After another week off, the AMA motocross series picked back up with the last three races in three consecutive weeks starting with round 10, which was held at the sandy Southwick MX338 course. I've always liked Southwick (even though, as a mechanic, it meant a ton of work and preparation) because it's something different and it's pretty cool to go to Massachusetts where the Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton, MA, all those years ago.
A few years back, I crossed "Go to Fenway Park" off my bucket list and I have to say, it was really, really cool. The park is built right into the city and if you didn't know any better, you would miss the place. There are houses and shops built all around it and it's funny to see such a historic park just right there next to sandwich shops and what-not.
Anyways, the track at Southwick is kind of like Fenway, it's right there in the middle of the town, by the legion and right beside a school. You'd never know it if you weren't looking for it. Really, really cool, I think.
I don't like the fact that they reversed the track a few years back and got rid of the infamous "Frog Pond" section. The Frog Pond was a necessary change due to some land ownership issues so we've lost that forever, but the change in direction mystifies me; I thought it was much better the other way. I spoke to photo-man extraordinaire and local legend Paul Buckley and he commented that he liked it better the other way and that's good enough for me. The man has a berm named after him people!
One other thing that's funny is I was speaking to suspension guru Bones Bacon from Pro Circuit about the track direction change and he mentioned that suspension setup was much more difficult to set up when the track went the other way. He said it was faster and caused more problems. Interesting…
Well, the inevitable happened and that was Suzuki's Ryan "The Dungenator" Dungey clinching the 450 outdoor National title. There was an e-mail circulating around a couple weeks ago comparing Dungey's rookie season stats in the big boys class to RC's and frankly, there was no comparison. Dungey is having the best rookie season in outdoor motocross in history.
He clinched the title two races early because of the combination of the terrible day of Andrew Short (more on that later) and another (near) dominating 1-1 performance. The Dungenator has now won what seems like 83 consecutive races and is well on his way to reaching the pantheon of greatness (current members are Bob Hannah, Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward, RC, Reed, and Stewart. Just off to the side is Tim Ferry) at the same time. An SX and MX championship in your rookie year in the class will put you up there!
There are bad days and then there are the days that Honda had at Southwick. Let's recap, shall we?
-In the very first practice, factory Honda's Andrew Short's CRF450 wasn't happy and he wasn't able to complete any laps of significance. I didn't ask but I'm really sure that the problem was the spark plug because, with factory teams, the problem is always the spark plug.
– So with that happening and Shorty missing the first practice, he went out for the second one and due to the track changing like Heidi Montag after she got some fame, Andrew was unable to get a time inside the fast 40 and he was out. But wait, little did I (and many others) know there is a provisional for guys if you're inside the top 10 in points. So he was in with the 40th gate pick and some dude was out. So in essence, Short was effed and so was the guy that got bumped.
-In the first 450 moto Geico/Honda's Brett Metcalfe was leading 39 other guys around the track. At one point he had The Dungenator right on him but he managed to pull back out (which has been proven is pretty amazing) and was on his way to win his first-ever moto in America when his CRF 450 ran out of gas with only five stinking corners to go. It was a real kick in the balls and dropped Metty from first to 14th.
-TLD Honda's Ben Townley qualified first fastest and looked to be in prime position to win the race. Early in the first moto, he railed the second right-hand berm as fast as I've EVER seen a dude rail a berm. He was FLYING…but…and stop me if you heard this before, but he crashed. That's okay though, BT got up in 25th or something like that and ripped back through the pack to get to sixth. He was the fastest guy on the track, but his black cloud struck again as he found a rock out there in the sand, broke his water pump cover, and seized his bike. That's a lot of work for a DNF.
-Right around the time that Metty was running out of gas, Shorty was working through the pack from his (surprise!) crappy start and multiple crashes when he ran out of gas as well. Which shouldn't be a massive surprise as he was running the same works aluminum tank that Metty was running. Unlike Brett, whose mistake cost him 14 spots, Shorty's "fuel related engine problem" cost him only one position because he was the last guy to not get lapped.
-Second moto out, Shorty crashed hard 40 feet out of the gate and the hits kept on coming for him (literally). The kid from Colorado got up and started the long ride to the front-eventually ending up in 17th. NOT a good day for Andrew.
-Metty went down early in the second moto and had to work his way back up. He was two to three seconds faster than anyone else around him but hit the wall a little bit late in the race (can you blame him?) and settled for seventh.
Man, to be a fly on the wall on the Monday morning meeting down there in Torrance. I've been in those situations and it ain't pretty. In speaking to longtime Honda guy Dan Betley on Saturday evening, he couldn't remember a worse day for the Red Riders and that's saying a lot.
In the always exciting 250 class, the momentum that Trey Canard had been accumulating was put to a slight halt in the second moto at Unadilla. He was caught and passed late in the race by Christophe Pourcel, which was a statement ride from the Frenchman. It wasn't a case of Canard not riding well, it was more of a case of Pourcel showing that the road to the title goes through him.
At Southwick, site of the infamous Pro Circuit motor meltdown last year that kept Pourcel from winning the title, things looked bleak again for the Frenchman when he went down in the first moto while running inside the top 10. His work cut out for him and made worse by Canard taking off into cloud of sand and wining the moto. Pourcel could only score a seventh and lost a bunch of points. It wasn't good.
Second moto Canard came together with Dean Wilson and went down early in the race and the tables were turned as Pourcel was in second and chasing after eventual moto winner Justin Barcia. Canard charged up to around seventh before struggling with a shock problem and dropping back to ninth. He lost a bunch of the points that he had made up in the first moto but still, at the end of the day, he made three valuable points up on the 377. This thing is going down to the wire folks!
If you want to hear what Mitch Payton, John Dowd, Nick Wey, Brett Metcalfe, and Wil Hahn about their Southwick races? Click HERE.
The winner on the day in the 250 class was Tyla Rattray who won a moto here last year to finally show us his World Championship winning pedigree. Rattray, a friendly South African (is there any other type), just needs to work on his starts and he could end up winning a whole lot more. Ratters went 2-2 on the day for the overall and he was the best guy there in my opinion. He flew through the pack in both motos and as usual, looked to be full of energy during the race. This guy is an animal, he probably wrestles lions during the week.
Interesting that Rattray blew by Pourcel in the second moto and Eli Tomac managed to get by Canard as well. Both guys were fighting for every point they could get and yet, their teammates got by and possibly cost them points down the line. Neither team gave any orders and neither team had any thoughts of issuing the orders. They both want this title decided the right way.
Mike Alessi had his best finish in months when he went 3-4 for second overall on the day. Mike has been struggling this season on the all-new KTM 350 and as usual with him and his family, there has been lots of talk about what's going on with them. There are many theories out there and there is definitely some merit to Mike's one major asset (his starts) being affected by being down 100cc to the rest of the field. He hasn't been able to get out front and do what he does best, which is sprint away from the field like a little bunny rabbit. I will say that Mike feels like the motor is fine but it's the suspension and handling that he's been frustrated at. To me, I think the motor is the problem because he's not ever getting the starts that he used to.
I spoke to Mike on Friday for a good 30 minutes or so and when I mentioned that he's been sucking, he punched me in the shoulder and said "Thanks Matthes." Sorry about that Mike! Hopefully I motivated him to show me that I'm an idiot. Whatever it was, Mike looked great out there, the bike worked good and congrats to him and the KTM guys. They've all been frustrated and working hard to figure the bike out.
Matt Georke has had a horrible season, after jumping on the factory Yamaha team last year and winning this very race, he signed with the Motoconcepts Yamaha team and then promptly broke his leg really bad. It's been a long road back for the Florida native. He got a seventh at Mt Morris and then struggled here and there with his leg. It got to the point where he's missed the last five races or so trying to get healthy.
He made his return this weekend to defend his 2009 win and you know what? He just about did! A 6-3 day gave Beef a third overall, and this just in: Matt can ride sand! Hopefully he can follow this podium up the next couple of races and end his year on a high note.
Last week on the always thrilling Pulpmx Show, Wil Hahn of the TLD Honda team was on and expressed disappointment that he finished 10th at Unadilla. I mentioned that he shouldn't be so hard on himself as he was just coming back from injury and 10th is a good result. He wasn't having it though, he thought he could do better.
And guess what? He was right, his day at Southwick included two holeshots, nine laps led, 3-5 moto finishes, and a fourth overall on the day. I guess Ol' Wilbur knew what he was talking about. Hahn's going to Geico/Honda next year and is a star on the rise right now.
Let's take a look at the results shall we?
1 28 Tyla Rattray Durban, ZA Kawasaki KX 250F 2 2 44
2 17 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA, US Honda CRF250R 4 1 43- Barcia won last year's race and this year, although he didn't win, he was great all day. He was outside the top 20 in the first moto and came back to fourth.
3 38 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK, US Honda CRF250R 1 9 37
4 49 William Hahn Decatur, TX, US Honda CRF250R 3 5 36
5 377 Christophe Pourcel Marseille, FR Kawasaki KX 250F 7 3 34
6 108 Dean Wilson Glasgow, GB Kawasaki KX 250F 5 4 34- Dean was bummed on his day but hey, sand isn't everyone's forte so a 5-4 on the day was pretty good.
7 243 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO, US Honda CRF250R 6 7 29
8 942 Gareth Swanepoel Hechtel – Eksel, BE Yamaha YZ250F 10 6 26- This GP regular came over and acquitted himself quite well on the Star Racing Yamaha.
9 577 Martin Davalos Quito, EC Yamaha YZ 250F 11 8 23- Marteen's race was up and down, losing seven spots in 13 laps in the first moto was the down but his charge from 20th to eighth in the second moto was very good.
10 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI, US Yamaha YZ 250F 8 11 23
11 21 Blake Wharton Pilot Point, TX, US Honda CRF250R 14 12 16
12 603 Tommy Weeck Menifee, CA, US Honda CRF250R 13 13 16- This was a good ride for Tommy! He definitely stayed away from any "weecks" all day, huh?
13 200 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA, US Honda CRF250R 9 17 16
14 990 Ian Joseph Trettel Silver Springs, FL, US Suzuki RMZ250 17 10 15- Trettle made his pro debut riding for the Rockstar Suzuki team and he did pretty well. A 10yh is nothing to be ashamed about. This kid redefines "flying under the radar."
15 87 Les Smith York, SC, US Honda CRF250R 15 18 9
16 341 Nico Izzi St. Claire, MI, US Yamaha YZ 250F 12 32 9- Izzi followed his teammate Davalos to the back in the first moto, second moto he crashed hard and DNF'd. I'm sure Nico is just counting down the races to the end of this miserable season for him.
17 613 James DeCotis Deabody, MA, US Honda CRF250R 20 14 8
18 404 Tyler Medaglia Ottawa, ON, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 30 15 6-The Canadian 250 champion came down and did pretty well; T-Dags is a good dude and I'm happy that he scored some points. I'm not happy that he's not going to the MXDN, but it's not his fault. It's the fault of my dysfunctional country’s motocross people.
19 61 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO, US Yamaha YZ 250F 37 16 5
20 175 Phillip Nicoletti Cochecton, NY, US KTM 250 SXF 16 31 5- Here's something that you won't read in any other column out there, "Filthy" Phil's first moto, first turn crash all the way back to 16th was awesome.
21 678 Nicolas Myers Cairo, GA, US Honda CRF250R 18 34 3
22 203 Tony Lorusso Rocky Hill, CT, US Suzuki RMZ 250 21 19 2- YEAH! The old man of Southwick was overshadowed by the older man, but this longtime NESC veteran scored some points. Did you know that Tony once got second in a moto at Southwick?
23 50 Alex Martin Millville, MN, US Honda CRF250R 19 27 2
24 622 Christopher Pugrab Ellington, CT, US .Yamaha YZ 250F 34 20 1
25 92 Michael Willard Thornville, OH, US Honda CRF250R 27 24 0
26 348 Jason Brooks Niantic, CT, US Kawasaki KX 250F 22 29 0
27 185 Killy Rusk Aztec, NM, US KTM 250 SX-F 31 21 0
28 521 Kyle Gills Wiggins, MS, US Yamaha YZ 250F 26 26 0
29 565 Preston Mull Livingston, CA, US Honda CRF250R 24 30 0
30 160 Corey Pennington Santa Cruz, CA, US Kawasaki KX 250F 28 28 0
31 330 A.J. Catanzaro Middlefield, CT, US Kawasaki KX 250F 36 22 0
32 64 Taylor Futrell Clinton, NC, US Honda CRF250R 35 23 0- Hey, wasn't Futrell on KTMs at every other race this year? Well, he's now on Hondas.
33 31 Matthew Lemoine Collinsville, TX, US Suzuki RM Z250 23 37 0
34 370 Drew Yenerich New Lenox, IL, US Yamaha YZ 250F 25 38 0
35 505 Sean Lipanovich Cairo, GA, US Honda CRF250R 39 25 0
36 211 Tevin Tapia Federal Way, WA, US KTM 250 SXF 29 36 0
37 166 Dakota Tedder Surfside, CA, US Kawasaki KX 250F 33 35 0
38 36 Darryn Durham Butler, PA, US Honda CRF250R 32 39 0
39 972 Michael Picone Hernando, FL, US Honda CRF250R 40 33 0- PICONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
40 585 Travis Baker Temecula, CA, US Yamaha YZ 250F 38 40- T-Bakes broke his ankle after getting center-punched from another rider. Too bad for Travis, he was coming on.
1 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plain, MN, US Suzuki RMZ 450 1 1 50
2 800 Mike Alessi Victorville, CA, US KTM 350 SXF 3 4 38
3 35 Matthew Goerke Lake Helen, FL, US Yamaha YZ 450F 6 3 35
4 55 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL, US Yamaha YZ 450F 4 6 33- The Chiz got a horrible start in moto two and came from the back to get sixth. Kyle likes this track and is always strong here, being from Florida and growing up riding Croom probably helps. Just a guess though.
5 14 Kevin Windham Centerville, MS, US Honda CRF450R 7 5 30- KW hates this track and never does that well here. I always knew as Ferry's mechanic that we could put points on him at The Wick. So his 7-5 finishes were very respectable.
6 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI, US Kawasaki KX 450F 8 9 25- NYK rode good all day, as usual, every time I watched him he was working hard.
7 101 Ben Townley Taupo, NZ Honda CRF450R 34 2 22- Oh what could have been.
8 10 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX, US Suzuki RMZ 450 2 32 22- T Hahn rode awesome in the first moto to get a second, but in the second moto his bike couldn't stay as strong as him and he pulled it in.
9 24 Brett Metcalfe Mannum, AU Honda CRF450R 14 7 21- Oh the heartbreak.
10 122 Daniel Reardon Queensland, AU Yamaha YZ 450F 13 11 18- I thought Dandy Dan was going to be out for a while after hurting his shoulder at Unadilla so kudos to him for a good finish.
11 23 Justin Brayton Ft. Dodge, IA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 16 10 16- Brayton was hoping to build off his Unadilla holeshot and lead some laps. It didn't happen.
12 41 Kyle Regal Kemp, TX, US Honda CRF450R 5 38 16- Regal's got a new sponsor in ARMA Energy Nuts (ARMA probably needed a guarantee that at least one of their sponsored riders would show up) and came out strong in the first moto. Second moto, his bike gave up the ghost.
13 46 Ryan Sipes Vine Grove, KY, US Yamaha YZ 450F 32 8 13- Sipes did win the Muscle Milk award for improving his second moto performance the most out of any other rider there.
14 351 Shane Sewell Westville, IN, US Yamaha YZ 450F 12 18 12- Fresh off his inspiring ride at Walton, Ontario, a Sewell brother has a great showing.
15 774 Robby Marshall Stow, MA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 9 33 12- Remember when Marshall almost won this race last year?
16 68 Robert Kiniry Syracuse, NY, US Suzuki RMZ 450 10 21 11- Where has Kiniry been you ask? He's been in Canada finishing second in the 450 class up there.
17 261 Jacob Morrison Waream, MA, US Honda CRF450R 19 13 10
18 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX, US Honda CRF450R 15 17 10
19 16 John Dowd Ludlow, MA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 11 39 10- The fan favorite didn't have the day he was hoping for but he was more than respectable and gets to keep his number another year. He's 45 years old. Say that a few times and then shake your head.
20 241 Derek Anderson Arvada, CO, US Kawasaki KX 450F 23 12 9
21 43 Steven Clarke West Midlands, GB Suzuki RMZ 450 18 16 8
22 209 Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL, US Kawasaki KX 450F 39 14 7- Heath is running JGR motors and suspension. Did you know that? Now you do.
23 397 Taylor Robert Scottsdale, AZ, US Yamaha YZ450F 20 15 7
24 26 Michael Byrne Queensland, AU Yamaha YZ 450F 17 31 4- Another guy just counting down the days on 2010. Byrner almost won this race last year as well, now look at him. He needs to push the reset button.
25 292 Austin Howell Red Bluff, CA, US Suzuki RMZ 450 35 19 2
26 281 Jeremy Medaglia Kemptville, ON, CA KTM 450SXF 22 20 1- Yeah! Jer Bear, riding for Canada in the MXDN, got a point! Now he just needs a better nickname, Jer Bear doesn't exactly strike fear in the hearts of other riders.
27 367 William Shatrau Oswego, NY, US Honda CRF450R 26 22 0
28 251 Joshua Clark North Franklin, CT, US Honda CRF450R 21 27 0
29 801 Jeff Alessi Vitorville, CA, US Yamaha YZ 450F 25 24 0- Jeff can do better.
30 612 Ryan Desrosiers Stratford, CT, US Honda CRF450R 31 25 0
31 388 Bryan Wallace New Egypt, NJ, US KTM 450 SX-F 30 26 0
32 140 Johnny Moore Madison, MS, US Honda CRF450R 28 28 0
33 775 Jake Abbott Phillipston, MA, US Kawasaki KX 450F 27 29 0
34 167 Ryan Mills Clintondale, NY, US Honda CRF450R 24 35 0
35 376 Ray Leybovich woodbourne, NY, US Yamaha YZ 450F 38 23 0
36 881 Jerry Lorenz Morrice, MI, US Kawasaki KX 450F 29 34 0
37 73 Ben LaMay Anchorage, AK, US Yamaha YZ 450F 36 30 0
38 597 Mitchell Dougherty Whitesboro, NY, US Honda CRF450R 33 36 0
39 652 Dustin Pipes Fresno, CA, US Suzuki RMZ 450 37 37 0
40 134 Travis Sewell Westville, IN, US Yamaha YZ 450F 40 40 0- This Sewell didn't do as well as the other one.
Fans love the talk about silly season and who's going to sign with who. I get endless e-mails about it, the message boards have a bunch of chatter, and in general, people have a great interest in where these riders are going to ride for next year. I think it's due to the fact that by now, we pretty much know who is going to finish where at the races and everyone is just looking for some change. Then nothing happens the next year and we all repeat the finish. It's a dangerous game to play for someone like myself that follows the sport and writes about it for a living, if you're right and you know something is going on, then those respective people get mad at you for maybe blowing a deal. If you're wrong, then those respective people get mad because you have your facts wrong.
There's one guy out there that covers the sport whose name rhymes with "Smeege" and he tells me to not do it because "there's no win in it" and he may have a point, but I'm putting this stuff out there anyways because I'm here for the fans.
Here are some rumors, facts, and innuendos that you should just take for what they are worth unless you're Motoconcepts Michael Young. Then should lose your mind and call me names for putting this out there.
-Kevin Windham is out there and looking for a deal, GEICO has made him an offer but he's shopping around. This surprised me, I just thought he was a natural fit back there. He's not going to win the sx title but he'll get a bunch of cheers.
-Brett Metcalfe is talking to Geico incase KW doesn't come back or Suzuki to line up alongside The Dunge. Matt Moss is probably not coming back. But you knew that anyways.
-In case you haven't heard, Chad Reed isn't coming back to Kawasaki. He told me this a while back but didn't want me to write it. So I didn't. But then on Twitter, he admitted that he was in the silly season game so I guess it's now "out there."
-Christophe Pourcel is out there and by all accounts, wants a bunch of money to sign with someone. Sources say that he's looking to keep his gear money and wants 1.5 million a year which he's never going to get. Oh and a bunch of free Jet Skis. I made that last part up. Look for him to go to KTM or Honda.
-I finally heard the question from a high-profile team manager that I've been asking for a while which is, "How is Pourcel going to handle a full season of 450s when he struggles a bit with half a season of 250s?"
-JGR is looking at Metcalfe, Kyle Regal, Davi Millsaps, and a few others to fill the spot next to Justin Brayton. It's looking more and more that Josh Grant won't be back there by his choice, he doesn't like the program that requires him to live in North Carolina full time.
-Trey Canard is going to Honda, but we all knew that anyways.
-I think Jake Weimer will get that second spot over at Kawasaki. It makes perfect sense, he's not "the guy" yet so he can work into things, he's best buddies with RV (who took a pay cut but did re-sign with Kawi) and his agent and Kawi Team Manager Mike Fisher are buddies. They can knock out this deal in a couple hours and then go roller-blading together.
-Wil Hahn is going to Geico/Honda.
-Ryan Sipes is going to Star Racing.
-My Pulpmx co-host Kenny Watson is the manager of Hart & Huntington and they have a major sponsor coming on-board next year (rhymes with Lodge) and are sorting out their bike color. Watson's been trying to fool me with all this talk about red and orange but as someone else pointed out to me, H&H's new sponsor will not want to be affiliated with another OEM that makes cars so look for them on green next year.
-If Ivan Tedesco isn't on this team next year, then I'll re-name the show "The Kenny Watson Show" for a week. This is a slam dunk methinks.
-Ben Townley has some big offers to go back to Europe and if the money I hear is true, I can't see him making anywhere near that over here. So, if BT101 is racing nationals next year, just know that he left some serious money on the table.
-I think Andrew Short goes back to Honda and joins Trey Canard over there as a couple of Fly gear racers saying hi to everyone that comes into the pits. I'm not so sure Shorty thinks he's going back though.
That's all I got, thank you for reading and e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat!