Monday Kickstart:
Sheffield, Red Bull Ride to the Hills, Villopoto Named Rookie of the Year

This weekend saw the first of two European Supercross races that often feature several US-based riders. Riders often use the Sheffield and Bercy Supercross events as a warm-up for the start of the AMA Supercross series. Once again Mike Alessi ran the Sheffield SX, where he was joined by Jason Thomas and David Vuillemin. Our pal, Rob Grist, was in Sheffield to cover the race, and he sent us this race report and photos:

This Saturday, the 28th of October saw the tenth annual running of the Sheffield super cross in the UK. Over the years the event has attracted top names including the great Jeremy McGrath. Showtime was due to make a final appearance in Sheffield this year but unfortunately due to the injury that he sustained at his own invitational event he was unable to make it. However the USA was still represented by the steady riding Jason Thomas and Mike Alessi, and US based Frenchman David Vuillemin was also on the entry list.

The track at Sheffield is strictly arena-style with very tight turns and short straights with a mix of rhythm sections and a whoops section that collected casualties from morning practice onwards.

The afternoon session is the first chance to take a look at the pros during their practice laps, and Mike Alessi in particular had the track dialed in pretty fast, setting some very quick lap times.

The evening kicked off with amateur youth racing, followed by the first pro semi. The number of riders in the UK is nowhere near as big as it is in the states, yielding only a twelve-man gate. This did not detract from the intensity of the racing in any way, though. Mike Alessi made it look too easy in his semi, it�s easy to lose track of the fact that this kid is still only eighteen; he seems to have been around a lot longer. Mike was easily the fastest man through the whoops all night. Mike rode in the Lites class, and his nearest rival was Canadian Colton Facciotti who also made it safely through his semi into the main.

In the open class, Britain’s hopes were with GP rider Billy Mackenzie, but he was no match for US-based stars Jason Thomas and David Vuillemin, who cruised into the main. The Brits don�t ride nearly as much Supercross as the guys from the states, and this was evident, as none seemed to be able to match the pace of Thomas and DV.

The Lites main was the first final of the night, and Alessi gave a lesson in technical riding skills; Mike’s technique through the whoops left the crowd in awe. In fact there was one section of track at the end of the rhythm section, a tight hairpin, where Mike literally torpedoed the bike into every lap and here alone he made what seemed like a half a second per lap on the other riders. In the end, Mike’s only worry was being taken down by a lapper, but after a couple of hairy moments he rode home to easily win with Canadian Colton Facciotti second, and South African Neville Bradshaw in third.

�The track was good, the Dirt Wurx guys did a great job and I had a fun time out here. I got the holeshot and checked out, lappers kinda got in the way but I just tried to ride smart. I ended up winning by eighteen seconds and that�s kinda good here cause the laps only 26 seconds long. Colton (Facciotti) rode great and so did Neville (Bradshaw) now I�m going home and getting ready for Bercy,� said Mike Alessi after the race.

Lites Class Results:
1. Mike Alessi (USA)
2. Colton Facciotti (Canada)
3. Neville Bradshaw (South Africa)

There was more of a fight for the top spot in the Open class as David Vuillemin and Jason Thomas battled it out until DV eventually pulled away for a relatively easy victory. A tight start produced a first turn four bike pile-up, but luckily for DV he was too quick to be involved and like Alessi inhe Lites class, he pulled away and demonstrated great bike control and technique. Vuillemin’s only real threat was Jason Thomas but even he couldn�t match the Frenchman’s pace and David went on to easily win a relatively comfortable race. When it was all over, DV rode one of his famous goon laps, which the Sheffield crowd loved.

Open Class Results:
1. David Vuillemin (France)
2. Jason Thomas (USA)
3. Gordon Crockard (Ireland)

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Last week�s Red Bull Ride To The Hills event ended a bit prematurely, around midday on Friday, thanks to howling winds at the designated �last stop� of the contest in Glamis, California. Though the riders were able to find one jump on Friday morning that was going �with� the wind, (a 120-foot step-down) after a brief rider�s meeting it was determined that the event must be cut short because of the weather. The early conclusion was a shame, too, because it made Ride To The Hills almost a one-stop contest: Ocotillo Wells was the only locale where enough jumps were found to dub it a legit day of freeriding. The Glamis leg consisted of just one jump line that was found on Thursday evening, along with the step-down from Friday.

Another bummer about the windy conditions was that it didn�t give Josh Grant much of an opportunity to jump or ride with the others. A last-minute addition, Grant rolled his motor home out to the dunes for a bit of a �Halloween� vacation, yet at the same time agreed to go jumping with the boys. Still, Grant stuck around long enough to throw down some of his patented heel clickers off the big step-down.

One of the coolest aspects about the Ride To The Hills contest is that the winner is determined by the riders themselves, all but eliminating any complaints about skewed judging or favoritism. Although all of the riders put on a great show, especially considering the circumstances, in the end it was Ronnie Renner taking the Golden Shovel Award. Renner put together solid lines everywhere he went, whether it was in the sand at Glamis or the hard-packed mudhills of Ocotillo Wells. Here�s how the event broke down, by day and overall:

Days 1&2 Results: Ocotillo Wells, CA

  1. Ronnie Renner
  2. Matt Buyten
  3. Todd Potter

Days 3&4 Results: Glamis, CA

  1. Mike Mason
  2. Matt Buyten
  3. Ronnie Renner

Red Bull Ride To The Hills Overall Winners

  1. Ronnie Renner
  2. Matt Buyten
  3. Nate Adams

Ride To The Hills is a major production, and it takes a long list of people to make the event happen. One of these �behind-the-scenes� personalities was pro FMX rider Jeff Tilton. Because Tilton knows both the hills of Ocotillo Wells and the sand dunes of Glamis like the back of his hand, he became something of a rider liaison, helping everyone find new jumps and communicate with the camera crews.

Of course, Tilt�s best friend and business partner Tommy Clowers was also on hand for Ride To The Hills, though Tomcat was actually competing in the event. Clowers was extremely impressive, especially at Ocotillo Wells, and found a line that intimidated some of the best freeriders in the world.

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The AMA announced the 2006 AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year last week, and it was no surprise to see Ryan Villopoto take home the top rookie honors. Villopoto won a Supercross Lites race, took home the Motocross championship convincingly, and was on the championship Team USA Motocross of Nations team. Here is a release from the AMA, along with some comments from RV:

The AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year also rides for Kawasaki. Ryan Villopoto won the AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year on the strength of winning the 2006 AMA Toyota Motocross Lites Championship. He also finished third in the Amp�d Mobile AMA Supercross Lites West Series. In addition, Villopoto was part of the winning Team USA Motocross of Nations squad.

Villopoto captured his Motocross Lites Championship with a convincing 1-1 victory in the final round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF Sunday at Glen Helen Raceway Park near San Bernardino, Calif., in September. That victory was the sixth of the year for the 18-year-old from Poulsbo, Wash., who rides for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team.

Villopoto also won a round of the AMA Supercross Lites West Series at Texas Stadium in April.

�I�ll never forget this season,� Villopoto said. �It started out with some ups and downs, but ending the year winning a motocross championship and then the Motocross of Nations with Ivan and James was better than I could have hoped for.�

Earning the Rookie of the Year Award is just the latest accolade for Villopoto. He was also the AMA Horizon Award winner in 2005, presented annually by AMA Sports to the individuals who have been selected as the most outstanding rider in AMA amateur competition.

Villopoto is planning on racing in the Lites division in both Supercross and Motocross in 2007. He hopes to add a Supercross title to his name and plans on defending his motocross championship.

Villopoto puts his name alongside a prestigious list of those who�ve won the Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year Award including riders such as James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Kevin Windham.

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In another big announcement today, the AMA made public the best television package the sport was seen. MX fans have long been used to second-hand coverage of events, often being bumped by networks that preferred to show always-exciting lumberjack competitions and competitive gymnastics instead of SX or MX races. It looks like that may be starting to change, however, as CBS and SPEED are working with the AMA and Live Nation to bring 34 hours of television programming for the ’07 Supercross season, including a season preview show in December, an end-of-season recap show, and two live broadcasts.

Last year the season finale in Las Vegas was broadcast live, and apparently the success of that program has encourage SPEED to repeat the live Vegas performance this year, as well as live coverage of Anaheim 1. The remaining SX races will have next-day coverage on CBS and SPEED.

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Finally, another reminder to submit your entry for the DVS Moto Mouth Contest to have a chance at winning a brand new 2006 Honda CRF250R, complete with DVS graphics and tons of aftermarket parts. Check out www.transworldmotocross.com/mx/contest for more info, and if you haven’t already seen it, CLICK HERE to check out our Moto Mouth video from the US Open.

he AMA Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year on the strength of winning the 2006 AMA Toyota Motocross Lites Championship. He also finished third in the Amp�d Mobile AMA Supercross Lites West Series. In addition, Villopoto was part of the winning Team USA Motocross of Nations squad.

Villopoto captured his Motocross Lites Championship with a convincing 1-1 victory in the final round of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF Sunday at Glen Helen Raceway Park near San Bernardino, Calif., in September. That victory was the sixth of the year for the 18-year-old from Poulsbo, Wash., who rides for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team.

Villopoto also won a round of the AMA Supercross Lites West Series at Texas Stadium in April.

�I�ll never forget this season,� Villopoto said. �It started out with some ups and downs, but ending the year winning a motocross championship and then the Motocross of Nations with Ivan and James was better than I could have hoped for.�

Earning the Rookie of the Year Award is just the latest accolade for Villopoto. He was also the AMA Horizon Award winner in 2005, presented annually by AMA Sports to the individuals who have been selected as the most outstanding rider in AMA amateur competition.

Villopoto is planning on racing in the Lites division in both Supercross and Motocross in 2007. He hopes to add a Supercross title to his name and plans on defending his motocross championship.

Villopoto puts his name alongside a prestigious list of those who�ve won the Supercross/Motocross Rookie of the Year Award including riders such as James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana and Kevin Windham.

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In another big announcement today, the AMA made public the best television package the sport was seen. MX fans have long been used to second-hand coverage of events, often being bumped by networks that preferred to show always-exciting lumberjack competitions and competitive gymnastics instead of SX or MX races. It looks like that may be starting to change, however, as CBS and SPEED are working with the AMA and Live Nation to bring 34 hours of television programming for the ’07 Supercross season, including a season preview show in December, an end-of-season recap show, and two live broadcasts.

Last year the season finale in Las Vegas was broadcast live, and apparently the success of that program has encourage SPEED to repeat the live Vegas performance this year, as well as live coverage of Anaheim 1. The remaining SX races will have next-day coverage on CBS and SPEED.

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Finally, another reminder to submit your entry for the DVS Moto Mouth Contest to have a chance at winning a brand new 2006 Honda CRF250R, complete with DVS graphics and tons of aftermarket parts. Check out www.transworldmotocross.com/mx/contest for more info, and if you haven’t already seen it, CLICK HERE to check out our Moto Mouth video from the US Open.