Big E’s Race Report: Round 9, Minneapolis

Man, I was so stoked that I didn’t have to walk the trade show in Indy one more day. I can’t explain how excited I am that the 125 East was starting. It feels like another season was getting underway, even though the 250 class remains the same. We haven’t seen what guys like Jesseman, Bentley, or Metcalfe have to offer the guys that took to the 250cc class before the 125 East got rolling. Riders like Tedesco, Byrne or Sellards may have an edge, having already raced a few main events this season and have done well in the process.

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Pit and Heat Race Notes

More bad news for Team Suzuki. Stephane Roncada went sideways on one of the rhythm sections in the second 250cc practice and ended up with a broken tib/fib. Suzuki’s looking to their 125 West riders to help fill out the Suzuki 250cc truck in upcoming rounds.

Besides the start of the 125cc East, the other big news in the 125cc class was that Grant Langston elected to drop back down the tiddler division after a dismal start in the 250cc class. Unfotunately, in practice on Friday, Grant missed a shift going up the face of the triple and landed on the front side of the triple. Again our man Doc G came to the rescue and put LL Cool G back together.

Mike LaRocco was still sore from the shoulder injury he received at Anaheim III. He did race a heat race but couldn’t continue after that.

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The track in the Metrodome was great. The dirt was moist, but nowhere near what you think it would be with the amount of snow outside. There was a set of whoops right before the riders took to the first straight again, that were BIG. The elevation of them started low and they got higher as the section got longer. Even the best had problems with them.

In the 125cc class, Branden Jesseman and Grant Langston each won their heat races convincingly.

In the first 250cc heat race, Chad Reed won by something like 20 seconds. Unbelievable.

The Mains

Kelly Smith got the holeshot in the 125cc main. There was a huge pileup in the first turn, with both Michael Byrne and Grant Langston involved in it. Branden Jesseman moved by Smith right away and started to pull away, and the first lap hadn’t even been completed yet. After lap one it was Jesseman, Smith, Sellards, Brown, Tedesco and Bentley.

Three laps into the 125 main event, and Jesseman has at least a five second lead over Smith.

As lap five got underway Ivan Tedesco went down, right before the finish line jump. On the next lap, I counted nine seconds for Jesseman’s lead over Kelly Smith, and Brock Sellards moved into second place.

On lap six it was Jesseman, Sellards, Smith, Brown and Shae Bentley. Then on lap eight, Byrne and Metcalfe got by Bentley. I think something was wrong with Bentley, he was fading fast.

On lap nine, Mike Brown passed Kelly Smith, and moved into third place.

On lap 10, Branden Jesseman had a lead that Bubba Stewart would be proud of. Branden is the real deal this year. Judging by the way Branden is riding, he’ll be hard to beat in the East 2003.

Back to the race. On lap 10, Byrne passed Smith in the whoops for fourth place. Byrne looked impressive, and the way he moved through the pack was reminiscent of Travis Preston in the West. Remember Byrne was involved in that first turn pileup, and he had moved into fourth place by lap 10. Then on lap 11 Byrne passed Mike Brown in the whoops, and moved into third place! Lap 12 and Byrne has put three second between him and Brown. As the 125 main wound down, it did not change after that. The first 125cc Eastern division podium goes Jesseman, and Sellards and Byrne round out the podium. One has to wonder what would have happened if Byrne had gotten a good start. We will have to wait until Atlanta.

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125cc Main—Minneapolis (East round 1)

  1. Branden Jesseman (Suz)
  2. Brock Sellards (Yam)
  3. Michael Byrne (Hon)
  4. Mike Brown (Kaw)
  5. Kelly Smith (Yam)
  6. Ivan Tedesco (Yam)
  7. <

  8. Tiger Lacey
  9. Brett Metcalfe (KTM)
  10. Jeff Gibson (Suz)
  11. Steve Boniface (KTM)
  12. Ryan Mills (Hon)
  13. Michael Blose (Yam)
  14. Erick Vallejo (Yam)
  15. Mathieu Lalloz (Suz)
  16. Josh Summey (Yam)
  17. Grant Langston (KTM)
  18. Bobby Kiniry (Suz)
  19. Tommy Harrison (Yam)
  20. Shae Bentley (Suz)
  21. Chase Reed (KTM
  22. Paul Curie (Yam)
  23. Tyson Hadsell (Yam)

As the 250cc main got underway, it saw Ezra Lusk get the holeshot, and there was yet another pile-up in the first turn! It looked like Fonseca and Povolny were involved in that crash. Poor Fonseca, he can’t get a break!

Clark Stiles was in second (for a second) before Carmichael went by him. As they settled out, it was Lusk, RC, Ward, Ferry, Reed, and Wey. Still on lap one, Chad Reed made the pass on both Ferry and Ward to move to third! Then Ferry got by Ward!

By lap three, Reed was all over the back of RC and Lusk. Already, the three of them had started to pull away from the rest of the main big-time. This was going to be the race we’d been waiting to see.

On lap four, Chad Reed went by Carmichael and started to reel in Lusk!

On lap five, Reed made the same exact pass on Lusk as he did on Carmichael, and passed him in the whoops before the start straight! Then Reed and Lusk began to pull away from RC.

Lap six, and Reed goes down in the second set of whoops! So now it was on, Reed remounted and was about five to seven seconds in back of RC. As he comes across the finish line, Reed is riding like he is frustrated with himself. Then RC goes by Lusk on lap six. You should have seen this racing! Still on lap six and Chad reed goes down again! I couldn’t see what happened, but he went down in the second straight. He is way back now, I think he’s in 12th or 13 place.

As lap seven got underway and RC is not leaving Lusk.

Lap nine, and RC is starting to put some time between him and Ezra. Third place is Vuillemin, then Wey and Ferry.

Lap 13, and Lusk cased the rhythm section on the second straight. It stopped any momentum Lusk had and put him back from RC another second or two. Reed now is in seventh place and continued to work his way up.

Lap 14, and Reed got by Huffman for sixth place.

Lap 18, and Tim Ferry is challenging Vuillemin for the final podium spot. Ferry got by, then Vuillemin got third place back. Ferry said not tonight and took it back again from DV. It looked like Vuillemin ran out of steam, because after Ferry got by Vuillemin the second time, he did not challenge him. And it played out just like that.

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Man, with RC still within distance, Reed has to keep himself in check if he wants to make a bid for the AMA SX title. After the race, I found out that Chad Reed’s seat fell off on his second crash! With the majority of jumps needing to be seat bounced to get over, has Reed invented the sub-frame bounce? That might explain why he could “only” climb up to sixth place.

250cc Main—Minneapolis (Round 7)

  1. Ricky Carmichael (Hon) )
  2. Ezra Lusk (Kaw)
  3. Tim Ferry (Yam)
  4. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  5. Nick Wey (Yam)
  6. Chad Reed (Yam)
  7. Damon Huffman (Hon)
  8. Keith Johnson (Yam)
  9. Larry Ward (Hon)
  10. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon)
  11. Jason Thomas (Hon)
  12. Heath Voss (Yam)
  13. Ryan Clark (Yam)
  14. Clark Stiles (Hon)
  15. Greg Schnell (Yam)
  16. Joe Oehlhof (Yam)
  17. Andrew Short (Suz)
  18. James Povolny (Hon)
  19. Marco Dube (Hon)
  20. Brain Nathen (Yam)

Talk to you next week from Atlanta, Georgia!