Big E’s Race Report: Round 6 San Francisco

Ah, San Francisco, the City by the Bay. Well-known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, the 49’ers, Rice-a-Roni and now Supercross. As the football crowds flock to San Diego for the Superbowl, the fans of the greatest sport in the world,, supercross, flock to Northern California. For the first time ever, Supercross invades Pac Bell Park, the home of home run hero Barry Bonds.

Pre-Race Notes

For the most part, Supercross tracks are built during the week, and by Friday the track is complete and ready for practicing on—sans the whoop sections. This week, for whatever reason, the track was still being constructed on Friday morning. What did that mean? No practice! You’d never know that the racers were without the luxury of Friday practice, most every one of them mastered the track with ease.

Back on the track this week were Ernesto Fonseca and Grant Langston. Miraculously, after a lap 15 crash last week that saw Ernie hurl himself right into the face of a triple, he’s back at it, and in form for his first podium of the season. Grant was also here after a week off his bike and a whole lot of therapy on his left hand. Grant was trying to regain power in his left hand so he could hold on for 20 hard laps.

The track seemed to be made of dirt with gravel mixed into it. Probably because of the threat of rain here in Northern California. However, the weather could not have cooperated more—it was absolutely beautiful, not a cloud in the sky and temps in the high 50s to low 60s.

In practice, 250cc lap times were around 46 seconds. As night fell and the racing started they shrunk even more, with Chad Reed posting the fastest lap of the night (44 seconds in the main). That makes for almost the lap times of an Arenacross race, rather than a Supercross.

Heat Races

The first 125cc heat race saw Craig Anderson get the holeshot but before long, Ando found himself getting passed by none other than Steve Mertens. Steve rode really well until the middle of lap five, when he slid out at home plate (or at least where it usually is). Tyler Evans went on to take the win.

James Stewart holeshot the second 125cc heat race. After the first lap James already had a five-second lead. If you’ve never seen Stewart ride, you’re missing a rare sight. He is poetry in motion on a motorcycle. James makes the other riders he races against look slow…except they’re not!

In 250cc heat race number one, Australian Chad Reed grabbed the start and it looked as though we were in for another heat race like we saw last week, except Lusk, Vuillemin and LaRocco were in the mix this time around. Chad and Ezra changed leads a few times, but on lap three, someone hit Ted Campbell’s rear wheel as he was taking off the jump before the triple and sent his bike sailing away from him. Ted went down hard and his body immediately started going into convulsions. The red cross flag went out, which the AMA rule book states clearly that all riders must roll the triple. It does not say anything about the jump before the triple. Ted Campbell was down in between the two sets of jumps.

As the four riders in the lead (Vuillemin, Reed, Lusk and LaRocco) came up to the jump before the triple, Vuillemin jumped the entire jump, then rolled the triple. The crowd began to boo the French rider for not heeding to what they thought the rulebook says. Reed doubled the jump as did Lusk, but the boo birds were all over Vuillemin on this one. I can see why, even though the rule book is gray on this area before the triple, all riders should have been made to roll BOTH jumps, as the injured rider lay helpless on the track. The AMA needs to look closely at this rule and its interpretation.

On the podium Vuillemin tried to give props to the Oakland Raiders, but the crowd wasn’t havin’ it—he got booed badly! It turneout that Ted had suffered a bad concussion, it might sound funny but I’m glad that’s all it was, from the way he was shaking.

In the last heat race of the night, Ricky Carmichael busted a holeshot and killed it for eight laps. Langston, Tortelli and Roncada followed Ricky on to the main event.

The Mains

The 125cc main event holeshot went to Eric Sorby. James Stewart got a third place start, but after two obstacles was in the lead by two seconds! As everyone got sorted out, after one lap the leaders looked like this; Stewart with a five-second lead, Sorby, Pingree, Short, Gosselaar and Walker.

Lap three saw Matt Walker on the move, he had made some serious ground up and was now in third place. Lap six, and Walker passed Gosselaar for second place. By this time, last year’s West Coast champ, Travis Preston’ was beginning to find his rhythm after a terrible start.

If you like green, it was a Kawasaki freight train at this point with Stewart, Walker, and Sorby, followed by Short and Preston. I think Travis Preston had to be putting up lap times equal to Stewart, he was flying though the pack. On lap seven, Preston went by Short and set his sights on Walker. Then, Walker passed Sorby on the triple. Sorby couldn’t jump it, and had to double it.

Lap nine, and Preston goes by Gosselaar and Sorby, almost at the same time! Sorby was really starting to fade at this point in the race. Then on lap ten, Preston was all over the fender of Matt Walker, and made the pass on him two turns before the finish line jump. As the finish line turn came up, Preston went to the outside, and was railing the turn, while Walker stayed to the inside. As Walker was exiting the turn, he got his bars in front of Preston’s and took his line. Here’s where it got ugly. Walker not only stopped Preston from jumping the finish line jump, it looked like he took all his room and left Travis hugging the poles that hold the finish line sign up. The crowd started booing already and the race wasn’t even over! Travis found his bike and started to pass riders again but it was almost in vain at this point in the race. By now James Stewart was winning by at least half the track. I don’t know how that kid keeps his focus. It has to be hard when you’re so far ahead with nobody in sight.

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As the race finished up, Gosselaar was able to get back into third, with Andrew Short in tow after the Preston-Walker incident. As soon as the mic was handed to Walker on the podium, the boo birds came out. I was able to hear a little bit of what he had to say, and it was not what the crowd wanted to hear. Apparently, Matt said something to the effect that it was some kind of payback for Preston’s move in the main, two weeks ago in Phoenix. The AMA levied a $1,000 fine to Matt for saying it. Back in the press conference, Matt said he was going to try to appeal it and made some light of the situation by saying, “You know, Bubba wins the race and he only gets something like $1,500 for the win. I think I got $300 for second, I am already in the hole $700 bucks tonight!” One thing is for sure, Travis Preston should have been on the podium in San Francisco.

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What’s going to happen next week in Anaheim? I can’t wait to see!

125cc Main—San Francisco (West round 4)

  1. James “Bubba” Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Matt Walker (Kaw)
  3. Chris Gosselaar (Hon
  4. Andrew Short (Suz)
  5. Josh Woods (KTM)
  6. Billy Laninovich (KTM)
  7. Steve Mertens (Yam)
  8. Eric Sorby (Kaw)
  9. David Pingree (Suz)
  10. Josh Hansen (Yam)
  11. Travis Preston (Hon)
  12. Turbo Reif (Hon)
  13. Sean Hamblin (Suz)
  14. Tyler Evans (Suz)
  15. Pascal Leuret (KTM)
  16. Craig Anderson (Yam)
  17. Bryan McGavran (Suz)
  18. Tiger Lacey (Yam)
  19. Troy Adams (Yam)
  20. Logan Darien (Yam)
  21. Jeremy Chaussee (Yam)
  22. Edgardo Rojas (Yam)

The holeshot for the he 250cc main event went to Paul Carpenter, and Ezra Lusk went right over the first turn! He was in dead last as he re-entered the track. In front, Stephane Roncada went by Carpenter for the lead, and began to make some ground, but by lap two was already starting to fade. Roncada has claimed he has the endurance-zapping Epstein-Barr virus. After one lap the leaders were Roncada, Carmichael, Carpenter, Byrne, Langston, Clark, LaRocco, and Reed.

As lap five got underway, Roncada was clinging to a lead that had shrunk from five to two seconds. Carmichael was quickly gaining on the Frenchman. Then on lap six, Carmichael went by Roncada for the lead. Roncada looked to be like he was just riding around the track with no aggressiveness at all, as the next few laps saw him get passed by several riders.

Though Grant Langston was riding with a broken bone in his hand, he was holding his own in this main event. By lap six, Grant had passed Carpenter for fourth place. Chad Reed was plowing through riders like he wass Herbie The Love Bug. Seriously, Chad was on the move, he had to have the fastest lap times of the night the way he was cutting through the pack.

On lap eight, Vuillemin was starting to move by riders as well. He dispatched Langston on lap eight and put himself into fifth place. Lap nine, and Reed went by Byrne for third place like he was in neutral! Man he was flying!

Brand new dad Ezra Lusk was also moving rapidly through the pack. Ezra was riding very well, considering he’d started in dead last. Lap 11, and Reed moved into second place and was gaining rapidly on Carmichael. As lap thirteen got underway it was clear that Chad Reed wanted to win this race. He had to have been gaining a second on Carmichael with every lap he took. On lap 16, Chad Reed started to make his last charge for the top spot, but Carmichael was riding flawlessly. Although Reed wanted this one badly, it would not come to be, as the last lap saw Chad get within two seconds of Ricky. Checkers and pyros for Ricky Carmichael for the second time this season.

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Later, as Vuillemin, Reed and I walked on to the track towards the press conference, Chad and David showed me their lines and how rutted up the turn before the finish line got. Chad told me he had spun off the gate and sunk into a hole out of the gate. Man, I can not wait for Chad and Ricky to go at it one-on-one. Maybe it will happen next week in Anaheim. I hope so! Talk to you from Anaheim 3 next week!

250cc Main—San Francisco (THQ World Supercross GP Round 6, AMA Supercross Series Round 4)

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

Make sure you check this one out on ESPN2 at 12pm EST. on February 1st.

  • Troy Adams (Yam)
  • Logan Darien (Yam)
  • Jeremy Chaussee (Yam)
  • Edgardo Rojas (Yam)
  • The holeshot for the he 250cc main event went to Paul Carpenter, and Ezra Lusk went right over the first turn! He was in dead last as he re-entered the track. In front, Stephane Roncada went by Carpenter for the lead, and began to make some ground, but by lap two was already starting to fade. Roncada has claimed he has the endurance-zapping Epstein-Barr virus. After one lap the leaders were Roncada, Carmichael, Carpenter, Byrne, Langston, Clark, LaRocco, and Reed.

    As lap five got underway, Roncada was clinging to a lead that had shrunk from five to two seconds. Carmichael was quickly gaining on the Frenchman. Then on lap six, Carmichael went by Roncada for the lead. Roncada looked to be like he was just riding around the track with no aggressiveness at all, as the next few laps saw him get passed by several riders.

    Though Grant Langston was riding with a broken bone in his hand, he was holding his own in this main event. By lap six, Grant had passed Carpenter for fourth place. Chad Reed was plowing through riders like he wass Herbie The Love Bug. Seriously, Chad was on the move, he had to have the fastest lap times of the night the way he was cutting through the pack.

    On lap eight, Vuillemin was starting to move by riders as well. He dispatched Langston on lap eight and put himself into fifth place. Lap nine, and Reed went by Byrne for third place like he was in neutral! Man he was flying!

    Brand new dad Ezra Lusk was also moving rapidly through the pack. Ezra was riding very well, considering he’d started in dead last. Lap 11, and Reed moved into second place and was gaining rapidly on Carmichael. As lap thirteen got underway it was clear that Chad Reed wanted to win this race. He had to have been gaining a second on Carmichael with every lap he took. On lap 16, Chad Reed started to make his last charge for the top spot, but Carmichael was riding flawlessly. Although Reed wanted this one badly, it would not come to be, as the last lap saw Chad get within two seconds of Ricky. Checkers and pyros for Ricky Carmichael for the second time this season.

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    Later, as Vuillemin, Reed and I walked on to the track towards the press conference, Chad and David showed me their lines and how rutted up the turn before the finish line got. Chad told me he had spun off the gate and sunk into a hole out of the gate. Man, I can not wait for Chad and Ricky to go at it one-on-one. Maybe it will happen next week in Anaheim. I hope so! Talk to you from Anaheim 3 next week!

    250cc Main—San Francisco (THQ World Supercross GP Round 6, AMA Supercross Series Round 4)

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

    Make sure you check this one out on ESPN2 at 12pm EST. on February 1st.