Monday Kickstart: Vancouver Supercross

After one of the most exciting races in recent memory at round one of the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross Series in Toronto, Ontario, last weekend, the big city of Vancouver, British Columbia, welcomed the second round of the series this weekend. And although there wasn’t as much controversy this weekend, things definitely weren’t dull, as Team Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael and Team Kawasaki’s injured star James Stewart put on a great show for everyone in attendance. But enough about the race, for more about what happened during the 20 laps of the main event check out the race report. Here is where you will find everything that went on behind the scenes and away from the screaming fans. So without further delay, here’s this week’s edition of Monday Kickstart, enjoy…

Just like previous years, the Vancouver track surface was soft and very rocky. Like always, huge boulders could be found everywhere during the track walk on Saturday morning, and riders were overheard commenting that they should have thrown on some handguards. During the track walk, however, we did notice one very creative way of using the rocks, as Live Nation stacked them up and parked a Toyota SUV on top of the stones. Following the race, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians/L&M Racing/Yamaha’s Chad Reed commented that he had trouble with the rocks along with one of the tricky rhythm sections, especially by the end of the night when the track was a shadow of what it was at the beginning of the night’s racing. “I struggled a little bit with the rocks in the dirt. I kind of felt like I was back at Unadilla (laughs),” Reed said. “Normally I’m pretty decent at doing step-on step-off sections (like in the first rhythm section), but I really struggled.”

In other news about the track, there was a new obstacle that Dirt Wurx threw in to add a little something different into the mix. Randomly place moguls were built following the first turn, and over the course of the night, the section turned pretty rough. Another interesting twist was the finish line jump. Basically, the takeoff and landing weren’t lined up properly, giving a few riders quite a thrill when they landed on the edge of the landing during the opening laps of the first practice.

In an effort to make the racing floor look cleaner, Live Nation usually paints the ground of the stadium. At Vancouver, though, they went a little overboard with the red paint, as the copious amount didn’t dry until the evening program began. At one point during practice one rider shot off the track and onto the paint. Needless to say, he slid across it like he was on ice.

Just like at Toronto last week, the pits were split up, as a few of the factory teams elected to pit out of their semis outside, while nearly all of the privateers and support teams pitted inside the stadium. Things were a little tight inside, but nonetheless, everyone made the best of the situation.

We briefly spoke with Honda mounted Heath Voss, and asked him about what his new ride for 2007 is all about. “It’s going good,” Voss said. “We don’t have everything finalized yet, but we are working on it, and we should be getting support from Honda for next year.” In Vancouver, Voss was borrowing a bike from a local shop, since driving his rig and bike up there wasn’t a feasible choice. In the main event, Voss finished 11th, just outside the top-10.

During the rider’s meeting, the FIM’s John Gallagher had a little fun once he finished discussing all of the pertinent serious information. After no one responded when he asked if there were any questions, he held up a pair of suspenders and sai “Oh yeah, and if your pants start to fall down, we have these special suspenders to hold them up.” Apparently, there was a problem at Toronto…

Also during the rider’s meeting, Asterisk’s Doc Bodnar announced that beginning at Anaheim one, riders would be required to install a Hats-Off device inside their helmet. Bodnar originally introduced the device a few years ago, and since then, it has rapidly been gaining popularity and notoriety. The device is actually pretty simple and can help paramedics in the event that a rider crashes. It’s basically an airbag that fills up, and slowly pulls the rider’s helmet off. Here’s what Doc had to say about it, “Everybody is going to get one during tech inspection at Anaheim, and one of my guys is going to show how to install it in the helmet. Riders won’t need a new one every week, and if there are no crashes, it can be used until the end of the year. It’s going to be checked at every tech inspection after Anaheim.”

Like you probably already know, Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart had a rough one in Toronto last weekend. After colliding with Team Makita Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco in practice—resulting in Ivan breaking his hand in two places—Stewart pulled on the track in front of Team Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Travis Preston in the main event, sending both riders to the ground, hard. The subsequent fall caused Stewart to injure his ankle, and needless to say, it was a little sore in Vancouver. During the days following the incidents at Toronto, James was informed that both Tedesco and Preston filed protests against him. We spoke to the FIM’s John Gallagher about the whole incident. “Two protests were filed, and both protests were upheld,” Gallagher said. “The first protest was regarding Ivan and Stewart’s practice incident. The result of that protest was a $2000 fine and a verbal warning where he was told that practice is practice; it’s not considered a competition. We limit the number of riders on the track to enable them to have plenty of free space on the track. The second protest was from Travis Preston regarding how James re-entered the track after exiting the course. The protest was upheld with a $4000 fine and a verbal warning explaining why that probably wasn’t the best choice—I think he knows that better than anybody though. Finally, he is on probation until the end of this season, which is the first weekend in May. Probation means nothing more than just that the penalties will escalate. The probationary period is just to tell him that we are really looking closely at him, and that the decisions being made are going to be made much harsher.”

As for Stewart, he had this to say about the incidents. “It was kind of a weird deal,” Stewart said. “After everything happened, I was sitting in the hospital and heard I was getting protested, but I didn’t really think too much about it. Then I got the phone call on Wednesday about the fine. Like I told everybody—and I’m going to be brief about this—I would never jeopardize myself for the championship. I put way too much work in to have something like that happen—to go down and get injured; same thing with Ivan (Tedesco). I would never jeopardize anybody on the racetrack, let alone Ivan. We just got back from a wonderful time in England bringing home the des Nations. I think that people tend to forget about that. I’m just going to leave it at that, because I want to talk to Ivan about it before I start saying all this different stuff. We’ll get it settled, and we’ll be good.”

Ivan was absent at Vancouver, but his mechanic Tony Berrlutti was there to help lend a hand to Carmichael’s wrench Mike Gosselaar. We asked Tony about how Ivan was doing. “Ivan broke a few bones in his hand, but they are going to let it heal on its own rather than have Ivan undergo surgery since there are some lacerations on top,” Berrlutti said. “Ivan should hopefully be back in action by Anaheim.”

Following the Supercross main event, Stewart’s ankle was so sore that he could barely walk up to the podium, or the post-race press conference. When asked about what exactly he did to it, James was a little brief about his explanation, “Right now, it’s kind of just everything,” James said. “But mainly the top of my foot closer to my ankle is really sore. Mainly, the impact on it has hurt it the most.” In practice we noticed that James had on two different boots; perhaps different sizes to make room for a tape job?

While we are on the subject of Stewart, in losing the second heat race, his heat-race-winning streak was cut off at 19. As it turned out, he wasn’t too upset about it. “It was funny, my dad and me were sitting in the truck, and he kind of pissed me off. He asked, ‘”Who would you rather get beat by Ricky or Chad?”‘ So, we ended up having Ricky break the streak.” Obviously, Stewart chose to race against RC in the heat race.

Last week in Toronto, Team Cernic’s/Kawasaki’s Paul Carpenter had one exceptional ride. In his first season aboard a 450cc four-stroke full-time, Carpenter has been riding pretty well on a bike that he says he is more comfortable on than a 250cc four-stroke. We caught up with Paul before the first practice session to see how his new team is going, and what made him decide to move up to the premier class…

How has your new deal with the Cernic’s/Kawasaki team been going so far?
I signed with Cernic’s/Kawasaki; it’s a small team. It came about, was an opportunity for me to ride a 450, which I’ve always wanted to do, so I chose them. It’s been great. We’ve been testing and developing our bikes in California for the past month or so, and it’s been going really well. We have a really solid team, we have some really good sponsors behind us, and I think we should have a great year.

You’re a previous Four-stroke National Champion aboard a 450cc four-stroke. Do you consider yourself more of a 450f rider than a 250f rider?
Yeah, I don’t know why, and I couldn’t explain to you why, but I just enjoy riding the 450 a lot more. I don’t know if I would consider myself a 450 specialist, but the bike suits me a lot more. I ride it better than I do a 250f.

A lot of people might look at your size and think that you’re at a disadvantage when riding a 450; do you think you are?
I mean, look at Ricky. Look at how short he is and he’s proven everybody wrong. I don’t think that really matters. I think that as long as you are smart with the bike and don’t try to override it; you let it come to you. It doesn’t matter how big or tall you are, you can make it happen. For me personally, I feel more comfortable with the bigger bike, because I think my riding style is more point and shoot rather than flowing like you have to be when riding a 250f. I feel pretty good on it.

People were talking about your ride last week and how good you did.
I don’t know where that comes from, but I just went there with the goal to get in the main. I was sitting on the line for my heat and I just wanted a good start to do the best I could, and it came together. I got third in my heat, and in the main, I got a good start, which was kind of unexpected; I was right behind Ricky and the whole group, but I ended up going down pretty good. I think I got a little carried away, and I tried to go through the whoops too fast and lost it. I got back up and thought I threw the whole race away, but I thought to myself that it was a long race—20 laps—and I haven’t raced 20 laps in a long time. So, I just figured I’d get up and ride. I just kept looking over at t have Ivan undergo surgery since there are some lacerations on top,” Berrlutti said. “Ivan should hopefully be back in action by Anaheim.”

Following the Supercross main event, Stewart’s ankle was so sore that he could barely walk up to the podium, or the post-race press conference. When asked about what exactly he did to it, James was a little brief about his explanation, “Right now, it’s kind of just everything,” James said. “But mainly the top of my foot closer to my ankle is really sore. Mainly, the impact on it has hurt it the most.” In practice we noticed that James had on two different boots; perhaps different sizes to make room for a tape job?

While we are on the subject of Stewart, in losing the second heat race, his heat-race-winning streak was cut off at 19. As it turned out, he wasn’t too upset about it. “It was funny, my dad and me were sitting in the truck, and he kind of pissed me off. He asked, ‘”Who would you rather get beat by Ricky or Chad?”‘ So, we ended up having Ricky break the streak.” Obviously, Stewart chose to race against RC in the heat race.

Last week in Toronto, Team Cernic’s/Kawasaki’s Paul Carpenter had one exceptional ride. In his first season aboard a 450cc four-stroke full-time, Carpenter has been riding pretty well on a bike that he says he is more comfortable on than a 250cc four-stroke. We caught up with Paul before the first practice session to see how his new team is going, and what made him decide to move up to the premier class…

How has your new deal with the Cernic’s/Kawasaki team been going so far?
I signed with Cernic’s/Kawasaki; it’s a small team. It came about, was an opportunity for me to ride a 450, which I’ve always wanted to do, so I chose them. It’s been great. We’ve been testing and developing our bikes in California for the past month or so, and it’s been going really well. We have a really solid team, we have some really good sponsors behind us, and I think we should have a great year.

You’re a previous Four-stroke National Champion aboard a 450cc four-stroke. Do you consider yourself more of a 450f rider than a 250f rider?
Yeah, I don’t know why, and I couldn’t explain to you why, but I just enjoy riding the 450 a lot more. I don’t know if I would consider myself a 450 specialist, but the bike suits me a lot more. I ride it better than I do a 250f.

A lot of people might look at your size and think that you’re at a disadvantage when riding a 450; do you think you are?
I mean, look at Ricky. Look at how short he is and he’s proven everybody wrong. I don’t think that really matters. I think that as long as you are smart with the bike and don’t try to override it; you let it come to you. It doesn’t matter how big or tall you are, you can make it happen. For me personally, I feel more comfortable with the bigger bike, because I think my riding style is more point and shoot rather than flowing like you have to be when riding a 250f. I feel pretty good on it.

People were talking about your ride last week and how good you did.
I don’t know where that comes from, but I just went there with the goal to get in the main. I was sitting on the line for my heat and I just wanted a good start to do the best I could, and it came together. I got third in my heat, and in the main, I got a good start, which was kind of unexpected; I was right behind Ricky and the whole group, but I ended up going down pretty good. I think I got a little carried away, and I tried to go through the whoops too fast and lost it. I got back up and thought I threw the whole race away, but I thought to myself that it was a long race—20 laps—and I haven’t raced 20 laps in a long time. So, I just figured I’d get up and ride. I just kept looking over at the pit board, and was seeing 13, 11, 10, nine, eight… a lot of guys had problems and crashes. At the end of the race, I was eighth and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend up therein Toronto.

We know it’s early, but are you planning on riding a 450 outdoors as well?
As of right now, we are working on all of that. I don’t think that I’m at liberty to talk about all that, but I think you will see big things from Cernic’s in the future, I just don’t know what yet.

While there definitely was much less drama at Vancouver than Toronto, the second stop of the series wasn’t without a little controversy. During the Supercross LCQ, Tyler Evans and Keith Johnson came together in a turn during the closing laps of the race. Evans came in hard on Johnson and basically took the Yamaha rider’s front wheel out from under him. While we weren’t there trackside when the action went down, it appeared that Johnson yelled at Evans. True to his nickname, “One Punch” threw an elbow at Johnson, and from there, a brawl ensued as the two rolled around on the ground until being separated by officials. As of press time, there was no official word on whether or not fines would be imposed.

Off-road racer Bobby Garrison made the trip up to Canada to try his rather versatile racing skills out at Supercross. As it turned out, Bobby actually rode really well, and finished seventh behind his friend Jimmy Albertson. Back in California, Albertson has been training with Bobby, and has even raced a few off-road WORCS races, where he has done equally as well as Bobby has in Supercross and motocross.

Team Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey was super pumped about how well his first-ever Supercross race went. But even though it was his first race, he still showed a lot of maturity for a young rookie racer. “I was really happy with my performance, and that all the hard work that Darin Stockton (my trainer) and I have been putting in has been paying off,” Dungey said. “I definitely wanted to win it—everybody does—but I just settled for second. I didn’t want to keep pushing hard and keep making stupid mistakes.”

According to Carmichael, he is going to go testing with the NASCAR team this week. And while he obviously still takes Supercross and motocross seriously, he knows that it isn’t everything for him anymore. Because of that, he can have a little more fun. “I have a great attitude,” Ricky said. “Obviously, I know it’s not going to be a grind for me going down the stretch, and I can do the things I want to do. I know that I don’t have to be there at Vegas, and I can go on and put a good show on. I can enjoy it a little more now.”

at the pit board, and was seeing 13, 11, 10, nine, eight… a lot of guys had problems and crashes. At the end of the race, I was eighth and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend up therein Toronto.

We know it’s early, but are you planning on riding a 450 outdoors as well?
As of right now, we are working on all of that. I don’t think that I’m at liberty to talk about all that, but I think you will see big things from Cernic’s in the future, I just don’t know what yet.

While there definitely was much less drama at Vancouver than Toronto, the second stop of the series wasn’t without a little controversy. During the Supercross LCQ, Tyler Evans and Keith Johnson came together in a turn during the closing laps of the race. Evans came in hard on Johnson and basically took the Yamaha rider’s front wheel out from under him. While we weren’t there trackside when the action went down, it appeared that Johnson yelled at Evans. True to his nickname, “One Punch” threw an elbow at Johnson, and from there, a brawl ensued as the two rolled around on the ground until being separated by officials. As of press time, there was no official word on whether or not fines would be imposed.

Off-road racer Bobby Garrison made the trip up to Canada to try his rather versatile racing skills out at Supercross. As it turned out, Bobby actually rode really well, and finished seventh behind his friend Jimmy Albertson. Back in California, Albertson has been training with Bobby, and has even raced a few off-road WORCS races, where he has done equally as well as Bobby has in Supercross and motocross.

Team Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey was super pumped about how well his first-ever Supercross race went. But even though it was his first race, he still showed a lot of maturity for a young rookie racer. “I was really happy with my performance, and that all the hard work that Darin Stockton (my trainer) and I have been putting in has been paying off,” Dungey said. “I definitely wanted to win it—everybody does—but I just settled for second. I didn’t want to keep pushing hard and keep making stupid mistakes.”

According to Carmichael, he is going to go testing with the NASCAR team this week. And while he obviously still takes Supercross and motocross seriously, he knows that it isn’t everything for him anymore. Because of that, he can have a little more fun. “I have a great attitude,” Ricky said. “Obviously, I know it’s not going to be a grind for me going down the stretch, and I can do the things I want to do. I know that I don’t have to be there at Vegas, and I can go on and put a good show on. I can enjoy it a little more now.”