PICKERINGTON, Ohio (Jan. 3, 2005) ¿ Team Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael returns to Anaheim, California’s Angel Stadium this Saturday, Jan. 7 hoping to defend his championship in the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series. The first round of the 2006 series will be the opening salvo in the battle of the “Big Three” ¿ Carmichael, Chad Reed and James Stewart. Carmichael is hoping to earn his fifth AMA Supercross title in 2006, while Reed aims to win back the crown he lost to Carmichael last year. Stewart is looking to fulfill the promise he showed as a two-time AMA Supercross 125 (now known as AMA Supercross Lites) champion.
Carmichael is hoping to score his fifth AMA Supercross Series title this season. The 26-year-old Floridian has never lost a title defense in his nine previous seasons as a pro. 2006 will mark the 10th full year in AMA Pro Racing for Carmichael. For the first time in his career Carmichael will be riding a four-stroke in the stadium series, using the championship-winning Suzuki RM-Z450. In pre-season events Carmichael won in the U.S. Open of Supercross in Las Vegas, but lost twice to Stewart in Canada. He says the losses serve as incentive coming into Anaheim.
“Not winning gives me that much more motivation,” said Carmichael, who was named AMA Pro Racing SPEED Athlete of the Year in 2005. “I’ve said it before, but the Supercross series is long and tough. You can’t get too worked up about not winning every race. I’ve definitely got some things I want to improve on coming into Anaheim and I’ve been training hard and putting in the effort that it takes to win championships.”
Yamaha’s Reed won the AMA Supercross Series in 2004 while Carmichael was out recovering from knee surgery. The talented Australian now looks to regain that title, this time with both of his biggest rivals in the series.
“We’ve got a new motorcycle this year and I’ve felt better on the bike each time I ride it,” Reed said. “I know the results will come. We just have to keep working and stay consistent. I always seem to get hot in the second half of the season so I have to at least keep close early on to give myself a chance to win the championship again.”
Stewart is the hottest rider coming into Anaheim after taking two wins in Canada on his factory Kawasaki. The ultra-fast Floridian is more than anxious to make up for his injury-plagued 2005 season.
“I’m happy with where we are coming into Anaheim,” said Stewart, who is starting his second season in the premier class of AMA Supercross. “Everyone else has a lot of race experience on the four-strokes and I’ve just got two races on the bike. I’m still learning and getting more comfortable with it. I’ve had to change my riding style a bit, but I plan on training harder than ever to get ready for Anaheim and the rest of the season.”
While Carmichael, Reed and Stewart are the heavy favorites coming into the first round, a host of other riders hope to surprise the Big Three and challenge them for the win.
Carmichael’s new Suzuki teammate Ivan Tedesco is coming off a banner 2005 season where he won the 125 class in both the West Supercross region and in the AMA Motocross Championship.
“The opportunity to race in the main class is something I’ve been looking forward to,” Tedesco said. “I hope to learn a lot from the veterans and hope to be able to challenge them at some point this season.”
Sobe/Samsung Mobile Honda’s Mike LaRocco is the senior rider in the series. The 35-year-old Hoosier earned his nickname of “The Rock” by being a consistent top-runner for nearly two decades.
Legendary Supercross star Jeremy McGrath is slated to race in Anaheim for Honda. The all-time AMA Supercross wins leader is coming back for a limited schedule and Anaheim is the venue where he earned his very first AMA Supercross victory back in 1993. McGrath will have at least one more fan among the legions this weekend. Last month he and his wife Kim became the proud parents of a new baby girl.
The AMA Supercross Lites West will also kick off in Anaheim. The Supercross Lites class is considered a wide-open series this season with Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Grant Langston, Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Ramsey and Honda’s Andrew Short among the pre-season favorites.
Anaheim I will receive next-day coverage on CBS starting 12:30 pm Eastern.
Doors open to the public Saturday at Angel Stadium at 12:30 pm and the main event starts at 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at the Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, all participating Yamaha Dealers or charge by phone at 213-480-3232 or 714-740-2000.
About AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the leading sanctioning body for motorcycle sport in the United States. Its properties include the Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, the AMA Motocross Championship presented by FMF, the AMA Superbike Championship presented by Parts Unlimited, the AMA Ford Quality Checked Flat Track Championship and the AMA Supermoto Championship. For more information about AMA Pro Racing, visit www.amaproracing.com.