TWMX Race Report: THQ World Supercross GP; Round One, Seville, Spain

The first round of the 2003/2004 THQ World Supercross GP got off to a sloppy start at Estadio Olympico in Seville, Spain. The Estadio Olympico is similar to the design of the stadium used for the Dallas SX, with an overhanging top, but an open center. That meant the spectators were mostly covered, but the track itself was vulnerable to torrential downpours. Unfortunately, though there are suppposed to be relatively few rainy days in the region, they happened to coincide with this year’s event.

With Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael both sidelined with injuries, and far fewer top riders opting to make the trip over for the European rounds, Ernesto Fonseca, Grant Langston, Mike Brown, and Andrew Short probably had the best name recognition. But the muddy conditions also made it fertile territory for privateers and dark horses. Coming into the night program, one quote frequently heard was, “Anyone can win this.”

Heat One

With no practice, riders were given one sighting lap to figure out the course, and some riders even opted to skip even that, hoping for the advantage of clean bikes and uniforms, and less weight to carry around off the gate. Mike Brown had also opted to use a YZF450, rather than a two-stroke 250 that he’s planning to use when the U.S. 250cc season gets started.

When the gate dropped, Damon Huffman got the holeshot on his CR450F, but as they rounded the first turn, KTM-mounted Aussie, Cheyne Boyd, took over the lead in front of MotoworldRacing.com’s Daryl Hurley, and Huffman. With lots of standing water between the jumps, and the snotty clay, riders were struggling to get around the course.

Grant Langston moved up to second, mid-way through the heat, though Boyd had stretched his lead to 24 seconds over the U.S. 125cc National Champ.

Nearly all the riders went down at least once during the moto, before the checkers were mercifully thrown a couple laps early.

Heat One Qualifiers

  1. Cheyne Boyd
  2. Grant Langston
  3. Steve Boniface
  4. Jeremias Israel
  5. Daryl Hurley
  6. Joe Oehlhof
  7. Damon Huffman

Between heats, the Dirt Wurx crew came out and plowed some of the jumps (especially the finish line combo) in an effort to make the track more rideable. The program was also modified. The heats were shortened, and transferred seven riders each (instead of four), and the semis were eliminated. The LCQ transferred six riders, and the main was shortened from 20 laps to eight.

Heat Two

After seeing the carnage in the first heat, everyone sitting on the gate for heat two knew that the races were more like a survival contest, and that starts were more important than ever. Team MotoSport Outlet’s Craig Anderson grabbed holeshot, was passed by Team Subway’s Jason Thomas as they exited the first turn, and then Anderson went back into the lead.

A couple laps into the heat, Ando was passed by Xavier Hernandez, but shortly afterward, Xavier’s bike got stuck in the deep ruts. Mach 1 Motorsports’ Heath Voss also moved into second after passing JT$.

Shortly before the finish there was plenty of havoc, as Anderson went down, and Team ECC’s Tyler Evans put on a charge that moved him into the lead. One Punch took the win, followed by Heath Voss, Spaniard Alvaro Lozano, and James Povolny. Andrew Short’s bike was buried, and he ended up having to race the LCQ.

Heat Two Qualifiers

  1. Tyler Evans
  2. Heath Voss
  3. Alvaro Lozano
  4. James Povolny
  5. Clark Stiles
  6. Jeff Gibson
  7. Craig Anderson

LCQ

Even with the boost in transfer spots from the heat races, there were still some big names who didn’t have their ticket for the main event. Mike Brown and Ernesto Fonseca, Andrew Short, and last year’s top privateer, Keithh Johnson were all on the line.

By now the rain had ease off, but if anything, it made the track tougher, as more mud was sticking to the bikes. With a total of four pressure washers available, the teams were having a tough time with clean-up.

Greg Schnell took the win in the LCQ, followed by Mike Brown, Jean-Sebastien Roy, Jason Thomas, and Erick Vallejo. Andrew Short grabbed the last transfer spot, but the big shocker was Ernesto Fonseca, who reportedly had clutch problems, and got stuck on the track. He was on the sidelines for the main event.

LCQ Results

  1. Greg Schnell
  2. Mike Brown
  3. Jean-Sebastien Roy
  4. Jason Thomas
  5. Erick Vallejo
  6. Andrew Short

Main Event

With CCE’s stated goal of globalizing supercross to help it grow, they were probably encouraged that depending on how you count, there were nine countries represented on the line for the main event.

When the gate dropped, it was Jean-Sebastian Roy who jumped out to the early lead, but a quick crash (along with several other riders) had the start straight and first turn looking like a combination mud bog/yard sale. Boost Mobile/Yamaha of Troy’s Mike Brown took over the lead, followed by MotoworldRacing.com’s Daryl Hurley, and Team Subway’s Joe Oehlhof.

Nearly everyone on the track was using a two-legged dog paddle to get through the muck. Hurley went by Brown once, but couldn’t make it stick. A lap later he went by for a second time, when Brown stalled his big thumper after being pressured. Once in the lead, Hurley tossed his goggles while his RM250 blew steam from the radiator overflow.

On lap five, Brown went back by Hurley when the Kiwi stalled his Suzuki, but the lead didn’t last long, because Brown was soon sidelined. His bike was still running, but he was frantically working the adjuster in an effort to revive a dying clutch.

Meanwhile, Tyler Evans was charging towards Hurley, but tipped over on the last lap. After crossing the line, Hurley rode into the record books as the first Kiwi to win a World SX event, and ghost rode his Suzuki into the mud. The win was huge for Hurley, who has just come back from a serious foot injury suffered during last year’s U.S. National Series.

Hurley was followed across the line by Grant Langston, who rode an inspired race after being part of the yard sale in the first turn; and Tyler Evans, who manhandled his Suzuki into the final podium spot.

Seville will go down as one of the odder-looking races ever, but it sure did a good job of mixing things up. We’d expect that next week’s race in Arnhem, Holland, will provide a lot more predictable results, and thankfully it’s completely covered, so there will be no mud.

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Main Event Results

  1. Daryl Hurley; NZL, Suzuki
  2. Grant Langston; RSA, KTM
  3. Tyler Evans; USA, Suzuki
  4. Heath Voss; USA, Yamaha
  5. Steve Boniface; FRA, Suzuki
  6. James Polvolny; USA, Honda
  7. Alvaro Lozano; ESP, KTM
  8. Andrew Short; USA, Suzuki
  9. Clark Stiles; USA, Honda
  10. Joe Oehlhof; USA, Honda