laps in a swimming pool. Before heading home to Maryland, Travis told me that after he injured his shoulder there was no way he could stay in shape, due to his knees still being on the mend. No swimming, no biking, no race.

Also out of contention for Anaheim 2 were David Pingree and Steve Boniface. It seems Ping suffered a concussion and Boniface a broken ankle, all from practice. KTM will not have a 250cc rider here and may not have one for a few weeks.

Heat Races

Anaheim 2 saw a different kind of track layout. The track crossed in front of the starting gate twice, so after a long whoop section, there was probably 200 feet of flat ground, a 180 corner and then another 200 feet of flat terrain before the next obstacle. It added to the speed, and I can’t remember when I saw an SX track with so much flat racing surface.

In the first 125cc heat race, there was a big pileup in the first turn. Travis Preston had a great come-from-behind win. Travis only practiced Saturday afternoon as Thursday and Friday were spent overcoming the stomach flu. James Stewart simply crushed his heat race with a huge lead.

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The first 250cc heat race saw Sebastien Tortelli ride a great eight laps with Ricky Carmichael unable to reel Seb in. Tortelli looked to be fast, especially in Anaheim’s big and long whoop section. Mike LaRocco tangled with Mike Brown and found himself having to ride the semi.

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The second 250cc heat race proved to be the race of the night—if not the race of the year. James Povolny grabbed the holeshot, but it wouldn’t take long for Ezra Lusk to get to the front with Chad Reed in tow.

With one lap down, Chad Reed and Ezra Lusk would race the next seven laps swapping back and fourth for the lead. All of the nearly 45,000 people were sent to their feet screaming at the top of their lungs! I have not seen racing like this for at least five years! It’s obvious that there is a great respect between Ezra and Chad the way they race each other, every pass was clean and without incident. At one point Chad and Ezra went over the finish line jump side by side and looked right at each other! As the race wore on, the lead must have changed hands six or seven times with Ezra the victor. By itself, this race was worth the price of admission! Probably the best thing about the race was after it was over, the two stopped and high-fived each other. I asked Ezra if he could hear the crowed as the two were racing and he said that he couldn’t even hear his bike it was so loud! I couldn’t wait for the main event to come.

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The 250cc LCQ saw teammates James Povolny and Ted Campbell racing r the second and final transfer spot. With Campbell in third place he parked his teammate Povolny in turn three and moved to second, only to get passed by Paul Carpenter. Carpenter wound up falling all by himself in the whoop section just 50 feet short of the finish line. Campbell in—Carpenter out. Merry late Christmas Ted. I would hate to be back in the Team Subway pit area after this race.

The Mains

As the 125cc main got underway, it was Billy Laninovich that scored the $1000 holeshot award, but James Stewart went by Billy right away. After lap one it was Stewart, Laninovich, Sorby, Short, Evans, Smith, Preston and Hamblin.

On lap two, Stewart was already enjoying a five-second lead. With four laps in, Steve Mertens went down hard right on the face of the triple. It looked like his rear wheel clipped the last jump right before the triple. Amazingly, he was up and walking away under his own power right away.

Five laps into the main and Andrew Short made the pass on Sorby and now moved to second place.

With eight laps still to go, Stewart had a 17-second lead—simply amazing. Now Preston made his move to third place passing Sorby in the whoops. Then Sorby came back and parked Preston, leaving him high and dry in the turn. Preston remounted and began to charge.

Six laps left and Stewart was now enjoying a 20-second lead over Short. Preston was in attack mode, while Sorby parked Josh Woods in the same place he did it to Preston.

With four laps left Preston had caught up to Sorby and was making the move to pass him and made the pass. Sorby nailed Preston again, and Gosselaar went by. Sorby got the Goon of The Night award.

Two laps left and Preston pulled up on Sorby in the same place Sorby parked him earlier in the main. Preston looked over and braked-checked him all the way into the turn! As Gosselaar got away it was obvious that Preston wanted paybacks before the night was over. I hope the title doesn’t come down to a few points or he will remember this night. One lap to go and Sorby fell over and the crowd began to cheer.

Checkered flag for Stewart, he whipped it, pulled over and kissed the ground. No dance for number 259 though. Preston and Sorby’s mechanic start to fight. It was quickly broken up. At the end Stewart had a 24-second lead over Andrew Short.

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125cc Main—Anaheim 2 (125 west round 3)

  1. James “Bubba” Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Andrew Short (Suz)
  3. Billy Laninovich (KTM)
  4. Chris Gosselaar (Hon)
  5. Josh Woods (KTM)
  6. Travis Preston (Hon)
  7. Danny Smith (Suz)
  8. Matt Walker (Kaw)
  9. Eric Sorby (Kaw)
  10. Tiger Lacey (Yam)
  11. Troy Adams (Yam)
  12. Sean Hamblin (Suz)
  13. Josh Hansen (Yam)
  14. Travis Ellioit (Yam)
  15. Akira Narita (Suz)
  16. Brian McGavran (Suz)
  17. Tyler Evans (Suz)
  18. Pascal Leuret (KTM)
  19. Shane Bess (Suz)
  20. Tim Weigand (Hon)
  21. Scott Davis (Yam)
  22. Steve Mertens (Yam)

When the gate dropped in the 250cc main event, Tortelli got the holeshot. Carmichael wasted no time at all in getting around Tortelli. Ryan Clark went down hard in the whoops with not even a lap under his belt. Ezra Lusk went by Mike Brown for third place.

With one lap down, it was Carmichael, Tortelli, Lusk, Brown, Vuillemin, LaRocco and Reed.

Lap two Reed and Vuillemin got hung up together and Reed’s bike shoots off into the infield! Tortelli looked blazing fast through the whoops. Carmichael did not gain any ground on Tortelli or Lusk in the opening laps of the main.

With three laps in, Mike LaRocco was quietly creeping up on Lusk. Four laps down and Carmichael was starting to put some time between himself and Tortelli.

Five laps in and Carmichael had a four-second lead over Tortelli with Lusk two seconds behind Tortelli.

Ten laps down and it was Carmichael, Tortelli, Lusk, LaRocco, Ferry and Vuillemin. Since Reed’s crash early in the main, he had been racing with his front number plate flopping all over the place in front of him, yet it did not seem to slow him down.

With eight laps to go Carmichael was running away with it and Lusk was putting the pressure on Tortelli. Lusk got weird in the whoops and almost went down! Ezra had been having problems with the whoops in the main.

LaRocco was now making a bid for third place with seven laps to go. Coming into the whoops and LaRocco made a bid and got weird and took a Tuff Block with him and it slowed him down quite a bit. Mid-pack, Chad Reed is cutting through some traffic.

Then, on lap 15, Ernesto Fonseca clipped the jump before the triple and it threw him right into the face of the big jump. He started moving right away—that was a good sign! While medical staff attended to Fonseca, no riders were allowed to jump the triple; all had to roll it.

Five laps to go and Tortelli got weird in the whoops and Lusk got a chance to make a move but they were into rolling the triple again, so that killed an opportunity for a pass.

Four laps to go and Lusk passed Tortelli and moved into second place.

Three laps to go and Lusk was four seconds in back of Carmichael and seemed to be making some ground on him, while LaRocco was right on Tortelli. LaRocco came right up on Lusk, but couldn’t pass because Fonseca was still down on the track. LaRocco went for the pass on Lusk in the whoops and made it happen, then it was Carmichael, LaRocco, Lusk, and Tortelli. What a race!

The white flag came out for Carmichael with three seconds on LaRocco. The medical staff finally had Fonseca removed from the track and the race was on! Lusk fell in the whoops with 3/4 of a lap to go! Only Tortelli got past Lusk, as he was able to remount and get going quickly. Checkers for Carmichael for the fist time since last summer!

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250cc Main—Anaheim 2 (Round 5)

  1. Ricky Carmichael (Hon)
  2. Mike LaRocco (Hon)
  3. Sebastien Tortelli (Suz)
  4. Ezra Lusk (Kaw)
  5. Tim Ferry (Yam)
  6. Chad Reed (Yam)
  7. Michael Byrne (Hon)
  8. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  9. Nick Wey (Yam)
  10. Mike Brown (Kaw)
  11. Stephane Roncada (Suz)
  12. Heath Voss (Yam)
  13. Larry Ward (Hon)
  14. Damon Huffman (Hon)
  15. Ted Campbell (Hon)
  16. Ivan Tedesco (Yam)
  17. Erick Vallejo (Yam)
  18. Ryan Clark (Yam)
  19. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)
  20. Daryl Hurley (Suz)

This was Ricky Carmichael’s 81st AMA career win. Jeremy McGrath holds the record at 90. Will Carmichael beat it this year? Will Carmichael get another streak going? Will yet another rider score a win in 2003? Next week, the series moves to San Francisco for the first time ever. Will Vuillemin fire a win off, or will Tortelli get his first supercross win in years? Tune in next Sunday for Round 6.

Talk to you from Frisco!

ad a four-second lead over Tortelli with Lusk two seconds behind Tortelli.

Ten laps down and it was Carmichael, Tortelli, Lusk, LaRocco, Ferry and Vuillemin. Since Reed’s crash early in the main, he had been racing with his front number plate flopping all over the place in front of him, yet it did not seem to slow him down.

With eight laps to go Carmichael was running away with it and Lusk was putting the pressure on Tortelli. Lusk got weird in the whoops and almost went down! Ezra had been having problems with the whoops in the main.

LaRocco was now making a bid for third place with seven laps to go. Coming into the whoops and LaRocco made a bid and got weird and took a Tuff Block with him and it slowed him down quite a bit. Mid-pack, Chad Reed is cutting through some traffic.

Then, on lap 15, Ernesto Fonseca clipped the jump before the triple and it threw him right into the face of the big jump. He started moving right away—that was a good sign! While medical staff attended to Fonseca, no riders were allowed to jump the triple; all had to roll it.

Five laps to go and Tortelli got weird in the whoops and Lusk got a chance to make a move but they were into rolling the triple again, so that killed an opportunity for a pass.

Four laps to go and Lusk passed Tortelli and moved into second place.

Three laps to go and Lusk was four seconds in back of Carmichael and seemed to be making some ground on him, while LaRocco was right on Tortelli. LaRocco came right up on Lusk, but couldn’t pass because Fonseca was still down on the track. LaRocco went for the pass on Lusk in the whoops and made it happen, then it was Carmichael, LaRocco, Lusk, and Tortelli. What a race!

The white flag came out for Carmichael with three seconds on LaRocco. The medical staff finally had Fonseca removed from the track and the race was on! Lusk fell in the whoops with 3/4 of a lap to go! Only Tortelli got past Lusk, as he was able to remount and get going quickly. Checkers for Carmichael for the fist time since last summer!

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250cc Main—Anaheim 2 (Round 5)

  1. Ricky Carmichael (Hon)
  2. Mike LaRocco (Hon)
  3. Sebastien Tortelli (Suz)
  4. Ezra Lusk (Kaw)
  5. Tim Ferry (Yam)
  6. Chad Reed (Yam)
  7. Michael Byrne (Hon)
  8. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  9. Nick Wey (Yam)
  10. Mike Brown (Kaw)
  11. Stephane Roncada (Suz)
  12. Heath Voss (Yam)
  13. Larry Ward (Hon)
  14. Damon Huffman (Hon)
  15. Ted Campbell (Hon)
  16. Ivan Tedesco (Yam)
  17. Erick Vallejo (Yam)
  18. Ryan Clark (Yam)
  19. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)
  20. Daryl Hurley (Suz)

This was Ricky Carmichael’s 81st AMA career win. Jeremy McGrath holds the record at 90. Will Carmichael beat it this year? Will Carmichael get another streak going? Will yet another rider score a win in 2003? Next week, the series moves to San Francisco for the first time ever. Will Vuillemin fire a win off, or will Tortelli get his first supercross win in years? Tune in next Sunday for Round 6.

Talk to you from Frisco!