Observations, the column that the pros read!

Observations, the column that the pros read!

This weekend we were in Mt Morris for round three of the AMA outdoor nationals. I never really know whether to call the race High Point (which is the name of the track) or Mt Morris (which is what MXA always called it and therefore, that's what I know it by) but for this report, I'm going to call it Mt Morris because it's eight letters and High Point is nine and I'm lazy and that one less keystroke I'm going to be saving will benefit me later when I need my energy to eat.

I've been either a mechanic or a journalist full-time on the circuit for 14 years and I have to say that, although I've never gone to every race in one season (always missed a race because I wanted to just stay home, wife had a reunion, I had Indy dealer show) Mt Morris is one race that I think I've been to every single year since 1996 (just missed the Damon Bradshaw comeback in '95 which immediately would have made my top five "I have goosepumps and just pooped my pants" moments") and the track is always one of my favorites on the circuits.

The riders don't always like it as it seems that you're never straight up and down, the whole track is a series of off-cambers and turns. One thing that's positive is the addition of Marc Peters coming out and building the jumps and looking at some different options. The riders all seem to be pumped about the jumps and the transitions to them.

A couple of changes have been made in recent years that I am not a fan of. I love tradition and think that my visit to Fenway Park was one of my life's highlights (right ahead of getting married but below seeing three games at Maple Leaf Gardens) so having said that, I miss the obstacles on "Bradshaw Boulevard" which is the section where the mechanics are now. The old mechanics area was great and not sure why they moved it but the flat section where there used to be nothing but a cool rhythm section is anti-climatic. The other fixI don't like is when the track ran across the starting line and made a hard left. The berm would always invariably get pushed all the way to a wood wall that was there and the riders would bounce off that in a real cool manner. I don't know, call me crazy but I liked that stuff at Mt Morris.

The Dunge has the red plate and doesn't seem like he wants to give it up very easily.

The Dunge has the red plate and doesn't seem like he wants to give it up very easily.

Well in the span of two weeks, the supercross champion has grabbed a hold of this 450 outdoor title and everything seems to be fine with Ryan Dungey. The Dunge followed up his 1-1 ride in Texas last weekend with another 1-1 this weekend at Mt Morris. Ryan was on another level this weekend and it showed in the second moto when Andrew Short shot out to a pretty good lead and Ryan put his head down and caught the Honda Red Rider near the end of the moto. He didn't need to get Shorty for the overall, he could've checked up but he kept pushing and pushing to get him near the end.

Combine that with points leader Chad Reed's horrific day (the only person whose day went worse than Chad's was mine when I slipped walking up a hill in the mud and ate shit) and Ryan moved into the points lead by a full moto. Reed ended up dropping to fourth.

Hangtown seems so, so far away right now huh?

The road to American motocross hasn't been easy for former World Champion Tyla Rattray. He's always wanted to come to America and years ago, he was on the fast track to a world title when he got hurt. Then he got hurt again. And again. Finally years later, he captured the long deserved world title and he quickly jumped over the ocean to America. Rattray and Mitch Payton have long been friends and Mitch made him a deal- win the world title and you have a ride.

So, despite another year on his factory KTM deal, Tyla asked to get out of the deal and chase his dream. The South African came over last year with his GP rival Tommy Searle and both riders didn't struggle but they also didn't set the world on fire either. Tyla's season was interrupted by an injury he suffered at Red Bud and although he came back and won a moto at Southwick, it was hard to look at his season as anything but a disappointment. For 2010, he was planning on racing supercross but got hurt again before the season started.

Then just when he was getting ready to come back, you guessed it, he got hurt again. So that was it for Rattray and sx. And if you're Pro Circuit, you're looking at a guy that had only raced 15 races out of a possible 39 (8 sx's x 2 years and 24 motos) and the ROI on his signing wasn't looking very good.

Tyla won and good for him I say. You can't really find anyone to say anything bad about the guy. Now myself on the other hand...

Tyla won and good for him I say. You can't really find anyone to say anything bad about the guy. Now myself on the other hand...

So it was paramount that Tyla (who's in the last year of his deal) do something in the 2010 motocross season. Like a save-your-ride-type deal here. And at Hangtown, Tyla (who's one of the nicest guys in the pits and definitely someone you want to cheer for) went 8-16 and that's not going to cut it if he wanted to keep racing in the land of In-n-Out Burgers. So things didn't look great for Ratters but in Freestone a light switch went on and he rode great in winning the second moto. He charged hard in the first moto as well and ended up second overall.

So now that I've devoted 400 words to Tyla Rattray's American career so far, let's talk about his ride at Mt Morris. A 2-2 score got him his first career overall and a spot in the record books. He rode really well both motos, got great starts and closed in on the consensual best rider in the class, Christophe Pourcel in the second moto. Keep in mind also that he only qualified with the 16th best time. As he says in THIS interview  it's been a long road and he wants to stay here next year. Payton has told me that "Styla" was riding supercross VERY well until he got hurt so clearly, the skill is there.

Chad Reed was the points leader going into Mt Morris and last year he won his first career 450 race at this track in a great ride but this year, it, uhhhhh, didn't go so well. Reed didn't get the start he needed in moto one, got roosted and had a goggle lens pop out and rode around to a 13th. Second time out, he came together with Ben Townley's motorcycle and broke his front brake caliper. He pulled into the mechanic's area and decided to call it a day. There are plenty of tracks that you could ride without a front brake but Mt Morris isn't one of them.

What do you think of when I say the words Brett Metcalfe? Solid rider, fast, works hard, good guy and is the king of making podiums but yet has never won a race. His Achilles heel is his tendency to get injured but you can't fault the guy for his hard work and dedication to the sport. He's a good guy to have on your team and a solid rider.

Well I think you can now add the title "championship contender" to things you can think of when someone says the words "Brett Metcalfe" because this weekend he continued to ride strong in his first season on the 450's. So far his moto scores have been 5-4-6-4-5-3 and he's now second in the points. I know some people may think that he doesn't have the blazing speed to win motos and races but it's a long series and if he's there each and every single weekend, he'll be there in the end. A few people have asked me why he's so much better on the 450 but I don't think he is, I just think that no one remembers that, when healthy, he was a podium guy in the 250's.

I watched the first motos from the roof of his motorhome as well so I would just like to thank him for that. He said he wanted some money for me to do that but I think (and hope) he was joking. I'll keep looking for a bill in the mail.

Everybody get back on-board the Barcia bandwagon! It was getting a little empty with a bunch of people going over to that Tomac one. Sugarbear II won the first moto  at Mt Morris.

Everybody get back on-board the Barcia bandwagon! It was getting a little empty with a bunch of people going over to that Tomac one. Sugarbear II won the first moto at Mt Morris.

You know who is the real deal in the 250 class? Blake Bagget, that's who! Blake has been absolutely on fire in the nationals but has very little to show for it until this weekend. Last week in Texas, he was moving to the front very, very quickly when his bike broke. This weekend he started outside the top ten both motos and worked all the way to third in the first moto. It was a great ride and came with the rain falling at that. Second moto he went down (I think) but still finished top ten and just narrowly missed out on his first mx podium. He's been really good and getting more and more confidence as he goes on. Not sure what his current team is doing next year but I do know that some heavy hitters are lining up to get him on-board next season.

Let's take a look at the finishes from Mt Morris:

250
1 28 Tyla Rattray Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 2 2 44
2 377 Christophe Pourcel Groveland Kawasaki KX 250F 4 1 43
3 21 Blake Wharton Aubrey, TX Honda CRF250R 8 3 33- Good for Blake to finally score a good result this year. It's been a rough year for the kid from Texas and the podium I'm sure is long time coming.
4 66 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM Z250 3 9 32
5 108 Dean Wilson Menifee Kawasaki KX 250F 5 6 31- Wilson rebounded from his Texas meltdown (literally and figuratively) with a solid ride.
6 20 Broc Tickle Holly, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 9 5 28
7 38 Trey Canard Shawnee, OK Honda CRF250R 14 4 25
8 17 Justin Barcia Ochlocknee, GA Honda CRF250R 1 21 25- Barcia won the first moto in a commanding ride and all of us on the wagon got very excited. Then we all got bummed out when he started poorly in the second moto and then smashed the header pipe on his bike. BOOOOOOO!
9 577 Martin Davalos Cairo, GA Yamaha YZ 250F 11 7 24
10 12 Jake Weimer Rupert, ID Kawasaki KX 250F 7 11 24- Weimer deserves better than this. He crashed while in 3rd in the first moto. Remember last year when he turned it on after Mt Morris?
11 49 William Hahn Decatur, TX Honda CRF250R 12 8 22- I spoke to Wil after the race and he was happy with his day because, in his words, he "sucked" last year at this track.
12 19 Tommy Searle Murrieta KTM 250 SXF 6 15 21
13 341 Nico Izzi Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 13 12 17- Izzi deserved a better fate this weekend. He was way back in the first moto and worked his way to 10th before crashing. Second moto he was in 5th forever when he crashed and dropped back. So technically, he should've gone 10-5 but instead, he went 13-12. The motocross gods have spoken and they are cruel sometimes.
14 36 Darryn Durham Butler, PA Honda CRF250R 16 10 16- I saw Phil Alderton, the old Honda of Troy owner/manager under the new Honda of Troy's tent. Welcome back Flipper.
15 50 Alex Martin Millville, MN Honda CRF250R 15 13 14- Good finish for the leader of the Ewoks.
16 243 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Honda CRF250R 10 19 13- Hey Eli, welcome to the pros! You're supposed to struggle like this as a first year kid. Eli will be back…
17 200 Cole Seely Newbury Park, CA Honda CRF250R 25 14 7- Someone told me that Seely had the fastest lap time in the second moto so I went to the charts and there's only 34 riders who's time is listed. And Seely is one of the unlucky six so I guess we'll never know.
18 61 Vince Friese Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 17 18 7
19 92 Michael Willard Newark, OH Honda CRF250R 20 16 6
20 87 Les Smith York, SC Honda CRF250R 23 17 4
21 175 Phillip Nicoletti Bethal, NY KTM 250 SXF 18 20 4
22 172 Jeffrey Gibson Blacklick, OH Honda CRF250R 19 23 2
23 126 Hunter Hewitt Pilot Point, TX Suzuki RM Z250 22 22 0- It's got to really suck to race hard both motos and go 22-22 and just miss out on points both motos.
24 834 Hunter Clements Weston, MO Honda CRF250R 21 24 0
25 90 Willy Browning Pleasantville, OH KTM 250 SX-F 24 28 0
26 991 Branden Miller Fisherville, TN Kawasaki KX 250F 28 26 0
27 521 Kyle Gills Wiggins, MS Kawasaki KX 250F 30 27 0
28 166 Dakota Tedder Surfside, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 26 32 0
29 211 Tevin Tapia Federal Way, WA KTM 250 SXF 35 25 0
30 918 Michael Akaydin Louisville, KY Kawasaki KX 250F 27 34 0
31 731 Steve Roman Apollo, PA Yamaha YZ 250F 31 31 0
32 613 James DeCotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF250R 29 36 0
33 133 Myles Martin Tedder Surfside, CA Kawasaki KX 250F 33 33 0
34 370 Drew Yenerich New Lenox, IL Yamaha YZ 250F 39 29 0
35 520 Tony Gallo Valley City, OH Honda CRF250R 38 30 0
36 565 Preston Mull Livingston, CA Honda CR250R 32 38 0
37 733 Steven Mages Sardinia, OH Honda CRF250R 34 37 0
38 31 Matthew Lemoine Collinsville, TX Suzuki RM Z250 37 35 0- What happened to this guy? He's pretty talented and is struggling. Come to think of it, the Suzuki City team is having one of those years.
39 962 Eric Brown Macclesfield, NC Suzuki RMZ 450 36 40 0
40 48 Max Anstie Hemet, CA Yamaha YZ 250F 40 39 0

Something's up with Mikey. He'll get to the bottom of it and hey, he's still third in the points.

Something's up with Mikey. He'll get to the bottom of it and hey, he's still third in the points.

450

1 5 Ryan Dungey Belle Plaine, MN Suzuki RMZ 450 1 1 50
2 29 Andrew Short Smithville, TX Honda CRF450R 3 2 42
3 24 Brett Metcalfe Lake Elsinore, CA Honda CRF450R 6 3 35
4 101 Ben Townley Corona, CA Honda CRF450R 4 6 33- BT received the RC Hard Charger award at riders meeting and walked past me and asked if I wanted the award and then followed it up with “This is not the thing that I really want to win.”
5 800 Mke Alessi Victorville, CA KTM 350 SXF 7 5 30- Maybe it's just me but watching Mike out there and then again on TV, I don't think his bike looks like it handles that well. It's very busy going into the turns compared to his peers. It's 100% possible that I don't know what I'm talking about also. For more from Mike, listen to THIS.
6 35 Matthew Goerke Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 5 7 30- Hey, look who's back! Georke has a good ride to get 6th overall on the day. Quietly, very quietly but fast.
7 10 Thomas Hahn Decatur, TX Suzuki RMZ 450 11 4 28- great ride for T-Hahn in the second moto.
8 33 Josh Grant Riverside, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 2 24 22- Grant was flying in the first moto and the machine named Ryan Dungey got him late in the moto for the win. Second time out, he suffered a front flat and it took him three laps to pull in for the team to change it. As a result, he was way back and did what he could to get points. It didn't work.
9 46 Ryan Sipes Flaherty, KY Yamaha YZ 450F 10 11 21- Sipes was in the top five early in the second moto before he crashed.
10 32 Kyle Cunningham Fort Worth, TX Yamaha YZ 450F 9 12 21
11 18 David Millsaps Murrieta, CA Honda CRF450R 8 13 21- Davi was much higher in the second moto when he crashed. He was going for 5th against his arch-rival Alessi.
12 23 Justin Brayton Cornelius, NC Yamaha YZ 450F 14 8 20- JB23 made his first appearance of the year from an injury and he’ll get better from here. I spoke to him briefly and he crashed and landed right on his sore ribs. Call me nuts, but they make these things called chest protectors.
13 55 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL Yamaha YZ 450F 12 10 20- The Chiz got screwed. A 12-10 will almost always get you a top ten overall finish. Not on this day though, he actually did worse overall than any of his moto scores.
14 27 Nicholas Wey DeWitt, MI Kawasaki KX 450F 15 9 18- Wey had some goggle issues in the first moto but second time out, he got his first top ten of the year.
15 122 Daniel Reardon Menifee Yamaha YZ 450F 16 14 12
16 58 Weston Peick Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 19 15 8
17 8 Grant Langston Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 18 16 8- GL returned to racing after missing Texas and I'm sure his results will improve from here.
18 1 Chad Reed Australia Kawasaki KX 450F 13 33 8
19 134 Travis Sewell Westville, IN Yamaha YZ 450F 21 17 4
20 712 Matt Moss Temecula, CA Suzuki RM Z450 17 31 4- Matt was in second for a couple of laps in the second moto before going down. And I finally saw that he wears ONE Industries gear. Who knew?
21 57 Jarred Browne Nuevo, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 35 18 3
22 69 Adam Chatfield banning, CA Kawasaki KX 450F 23 19 2
23 687 Garret Toth Carlisle, PA Honda CRF450R 26 20 1 Mom, Dad, Gram, Pap, Brother- Check out the sponsor list. Got to love it.
24 42 Ben Evans Boise, ID Kawasaki KX 450F 20 26 1
25 209 Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL Kawasaki KX 450F 24 21 0
26 167 Ryan Mills Clintondale, NY KTM 450 SX-F 28 22 0- He's back!
27 241 Derek Anderson Arvada, CO Kawasaki KX 450F 27 23 0
28 771 Terren ODell Siloam Springs, AR Yamaha YZ 450F 25 30 0
29 376 Ray Leybovich Woodbourne, NY Yamaha YZ 450F 32 25 0
30 43 Steven Clarke Cairo, GA Suzuki RM Z250 22 35 0
31 251 Joshua Clark North Franklin, CT Kawasaki KX 450F 31 27 0
32 606 Ronnie Stewart Easton, PA Suzuki RMZ 450 30 29 0
33 597 Mitchell Dougherty Whitesboro, NY Honda CRF450R 33 28 0
34 774 Robby Marshall Stow, MA Kawasaki KX 450F 29 34 0
35 461 Dave Ginolfi Lake Ginolfi, NJ KTM 450 SX-F 37 32 0- Mandingo Pickles!
36 201 Cameron Rodriguez Apple Valley, CA Honda CRF450R 36 36 0
37 242 Andrew Matusek Fayetteville, GA Kawasaki KX 450F 34 40 0
38 26 Michael Byrne Park City, UT Yamaha YZ 450F 39 37 0- Byrner broke a bone in his hand and will be out for a while. When it rains, it pours for him.
39 157 Sean Hackley Jr. Ovilla, TX Kawasaki KX 450F 38 39 0
40 41 Kyle Regal Kemp, TX Honda CRF450R 40 38- Regal never lined up for the motos due to a concussion suffered in practice. He somehow beat two guys in the second moto though.

Shorty was on fire in the second moto. Too bad Dungey was a fire extinguisher.

Shorty was on fire in the second moto. Too bad Dungey was a fire extinguisher.

Andrew Short had a nice weekend after a horrible Texas race. He shot out into the lead and he looked to be in a good spot to win the moto before the Dungey train came roaring through. Still his 3-2 on the day got him a second overall and hopefully Shorty can get some confidence from this and keep digging out of the massive hole he's created for himself early on this season.

I spoke to him HERE and he said that Ryan had some better lines and he just tightened up a bit and lost the mojo when he was in the lead. I don't think it's a case of Shorty sucks and lost the lead and should retire, I think it's a case of Ryan Dungey just being that good.

It was a big day for Matthes and Team Honda! I roomed with Shorty's mechanic Gothic Jay on Friday night, I went to dinner with the whole team that night (minus Millsaps, Kehoe, Drew and Betley), I won credit card roulette so I got a free meal (some sucker had to pony up $278.00 and it wasn't me!) and then on Saturday night, I went to Outback with Trey Canard, Mama Canard and Tim Ferry. It was a good time and Trey even bought dinner! So in effect, I ate for free and people who work for Honda or ride for Honda paid for it. The Red Riders rule!

Josh Grant had another up and down day. Soon, he will have an up-up day and it'll be over for everyone.

Josh Grant had another up and down day. Soon, he will have an up-up day and it'll be over for everyone.

My buddy Tim Ferry was there once again helping out Trey Canard. I don't think they're officially in bed with each other yet…still dancing around each other and feeling each other up…errr out I mean. Trey was in third in the second moto before he scrubbed the big double in the middle of the track. He scrubbed so hard he drug his footpeg up the face and ate poop. So then the whole pack ran him over, he had to get up and work hard to get a fourth by the end.

Thanks for reading, see you next week! steve@directmotocross.com if you want to chat.