Monday Kickstart : 2012 Monster Energy Cup

With no racing to speak of over the past few weeks, it was a┬ásensory overload at this year’s Monster Energy Cup. Check out what we saw in the pits and on the track, and let the debates run┬árampant.

Boom. Just like that, we are back into the Supercross swing of things, if only for a weekend. Nearly every rider and team are spending hours at the test tracks for next year, because as hard as it is to believe, there are only 75 days left til Anaheim.

As the Monster Energy Cup is a standalone, AMA but not FIM sanctioned, event, the rules for the race are much more open. Teams are allowed to run nearly anything they want, including two-way communications like this radio on Mike Alessi’s helmet.

It has been sometime since we have heard from Tyler Evans, but his name popped up in Vegas. Years back, a serious motorcycle accident left his father in a weeklong coma, which led to Tyler changing the outlook on his life. He is now working to build his latest project, One Touch Ministry.

After claiming a gold medal at last week’s Dew Tour in San Francisco, Adam Jones loaded up and headed to Vegas for a freestyle demo in the Sam Boyd parking lot. The session featured X Games caliber talent, including Jeremy Stenberg, Taka Higashino, Bilko Williams, and more.

The center lane of the track was chopped and treacherous during the morning track walk and first practice session, but was deemed too technical and rough for the races. Makes sense, as this was the first area the riders met off the dual start and was one of the fastest areas of the track. It would have been carnage if left untamed.

On Instagram Saturday, we caught heavy flack for posting one of the many #pickupkits at the race. Some of the comments were justified, and at times humor and sarcasm can be lost in the digital world, but we must say this: they are just jokes, people.

The sand from the roller section carried into the “TallaVega” sweeper. The 34 degree banked turn did not offer the speeds or passes we expected, however. Aside from this, the track as a whole was considered an improvement by nearly every racer.

After a seemingly endless streak of injuries, Jeff Alessi was back for the MEC. He made his way into the main events and claimed 20th overall with 17-19-17 scores.

To kick off Saturday night’s show, Ricky Carmichael took to the track and explained the layout to the fans while cutting a lap. RC’s Fox V4 lid was mic’d up so that he could explain in real time, rather than a prerecorded voice over.

The official announcement of the reformed Hart & Huntington/Ricky Carmichael race team came Saturday morning. The name is “RCH,” an acronym for Ricky Carmichael and Carey Hart.

The bikes will run full Yoshimura engines and exhausts, as well as factory Showa suspension. They will essentially be the same bike as what James Stewart races under the factory awning.

For now, only Broc Tickle is confirmed to the team and he will race both the Supercross and National tours. The team is currently in talks with Josh Hill and Kyle Chisholm to come on as a Supercross-only rider, and a decision is said to be made this week.

Another look at the Yoshimura exhaust. A full race bike was on display and ready to go, but Tickle’s lack of time on the Suzuki kept them from lining up.

Aside from the addition of Suzuki, the sponsor list for H&H/RCH remains unchanged. Sycaun Casino, Bel Ray, Dodge, Loctite, and more still make up the rear fender, but expect a switch from Shift to Fox gear.

One of the biggest stories of the weekend was the switch from the standard Kayaba suspension to Showa forks on the Monster Energy Kawasaki team. The decision was made midway through last week, thanks in part to the testing done by Broc Tickle on the Pro Circuit 450 all season.

Another team to ditch the KYB suspenders was Jeff Ward Racing. The team has been working with Ohlins on their 2012 settings, but have not yet made a decision on what they will mount to Dean Wilson’s 2013 ride.

Ohlins goods are also on the front of Chizz’s Kawasaki. He stated that the feel of the bike is what they looked for all season. Speaking of Chisholm, he is a hot commodity this off season. Both JWR and RCH would like to sign him, and both offers are tempting. Considering that at Steel City the plan was to go full privateer status in 2013, these new options are much better.

Another one of the many announcements this weekend was that Cyrca will for the first time make Kawasaki replacement plastics and support the JWR team. We could have shown you a photo from the press summit, but we figured you would like this one better.

Though they were among the last of the big three exhaust companies (PC, FMF, Yosh) to unveil their 2013 Honda CRF450R dually silencers, the Pro Circuit pipes are set to hit the market soon.

In case you missed it in our Friday Press Conference coverage, Chad Reed and Monster Energy are back together for 2013 and beyond. Reed already had a Fox lid and Shift gear outfitted with the M claw, along with a Dirt Shark butt patch. His rig was recently stripped of all decals and sponsor insignia as they wait to finalize all of the details for next year.

The desert hardpack bit Reed in the second main event of the night, as he lost his Honda on the glossy spot entering the stadium. Despite this crash, he would still claim fourth overall.

The JGR/Toyota/Yamaha bikes got a whiteout treatment for the weekend, and the look was well received by fans and industry alike.

Justin Brayton is not the only rider returning to JGR after a spell at another team, as Josh Grant also jumped back to his former ride. For Grant, the change will be on different terms than his 2009-2010 term. Per Coy Gibbs’ rules, a racer for the team was required to live near the team’s North Carolina HQ, but Grant will now be able to split his time between the east and west coasts.

In the same vein as the Monster Million trifecta, if a racer nabbed all three holeshots, he would be awarded a new Toyota Tundra. After claiming the first holey of the night, JG33 was in line to claim the new pick-up, but poor second moto start killed the chances. With no one claiming the truck or million dollar bonus, Toyota and Monster made out like bandits.

Josh and Ashley Grant’s son, Wyatt, was all over his dad’s bike before the night show.

Ryan Dungey bending over and suicide shifting his bike was one of the most impressive things we’ve seen. Dungey clipped a TuffBlock in the first main and was forced to ride the entire main in second gear. The woes continued into the next race, as he worked the shifter with his left hand down the flat straights and over the bigger jumps. Immediately after the second race, KTM quickly ushered the bike back to the pits and in the third race, all appeared to be good. The debate on if Dungey managed to bend the lever again or if an internal issue was to blame was thrown, but no word was issued.

We did manage to steal this shot after the first moto. Crazy.

As the winner of the Miss Monster Energy Cup, Ashleigh Fisher was welcomed to the Monster ranks with a diamond M. It was kind of like when Jay-Z inducts someone to Rocafella Records, but way more awkward.

To meet the demands of the moto market, Matrix Concepts will soon be offering aluminum stands alongside their plastic models.

In his first race back, Ryan Villopoto was impressive. A dominating win in the first race and his path to another million was cut short by a second race smack to the head, and he opted not to line up for the final outing.

His return also brought the release of a new helmet by Thor. The new lid will be on shelves around the A1 opener, and Thor was tight lipped on any information regarding it.

People would love to hear exactly what is said between riders and teams, as they assume it is always something groundbreaking or secret. Not always the case. This talk between RV and Kawi’s truck driver Big B was about bananas.

Part of the fun this weekend was spotting the new goods for next year. Eli Tomac was running this Shoei that was just added to their online store.

ET is an absolute monster on a 450. It is his bike of choice when training in Colorado and it showed in Saturday night’s final main, where he claimed the win and third overall.

After the race, it was clear that Tomac was still deep in his racing mindset. If the growth we saw this year continues on the same curve, Eli will be a force no matter what class he is in.

Between the day’s practice and night show, the GEICO Honda tent was a steady hub of activity.

During the second practice session of the day, Kevin Windham rang his bell on a small double in the back portion of the track. It was enough to keep him from racing at night and halt his comeback. K-Dub says his wrist is back to normal and that he will be ready for the new year.

With the new ability to break away from the team gear and sponsors, Justin Barcia has quite the kit for 2013. Alpinestars gear, Shoei helmet, and SPY Optic goggles. BamBam has been inked to the Carlsbad vision company for sometime, and they debuted his signature style at MEC. We can’t tell if they are an animal print like the cartoon character has, but they are rad nonetheless.

The first practice session were a muddy affair, as Dirt Wurx soaked the track to keep it from baking in the Nevada sun. Teams broke out the power washers and mud scrappers between sessions.

Tagger Designs painted up a number of helmets for Josh Grant, Kyle Chisholm, and Justin Barcia, and all featured this gold paint.

Despite claiming the win in what is his 450 SX debut and 100 grand, Justin Barcia looked noticeably even keel or somber. It was not only us that noticed this, as many photographers expected more of a celebration. No matter, we hear JB51 has big plans for the new money.

There was little in the way of one-off gear in Vegas, as many brands used it as a platform to show their 2013 goods. Jake Weimer’s Thor gear still had the Vegas feel with these dice added to his jersey number.

Most rigs have the government required numbers and locations slapped on with vinyl graphics, but the Parts Unlimited truck is all hand painted.

For opening ceremonies, Mike Alessi’s number plates were highlighted with a LED setup.

It’s common for MotoConcepts Racing to change the look of their bikes at seemingly every round, and they continued the trend in Vegas with a red and white scheme. Alessi is another rider that now receives support from Ohlins on suspension.

Alessi debuted the new line for JT Racing, which includes the highly sought after “Dogger” colorway.

Props to Jake Canada for his seventh overall. Numerous DNFs kept him from hitting his potential outdoors this summer, but on the MCR 450, he reminded people that he has what it takes to be up front. Canada and both Alessi’s donned the HJC RPHA X helmet for the weekend, as well.

With the amount of riders competing, the AMA had their work cut of for them in the timing and scoring department.

Seeing mini bike racers tackle the layout this weekend assured everyone that the future of the sport is bright. Kotaro Takahasi, Chase Sexton, and Austin Forkner bested the competition to earn the podium spots.

Kotaro Takahasi of Japan made a splash in the minibike world this weekend. Despite his limited English, he was able to tell the fans how happy he was to race in the US and to finish third. He became a favorite almost instantly.

Remember this name: Austin Forkner. With Adam Cianciarulo out of the picture, the Richards, MO, native is the next big thing in the mini ranks. He took second at the FIM Junior MX World Championships earlier this year and swept the Supermini class with 1-1 finishes at the MEC.

Many will have no idea who Lil’ Chino is, but we can attest to his skills on a bike. The 15 year old has gained a following through YouTube videos of his wheelies, the support of Monster Energy and Ethika, and met the industry this weekend at the MEC.

His connect at Monster got him on any bike imaginable, from this Kawasaki Team Green mini, to Twitch’s gold X Games Honda, to Blake Baggett’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit 250. Before you bash or start with the negative comments, know that more than a few racers were stoked to meet him and impressed with what they saw. #bikelife

Adam Cianciarulo was the favorite in the Amateur All-Star class and after his practice session times, it was deemed his to lose. A tip over in a tight hairpin ended his chance at the win, but AC92 climbed back to take the second moto win and second overall.

Chatter during the day included the looming rivalry between AC and Cooper Webb. Webb has been in the Kawasaki racer’s shadow for the majority of the past few years, but his overall win in the Amateur All-Star class will be the boost to break him out.

Part of Webb’s contract with Skullcandy is that he needs to have the headphones around his neck on the podium. Matt Piva from SC threw these around Webb’s neck just in time for his live TV interview. Guerilla marketing at its finest.

British transplant Paul Coates was another racer to put his stock higher at the MEC. We expect to hear more from his in the coming months, as well as the rest of the class, because they were running at an incredibly quick pace.

At Loretta Lynn’s this summer, Shane McElrath shocked the masses, as he came from practically nowhere and took second in both 250 B Stock and Mod. He backed it up in the first race, where he claimed the win, but came into the stadium in the second race a little too hot. McElrath missed the turn, ramped off of the banking, and flew across the other lane in front of his competitors. It could have been extremely ugly, but he somehow missed hitting anyone else. By climbing back to 11th in just a few laps, he took fourth overall.

McElrath wasn’t the only rider to catch air off of the berm, but the others who did made sure it was later in the moto. While it probably wasn’t the faster method, slamming into the mound and bouncing down the straightaway, it was the result of carrying too much speed into the turn.

This girl > Skrillex

Mitch Payton keeps a close relationship with many of his former racers, including Broc Tickle and Ricky Carmichael. With the kind of track record he and the PC team have, who wouldn’t want to hear what he has to say?

OrthoScan loaned a OrthoScan Mobile DI X-Ray machine to the Asterisk Mobile Medic Unit for the weekend to allow them to easily and more efficiently x-ray riders when they have crashed and in need of an X-Ray. The Asterisk team was reportedly very pleased with the unit, and as it turned out, used it quite a bit before the racing got underway. The OrthoScan Mobile DI unit is currently in use by numerous college sports programs and its ease of mobility is what sets it apart from other mobile units. All told, the unit weighs 35 pounds.

Anaheim, come faster. See you next week.