Race Report: AMA TOYOTA MOTOCROSS CHAMPIONSHIP PRESENTED BY FMF: 38th Annual Honda Performance First Hangtown Motocross Classic

By Ryan Cooley and Donn Maeda captions by Brendan Lutes

Grey skies and rainfall greeted the nearly 20,000 motocross fans that showed up for round one of the AMA Motocross Nationals, held at Prairie City OHV Park in Rancho Cordova, California, but the action on the track was far too good to miss just because of a little foul weather. Team Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi served notice that he is ready to contend for this year’s Motocross Lites championship with a convincing double-moto sweep in the slippery conditions. Likewise in the Motocross division, Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart carried the momentum he enjoyed in the Supercross Series and earned his first career Motocross National win. By posting a come-from-behind win in the opening moto and riding to a conservative second-place finish in the final race, Stewart brought Ricky Carmichael’s 27-win streak to an end…

MOTOCROSS LITES MOTO 1

The light raindrops that intermittently watered the Hangtown facility all morning long turned into heavier showers just in time for the day’s first moto. Regardless, with a couple past champs and the world’s fastest young talent on the line for the first National moto of 2006, the wet Hangtown fans went nuts as factory Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi rocketed into the early lead. Following closely through the exit of turn one was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, Yamaha of Troy’s newest import, Andrew McFarlane, BooKoo Honda’s Steve Boniface, and Sobe/Samsung Mobile/Honda’s Josh Grant.

Villopoto’s teammate, and last year’s Hangtown champion, Grant Langston didn’t get the start he was looking for, however, as he found himself buried back in 15th place at the conclusion of lap one. Unfortunately for Langston, his moto one luck didn’t get any better, either. After colliding with another rider on lap five and smacking his already injured throttle wrist in the process, Grant began dropping positions, eventually having to retire from the moto early at the conclusion of lap six.

Up front, Alessi slowly began opening up what became about a three second lead over Villopoto as the rain continued to pound. The track steadily became slicker, and it was clear that the rider with the most patience and the best throttle control would prevail. Josh Grant, whose speed puts him among the favorites to be up front all series long, finished lap one in the fifth spot. After getting by Steve Boniface on lap number four, Grant methodically worked his way through the muddy, rutted course, and passed McFarlane to take over the third spot on lap seven. By that point in the moto, however, Alessi and Villopoto had already opened up a gap that was just too much to overcome, and thus Grant settled for third. Ahead of him, Villopoto closed the gap on Alessi to within two seconds at one point, but with just two laps to go he bobbled and tipped over in a muddy corner. Able to remount quickly and without losing a position, Villopoto held on for second, some 10 seconds behind a mistake-free Alessi.

MOTO 1 RESULTS

  1. Mike Alessi (KTM)
  2. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
  3. Josh Grant (Hon)
  4. Andrew McFarlane (Yam)
  5. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)
  6. Zach Osborne (KTM)
  7. Steve Boniface (Hon)
  8. Tommy Hahn (Hon)
  9. Andrew Short (Hon)
  10. Chris Gosselaar (Kaw)

MOTOCROSS MOTO 1

Carmichael grabbed the holeshot at the start of the opening AMA Motocross moto, but his lead lasted only a couple corners as he swapped out at the front of the pack and went down. While RC remounted in dead last and nearly 10 seconds behind the pack, Reed took over at the front of the pack with Robbie Reynard, Davi Millsaps, Antonio Balbi, Stewart and Nick Wey in tow. Reynard shocked the crowd by passing Reed for the lead on the second lap, but the Australian worked back past the former child prodigy on the next circuit. After that, Reynard did his best to hang tough but he eventually dropped to eighth at the fish. At the start of lap three, Stewart lost his front end and went down in the new Monster Mountain section of the track and dropped well back into the pack, remounting just in front of Carmichael, who had already passed up into the top 25. Team MotoWorldRacing.com’s David Vuillemin, meanwhile, was the man on the move in the early going and worked into the top five in the slippery conditions. After displacing Wey, DV stalked Balbi for a few laps before moving into second, where he stayed until the closing stages of the race.

Linked up together and setting a torrid pace, Stewart and Carmichael sliced their way up through the field and into third and fourth by lap 8. Rain began to fall again at this stage of the race, and Reed was seen ditching his goggles as he worked through lapped traffic, some 16 seconds ahead of Vuillemin, who had Stewart and Carmichael closing quickly. Vuillemin fell victim to Stewart and Carmichael on lap nine, and RC brought the 20,000 fans on hand to their feet by out-braking Stewart on an infield downhill and taking over third, Stewart retaliated on the same lap and retook the position with a pass in the top section of the course. RC tossed his goggles shortly thereafter, and he was unable to stay on Stewart’s rear wheel from that point on, though he did stay within three seconds through the end of the race.

Out front, Reed struggled with the roost from lappers and the stinging rain in his eyes, and was unable to do anything about his rapidly shrinking lead as Stewart reeled him in. As the race wore down, Reed’s once commanding lead dwindled away and as they began the next-to-last lap, Stewart was right on his rear fender. The Kawasaki rider made the pass for the lead on the last lap in the new uphill section of the track, but Reed was able to hold off Carmichael to the finish line. After crossing the finish line, Stewart pumped his fist in the air repeatedly, obviously ecstatic about his come-from-behind win. A dejected Reed skipped the podium interviews and headed back to the pits, while RC came home a close third. Not bad for a rider who restarted lap one 10 seconds behind the pack… All alone in fourth was Vuillemin, who rode a solid race at the front of the pack aboard his privateer Yamaha. Windham was fifth, ahead of his Honda teammate Travis Preston and MDK Motorsports’ Nick Wey. Reynard, Davi Millsaps and Rockstar/Bill’s Pipes/Suzuki rider Ryan Mills rounded out the top 10.

MOTO 1 RESULTS

  1. James Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Chad Reed (Yam)
  3. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)
  4. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  5. Kevin Windham (Hon)
  6. Travis Preston (Hon)
  7. Nick Wey (Hon)
  8. Robbie Reynard (Hon)
  9. Davi Millsaps (Hon)
  10. Ryan Mills (Suz)

MOTOCROSS LITES MOTO 2

Absent from the starting gate for Lites moto two was Grant Langston, whose wrist injury forced him to sit out the rest of the day. With the rest of the class present and accounted for, however, it was Josh Grant who got the jump out of the gate to kick off the moto, with Alessi, Metcalfe, McFarlane, and Ramsey close in tow. Moto one runner-up Villopoto went down within the first few corners, and was forced to begin a charge from the back of the pack.

Villopoto wasn’t the only one suffering from misfortunes, however, as later on lap one early leader Grant bobbled as well, quickly handing over three spots. Grant’s bad luck wasn’t over either, and on lap four, after moving his way up into the second spot ahead of Metcalfe, he got locked up in a deep rut, allowing Metcalfe, Short, and Ramsey to get by. Josh eventually fell at least two more times that we saw before see-sawing his way to a seventh place finish and fourth overall for the day.

Meanwhile, just as he did in moto one, Alessi rode a near flawless race in the slick mud to take the second moto win. And just as you guessed, his 1-1 moto scores were good for the overall win on the day. Leading both motos from start to finish, Mikey was pumped to take the win at the series opener. “This was just an awesome day for me, he said on the podium. “I’ve been working hard, and everything is just clicking. My training, my fitness—my whole program… Everything is running very smoothly.

Behind Alessi, Metcalfe put on a charge to close out the moto, pulling to within just a few seconds of Mike at the checkers. His 5-2 moto scores granted him his best National finish ever—second overall.

Brett’s YoT teammate and new recruit from the GPs in Europe, McFarlane, had a great day as well, finishing third in the moto, and third overall on the day. “I’ve been preparing hard for the outdoors by doing a whole lot of testing and setting the bike up. With a new team and coming to America, I knew it would take a lot of work to prepare myself and the bike, Andrew said after the race. “I said coming into this race that a top five would make me happy, so to end up on the podium is great.

It’s been a long time coming for the fellas at Yamaha of Troy to put not one, but two riders on a National podium, and the whole team was ecstatic after the race.

MOTO 2 RESULTS

  1. Mike Alessi (KTM)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (Yam)
  4. Andrew Short (Hon)
  5. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  6. Chris Gosselaar (Kaw)
  7. Josh Grant (Hon)
  8. Mike Brown (Suz)
  9. Nathan Ramsey (KTM)
  10. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

LITES OVERALL RESULTS

  1. Mike Alessi (KTM)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (Yam)
  4. Josh Grant (Hon)
  5. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
  6. Andrew Short (Hon)
  7. Chris Gosselaar (Kaw)
  8. Mike Brown (Suz)
  9. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  10. Tommy Hahn (Hon)
  11. Matt Walker (Yam)
  12. Danny Smith (Hon)
  13. Steve Boniface (Hon)
  14. Nathan Ramsey (KTM)
  15. Zach Osborne (KTM)
  16. Martin Davalos (Yam)
  17. Sean Collier (Yam)
  18. Matt Goerke (Yam)
  19. Robert Kiniry (Hon)
  20. Jay Marmont (KTM)

SERIES POINT STANDINGS

  1. Mike Alessi (50/1 win)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (38)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (38)
  4. Josh Grant (34)
  5. Ryan Villopoto (33)
  6. Andrew Short (30)
  7. Chris Gosselaar (26)
  8. Mike Brown (23)
  9. Billy Laninovich (21)
  10. Tommy Hahn (19)
  11. Matt Walker (16)
  12. Danny Smith (16)
  13. Steve Boniface (16)
  14. Nathan Ramsey (15)
  15. Zach Osborne (15)
  16. Martin Davalos (10)
  17. Sean Collier (9)
  18. Matt Goerke (9)
  19. Robert Kiniry (6)
  20. Jay Marmont (5)

MOTOCROSS MOTO 2

A steady rain fell throughout the second moto, with the final laps concluding in what would be the heaviest rainfall of the day. Carmichael rocketed out of the gate and down the freshly groomed start straight aboard his Mike Gosselaar-tuned Suzuki RM-Z450 and grabbed the holeshot at the start of the second moto. For all intent and purposes, the race for the win was over, as RC pulled out a commanding lead almost immediately and cruised home unchallenged for the win. Vuillemin got a great jump off the line on his mildly modified Yamaha YZ450F and started the race in second, with Stewart, Preston, Wey, Maestro Suzuki’s Jeff Dement and Reed in tow. Stewart went to work quickly, passing Vuillemin aggressively on a fast, rough straightaway to take over the runner-up position. Like Carmichael, Stewart’s eventual finishing position was established early on, as he settled into second and stayed there, knowing well that it was good enough for his first Motocross National overall win.

Behind Stewart, the battle over third was settled on lap six when Reed took it over for good, leaving Preston and Vuillemin to battle over fourth. The factory Honda rider and Vuillemin traded the position several times, with Preston settling into it eventually when Vuillemin was forced to remove his goggles. Well behind Vuillemin came Wey, Dement, Windham, sh, Mikey was pumped to take the win at the series opener. “This was just an awesome day for me, he said on the podium. “I’ve been working hard, and everything is just clicking. My training, my fitness—my whole program… Everything is running very smoothly.

Behind Alessi, Metcalfe put on a charge to close out the moto, pulling to within just a few seconds of Mike at the checkers. His 5-2 moto scores granted him his best National finish ever—second overall.

Brett’s YoT teammate and new recruit from the GPs in Europe, McFarlane, had a great day as well, finishing third in the moto, and third overall on the day. “I’ve been preparing hard for the outdoors by doing a whole lot of testing and setting the bike up. With a new team and coming to America, I knew it would take a lot of work to prepare myself and the bike, Andrew said after the race. “I said coming into this race that a top five would make me happy, so to end up on the podium is great.

It’s been a long time coming for the fellas at Yamaha of Troy to put not one, but two riders on a National podium, and the whole team was ecstatic after the race.

MOTO 2 RESULTS

  1. Mike Alessi (KTM)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (Yam)
  4. Andrew Short (Hon)
  5. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  6. Chris Gosselaar (Kaw)
  7. Josh Grant (Hon)
  8. Mike Brown (Suz)
  9. Nathan Ramsey (KTM)
  10. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

LITES OVERALL RESULTS

  1. Mike Alessi (KTM)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (Yam)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (Yam)
  4. Josh Grant (Hon)
  5. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)
  6. Andrew Short (Hon)
  7. Chris Gosselaar (Kaw)
  8. Mike Brown (Suz)
  9. Billy Laninovich (Hon)
  10. Tommy Hahn (Hon)
  11. Matt Walker (Yam)
  12. Danny Smith (Hon)
  13. Steve Boniface (Hon)
  14. Nathan Ramsey (KTM)
  15. Zach Osborne (KTM)
  16. Martin Davalos (Yam)
  17. Sean Collier (Yam)
  18. Matt Goerke (Yam)
  19. Robert Kiniry (Hon)
  20. Jay Marmont (KTM)

SERIES POINT STANDINGS

  1. Mike Alessi (50/1 win)
  2. Brett Metcalfe (38)
  3. Andrew McFarlane (38)
  4. Josh Grant (34)
  5. Ryan Villopoto (33)
  6. Andrew Short (30)
  7. Chris Gosselaar (26)
  8. Mike Brown (23)
  9. Billy Laninovich (21)
  10. Tommy Hahn (19)
  11. Matt Walker (16)
  12. Danny Smith (16)
  13. Steve Boniface (16)
  14. Nathan Ramsey (15)
  15. Zach Osborne (15)
  16. Martin Davalos (10)
  17. Sean Collier (9)
  18. Matt Goerke (9)
  19. Robert Kiniry (6)
  20. Jay Marmont (5)

MOTOCROSS MOTO 2

A steady rain fell throughout the second moto, with the final laps concluding in what would be the heaviest rainfall of the day. Carmichael rocketed out of the gate and down the freshly groomed start straight aboard his Mike Gosselaar-tuned Suzuki RM-Z450 and grabbed the holeshot at the start of the second moto. For all intent and purposes, the race for the win was over, as RC pulled out a commanding lead almost immediately and cruised home unchallenged for the win. Vuillemin got a great jump off the line on his mildly modified Yamaha YZ450F and started the race in second, with Stewart, Preston, Wey, Maestro Suzuki’s Jeff Dement and Reed in tow. Stewart went to work quickly, passing Vuillemin aggressively on a fast, rough straightaway to take over the runner-up position. Like Carmichael, Stewart’s eventual finishing position was established early on, as he settled into second and stayed there, knowing well that it was good enough for his first Motocross National overall win.

Behind Stewart, the battle over third was settled on lap six when Reed took it over for good, leaving Preston and Vuillemin to battle over fourth. The factory Honda rider and Vuillemin traded the position several times, with Preston settling into it eventually when Vuillemin was forced to remove his goggles. Well behind Vuillemin came Wey, Dement, Windham, Boo Koo Honda’s Josh Demuth and Millsaps, who started the race 37th and put on an impressive charge.

Though RC won the second moto, it was Stewart who earned the overall win at the 38th Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic. For Stewart, it was his first Motocross National win, and for Carmichael it was his first overall defeat in 28 events. “I’m sad to see my win streak come to an end, but I am actually okay with it because I am completely pleased with the way I rode in the second moto, said RC, gracious in defeat.

Stewart, meanwhile, was quite enthused, saying, “Coming into the series, no one thought I had what it takes to win a Motocross National, let alone the first race of the season. It feels really good to get my first outdoor win under my belt. I knew that I had it sewed up once I got into second, and I just rode home easy and in control.

Reed filled the final spot on the podium by virtue of his 2-3 moto scores. “I felt pretty good out there, especially since this stuff isn’t really my specialty, said the former Supercross Champion. “It was a lot of fun to lead the first moto like that, but I had some vision troubles there that allowed those guys to catch up.

Fourth on the day was Vuillemin aboard his Keith Bowen-tuned Yamaha YZ450F. “I felt pretty good out there, said DV. “I came here with no set goals, except to go out there and have fun and try my best. I felt good on the bike and it was nice to run up front again.

MOTO 2 RESULTS

  1. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)
  2. James Stewart (Kaw)
  3. Chad Reed (Yam)
  4. Travis Preston (Hon)
  5. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  6. Nick Wey (Hon)
  7. Jeff Dement (Suz)
  8. Kevin Windham (Hon)
  9. Josh Demuth (Hon)
  10. Davi Millsaps (Hon)

OVERALL RESULTS

  1. James Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)
  3. Chad Reed (Yam)
  4. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  5. Travis Preston (Hon)
  6. Nick Wey (Hon)
  7. Kevin Windham (Hon)
  8. Jeff Dement (Suz)
  9. Davi Millsaps (Hon)
  10. Josh Sumney (Yam)
  11. Ryan Mills (Suz)
  12. Robbie Reynard (Hon)
  13. Josh Demuth (Hon)
  14. Jason Woods (Hon)
  15. Shaun Skinner (Suz)
  16. Clark Stiles (Yam)
  17. Kyle Partridge (Yam)
  18. Jess Lansoo (Hon)
  19. Casey Clark (Hon)
  20. Ryan Clark (Hon)

SERIES POINT STANDINGS

  1. James Stewart (47/1 win)
  2. Ricky Carmichael (45)
  3. Chad Reed (42)
  4. David Vuillemin (34)
  5. Travis Preston (333)
  6. Nick Wey (29)
  7. Kevin Windham (29)
  8. Jeff Dement (24)
  9. Davi Millsaps (23)
  10. Josh Sumney (18)
  11. Ryan Mills (18)
  12. Robbie Reynard (13)
  13. Josh Demuth (12)
  14. Jason Woods (12)
  15. Shaun Skinner (11)
  16. Clark Stiles (10)
  17. Kyle Partridge (8)
  18. Jess Lansoo (7)
  19. Casey Clark (5)
  20. Ryan Clark (5)
  21. Michael LaPaglia (5)

am, Boo Koo Honda’s Josh Demuth and Millsaps, who started the race 37th and put on an impressive charge.

Though RC won the second moto, it was Stewart who earned the overall win at the 38th Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic. For Stewart, it was his first Motocross National win, and for Carmichael it was his first overall defeat in 28 events. “I’m sad to see my win streak come to an end, but I am actually okay with it because I am completely pleased with the way I rode in the second moto, said RC, gracious in defeat.

Stewart, meanwhile, was quite enthused, saying, “Coming into the series, no one thought I had what it takes to win a Motocross National, let alone the first race of the season. It feels really good to get my first outdoor win under my belt. I knew that I had it sewed up once I got into second, and I just rode home easy and in control.

Reed filled the final spot on the podium by virtue of his 2-3 moto scores. “I felt pretty good out there, especially since this stuff isn’t really my specialty, said the former Supercross Champion. “It was a lot of fun to lead the first moto like that, but I had some vision troubles there that allowed those guys to catch up.

Fourth on the day was Vuillemin aboard his Keith Bowen-tuned Yamaha YZ450F. “I felt pretty good out there, said DV. “I came here with no set goals, except to go out there and have fun and try my best. I felt good on the bike and it was nice to run up front again.

MOTO 2 RESULTS

  1. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)
  2. James Stewart (Kaw)
  3. Chad Reed (Yam)
  4. Travis Preston (Hon)
  5. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  6. Nick Wey (Hon)
  7. Jeff Dement (Suz)
  8. Kevin Windham (Hon)
  9. Josh Demuth (Hon)
  10. Davi Millsaps (Hon)

OVERALL RESULTS

  1. James Stewart (Kaw)
  2. Ricky Carmichael (Suz)
  3. Chad Reed (Yam)
  4. David Vuillemin (Yam)
  5. Travis Preston (Hon)
  6. Nick Wey (Hon)
  7. Kevin Windham (Hon)
  8. Jeff Dement (Suz)
  9. Davi Millsaps (Hon)
  10. Josh Sumney (Yam)
  11. Ryan Mills (Suz)
  12. Robbie Reynard (Hon)
  13. Josh Demuth (Hon)
  14. Jason Woods (Hon)
  15. Shaun Skinner (Suz)
  16. Clark Stiles (Yam)
  17. Kyle Partridge (Yam)
  18. Jess Lansoo (Hon)
  19. Casey Clark (Hon)
  20. Ryan Clark (Hon)

SERIES POINT STANDINGS

  1. James Stewart (47/1 win)
  2. Ricky Carmichael (45)
  3. Chad Reed (42)
  4. David Vuillemin (34)
  5. Travis Preston (333)
  6. Nick Wey (29)
  7. Kevin Windham (29)
  8. Jeff Dement (24)
  9. Davi Millsaps (23)
  10. Josh Sumney (18)
  11. Ryan Mills (18)
  12. Robbie Reynard (13)
  13. Josh Demuth (12)
  14. Jason Woods (12)
  15. Shaun Skinner (11)
  16. Clark Stiles (10)
  17. Kyle Partridge (8)
  18. Jess Lansoo (7)
  19. Casey Clark (5)
  20. Ryan Clark (5)
  21. Michael LaPaglia (5)