We hate to be bringing you Monday Kickstart so late in the day, heck on the east coast it is almost Tuesday! Unfortunately, though, we got sidetracked a little bit this morning with a quick trip to the Yamaha Supercross test track here in SoCal where we spent the morning hanging out with Josh Hill and watching the other boys in blue—although in Jason Lawrence’s case he’s still sporting his Rockstar gear—get ready for the upcoming SX season. Oh yeah, and of course there was the flat tire on the normally trustworthy TWMX-mobile that caused an unscheduled trip to the tire shop. Even though we hate making excuses, we just had one of those days. So now, without any further ado, we bring you Monday Kickstart…
If you’re an avid reader of TWMX.com then you probably already know, but we’ll throw it out there anyways since in the ultra-competitive world of professional motocross, it’s pretty unbelievable that all five of the major manufactures’ Supercross test tracks are located within just a few miles of each other. If you take Kawasaki out of that equation, the other four are practically a stones-throw away from one another, and at this time of year, the test facilities start to bustle with activity, as full factory and factory-supported teams get valuable seat time in preparation for the upcoming season.
As we mentioned, we spent the better part of our morning watching Yamaha’s newest factory rider—and their first Lites class factory rider since the mid-’90s when Kevin Windham rode for the blue squad—Josh Hill, practice at the Yamaha facility. As the young Washington native explained to us, although he’s spent considerable time practicing on Supercross-style tracks during his amateur career, the 2007 season will mark his first actual race on the challenging courses. Josh definitely looked comfortable on the track, even showing some different lines to some of the Yamaha of Troy riders as he tackled a tricky triple-triple section. The decision is not yet finalized, but Josh said he hopes to be riding the West Coast Lites series, and although he has not set any specific goals for his first Supercross season, he said it would be good to run up front and do battle with newly-crowned Lites National Champion, Ryan Villopoto.
Josh was certainly not the only rider out practicing today. With a quick drive past the KTM track we also saw Mike Alessi and Josh Hansen aboard the new 2007 Katooms. While across the way at the Honda compound, David Vuillemin was getting comfortable on his new MDK/Honda CRF450R. Also looking fast at the Yamaha track was the newest member of the Yamaha of Troy team, Jason Lawrence. Kyle Cunningham was also seen running a YoT ride this morning.
All of the rider changes and new riders this time of year can start to get confusing, so here’s a quick list of the confirmed, rumored and suspected changes we’ll see in 2007 (so far):
- Rider – New Ride
- Andrew McFarlane – Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki
- Branden Jesseman – Motoworld/PPG/Yamaha
- Brett Metcalfe – Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
- Brock Hepler – Factory Yamaha
- Chad Reed – L&M Racing/Yamaha
- David Vuillemin – MDK/Honda
- Grant Langston – Factory Yamaha
- Jason Lawrence – Yamaha of Troy
- Kelly Smith – Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki
- Kyle Cunningham – Yamaha of Troy
- Nathan Ramsey – L&M Racing/Yamaha
- Ryan Morais – Yamaha of Troy
- Tim Ferry – Factory Kawasaki
- Trey Canard – Sobe/No Fear/Samsung/Honda
- Troy Adams – Rockstar/WBR/Suzuki
Unfortunately, the Rockstar/Bill’s Pipes/Suzuki team will not be fielding any riders in 2007, as they are officially closing up shop on the race team. Rockstar instead will be teaming up with the WBR/Suzuki team as the only Suzuki support team for tthis coming year.
Supercross testing isn’t the only thing going on in the world of motocross lately. This weekend, our bud, Bryan Buchanan (www.buchananphoto.com) was in Pomona for the LG Action Sports Championship, and he brought us this quick recap of the FMX competition:
Nate Adams took his fourth gold medal this past Saturday, beating out the likes of Dustin Miller, Matt Buyten, Miles Richmond, and a number of other big names in FMX. Last minute course changes, strong winds, and a tricky six-pack section made for a fierce contest, as the packed crowd witnessed some of the best riders dig deep to put a run together. In the end, it was Adams on top, followed by Mike Mason, and Beau Bamburg taking third.
In other FMX news, the Second Annual Sobe/No Fear Chris Ackerman Poker Tournament was held at the Lake Elsinore Casino on Saturday night, and the biggest stars in freestyle, along with a bunch of fans turned out to support Chris. The night started with a freestyle demo right outside the front doors of the casino. Cameron Steele and Brian Deegan emceed as Nate Adams, Matt Buyten, Ox, Jimmy Fitzpatrick and a legion of other freestyle pros threw some big tricks—including the always crowd-pleasing backflip—over a 75-foot gap constructed over the No Fear armored car and bus. While all the riders walked away without injury, the No Fear bus wasn’t so lucky, as the front window was smashed-in by the landing ramp that was placed just a bit too close for comfort.
Before and after the demo, supporters on hand bid in a silent auction for a pair of Nate Adams’ Alpinestars, signed jerseys, and lots of other killer swag. For us, the highlight of the evening was actually the poker tournament. Why, you ask? Well, for one, it was cool to see so many people pack into the Lake Elsinore Casino to support Chris. But a real highlight was seeing surprise guest Ernesto Fonseca belly-up to the poker table and get in on the action. From the looks of things, Ernesto takes his poker seriously.
All proceeds from the auction and poker tournament go to the Ackerman Foundation. If you are not familiar with Chris’ injury and the incredible story of how the FMX community has rallied to support him, check out www.chrisackerman.com to learn more.