For the first time in many years, the Southwick National was rescheduled to a later date: August. Typically, though, Southwick is held near the beginning of the outdoor season when the weather seems to be at its hottest, making this race one of the toughest of the year. However, Southwick wasn't the only track moved to later date when weather conditions would be more favorable; Glen Helen Raceway, which has been the closer of the outdoor Nationals for several years, was moved from early September to mid-May when the SoCal weather is still tolerable for a National. It seems as though moving Southwick to August was a success as the temperatures were only into the mid 80s.
As for the track itself, the opening laps of both Saturday's and Sunday's timed practice sessions was a freeway. "There were 10 guys who are usually not up front in practice were," said Ryan Villopoto about the smooth track conditions during Sunday's time practice sessions. "It was difficult to make up any time because everybody was running right around the same speed," continued RV2. As the day progressed, however, the track would become rougher and rougher, putting riders endurance to the test and separating the men from the boys.
After the completion of the first set of motos, the Southwick crew spent some time smoothing out several sections of the track for the second motos. "I'd rather see them leave the track how it is because we train for rough conditions every week," says Villopoto, who seemed the most vocal about the Southwick track. "However, I know parts of the track can become really dangerous so I do think it was good that they smoothed out some sections of the track."
Red Bull Honda's Andrew Short was a fan of the track: "I really like the track, I just wish it was rougher," said Shorty when we asked him his thoughts on the weekend.
Geico Powersports Honda's Josh Grant was the fastest man in the Lites division during Saturday's timed practice sessions. Grant was a second faster than Ryan Dungey and two seconds faster than RV2. On Sunday, JG20 was once again the fastest man on the track, running just under the two-minute mark. However, Grant ran into some bad luck with only a few laps left in the second practice session when he went down on a high-speed section of the track. When Josh did attempt getting up, he only made it a few feet before he collapsed on top of some track banners. The Honda pilot was carted off the track and sent to a local hospital for examination. Last we heard JG20 had a possible fractured hip. We'll keep you posted on Grant's condition as we hear more.
It seemed as though many riders were dropping like flies on Sunday. Josh Grant was the rider to hit the deck hard enough to knock him out of the racing action. Fellow Lites rider MDK/KTM's Michael Hall suffered a severe get off in the second moto while he was running just outside of the top five. Hall was down for a while before getting with the help of the Asterisk medic crew. In the second Motocross moto, Jacob Marsack went down at the bottom of a high-speed tabletop type jump. Marsack looked to be okay, however, he did not rejoin the race.
Yamaha of Troy has been having what could be classified as a crappy outdoor season. Though YoT came into the first round of the outdoor season with a almost full semi: Jason Lawrence, Zach Osborne, and Tyler Bowers (Ryan Morias was still recovering an illness), all of the said riders are no longer a part of the racing action. J-Law 's season was cut short for unacceptable behavior, Osborne left to go racing in Europe, Tyler Bowers tweaked his knee at Freestone and then snapped his wrist not too long ago while trying to make a comeback for the last several Nationals, and Morais did return, only to once again go back onto the disabled list. Ross Maeda, from Enzo, told us that Mo is suffering from an infection that may be Staph. As many know, Mike Brown was brought on to the Troy Racing team at Thunder Valley; however, Brown was on a race-to-race contract and was recently offered a ride for some Enduro races.
With all of their riders M.I.A., the guys at YoT were approached by Ryan Hughes to take a look at a Canadian rider, Jeremy Medaglia. Troy Racing liked what the saw in Medaglia and offered the 18-year-old a deal for the last two races of the season. Jeremy ran inside the top 10 for a majority of the first Lites moto before making a costly mistake on the last lap, which dropped him to 15th. In the second, however, Medaglia was just edged out by Ryan Villopoto for the holeshot. Unfortunately, the Yamaha pilot ran into some mechanical issues and his second moto endeavors were cut short.
Okay, Jeremy, tell us a little bit about yourself and your racing background in Canada.
Well, my name is Jeremy Medaglia, and I turned 18 this year. I've been racing the Canadian Nationals and things were going good with that, but I've had some bad luck. At one race I was running second for a while, trying to catch the leader, but my stator went out. I also had a DNF because my bike blew up, and my brake cable also broke at one race. However, I finally won my last race and that's when I was approached by Yamaha of Troy to come over here and race. I flew to the States, and I've been riding and training with Ryan Hughes. He's been helping me out a lot, and he's a great person to be working with. Now we're at Southwick, trying to get the job done.
How did you get set up with Ryno?
Suzuki of Canada actually helped me out with that. He came down to our house for a couple of days to ride and train with us during our Nationals. Since then, Ryno and I have been in contact ever since.
Therefore he was able to help you get a deal worked out with YoT?
For sure! He knows these guys and obviously Ryan Hughes is a big name in motocross. Ryno spoke with some people down here and then he spoke to me about coming to the states to race; of course I wanted to race in America because this is where everybody wants to be. I'm stoked to be having this opportunity, and Ryno has been helping out a lot.
Have you had much time on the bike?
I flew to the States on the Tuesday before the race, so I rode on Wednesday and Thursday before flying to Southwick and yesterday was our first day of practice at this track.
How's the bike working for you so far?
Good, good. Yesterday I was 17th fastest, which was all right. Everybody is so close; it's like a millisecond difference between 17th and ninth. I was 17th fastest again today, so I am hoping for a good start and a consistent ride.
What are your thoughts on this Southwick track? Is there anything similar to this in Canada?
Yeah, we have a track back home called Gopher Dunes; it's pretty rough and almost as bad as this, but I'm having a lot of fun on this track.
What's been the biggest difference between the Canadian riders and the American riders?
Oh speed, for sure! There is a ton of talent here. There are a lot of good riders in Canada too, but only the top six of seven guys are going fast, but down here the top 20 are flying.
Are you going to be attending Steel City next weekend?
Yeah! I'm looking forward to it.
Is there any chance we'll see you back here for the 2009 season?
I don't know. We'll see how things go with these guys (Yamaha of Troy) and you never know. Anything can happen. I would love to race a full season in America. That's what I've always wanted to do, so we'll see what happens.
You were riding a Suzuki in Canada; was it difficult to get adjusted to the Yamaha?
Nah. It didn't take me too long to get adjusted to this bike. The only big difference is the power. This Yamaha has a ton of power and the suspension is a little better. Don't get me wrong, my Suzuki was good, but it's an entirely different level down here.
Southwick is the only "real" sand track on the Outdoor National circuit and though it has a hard base, tire selection was extremely important. Shortly before the start of the first Motocross moto we noticed a few mechanics pointing and starting at Cody Cooper's rear tire. We decided to see what all the fuss was about and this is what we saw when spotted Cody's rear tire. It looked like Pirelli Scorpion sand tire and it did its job as the New Zealand rider went on to finish second overall on the day.
Red Bull Honda, similar to Factory Yamaha and Yamaha of Troy, has been riddled with injuries. However, joining Andrew Short was Ivan Tedesco, who was back from injury. Honda also brought over MX1 contender, Marc De Reuver (who rode Ben Townley's bike) to join Hot Sauce and Shorty at Southwick. De Reuver quickly established himself as a top threat for a podium finish when he set the second fastest time of the day on Saturday, only a second off of James Stewart's best lap. Come Sunday, De Reuver was able to repeat his Saturday times and again hold down the second fastest lap time of the day.
De Reuver looked like he may just be the next rider since Cody Cooper to challenge Stewart. However, in the first moto the Marc didn't get the best of starts, but he was able to work his way into third place by the time the checkered flag came out. In the second moto, De Reuver was unable to get off the line any better, and he wasn't able to work through the field as easily as he did in the first moto. Eventually, the Honda rider would crash and then pull off the track. "I was just too tired; I couldn't go anymore," admitted De Reuver after the second moto.
We caught up with the MX1 rider on Saturday to chat about his thoughts on American motocross and how the opportunity to come race in the states came about:
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
First off, my name is Marc De Reuver, I'm 25 years old, and I come from the Netherlands, Amsterdam to be exact. I am currently living in Belgium, and I race in the MX1 championships for Honda.
How's the MX1 class been treating you?
It has had its ups and downs. I broke my foot five weeks ago, so I missed the GP. I've had a few mechanical issues, and I got disqualified once for a stupid reason, too.
How did your deal to come race Southwick for Red Bull Honda come about?
Oh, well, when the schedule came out for the races, I saw that I would have two weeks off and this happened to be one of those weekends I'd have off. I didn't waste much time making arrangements to come over here. That's about it.
Thus far, how has your experience at Southwick been?
Good. I made a mistake in the second practice. I guess they come out with a flag that signals the beginning of timed practice, and I was waiting to see that flag but I never saw so it. I ended up cruising around. I did put in one fast lap, however, and I guess that was enough to give me the second fastest practice time.
Any chances we'll see you next year in the states?
Only if works with my schedule. I'd like to come back, but only if I'm able to.
You are only a second off James Stewart's times today in practice, which isn't too bad. What are you feelings on Stewart?
What can I say about James? He's fast; that's all there is to say about him… He's really fast (laughs).
How's the bike you're on this weekend compared to what you ride back home?
It's close to the same. The bike I'm on this weekend has a lot of power, though. Oh, and it's really aggressive. We had to tone it down a bit because it was a bit too much for me (laughs).
In the world of WMA racing, Jessica Patterson was able to make it a clean sweep this weekend, going 1-1. Behind Patterson was current WMA series points leader Ashley Fiolek, who rode consistent race for second place overall. "Saturday the track was really rough," said Fiolek when we asked her about the track. "Sunday the track was pretty good, but it got really slick." With one round remaining, AF67 holds a comfortable 28-point lead over Patterson. JP will need some luck to help her successfully defend her number one place.
We know you're a sand girl since you hail from Florida, but how does this track compare to what you normally ride on?
The sand here is definitely a lot different than the sand I ride on back home. Even so, it was really good and not as rough as I was expecting it to be.
As far as the championship goes, what are your plans? You still have a chance, but you'll need some luck.
Yeah. I had a couple of rough races throughout the year, but it seems like I've been putting it together in the later stages of the season. I've only had one crappy year out of the last five, so I can't complain too much. I plan on riding a smart race next weekend and do what I can.
Fiolek will be attending some races overseas this year, is there any chance you may be doing the same?
I've done it before in the past. The next time I do that, I plan on taking my own bike. That's the biggest thing, if I do decide to do some races in Europe; I want to ride on own bike. We'll see what happens.
Heading into Steel City, do you have any type of game plan?
I'm not sure (laughs). I definitely have my work cut out for me, and I'm sure there will be some good racing. Anything can happen, however. I'm excited, though. We will have both of our motos on Saturday, so everybody will be able to watch us race. Being able to race in front of such a big crowd will help us to gain more exposure. I believe we're racing in between the first motos, so it'll be a lot of fun.
Kyle Cunningham has been having an up and down summer, though, he has proved more then once that he's capable of finishing inside the top five. Cunningham started off the season on a BTO Sports Honda, although the team was only competing in the first five outdoors. After that, Kyle was left to do things out of his pickup truck – just him and his father. However, KC58 was receiving support from the guys at Wonder Warthog Racing. This weekend, though, Cunningham was aboard his new ride with Motosports Xtreme Kawasaki. KC would go 19-6 for 11th overall on the day.
While we were in the Red Bull Honda pits, we noticed that the 702 bike of Jimmy Albertson was nowhere to be found. We asked Craig Behl if Albertson would be racing this weekend, and he informed us that Albertson would not be attending Southwick. Apparently Jimmy is still recovering from his crash, which happened a week prior to Millville; however, the word on the street is that Albee will be ready for Steel City next weekend.
That's about all we have from Southwick. Be sure to check back on Wednesday for some fresh Wednesday Wallpapers. We'll see you at Steel City this weekend.