Photos by James Lissimore
We're getting down to the nitty-gritty in the supercross. Ryan Dungey and Ryan Villopoto are going at it to decide who wins their first ever 450 supercross title. Christophe Pourcel is trying to defend his 250 east coast championship, Davi Millsaps is trying to eliminate another substance from his protein drinks, Justin Barcia is trying to not get a ticking time bomb sent to MTF care of "the entire 250 class" and Honda is just finishing with the "d" in Trey Canard's 2011 Honda contract.
The Monster Energy Supecross series faced a monster of a problem this week as the series headed north to Canada and more specifically, Toronto, Ontario. What would happen if you held a supercross and no racers showed up? Well we almost found out that answer when there was only 23 450 riders entered for the race. It was decided that there would be LCQ held to only eliminate 3 riders and everybody made the main!
So what's up with this bizarre occurrence? Well a few things I think make this happen. One is the injuries to a good portion of the riders right now, two is the long distance from the last round in Daytona and the next round in Dallas. If you're a privateer, you have to look long and hard at whether or not it's worth the money and time to make the trek up north. I really think this week was an aberration but it did make for a little bizarro-sx at times.
I had more than a few people ask me where in the hell all the Canadian racers are (I got a lot of questions and complaints about Canada directed towards me. Like Michael Byrne wanted to know why the white lines on the freeway weren't there. And someone asked me about the Loonie and Toonie thing again. And then there was the mechanic that asked me why there are no guns allowed in Canada) but to get into the politics of Canadian motocross and why there were no Canadians racing, well let's just say it disgusts me and I hope one day my home country can get their shit together when it comes to motocross.
Before we get too far into this thing, check out these fun facts about the city of Toronto:
-One quarter of Canada's population lives within a 160 km radius of Toronto
-There are 100 + languages spoken throughout the city
-Toronto is Canada's number one tourist destination
-Toronto is the largest and most important financial centre in all of Canada and the fourth largest in North America. Only New York city, Chicago and Los Angeles are larger.
-Yonge Street is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest street in the world, stretching 1,896 km from the lakeshore in Toronto, north to Rainy River, Ontario, near the Minnesota border.
-Toronto is home to the world’s tallest free-standing structure, the CN Tower standing 1,815 feet (553 meters) tall.
-The cities hockey club, the Toronto Maple Leafs, are a powerhouse in the NHL and will soon win the Stanley Cup.
Ok, I might have made one of those facts up but nevertheless, you should all try to make it to the Toronto race at some time or another.
The crowd is pretty good, the hosers are into it and I don't think that I've heard a louder cheer for the freestyle guys than I heard this week. Let's hope this race comes back for the foreseeable future because I want to keep on going to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When I walked the track, I thought it was cool. There were some cool obstacles like a half-jump/half-flat thing before the finish. A sand trap, long whoops and a few different twists that we normally don't see. Like a twist in a straightaway even. It was a little weird with the straightaways being bent in a little bit and there was some switchbacks out there. I loved the jump going into the first turn as well.
So I liked it but no one seemed to. The riders I spoke to were not big fans, the industry dudes weren't big fans, heck, even the fans weren't big fans! I thought it was unique and a breath of fresh air but then again, I also think that GNR's Chinese Democracy was amazing.
I think I might have been proven wrong because there weren't any real races the entire night. I'm talking knock-down, drag out, bar to bar (get the Vaseline, I'm coming through!) battles. It was strange to say the least. The 450 heat races were seriously so weird (there's that word again) because everybody made the main so all the guys were on cruise mode (Davi Millsaps excluded as he tried hard to catch RV in his heat. Maybe it was the 10K bonus from Honda that motivated him right there.) and it looked like a parade route out there. Dungey won his heat by 25 seconds. That's in nine laps people. So maybe it was the track, maybe it was the lack of entries, maybe the heat was all left at customs- I don't know.
I spoke to Ryan Villopoto about the points chase and if he's done the math and what he needs to do, etc, etc. But RV told me he just needs to win. He doesn't care about what has to happen and all that. He's a racer, checking up and thinking about stuff isn't on the top of his mind most times out on the track. He works hard at winning races and that's what he did this weekend. RV took the lead from the surprising Trey Canard (he should just change his name to "The Surprising Trey Canard" or TSTC for short) with a nice move and won his fifth supercross this year to close up the points even more.
RV was also telling me that the Toronto dirt was right up his alley. All rutty, soft and chewable (sorry, I was thinking of chocolate chip cookies) he seemed to be looking forward to it. Or maybe he was joking, I'm not really sure. He never let on that he was and I'm curious to know if he was actually bummed as the Toronto dirt turned out to be excellent. A little like Binghamton, but still pretty good.
I'm impressed with Ryan Dungey and how he's fighting hard and still looking, at least to me, that he's taking risks out there. He's got a pretty big points lead still but isn't making it easy on the other Ryan. He's right there and charging hard. We haven't seen these two really get "into" it yet this year and they can talk all they want about respect and all that but the banging and stuffing is coming. Just you all wait.
We've all been waiting for this. And by "this" and "we" I mean the people on the Justin Barcia bandwagon waiting for the kids first win. I'm practically driving the thing and was happy to see "SugarBear II" win his first AMA supercross.
Look, there are people that enjoy crunching numbers and sitting at a desk all day conversing with their friend Bob about how the water cooler isn't the right temperature. Those people are Christophe Pourcel fans. They like the beautiful, flowing, all coming together in perfect harmony riding style. They are absolutely correct in their love for all things perfect and everything working out in the end (and by working out, I mean the 250 east sx championship that he will likely win).
Then there are the dudes that have no job and surf waves all day. They are free thinkers, excited about life and never know what they are going to do tomorrow. They are the Justin Barcia fans and these are the people that love his go for broke riding style, his screw-ups and his over eagerness. They would look for a move where they could jump across a corner and save time. When it all comes together (and it did in Toronto) it's a thing of beauty as well. Of course Justin's win didn't come without some adventures in lapperland and an off-track excursion.
So congrats to Barcia on the win and team manager Mike Larocco must just be grinning ear to ear thinking about meshing his mindset with this kids for the next few years. To hear what Barcia and Canard told me about their races, click HERE.
Austin Stroupe has come about as close to winning one of the races this year as you can possibly get. The number 45 has calmed it down a bit from his youth and is putting a great season so far. His 2-2-2-2 finishes just might get him a title at the end of the year (there's another rider on a Suzuki that once won a championship by not winning any races. A great warrior he turned out to be. I will now go bash my head in with a frying pan.) I'm going to come out and say it right now, Stroupe is going to win at Jacksonville. There it is. Stamp it.
Ho hum, another 450 race and another podium for Trey Canard. The kid from Okie captured the holeshot and led the opening laps in another display of 450 mastery. I have to laugh at the people that say he should make it easier on the 40 regulars. No he shouldn't! It's not near the end of the series yet and he's fighting for a ride next season. Now, if he gets alongside one of the guys and there's an opening to "Josh Grant" him then I say no, back off and let the guys at the top of the standings take it. But by no means should he make it easy on them. He's a racer and racing is what he does dammit!
1 17 Justin L Barcia
2 45 Austin L Stroupe
3 1 Christophe Pourcel- Took a hard digger in his heat race and then picked up a tuff block cover in the main event. Typical Pourcel, he just calmly stopped and removed it. It cost him a chance at a win but on the other hand, it might have saved him a DNF or a trip over the bars.
4 108 Dean A Wilson
5 46 Ryan Sipes- Sipes and Barcia got into in during the first practice and it left Barcia on the ground. The vets aren't going to do this kid any favors and like KW said on the Moto Show, the reason he goes so fast is to keep the guys from catching him and knocking him down.
6 24 Brett Metcalfe
7 32 Kyle B Cunningham- The new Valli Yamaha rider matched the teams best finish with his seventh.
8 65 Troy K Adams-Adams won me $20 bucks when he correctly finished in the top eight which is exactly what I called him for. Can you believe a guy on his own team bet against him?
9 92 Michael L Willard- Being in Canada probably inspired this former Canadian champion as he put in his best ride of the year so far.
10 341 Nico A Izzi
11 61 Vince A Friese
12 69 Adam B Chatfield
13 64 Taylor C Futrell
14 412 Levi Kilbarger
15 577 Martin Davalos- What happened to Davalos? Your guess is as good as mine.
16 613 James A Decotis
17 43 Steven J Clarke
18 40 Jake Moss-Tough season for Moss.
19 66 Blake Baggett- Tough night for the Rockstar/Canidae Suzuki team with Bagget's crash. If you count Morais, the team really had a rough night.
20 31 Matthew J Lemoine
1 2 Ryan D Villopoto
2 5 Ryan M Dungey- A part of me thinks it's cool when the rider has his real hometown listed on the AMA sheets. Like they haven't forgotten their "roots" or something like that. Our top two guys keep it real in this respect.
3 38 Trey G Canard
4 9 Ivan Tedesco-Quietly, Tedesco rebounds from a bad Daytona. I saw his fingers from his crash and they looked ugly.
5 14 Kevin W Windham- The old man got a bad start and worked his way through the pack to get a hard earned fifth.
6 75 Joshua R Hill- Hill got a little tired out there but he really can't ride during the week due to injury so maybe we should cut him some slack. He was flying in practice though.
7 27 Nicholas A Wey- Back on the privateer Ti-Lube Kawasaki and still has a good finish.
8 10 Thomas K Hahn
9 23 Justin D Brayton- JB23 is riding with a brace on his thumb from a Daytona crash. In the heat race his bike broke but with no LCQ, he didn't seem to have the same urgency when he pushed it off.
10 47 Matt Boni –Boni's best finish of the year.
11 55 Kyle P Chisholm
12 26 Michael Byrne- Byrner got a flat tire and lost about 27 positions in the closing laps.
13 67 Chris Blose – Fell in the sand when he was up there.
14 62 Jason W Thomas- Haven't seen the JT of the early rounds in the last few weeks. With no LCQ to win this week, he was probably a little rattled.
15 58 Weston L Peick- This was Peick's best finish of the year.
16 247 Teddy P Parks
17 252 Justin F Keeney
18 149 Casey J Hinson
19 18 David D Millsaps- Was catching Canard late in the race when he went down and looked to have knocked the wind out of himself.
20 57 Jarred Jet Browne
21 643 Jake A Oswald
22 688 Adam C Martin- Sorry Adam but you didn't belong out there. A beneficiary of the low rider turn-out, Martin was smart enough to stay out of the way of the top guys until he crashed out.
23 116 Ryan Morais- Ryan ate pooh in practice and jacked up the side of his body that wasn't sore.
Dean Wilson had the hometown pressure on him but yet rode pretty well with a heat race win and a fourth in the main. Dean-o, born in Scotland but raised in Canada, has been figuring this supercross stuff out pretty quickly. He had a ton of press to do up in Toronto to help promote the race and only got to ride once all week so his race was pretty good methinks.
I have no clue why the promoters wouldn't bring Wilson out for opening ceremonies and let him say a few words. He's from Canada and pretty much everyone at the race probably knew that fact. If they're trying to promote the race and sell tickets, introducing the lone home country rider would seem to be appropriate but then again, I remember writing this same thing about Dungey at Minneapolis a few years back.
(Ed Note: It appears that Wilson was brought out around 6:30 to talk about the track and what-not. Just to clarify, he was indeed brought out. Just not what I thought would make the most impact.)
Darryn Durham of the Honda of troy team knocked himself koo-koo in the heat race and the team wisely pulled him from the rest of the night. Plus his hand was a little jacked up from a crash with Brett Metcalfe.
Guessing how the AMA/Feld is going to rule is just that- a guess. Earlier in the year I spoke with referee John Gallagher and he informed me that they have instituted a new 'no hands on' policy where they did not want to see one rider ever touch another rider in an act of violence. Certainly the policy bit Chad Reed when he pushed James Stewart off at Phoenix (although it was later overturned) and Martin Davalos when he was immediately DQ'd from Atlanta when he took some shots at Barcia.
So this weekend when I saw Jake Moss and Tevin Tapia get into a shoving match in the heat race, if figured both guys nights were done. Moss started it but Tapia responded so for sure, without a doubt, Moss was done as he initiated the contact but nope, both guys lined up for the LCQ where they had another battle to the death.
I don't get it. Do you? Jake Moss was very lucky that either no one saw his transgressions or somehow someone looked the other way because, according to my conversation with Gallagher, he should've been gone. It was in the far left hand corner of the stadium, maybe Johnny Law's reach doesn't go that far?
In the cool obstacle of the night, the 450 guys started figuring out a way to jump on this tabletop and then off before the finish. The take off? Just a little roller bump. It was amazing to see and watch the best riders in the world figure it out. The best guy I saw? Kevin Windham, of course.
With no 450 LCQ, the freestyle exhibition went a little long to say the least. Kenny Bartram and Mike Metzger probably felt like they were back racing professionally again with the sweat they were breaking.
I was almost pulled back into duty this weekend when Nick Wey's mechanic couldn't make the race. For those of you that may not know, I was Wey's mechanic in 2002 when he captured the top privateer in the EA Sports Supercross Series. Anyways, I was asked by team owner if I could do it and I said yes but then Wey brought his brother and dad to the race and they handled everything. Whew…I was almost back! I bet you Wey said that exact same thing.
Oh, one last thing. Kyle Bentley finally paid me for the USA/Canada gold medal game bet we had. Now, if I could just get Truman to pay up-I’d be all set.
Thanks for reading, writing and ridiculing me. I read all the emails and try to respond to every one. If I haven't wrote back, I apologize and please don't give up hope. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk about how Canada rules.