Kickstart: Las Vegas SX

After posting the MiniMoto Kickstart section we got a note from David Rafferton who gave us some additional info about Blake “Bilko” Williams, who put in a solid third-place ride in the 12-Inch Expert class. David said, “Blake is Australia’s premier mini racer as well as a top rated SX racer and FMX racer – he does it all! Blake has also been riding as a local import in the Crustys shows in Australia and New Zealand.” So there you go…another mystery solved.

Saturday morning at Sam Boyd stadium started out with a new product intro for Berik, who shook things up late last year when they signed Ricky Carmichael to use their as-yet-unavailable boots. Questions about what, where, and how much for the boots Ricky is wearing are among the most frequently asked questions we receive via the feedback on www.transworldmx.com. The short answers are you can’t get them yet, but you’ll be able to get them later this summer (around August 1st). Berik is in final negotiations with Tucker Rocky, and it looks like they’ll be handling exclusive U.S. distribution. How much? They’ll be comparably priced on the low end, and they’re aiming to be about 20% less than premium brand boots at retail for the high-end model. There are four models in all, including the Ricky Carmichael Replica OVS-Pro, OVS, Contender, and Junior Contender for kids. They’re all designed in Italy,and the top two models are constructed there, while the lower two models are made in China.

Berik’s General Manager, Sidney Ko, flew in from Hong Kong for the event, along with some of the Italian designers and Ricky Carmichael,  who stopped in to talk about the boots before heading out to the track walk. Ricky mentioned that he really likes his boots to be really flexible, and one of the features of the Carmichael Replica OVS-Pro is the use of Kangaroo leather in the flexing notches.  Berik has used the kangaroo material in road race suits, and it has received great reviews for its abrasion-resistance, flexibility, and light weight.

The Carmichael Replica boots will come packaged in a molded polycarbonate box. We’ll have more info on the boots later in the week, but for now, you can check out the photos of the individual models.

While stopping by the WBR pit area, we talked to Ryan Sipes, who’s healing up nicely after his mountain-bike-meets-tree misadventure. Ryan said, “It was solid, and didn’t move.” But then he added, “It was probably good that I hit it, though. Otherwise I’d have gone a lot further down the hill that I was crashing on.” He said that the vertebrae that he’d cracked still get tender, but he’s looking forward to the start of the national season.

Speaking of WBR, look for Joe Oehlhof to join the team as the sole big-bore rider for the nationals. He’ll be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450, and wearing TLD gear, Alpinestars boots, Dragon goggles, and getting help from Yoshimura. He’ll be keeping MB1, Hinson and Sano as sponsors, but he also wanted to thank Chuck at Team Subway Coca-Cola Honda, and his extensive list of sponsors for all their help during the Supercross season so here goes…

The list includes Subway, Coca-Cola, Honda, DGY, Answer and Pro Taper, Michelin, Pro Circuit, Gaerne, Ready Racing, Scott, Ogio, One Industries, ARC/Sunline, Storm, Plasticwerks, Frese, Stomp, Wiseco, Hot Cams and Rods, Tsubaki, Pro Wheel, Sano, Wrench Mat, Motion Pro, Billy Who, Braking, Ride Engineering, Carbon Fiber Works, UFO, Korupt, VP Fuel, VPE, IMS, Hinson…and if he missed any he’d like to apologize./

There were lots of interesting one-off graphics and uniforms last weekend, but one of the most interesting was aboard the Suzuki of Tyler Evans. The LV (Louis Vuitton, not Las Vegas) seat, custom graphics, and gold plastic were definitely cool. The good news for Tyler was that he’d locked up the Top Privateer honors in Houston. The unfortunate part was that he’d do it on the same weekend that Ricky Carmichael had clinched the 250cc crown, so much of last week’s attention was focused on RC. That’s why we fired up the recorder and asked…

What does winning the top privateer title mean to you?

This is our race win. This is our championship for the privateers. I had two goals at the beginning of the season. One was to get top privateer, and the other was to get top ten in points. I reached one of the goals last week, and hopefully I can get my other goal tonight.

I’m tenth in points, and I’ve got ten points on Preston. If I have a decent  ride tonight, I’ll be back in the top ten for the second year in a row. For a privateer, that’s pretty damn big.

Were you feeling championship pressure last week?

You know what? I got a little nervous last week to be honest. I had a really rough weekend, and 15th wasn’t the greatest ride. I got out of there with the point fund win. I was stoked on that, but it was a bad weekend.

How about the graphics for this weekend?

I’m pumped. We had to do something up right for Vegas, you know? It’s just something that we were working a couple races before this, but we didn’t want to get too excited and jinx the whole deal, you know? It’s cool. It kind of brings it back to the Deegan days when Deegan did that for Washougal in ’97 or ’98. You know…Vegas style.

So what’d you use for the Louis material on your seat?

To be honest with you, my buddy did that seat. I don’t know where they got that material. But they’re going to start making those seats. Gucci, Louis, all that. I’m a big Louis Vuitton lover.

Is being a privateer a better deal for you? Do you see yourself in a factory rig one of these days?

It is and it isn’t, you know? There are some advantages, and some disadvantages. My main thing is, I want a factory bike. That’s all I need. I don’t necessarily need to be under a factory tent with the factory people barking at you or breathing down your  throat, ‘Why are you doing this? Why aren’t you doing that?’ It’s better for me to do my own thing, and have my own people that love me and we work together good as a team. But yeah, I just want the factory bike. That’s what I want.

So what do you do with the cash you won, and the truck and trailer?

Honestly, being a privateer, I’m going to pay off the debts that I’m in right now. Hopefully, whatever money’s left is going into my race program for next year. I plan on having a couple guys, and having a semi next year. That’s what I hope will happen, and that’s my dream right now. Hopefully I can make it a reality.

Did you change up anything for this year? You look a lot more solid as a rider, while last year it looked like you were doing it purely by brute force.

I think this year I’m a lot stronger mentally. I had a a lot of things going on last year during the season that weren’t healthy as far as coming to the races. To be honest with you, I got that stuff out of my program. I’m a better person, and I’m stronger mentally as a racer, and that’d helped out a lot. I know now that if there is a bad thing that’s going on, I can get it out of my head, and when I come to the racetrack, it’s business. It’s strictly business and nothing else.

At the end of the night, Tyler finished up in 17th position, which meant he was tied with Bubba, and one point behind Travis Preston, for 11th overall on the season.

Stopping by the Suzuki pits we saw a sad sight—Sebastien Tortelli and his recently-repaired wrist, which he’d dislocated it the previous week. So far the doctors are telling him three months off before he can ride. Always positive, Sebastien said, “The good thing about it is that it’s my left wrist, so there will be no problem with the throttle.” So how did it happen? “I was practicing the Monday after Houston. Coming out of a corner I lost the back end and crashed backwards.  I was going to hit my head, so I put both hands down to try and slow down the hit. My left wrist gave out when I landed. It was the second lap of riding, just lost the back end sliding on a rock.”

Making it even more melancholy was the arrival of the custom-painted Vemar helmet that Seb was going to wear in Vegas, which was patterned after Ricky Johnson’s old Mad Dog graphics. Of course, checking out RJ’s mullet hair extensions helped lighten the mood a bunch…particularly when he busted out with the old Life’s a Beach Bad Boy Club pose.

Before the night’s racing got started, we caught up with PPG MotoworldRacing.com’s Paul Lindsey, who was getting a pizza and drink and getting ready to watch the evening’s racing. With all his riders either not qualified to ride the 125 shootout,  recuperating, or freshly injured (like Hofmaster  and Gosselaar), he was playing spectator for the evening. Things might be a little tense around the Motoworld semi during the first few rounds, since it looks like they’ll be trimming a rider based on points after the first few rounds. Chances are good that Branden Jesseman will start at with a points deficit, since he’ll probably be sitting out Hangtown as a penalty for not riding in Las Vegas. Ouch.

Flying Southwest Airlines soon? Be sure to check out the in-flight magazine, with the article on Bubba. Jeff Kardas took the photo on the intro spread.

There was only one championship left to be decided in Vegas, and Brittney George won the voting for Miss Supercross. Way to go, Brittney.

Okay, that’s it…check out the photos, and we’ll post banquet pics shortly.

. Coming out of a corner I lost the back end and crashed backwards.  I was going to hit my head, so I put both hands down to try and slow down the hit. My left wrist gave out when I landed. It was the second lap of riding, just lost the back end sliding on a rock.”

Making it even more melancholy was the arrival of the custom-painted Vemar helmet that Seb was going to wear in Vegas, which was patterned after Ricky Johnson’s old Mad Dog graphics. Of course, checking out RJ’s mullet hair extensions helped lighten the mood a bunch…particularly when he busted out with the old Life’s a Beach Bad Boy Club pose.

Before the night’s racing got started, we caught up with PPG MotoworldRacing.com’s Paul Lindsey, who was getting a pizza and drink and getting ready to watch the evening’s racing. With all his riders either not qualified to ride the 125 shootout,  recuperating, or freshly injured (like Hofmaster  and Gosselaar), he was playing spectator for the evening. Things might be a little tense around the Motoworld semi during the first few rounds, since it looks like they’ll be trimming a rider based on points after the first few rounds. Chances are good that Branden Jesseman will start at with a points deficit, since he’ll probably be sitting out Hangtown as a penalty for not riding in Las Vegas. Ouch.

Flying Southwest Airlines soon? Be sure to check out the in-flight magazine, with the article on Bubba. Jeff Kardas took the photo on the intro spread.

There was only one championship left to be decided in Vegas, and Brittney George won the voting for Miss Supercross. Way to go, Brittney.

Okay, that’s it…check out the photos, and we’ll post banquet pics shortly.