Monday Kickstart: Team Yamaha, Broc Hepler Interview, Arenacross Results…

Get up-to-speed on everything that’s going on in the world of motocross…

Ricky Carmichael won his fifth AMA Pro Racing SPEED Athlete of the Year award at the 32nd Annual AMA Pro Racing Championship Banquet last night in Las Vegas. Adding to his lineup of impressive records, RC has won the award more times than any other rider in AMA history. Other riders nominated for the award included Ben Spies, the 2006 AMA Superbike Champion, and Ryan Villopoto. Click HERE to read the full press release.

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Yamaha held a big media event last week to introduce the Yamaha team members from all the various motor sports disciplines they are involved in. Everyone from Superbike, to Snowmobile, to motocross was represented. It really isn’t news anymore, as most everyone that follows MX knows that Grant Langston, Broc Hepler, and Josh Hill make up Yamaha’s factory SX/MX lineup. Langston will be representing Yamaha in the Supercross class, while Hepler and Hill will be competing in the Lites. As of last week, both Broc and Josh said Yamaha had not yet decided which coasts they will be riding.

Although they are no longer technically under the factory tent, Yamaha made it clear that Chad Reed’s new Supercross-only team—L&M Racing—has strong ties to ol’ blue. Chad and his new teammate Nathan Ramsey, along with L&M team manager Larry Brooks were on-hand for the press introduction as well.

In addition to the racers, it was cool to see Yamaha show strong support for their sponsored freestyle riders by asking them to not only attend the introduction, but to put on a FMX demo as well. Jeff Tilton, Tommy Clowers, and Nate Adams wowed the press—as well as quite a few Yamaha employees that skipped their lunch break to watch the demo—with the usual lineup of freestyle tricks. Before the riders hit the ramp, a Yamaha executive announced to the crowd that due to insurance restrictions at the Yamaha compound, the riders would not be able to do any backflips. That didn’t hold them back, however, as in true FMX spirit, Nate Adams pulled several backflips, including a cordova flip, to the cheers of the onlookers. Not to be outdone, Yamaha’s snowmobile rider, Jimmy Blaze, pulled off a jaw-dropping backflip aboard his 450-plus pound snowmobile.

The media day was cool, but the real highlight last week was the next day when we were able to sit-in on the Supercross team photo shoot at Competitive Edge MX Park’s supercross track. We made the early morning trek up to Comp Edge to watch Chad, Nathan, Grant, Broc, and Josh put on their best moves for the cameras. Be sure to check out the photos and video we brought back. Click HERE for the photo gallery. For the video, click HERE.

Broc Hepler has gone from one factory rig (Makita Suzuki) to another (Yamaha). We sat down with the young Lites pilot to learn more about the team change and his preparations and expectations for 2007…

I guess the thing that is obviously on everyone’s mind is the move from factory Suzuki to Yamaha. Tell us about the change.

I think it’s going to be great to be on Yamaha. I’ve been out in California now for a week and we’ve done some testing. We’ve made good progress already, and it looks like I should be able to get some wins.

What exactly was the reason for the move? Was it just that your contract expired?

My Suzuki contract was up, and I think sometimes you just neechange. I’m looking forward to having new mechanics and a new manager. I’m just excited to go out there and prove myself to my new team.

There was talk last year about people having trouble with the RM-Z250. You won on the bike three times in the outdoors, so you didn’t seem to have too much trouble with it. Did you experience any of the problems people were talking about?

I think they had my Suzuki running as good as they could. Some of the other manufacturers had newer style bikes out, but we did the best we could with what we had. I did win three races with it, and I only did nine races last year, so I won a third of them. I think that’s pretty good.

As you pointed out, you only ran nine races last year. After coming back from injury you put together a string of three wins and several other podium finishes. Do you feel with a full season you could have beat out Villopoto for the championship?

It’s really hard to tell. He had some bad races, and the nine races I was in I won three, and had two other podiums, but I had a couple bad finishes too. It would have been fun to see where I would have been at, but you can’t say that you would’ve won or you would’ve lost. It’s just too hard to say. I’ve just gotta hope I can go out and beat him next year.

You were obviously feeling comfortable and confident.

Yeah I felt really good at the end of the year. Ryan past me quite a few times when I first came back. He was really running good, then once I got going, I could run with him. At Steel City he was right behind me, but wasn’t able to pass me. At the beginning of the season he was a lot faster than me, but I was able to pick it up and try to get to his speed again.

Did you do anything different as far as training or bike setup to pick up your speed?

Yeah, I pretty much went back to all my old training techniques. I was on crutches for four months, so I was just trying to get back to the racing scene. I wasn’t up to full speed. I think as I went through the weeks I was just able to continue to get back to my old self.

Talking about the bikes again, how do you feel on the YZ250F?

I’ve ridden for a week now at the Supercross track. At the beginning we just take a stock bike and make changes every day as we go along. I don’t think they have to do too many changes to make it race ready, so I think that’s a good thing.

Have you felt comfortable right away?

I think I’m where I need to be at this point. It’s just mid-November, and I’m not sure which coast I’m riding yet.

Really? I had assumed you were riding East.

Yeah, it’s not set in stone. We just have Josh and I, so we both need to be ready for the west coast. You know, if I do east coast that’s not until February, so we’ve got plenty of time.

What exactly is holding back your decision on which coast to run?

I don’ think we really have that much say in it. I don’t know if Jim Perry makes the call, or Keith McCarty. I’m not sure.

Do you think they’ll swing their decision based on where other guys are riding in the Lites class?

I think the west coast has a little more prestige, because it’s the first race and all the industry it out here. But I need to make sure I’m ready too. A lot these guys are on the same brand they’ve been running for the last few years, and since I’ve switched I want to make sure I’m ready. I don’t want to go out there and not perform.

The danger on the west coast, Broc, is you may get caught up in the whole lifestyle and So Cal scene out here. That wouldn’t really fit with your usual image. [BRACKET “Laughs”]

I stay out here during the winters. My mom stays with me to do all my lap times and keep me out of trouble. [BRACKET “Laughs”]

With your reputation for being a good, straight-laced kid, and having Josh and Grant on the team, it should make for a solid lineup for Yamaha.

I think it looks like with this team we have really good people. Josh and I see a lot of things the same, and it will be good to ride with him. He was at my house last year during the Nationals. I think we’ll work good together.

Do you guys do any training together?

Right now we’re just doing a lot of testing, so we’re not even out on the track at the same time, but I’m sure once we get our testing out of the way we’ll start doing some motos and pushing each other.

Now, the last question that every reporter has to ask, what are your expectations and goals for Supercross?

I would like to win a championship this year. I’ve had the speed the last two years to do it; I just haven’t been able to put it together. I’ve made some mistakes, and last year had a big injury. I think if I can stay injury-free, I’ve got enough time this year to bring my speed up to where I need to be.

How is your body, are you 100%?

I actually still feel my foot a little bit, and I’m just starting to be able to run again, so I think in the next two months I’m going to puck up some more cardio and make more progress.

Good luck this year, and thanks for the time.

Sure. Thanks.

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Here are results from this weekend’s races:

Endurocross
John Dowd went to Vegas and stole the show by winning the AMA Maxxis Endurocross. Dowd took the holeshot in front of the sell-out crowd, and after briefly handing over the lead to Nathan Woods, retook the top spot to hold on for the win.

Maxxis Endurocross Results
1. John Dowd
2. Nathan Woods
3. David Knight

AMA Arenacross — Reno
The AMA version of Arenacross traveled across the country to Reno this weekend.

Toyota AMA Arenacross Results — Friday
1. Danny Smith, Honda
2. Brock Sellards, Honda
3. Kevin Johnson, Yamaha
4. Chad Johnson, Suzuki
5. Vincent Blair, Suzuki

Toyota AMA Arenacross Lites Results — Friday
1. Ryan Voit, Kawasaki
2. Tye Hanes, Kawasaki
3. Kody Molitor, Honda
4. Roy Horton, Honda
5. Beni Williams, Suzuki

Toyota AMA Arenacross Results — Saturday
1. Keith Johnson, Yamaha
2. Danny Smith, Honda
3. Brock Sellards, Honda
4. Justin Buckelew, Honda
5. Teddy Maier, Honda

Toyota AMA Arenacross Lites Results — Saturday
1. Gray Davenport, Kawasaki
2. Dennis Jonon, KTM
3. Beni Williams, Suzuki
4. Kevin Markwardt, Honda
5. Roy Horton, Honda

Toyota AMA Arenacross Points
1. Danny Smith (38) 123
2. Chad Johnson (1) 95
3. Robbie Reynard (17) 94
4. Keith Johnson (168) 90
4. Kevin Johnson (3) 90
5. Greg Schnell (5) 83
6. Matt Barnes (26) 73
6. Justin Buckelew (58) 73
7. Brock Sellards (18) 72
7. Teddy Maier (311) 72
8. John Dowd (16) 40
9. Travis Sewell (927) 35
10. Scott Metz (9) 33

BooKoo Arenacross — Yakima, WA

250 Pro — Friday
1. Brad Ripple, Honda
2. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
3. Tiger Lacey, Honda
4. Jeff Northrop, Kawasaki
5. Michael Blose, Suzuki

450 Pro — Friday
1. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
2. Tiger Lacey, Honda
3. Josh Woods, Suzuki
4. Michael Blose, Suzuki
5. Tyler Bowers, Honda

250 Pro — Saturday
1. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
2. Brad Ripple, Honda
3. Michael Blose, Suzuki
4. Tyler Bowers, Honda
5.ight-laced kid, and having Josh and Grant on the team, it should make for a solid lineup for Yamaha.

I think it looks like with this team we have really good people. Josh and I see a lot of things the same, and it will be good to ride with him. He was at my house last year during the Nationals. I think we’ll work good together.

Do you guys do any training together?

Right now we’re just doing a lot of testing, so we’re not even out on the track at the same time, but I’m sure once we get our testing out of the way we’ll start doing some motos and pushing each other.

Now, the last question that every reporter has to ask, what are your expectations and goals for Supercross?

I would like to win a championship this year. I’ve had the speed the last two years to do it; I just haven’t been able to put it together. I’ve made some mistakes, and last year had a big injury. I think if I can stay injury-free, I’ve got enough time this year to bring my speed up to where I need to be.

How is your body, are you 100%?

I actually still feel my foot a little bit, and I’m just starting to be able to run again, so I think in the next two months I’m going to puck up some more cardio and make more progress.

Good luck this year, and thanks for the time.

Sure. Thanks.

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Here are results from this weekend’s races:

Endurocross
John Dowd went to Vegas and stole the show by winning the AMA Maxxis Endurocross. Dowd took the holeshot in front of the sell-out crowd, and after briefly handing over the lead to Nathan Woods, retook the top spot to hold on for the win.

Maxxis Endurocross Results
1. John Dowd
2. Nathan Woods
3. David Knight

AMA Arenacross — Reno
The AMA version of Arenacross traveled across the country to Reno this weekend.

Toyota AMA Arenacross Results — Friday
1. Danny Smith, Honda
2. Brock Sellards, Honda
3. Kevin Johnson, Yamaha
4. Chad Johnson, Suzuki
5. Vincent Blair, Suzuki

Toyota AMA Arenacross Lites Results — Friday
1. Ryan Voit, Kawasaki
2. Tye Hanes, Kawasaki
3. Kody Molitor, Honda
4. Roy Horton, Honda
5. Beni Williams, Suzuki

Toyota AMA Arenacross Results — Saturday
1. Keith Johnson, Yamaha
2. Danny Smith, Honda
3. Brock Sellards, Honda
4. Justin Buckelew, Honda
5. Teddy Maier, Honda

Toyota AMA Arenacross Lites Results — Saturday
1. Gray Davenport, Kawasaki
2. Dennis Jonon, KTM
3. Beni Williams, Suzuki
4. Kevin Markwardt, Honda
5. Roy Horton, Honda

Toyota AMA Arenacross Points
1. Danny Smith (38) 123
2. Chad Johnson (1) 95
3. Robbie Reynard (17) 94
4. Keith Johnson (168) 90
4. Kevin Johnson (3) 90
5. Greg Schnell (5) 83
6. Matt Barnes (26) 73
6. Justin Buckelew (58) 73
7. Brock Sellards (18) 72
7. Teddy Maier (311) 72
8. John Dowd (16) 40
9. Travis Sewell (927) 35
10. Scott Metz (9) 33

BooKoo Arenacross — Yakima, WA

250 Pro — Friday
1. Brad Ripple, Honda
2. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
3. Tiger Lacey, Honda
4. Jeff Northrop, Kawasaki
5. Michael Blose, Suzuki

450 Pro — Friday
1. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
2. Tiger Lacey, Honda
3. Josh Woods, Suzuki
4. Michael Blose, Suzuki
5. Tyler Bowers, Honda

250 Pro — Saturday
1. Darcy Lange, Kawasaki
2. Brad Ripple, Honda
3. Michael Blose, Suzuki
4. Tyler Bowers, Honda
5. Tiger lacey, Honda

450 Pro — Saturday
1. Tyler Bowers, Honda
2. Brad Ripple, Honda
3. Tiger Lacey, Honda
4. Tom Hofmaster, Yamaha
5. Jeff Northrop, Kawasaki

BooKoo Arenacross 250 Pro Championship Points
1. Darcy Lange (114)
2. Michael Blose (83)
3. Jeff Northrop (81)
4. Tiger lacey (79)
5. Jimmy Nelson (69)
6. Tom Hofmaster (59)
7. Brad Ripple (54)
8. Josh Woods (53)
9. Tyler Bowers (52)
10. Chad Ward (46)

BooKoo Arenacross 450 Pro Championship Points
1. Darcy Lange (106)
2. Tyler Bowers (95)
3. Michael Blose (81)
4. Brad Ripple (77)
5. Tiger lacey (75)
6. Jeff Northrop (73)
7. Josh Woods (69)
8. Jimmy Nelson (64)
9. Tom Hofmaster (60)
10. Zach Ames (43)

5. Tiger lacey, Honda

450 Pro — Saturday
1. Tyler Bowers, Honda
2. Brad Ripple, Honda
3. Tiger Lacey, Honda
4. Tom Hofmaster, Yamaha
5. Jeff Northrop, Kawasaki

BooKoo Arenacross 250 Pro Championship Points
1. Darcy Lange (114)
2. Michael Blose (83)
3. Jeff Northrop (81)
4. Tiger lacey (79)
5. Jimmy Nelson (69)
6. Tom Hofmaster (59)
7. Brad Ripple (54)
8. Josh Woods (53)
9. Tyler Bowers (52)
10. Chad Ward (46)

BooKoo Arenacross 450 Pro Championship Points
1. Darcy Lange (106)
2. Tyler Bowers (95)
3. Michael Blose (81)
4. Brad Ripple (77)
5. Tiger lacey (75)
6. Jeff Northrop (73)
7. Josh Woods (69)
8. Jimmy Nelson (64)
9. Tom Hofmaster (60)
10. Zach Ames (43)