Monday Kickstart: Anaheim III & Winter X Edition

By the staff of TWMX

With a top-five finish finally under his belt, things are looking up for Team Sobe Suzuki’s Stephane Roncada. Though he was diagnosed with a relapse of his Epstein-Barr Virus, RonRon is under the watchful eye of Dr. Fagan, the same doctor who helped former 125cc National Champion Mickey Dymond deal with his bout of the same virus back in the day. “Stephane is on a strict regimen,” said his tuner Dave Feeney. “He has to stay away from certain foods, and he has to be real careful about how much rest he gets. He needs to take a nap halfway through the day, and he has to wear a heart-rate monitor any time he is doing something physical. I guess it’s when his heart rate skyrockets, that’s when the virus acts up.” Feeney also added that if they could get a break and qualify straight out of a heat race, RonRon’s main event performance would likely be better. After qualifying in the first heat, RonRon did exactly as Feeney had predicted; he lasted a lot longer than he did last week at San Francisco. Stephane has the raw speed to be a podium finisher and it shows. When he can finally get this virus kicked, expect our favorite computer geek to run at the front of the pack.

Speaking of Stephane Roncada, Sobe Suzuki team manager Roger DeCoster reports that RonRon will remain in the 250cc class, even though his earlier arrangement would see him contest the Eastern Region 125cc Championship if he wasn’t in the top five when it started. “Stephane has prepared and put a lot of effort into racing a 250,” said DeCoster. “It is not his fault that he got sick. He is doing his best to work through it, and at this point we all feel he is best serving Suzuki on a 250.”

When we joked with Dave Feeney about the Epstein-Barr Virus being contagious, he said, “No, it’s not contagious. But believe me, I won’t go drinking out of any of the same containers as Stephane, just in case!”

Two-time 250cc World Champion Mickael Pichon elected to compete at Anaheim III and looked plenty fast aboard his Corona Suzuki. Pitted underneath the SoBe Suzuki semi, Pichon came into the race with, “no expectations, only to have fun while I am in America.” It’s no secret that the Frenchman left America on bad terms a few years ago after being fired from Team Honda, but he holds no grudges. “It is exciting to be back, even if it is only for a couple races,” he said. “I have not ridden Supercross since I left, but I am surprised at how fast it came back. My sprint conditioning is not there, and in the heat race I was struggling. I was looking forward to the main event, because the pace is not as crazy, but I was forced to retire.”

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Mickael Pichon was involved in a multi-bike pile up on the first lap and he snapped the front brake lever off his RM250. “I picked my bike up and thought, ‘This is going to be a long race, starting this far back,’ but then I saw that I had no brake lever,” he said. “There was no point risking another crash and getting injured, especially because I am doing this for fun.”

We suggested that when he returns to action at San Diego next weekend, Pichon outfit his Suzuki with a set of ARC Folding Levers, just like the rest of Team Sobe Suzuki. “I know,” he said, shaking his head. “I am trying to work that out with my team right now.” To see the accessory that could have turned MP’s night around, check out www.arclevers.com.

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Check out the crazy hand-made works cone pipe that Pichon ran on his race bike. At a glance, we can count at least 25 individual cones and cannot begin to imagine the labor that goes into building one of these beauties. If Swapstrong> had one of these on his bike, he’d tip over and smash it within minutes…guaranteed!

Western Region 125cc SX Champion Travis Preston turns 25 this Thursday, February 6. Be sure to wish the Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda rider a happy birthday if you attend this weekend’s San Diego SX. Maybe TP will score his second win of the season on his birthday weekend…

SoBe Suzuki’s Danny Smith was back in action after crashing out of the program at last weekend’s San Francisco SX. “Danny cased a jump and smashed his nuts and stomach into the gas tank and handlebars,” said his mechanic, Bad Billy Felts. “He was in a lot of pain and gasping for breath when he pulled off, but you know how it is when you smash your stuff. We started to get really scared, though, when he started to get a tingling sensation in his stomach. Doc Bodnar barely pushed on his stomach when he visited the semi, and Danny about jumped through the window. Of anyone I’ve worked with, that kid can take some pain. That’s when I started to worry. It was better to be safe than sorry. Fortunately, he checked out alright, and he’s back in action.” Smith won his heat race and finished 10th in the main after a crash early in the race.

One thing we forgot to mention in last week’s installment of Monday Kickstart was the large number of riders, mechanics and industry personnel who visited Alcatraz Island while in the Bay Area. Of them all, Billy Felts had the best quote about the tour, “That place isn’t half bad,” he said. “Hell, if I had to go to jail, that’s where I would want to be holed up!”

SoBe Suzuki’s Sean Hamblin continues to look better and better aboard his factory Suzuki RM125. Hambone finished sixth at Anaheim III and sits ninth in the series points. Before you question his results, however, keep in mind that although Hamblin proved to be a hero in last year’s 250cc Nationals, this is his first true season in Supercross. The highlight of Hamblin’s season thus far has been a fourth at Phoenix, but we’re willing to bet that before this thing is done we’ll see a podium out of Sean.

Casey Lytle scored the win in the last chance qualifier and qualified for his first 250cc main event this year. A former hotshoe in the 125cc class, it was good to see Lytle make the show again. Lytle races a MXracer Magazine Yamaha YZ250 test bike with backing from Sinisalo, Ibon Designs, Gaerne and his local ReMax Realtor.

Poor Ezra Lusk. The Chevy Trucks Kawasaki rider came down with a horrible cold during the week prior to Anaheim III and struggled all weekend long. “My throat is killing me,” said Yogi. “I’m on damage control tonight.” Though Lusk looked fast, he lacked that killer aggression and settled for fifth in the main event and now sits in a tie with David Vuillemin for third in the point standings. If Lusk can finish fifth in a state of complete misery, imagine what he’ll be able to do when he gets better. Maybe it’s the magic of having Dr. H. Rey Gubernick in his corner that’s turned Yogi’s results around…

Yogi may have been under the weather, but his young teammate James Stewart was certainly on his game. Bubba scored a runaway win—his fourth of the season and second at Anaheim—and hammed it up for the crowd as he took his victory lap. If there’s anyone out there right now who knows how to work the crowd, it is certainly James. Bubba pumps the crowd up with his arms in the air and his hand cupped by his ear, much like a freestyle rider in an applause jump off. In the post race press conference, Bubba said, “This is the last time you’ll see me on a 125 in Anaheim. Next year, I’ll be on a 250.” We can’t wait…

Grant Langston had a week he would rather forget. On the Tuesday before Anaheim III, LL Cool G was practicing at the KTM track and he accidentally kicked his bike into neutral in the rhythm section. The crash that followed left Grant momentarily knocked unconscious and suffering from extreme pain in his neck. After multiple visits to Dr. G’s (see above mention of H. Rey) office for adjustments, Grant decided that he was fit to race. On Friday, Grant slipped up in a corner, dabbed his foot and tore the meniscus in his right knee. In spite of the pain, he decided to “fly the 250cc flag” for KTM and make the most of the situation. Again, Grant’s luck ran out and he was involved in a multi-bike crash at the start of his heat race. In pain and disgusted, Cool G elected to sit the rest of the event out. Knowing well that the tear inside his knee must be attended to, Grant is scheduled to undergo surgery today (Monday), to repair the damage. According to Grant’s trainer John Louch, Grant could be back in action in as little as two weeks. Get well soon, Grant.

Another rider who had a miserable week is Team Yamaha’s Tim Ferry. Though it was a hush-hush situation, it’s a fact that Red Dog suffered a big crash on Tuesday at the Yamaha test track when his bike hiccupped in a rhythm section. Timmy went over the bars hard and went to the hospital to get checked out. Meanwhile, Yamaha team technician Jason “Gothic J” Haines set to work straightening out the bike, but missed a busted throttle tube and suffered a horrendous crash when he started the bike up later with a stuck throttle. “He cut his arm up pretty good and needed seven staples,” said Ferry. “I guess the bone was showing. Chad said he almost threw up!”

Almost unbelievably, Ferry crashed hard again on Thursday and decided that it was time to try his hand at racing a two-stroke YZ250. Red Dog and his mechanic Steve Matthes passed on Friday’s practice sessions at the stadium in order to test the YZ250 at the Yamaha track. Though Ferry was reportedly a full second faster at the Yamaha test track, the Ferry that showed up at Anaheim on Saturday hardly looked as comfortable. Timmy struggled all night to adapt to the unfamiliar two-stroke, finally crashing out of the main in a tricky rhythm section. Tim spent the night in a local hospital undergoing tests to check for internal injuries, but was released with a clean bill of health on Sunday evening. No word on whether or not number 15 will be racing at San Diego. And if he shows up healthy and ready to race…no word on which bike he will be on.

This weekend, the first triple was preceded by an extra tough set of whoops that made clearing the jump difficult on a 125. During practice, several riders cased the triple severely, including Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Matt Walker, Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing’s Craig Anderson and Sobe Suzuki’s Sean Hamblin. Heck, even Bubba cased the obstacle once or twice. “I hit the whoops in fifth gear,” said Stewart. “They get really deep at the end, and it’s not cool to downshift right before it so I have to use some extra body language to get up and over.”

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When Matt Walker cased the triple during practice, he rolled through the next corner, pulled over to the side of the track and collapsed off the side of his bike. “I thought the thing was snapped, for sure,” he said. “But it turned out to be one of those things that hurts like heck for a few minutes, then gets better.” Walker taped up his wrist and went on to finish fourth in the main.

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Craig Anderson didn’t get off as easy as Walker. Like Bubba, Ando hits the whoops in fifth gear and he just didn’t ha0.” We can’t wait…

Grant Langston had a week he would rather forget. On the Tuesday before Anaheim III, LL Cool G was practicing at the KTM track and he accidentally kicked his bike into neutral in the rhythm section. The crash that followed left Grant momentarily knocked unconscious and suffering from extreme pain in his neck. After multiple visits to Dr. G’s (see above mention of H. Rey) office for adjustments, Grant decided that he was fit to race. On Friday, Grant slipped up in a corner, dabbed his foot and tore the meniscus in his right knee. In spite of the pain, he decided to “fly the 250cc flag” for KTM and make the most of the situation. Again, Grant’s luck ran out and he was involved in a multi-bike crash at the start of his heat race. In pain and disgusted, Cool G elected to sit the rest of the event out. Knowing well that the tear inside his knee must be attended to, Grant is scheduled to undergo surgery today (Monday), to repair the damage. According to Grant’s trainer John Louch, Grant could be back in action in as little as two weeks. Get well soon, Grant.

Another rider who had a miserable week is Team Yamaha’s Tim Ferry. Though it was a hush-hush situation, it’s a fact that Red Dog suffered a big crash on Tuesday at the Yamaha test track when his bike hiccupped in a rhythm section. Timmy went over the bars hard and went to the hospital to get checked out. Meanwhile, Yamaha team technician Jason “Gothic J” Haines set to work straightening out the bike, but missed a busted throttle tube and suffered a horrendous crash when he started the bike up later with a stuck throttle. “He cut his arm up pretty good and needed seven staples,” said Ferry. “I guess the bone was showing. Chad said he almost threw up!”

Almost unbelievably, Ferry crashed hard again on Thursday and decided that it was time to try his hand at racing a two-stroke YZ250. Red Dog and his mechanic Steve Matthes passed on Friday’s practice sessions at the stadium in order to test the YZ250 at the Yamaha track. Though Ferry was reportedly a full second faster at the Yamaha test track, the Ferry that showed up at Anaheim on Saturday hardly looked as comfortable. Timmy struggled all night to adapt to the unfamiliar two-stroke, finally crashing out of the main in a tricky rhythm section. Tim spent the night in a local hospital undergoing tests to check for internal injuries, but was released with a clean bill of health on Sunday evening. No word on whether or not number 15 will be racing at San Diego. And if he shows up healthy and ready to race…no word on which bike he will be on.

This weekend, the first triple was preceded by an extra tough set of whoops that made clearing the jump difficult on a 125. During practice, several riders cased the triple severely, including Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Matt Walker, Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing’s Craig Anderson and Sobe Suzuki’s Sean Hamblin. Heck, even Bubba cased the obstacle once or twice. “I hit the whoops in fifth gear,” said Stewart. “They get really deep at the end, and it’s not cool to downshift right before it so I have to use some extra body language to get up and over.”

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When Matt Walker cased the triple during practice, he rolled through the next corner, pulled over to the side of the track and collapsed off the side of his bike. “I thought the thing was snapped, for sure,” he said. “But it turned out to be one of those things that hurts like heck for a few minutes, then gets better.” Walker taped up his wrist and went on to finish fourth in the main.

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Craig Anderson didn’t get off as easy as Walker. Like Bubba, Ando hits the whoops in fifth gear and he just didn’t have the drive to clear the third jump. “I landed right on the face of the third jump,” said Anderson. “The black moulding on the bottom of my helmet left a skid mark down my front numberplate, I hit so hard.” Ando slammed his jaw into the bars and front fender so hard, that he suffered a slight, momentary dislocation of his jaw. Due to the internal swelling that followed, Ando was unable to fully close his mouth for the rest of the night. “I guess I won’t be eating any beef jerky any time soon,” joked the likable Australian. Anderson went on to finish 11th in the main. Get well, Craig!

Speaking of Craig Anderson, the Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing rider suffered a scary moment in the main event when he jumped a little too far to the right over the finish line jump and looked set to land on one of the Tuffblocks that line the track. Ando kicked his leg off the peg to help alter his path of flight, but unfortunately, he drifted right into Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda’s Chris Gosselaar. Ando saved it, but poor Lil’ Goose slammed the mat hard and retired for the night with an injured shoulder.

Did you catch last week’s Thursday Theater installment with a tour of Grant Langston’s house? If you didn’t, visit the photos.video section and check it out. If you did see it, you’ll know why lots of fans were calling Boost Mobile/Yamaha/Troy Racing’s Josh Hansen “Spiderman” this weekend. “Aw man, that video is a bad deal,” joked Lil’ Hany. “All day, people have been coming up to be and calling me Spidey.”

Team Mach 1 Yamaha’s Nick Wey suffered a broken big toe when he crashed in the whoops during the main event with Mike LaRocco. For Iron Mike, the crash with Nyk was his second of the race, as he tangled earlier in the race with Sebastien Tortelli. After his second spill, LaRocco pulled over to have his twisted front end straightened in the mechanics’ area, but eventually elected to pullout all together. “I hit my shoulder pretty good,” said LaRocco. “It didn’t come out of socket or anything, but it felt a little weird and I didn’t want to continue and risk having it come out.”

Anyone who was on hand at Anaheim, however, will agree that LaRocco’s two main event crashes were nothing compared to the spectacular one he had with Chad Reed on the last lap of their heat race. LaRocco dove to the inside with hopes of block-passing Reed, but the Yamaha rider carried too much speed out of the corner and LaRocco slammed the swingarm of Reed’s bike. The incredible impact sent LaRocco backflipping off his bike, while Reed abandoned ship in the air and rolled the windows down. TransWorld Motocross contributor and ace photographer Jeff “Kardy” Kardas nailed the crash from the Subway MX luxury suite. Check out the sequence below:

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Incredibly, Reed remounted quick enough to win the heat race, while LaRocco finished fifth and headed for the semis. The two exchanged heated words after the checkered flag, and on the podium Reed reported that he’d said to LaRocco: “You’re 30 years old! What are you doing making moves like that in a heat race?” Though it looked like LaRocco had some choice words for Reed, he showed up on the podium after winning his semi and admitted that, “it was my fault. I didn’t expect him to come out of the corner that hot and it was my mistake.”

After the crash, Chad Reed headed to the Asterisk Mobile Medic Center to get his toe checked out. “I thought it got cut off when he hit me,” said Reed. “I’ll have to thank Mike for that.”

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Red Bull/KTM’s Josh Woods was riding the race of his career in the 125cc main event, but the second set of whoops caught the teena