First overall AMA MX title ever for KTM, bit of ‘poetic justice’ served at Delmont, Pa., this past Sunday as Langston secures ’03 title with amazing second moto race at Scott USA Steel City National — the site of his unforgettable ’01 125cc title loss
FLORENCE, Ky., (Sept. 4, 2003) — Team KTM/Red Bull/Thor’s Grant Langston has done something no other rider in the history of the sport of motocross has done — won both the coveted European GP 125cc overall title (2000) as well as the prestigious AMA/Chevy Trucks U.S. Motocross Championship 125cc title, which he captured last weekend at Steel City after the final round (Troy) was cancelled on Tuesday. In addition, Langston, from South Africa, has become the first international rider to ever win an American 125cc overall title.
“I can’t being to explain what a relief this is,” said Langston. “This is a delayed reward for 2001.”
Langston showed his true “Zulu Warrior” spirit during the Outdoor Nationals this summer. While other riders were receiving a great deal of attention concerning the injuries they were battling, Langston entered the season with a number of high-level injuries from the supercross season and soldiered on with a brilliant race strategy despite being in a great deal of pain before the gate even dropped on Glen Helen.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be as quick this year as I was in 2001,” said Langston. “So from the onset I tried to develop a level of consistency with my racing that was unlike the ‘win at any cost’ way I raced in ’01. With my injuries I knew I wouldn’t be able to podium every race. So I fought for every position, knowing a point here and a point there would surely pay off in the end. And it did.”
Among Langston’s more serious injuries that he dealt with was a broken navicular (Phoenix SX), which was misdiagnosed and became infected during the supercross season – the end result being surgery (following the Atlanta SX), pins and a number of missed races. Langston also damaged his knee at Anaheim 1 and had knee surgery right after Anaheim 3. In addition, Langston rode the entire summer with a broken bone in his hand opposite the pinned navicular-injured hand, to which he was always had to ride through a great deal of pain with that as well.
Langston also had what motocross legend and ESPN announcer David Bailey called “the worst case I’ve ever seen” in a practice session at Minneapolis. The results was some horrible bruising that understandably put Langston back on the sidelines.
And if all these injuries weren’t enough, to make matters worse, Langston was involved in that multi-bike pileup at Washougal at aggravated his navicular injury. So heading into the last four races of the season, Langston was in bad shape physically.
But at the young age of 21 and already possessing a World Championship, Langston continued to shine in the 125cc class, finishing in the top five in each of the last four rounds to secure the overall title and cementing his legacy as a champion with his amazing second place finish in what was to be the final moto of the season.
“I guess there’s not the same emotion as if I’d crossed the finish line and won the title, like if there’d been a final moto,” said Langston of the season getting cut short by one race due to flooding at Troy. “But this has been one of my goals, to come here and win the American title. I just turned 21 and now I have a GP title, I’ve been the King of Bercy and now an American title.
“I’ve got ten to 11 good years of racing still in me, so next up is the American 250 motocross title,” he added.
Wrapping things up, Langston was sure to mention the help he received from his family and team at KTM. “My mom and dad, uncle Andrew (Langston), my mechanic Mike Williamson, obviously Larry Brooks, who’s one of the best team managers I’ve ever worked with, Layton Ric and Dudley Cramond — who built my motors and, especially, Kurt Nicoll — who’s believed in me from the beginning aand stuck with me through thick and thin,” said Langston. “Thanks to everybody!”
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