Photos by James “GA Bound” Lissimore
Ahhh, Seattle. The home of the Space Needle, grunge, flannel and people who love the earth. I've always liked Seattle-I've always loved the Pacific Northwest really- I lived in Victoria, BC for a spell and used to work for a rider named Ty Birdwell based out of Astoria, Oregon so I've spent a serious amount of time in the area. I love the air, all the trees, the yummy coffee shops, the water, the islands everywhere and yup, even the rain. I also am a big fan of the Supersonics. Oops, sorry about that.
Well this race lacked a little drama and intrigue as we lost the only rider capable of challenging Ryan Dungey for the title when Ryan Villopoto went out last week with a broken leg/ankle/torn rib cartilage/whole body bruising but the real challenge for Dungey ( and the other riders) was the Seattle track. Always an adventure when you throw a race in Seattle in April, we all got lucky when the expected rain stayed away.
But the damage was already done to the dirt as it was really soft and saturated with water when the track was built. These conditions made the ruts get deep, the jumps get corroded and a challenge was laid down to the riders. Go ahead and just try to not make a mistake the Moto Gods seemed to be saying.
The Dirt Wurx guys almost always tame down the Seattle track because of the dirt and this week was no different. In fact after the track walk, there was more alterations done to make it easier to clear the triples and the rhythms were pretty basic.
Two-time Supercross champion Chad Reed took his pent-up frustrations to the media this week (including a podcast with me) and called out things that he didn't like in the supercross series. The two-two felt like the riders weren't getting listened to, the track designers didn't seem to care about the safety of the riders and he's legitimately worried about who was in charge of things in making sure the riders have a voice. So with that he was summoned to a meeting with Rich Winkler (owner of Dirt Wurx), John Gallagher (the AMA and FIM referee) and heads of Feld Entertainment to discuss the concerns.
As Reed told me afterwords, they weren't very happy with him going to the media but without the blitz, he felt that the meeting wouldn't have happened (and I agree with him on that.) So the good, bad and ugly was laid out there for everyone to talk about and Chad seemed to think that there was progress made and that the riders would get a voice in track obstacles that they feel are dangerous as well as some other things.
There was a little tension in Gallagher's voice at riders meeting when he basically explained to the riders that they need to go to him with any problems or concerns and not the media. Just a little shot across the bow I guess. I know that after Reed's podcast went out, I got a text from a high-profile rider that totally agreed with Chad and really wanted to get something going in the form of a riders committee on safety. I know that Reed spoke to him and hopefully these guys can get together and have a voice to try and make things better for everyone (promoters and track builders included.)
What a rider needed to win on this night was a smooth riding style, the ability to flow with the track, the gift of improvisational skills and a good start. With knowing all of this, it shouldn't have been much of a shock to see Kevin Windham win on this night. It wasn't just a win, it was a domination and KW was on it from the get go.
Oh and another thing, no one born and raised in California had a hope in hell of doing well at this race. It was as far from the hard, dusty SoCal conditions as you can get.
When KW was 3 seconds faster than anyone else in his heat race victory, we should've known that Kevin was going to be the man (also, practice was pushed back and cut to only one session so that hurt some riders that couldn't get used to the track) and then when he got the holeshot and checked out, well that was all she wrote for this race. Great, great ride for KW and his first win in slightly over two years.
When your teammate is trying desperately to make up a points deficit with only two races left and you're side by side with him down the first straight, the wise move might be to let him go and tuck in behind to provide cover (much like Wedge did for Luke in all the Star Wars movies.)
But if you're Blake Wharton of the GEICO Honda team, not only do you not let your teammate go but you dive to the inside in the second turn. At that point you do not continue with your inside line to come out down the next straight side-by-side with your battling-for-the-title teammate, nope- you ride out to the outside of the turn to block pass your teammate. Then your teammate falls down (and has to work up from last covered in mud) and you go on to lead the race, eventually fading back to fourth.
WHAT IN THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING BLAKE?
I don't know Wharton, he seems like a cool, funny dude but this was not a smart move by any means. Trey Canard was not happy on the podium and bit his tongue so bad he could probably taste the blood.
I imagine that "Iron" Mike Larocco, GEICO's team manager, had a few words with Wharton that probably came down like iron.
I don’t always like to play the What-if? game but what if Canard had stayed upright and was able to win the race? He’d make up a few more of those points and we’d have ourselves a race going into Salt Lake City. Maybe Jake Weimer sees Trey up front and pushes it harder and harder and maybe makes a few more mistakes and doesn’t finish on the podium.
A few other what ifs? for you:
What if Damon Bradshaw had won the 1992 SX title? I predict an entire different career path for him.
What if Tim Ferry hadn’t gotten me the job at Factory Yamaha in 2003? I bet I just would have groomed someone else for greatness.
What if Ben Townley quit racing and became a taxidermist? Well, I think he’d stab himself with the needles and maybe have a moose head fall on him.
What if JMB had cared enough to come back in 1993 and race SX? Maybe MC’s reign doesn’t exactly start off with such a bang.
What if RC had actually gotten hurt all those times he absolutely ate poop? Maybe Tim Ferry is your 450 outdoor champion (I will now attempt to slit my wrists with a very rare Tim Ferry SLC ’03 holeshot check I have in my garage.)
The big winner in the 250 class was Broc Tickle of Star Racing. The Michigan-by-way-of North Carolina rider rode a great race in leading every lap and capturing his first ever 250 victory. Tickle was solid and steady all main event. On a track like this, there were mistakes made by everyone and if you limited the screw-ups, you were going to do well. Congrats to the Star Racing guys, they've had a tough east coast series and good to see a good guy like Tickle win a race.
The only beef I have is the absolute lack of joy from Broc on the podium. It was sort of weird how he acted and how his voice was monotone throughout his speech. Hard to tell if he got 20th or 1st. Maybe he was scared of Larry Brooks who was no doubt trying to listen to his podium speech to see if Broc thanked his dog.
The first clue we should've paid attention to that would have indicated to us that Tommy Hahn was going to have a great night was when he shredded in the heat race. T-Hahn came from the back to get fourth but if you were watching him, you knew that he was on it. Like KW, there were just some guys that were at home in the ruts and slop and Tommy (and Wil) were. In the main event, Tommy crossed the flag in eighth and worked his way to second by hanging on and pinning it.
It was the highlight of the season for Tommy and I have to say, I can't remember another race where Hahn has stuck out good or bad. He's weirdly had a quiet season, you never notice him for being super fast or, the flip side, being super slow. Congrats to Tommy and his team on Hahn's first ever podium.
As I alluded to earlier, Wil Hahn was at home as well at Seattle. I spoke to team manager David Pingree earlier in the week and he was very pumped on Wil's riding and said that he was going to win. Normally I don't buy into such hyperbole but Ping-a-ling was so convincing that I bought it. In fact, I bought two. Wil Hahn was my pick for the win, I told everyone and I even Tweeted it (pulpmx)…Jake Weimer, the series points leader called me on it but I stood my ground.
And if it wasn't for that damm Broc Tickle I would've looked like a genius! Wil started out strong and rode a great race to get second. He has really turned it on this year after some pretty good rides last season on a KTM. I'm not claiming to be a motocross talent scout but when Ping was asking me what I thought of some riders last year, I claimed that Wil was the best of the bunch and informed Ping (because he wasn't at the east coast races) that Wil really came on last year, showed speed and heart and looked to be a guy on the upswing. Did I just take credit for the marvelous Ping/Hahn marriage? Yes, I think I did.
So Tommy and Wil Hahn became the first brother duo to podium different classes in supercross (and probably nationals as far as anyone knows. We can't be 100% sure because apparently the AMA doesn't actually like to publish any results archive. I can probably go to probadminton.com or whatever and found out who won a tourney in 1942 but not motocross…I'm getting going now. My blood is boiling…) anyways we do know that Tyson and Tallon Vohland podiumed a 125 supercros back in the day but anyways…great job to the Hahn brothers and congratulations to Kansas on having the fastest riders to ever come from there.
Let's take a look at the top twenty from each class:
1 20 Broc Tickle- Next week Broc will save a lady from a burning building and then run away from the news crew wanting to talk to him.
2 49 Wil A Hahn
3 12 Jake T Weimer- Jake the Snake went down early in the main and had a terrific race coming from the back to salvage a podium.
4 21 Blake Wharton
5 116 Ryan Morais
6 100 Joshua Hansen- Little Hanny had the fastest lap of the night and was on the move early but fell over, got tired and could only finish sixth. If Pourcel isn't interested in trying at Vegas, I think Hanny wins the shootout. Stamp it.
7 200 Cole Seely
8 175 Phillip J Nicoletti- Nicoletti got a factory KTM this weekend and backed up his great privateer rides with this finish. The New Yorker probably felt right at home out there in the ruts.
9 48 Max Anstie- Anstie won his first heat and completed a remarkable comeback from a serious injury earlier this year. A crash on the first lap left him dead last after lap 1 so this result is great.
10 126 Hunter Hewitt
11 38 Trey G Canard
12 585 Travis A Baker
13 801 Jeff Alessi
14 68 Robert S Kiniry- Kiniry had to get in via the LCQ and tried hard the whole race but fell a few times.
15 592 Jake M Canada- Doing it for his country, you have to admire that.
16 63 Sean D Borkenhagen
17 102 Christopher Gosselaar
18 222 Chris C Howell
19 642 Joey H Ruminer
20 103 Ryan J Abrigo- Wow, blast from the past. Abrigo, a former Motorsport Outlet rider made the main.
1 14 Kevin W Windham- KW was the man. It's that simple.
2 10 Thomas K Hahn
3 23 Justin D Brayton
4 5 Ryan M Dungey
5 18 David D Millsaps
6 27 Nicholas A Wey- NYK had a good ride, in fact the best ride that you're not going to read about anywhere. He's back on the factory team as well.
7 26 Michael Byrne- Byrner's starts are coming back and JGR will know this week if they are keeping him for the outdoors or not.
8 22 Chad Reed- The two-two fell in the first turn and that probably didn't help out his desire to be there. He put his head down and rode hard to the end.
9 29 Andrew T Short- Shorty had a decent ride going on early. He was in the top five and then, with twenty feet to go and in sixth, stalled his bike and three dudes got by him. A real shame I tells ya. Somehow, I blame Gothic.
10 55 Kyle P Chisholm- Chisholm was on it early and challenged for a podium before getting tight and dropping back. In my opinion, Motoconcepts is crazy for letting this guy go after supercross.
11 47 Matt Boni- Boni needs surgery after the season on a bad knee. He's riding it out…
12 338 Jason D Lawrence- He's just another guy out there right now and each week it gets harder to remember when he was so special. The thing is, off the track he’s probably in a better place and that's a trade off he should take.
13 32 Kyle B Cunningham- Cunningham jumped to the 450 class this week and was pretty good. Sure 13th isn't the bees knees but for his first time in 450’s, on this track, it was good.
14 252 Justin F Keeney
15 67 Chris Blose
16 65 Troy K Adams- T-Roy jumped to the 450's and was doing better before a late race crash on a triple forced him out.
17 57 Jarred Jet Browne
18 124 Ryan D Clark
19 75 Joshua R Hill- Hometown hero Hill had a tough night. That's surprising because in the past, the shittier the track, the better Josh has done. Not a good night.
20 644 Kyle D Partridge
Some silly season gossip has Millsaps talking to Valli Yamaha (they had some meetings this week to figure out their situation next year), BBMX wanting to step up and get a top guy and Pourcel to Honda or Suzuki. On the Pulpmx Show, Ryan Villopoto confirmed that he's shopping around as well but I would bet he'll stay at Kawi.
Congrats to Justin Brayton on his first ever 450 podium. This has been coming for Brayton for a little while, he's been fast in practice and heats but couldn't put it together in the mains. This week he could only muster the ninth best time but that led to a great heat race and main event. Perhaps that's the key for JB- have some crappy practices.
So all in all, 3 out of the 6 riders on the podiums were first time guys. So there were some happy riders at the end of the night. Tickle was probably still mad though…
Rider turn-out wasn't the greatest this week as everyone made the show in the 250 class and only one guy in the 450's was eliminated. If you were Carl Schlacht and was the only guy that signed up and couldn't race…well that sucks for you.
Trey Canard was the only guy in either class that jumped the triple on the very first lap. Ladies and Gentlemen, your Seattle Bad-Ass member!
With the program being pushed back so that the first practices didn't get started until 4 o'clock, things in the pits were pretty laid back. They were so laid back that one team manager walking the track told me that he was a little happy from some beverages he had at a local restaurant!
And no, the manager was not Mike Larocco. I know he was the first guy many of you thought of.
I can't believe that I went this far down without talking about Davi Millsaps. The Saps rode great and in my eyes was definitely the second fastest rider inside Quest Field last Saturday night. In the main he went down on the second straight and found himself in 19th place (the only rider behind him was Chad Reed who probably figured Rich Winkler set a bear-trap in the first turn for him) and had his work cut out for him. Davi ripped through the pack, passing riders two and three at a time before finding himself inside the top five and looking good for a podium. Then he tipped over, had a small problem with his throttle, pulled into the mechanics area and by the time all that was over, he was outside the top ten.
But that wasn't going to stop the 18 and he got back on his horse and ripped through the pack again. By the time the checkers flew, he was in fifth. For as many times as I've cracked on him for his uninspired rides, it's only fair to write about times like this that make you think "Holy shit, Davi Millsaps is fast."
Jeremy Albrecht told me after the main that he walked around the track and the ruts were past his kneecap in some spots. Crazy!
With Ryan Villopoto out, it was a foregone conclusion that Ryan Dungey would win the 450 SX championship and after the race RD received his number 1 plate from the AMA. It's a remarkable achievement for Ryan and one that is to be remembered by all of us that follow the series for a long time. I don't know if it was because he had a week to think about it or whatever but he was pretty sedate on the podium. The Dunge must have gone to the "Broc Tickle School of Celebrations."
Thanks for reading and send me an email if you'd like to chat at email@example.com. I'm convinced that the staff of TWMX doesn't actually read this thing because there's been absolutely no conversations with me in regards to actually getting a TWMX email. So until that talk happens, send it to the above address.