The World Motocross Championships invaded Southern California this weekend. With true factory machinery (which the FIM does not require to be production based) there was plenty of exoctica on hand, not to mention some excellent racing. Following the weekend’s racing, KTM remains at the lead of both the MX1 and MX2 classes, but there was far more to the story than just that. Take a peek to see some of the sights from the track and pits from the first USGP in 11 years.
The MXGP bikes are, for lack of a better word, different. They have aftermarket parts and one-off pieces that simply are not typically seen in the U.S. The Xtrig triple clamps found here on David Phillipaerts Rinaldi Racing Monster Yamaha are a European aftermarket brand found on many of the bikes in the pits. KTM has actually been using these clamps for some time.
If you followed the early rounds of the Supercross season, then you should remember Gautier Paulin. He finished sixth at A2 in West Coast Lites, then went back to France to prep for the MX2 championship only to get injured right before the start of the series. He's back on the scene now though, and very happy to be back in the States.
Stop drooling…ok, drool away.
Ken De Dyker's Monster Yamaha YZ450. Ken gave the Hangtown National a try and ended up with some decent finishes. He is back in his element now though with the GP and should fair pretty well on Sunday.
Carbon-fiber parts abound on the MXGP bikes. Check out this carbon chain guard on De Dyker's machine.
You have probably seen these Airoh helmets on the likes of Mike Alessi, Tommy Searle, and Ashley Fiolek. Well the Italian helmet company sponsors a good portion of MX1 and MX2 competitors so they have a pretty good presence in the pits. They are also extremely light-weight.
Estonian rider Tanel Leok just had a pretty strong race at the last MXGP of Spain held at Bellpuig (he won). That made him the first non-KTM rider to take an overall this season as Tanel rides for a Honda team, which is pitting out of the factory Honda rig this weekend.
Although Leok's machine uses many aftermarket parts, it looks like these titanium footpegs are Honda pieces. You could cut yourself just looking at those things.
Martin Honda is the red team's factory effort over in Europe and Jimmy Albertson has been riding with them this year. While Albee's bike shares many similarities with its American Honda counterparts, there are some visual minor differences such as the Akropovic pipe. His machine also still uses a cable-actuated clutch as opposed to the hydraulic units found on Shorty's and Millsaps' machines.
No, Jason Lawrence has not returned to racing…yet. This is the Bike It Cosworth Yamaha of American rider Zach Osborne, who has been racing in Europe for the last few seasons. If you notice, Ohlins suspension has a much bigger presence in the European market, as the Swedish based parts are found on more than a few machines.
While many of the parts on Osborne's bike are designed and machined in-house by the BikeIt.com crew, Cosworth does the motor mods for the team. Known in the F1 and road racing scene, Cosworth has decided to enter the MX market this year and are doing some development with the BikeIt.co.uk team.
Like we said, carbon-fiber abounds on the MXGP bikes. Here is one of many carbon gas tanks we spotted, this one on Zach Osborne's YZ250F
Here is a cool little mod on Osborne's bike. Nick, one of the team's machinists and Osborne's mechanic, started with this stock Yamaha brake caliber, then milled it down and added these slots for better ventilation and easier cleaning. A little extra anodizing doesn't hurt either.
Josh Coppin's Aprilia is probably one of the craziest looking MX machines you will ever see. Using a aluminum/cromoly mix frame, a V-Twin engine, and more unique items than Antiques Roadshow, the Italian machine is far from your average bike.
Check out this little switch. Nope, it has nothing to do ignition. It's actually a steering damper adjustment switch found on Bobby Garrison's Zip Ty/Husqvarna. With three different settings, Bobby can adjust the steering to his preferences as the race goes on and the track gets rougher.
Bud Racing/Kawasaki has been around for a while now, and this year they are supporting former MX2 standout, Nicolas Aubin, who is now on MX1 equipment. Bud is another French aftermarket company that is not seen much over here.
Michael Leib chose to turn pro in Europe, rather than deal with poor support here in the U.S. and Bud Racing picked him up about a month ago. Leib hasn't had the smoothest transition into the pro ranks but the former Loretta Lynn's champ is young and has plenty of time to get comfortable.
Grant Langston was able to gather enough support to race the GP. As most of you probably already know, JL Racing closed its doors only days after the Hangtown National, which means Langston and Sean Hamblin are officially out of rides. So, Grant got some parts and threw them on his practice bike. The former World and AMA National Champ pitted out of the back of his pickup truck for this one race.
Clemente Desalle should be a familiar name. The Belgian Rockstar Teka Suzuki rider came to the U.S. last year on an off weekend and entered the Washougal National where he came in third in the first 450 Class moto. Although he does not have any wins so far this season, Clemente is a contender.
2007 MX1 World Champ, Steve Ramon, is another Rockstar Teka Suzuki rider who is always in the hunt for the championship. Keep an eye on the number 11.
Check out these carbon fork/triple clamp guards. When your front setup costs as much as a small car, it probably doesn't hurt to take some extra precautions.
More than a few bikes in the pits have similar carbon fiber subframe/airbox combos. Although they are available through a few companies, they are not scene in AMA pro racing because of the production rule that stipulates the chassis of the bike must remain stock. Too bad, because they are pretty darn cool.
German phenom, Ken Roczen, has now been on the pro tour for a year…and he just turned 16. The likeable teenager is excited to be racing in the U.S., and while this is his first professional experience here, he has visited on a few other occasions during his amateur days.
Marc De Reuver checks his bike setup before the first open practice, which was delayed due to heavy winds. The outgoing Dutch rider suffered some serious injuries last season, and has admittedly been slow to get back up to speed.
The KTM North America crew feels right at home with the MXGPs. Several of the techs have worked on the world circuit before, so there are plenty of familiar faces for them. It probably doesn't hurt they the KTM teams are controlling both classes at the moment either.
This season, Mitch Payton decided to support a MX2 team in the World Championships. Riders Jeremy Van Horbeek (bike shown) and Steven Frossard are the two guys at the helm of the Pro Circuit machines, which are nearly identical (visibly anyways) to their American cousins.
The Team Green Kawasaki off-road squad decided to enter the USGP and were in full effect with two riders and their own semi. Here a mechanic sharpens up Ricky Dietrich's footpegs before game time.
Sebastien Pourcel, Christophe's older brother, is on the factory Kawasaki team over in Europe, and they were pitted under the Monster Kawasaki tent this weekend. Along with rider Xavier Boog, these bikes have the full works treatment, although they obviously use many different components than the U.S. based team.
Check out this machined actuator arm on Boog's KX450F-SR. The team has different length arms available to change the leverage for a stiffer/more responsive pull or easier/less responsive clutch pull, depending on rider preferences.
Jake Nicolls is a KTM supported British rider who competes in both the British National Championships and MX2 World Championships. The number 45 rider is one of the more stylish guys out on the track and has been putting in some good rides so far this season aboard his non-factory machinery.
Factory magic. Alright, you can start drooling again. Each factory KTM is cooler than the next.
Who said the Euro guys don't know how to jump? Not too long ago, doubles were banned from FIM MX competition. As the years have gone on though, possibly in part due to the internet, videos, and a more international racing community, the World Championship guys can jump with the best of them. Here, Ken Roczen shows the low line over the finish line jump.
Riding with an unfamiliar number 88, Grant Langston is in need of a new ride. While he was able to gather enough support for this weekend, GL is out of a ride for the Nationals.
Kyle Chisolm and the entirety of the MotoConcepts/Yamaha team decided to throw their names in to the hat and compete this weekend. Bike problems hurt just about every rider on the team in qualifying, but Sunday was a different story.
The new step up jump at Glen Helen is one of the coolest jumps we have seen for a while. The riders weren't too sure about it at first but Marvin Musquin was able to clear it on only the second lap of practice and it wasn't long before the rest were following suit. The jump throws the riders a pretty good height, as Marc De Reuver demonstrates, but not all that far. It is akin to a smaller version of Larocco's Leap. Siiiik!
While the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki MX2 guys normally where a wide variety of gear, they sported the same duds the Amercian team normally uses. Steven Frossards flow green lid didn't quite match the gear, but it still looks good.
Remember this face, because you will likely be seeing a lot more of it in 2011 and beyond. Marvin Musquin, the reigning MX2 Champ, has already signed a deal with KTM to come race SX and MX in the U.S. beginning next season. Marv' had the MX2 class covered on Sunday.
Jeremy Van Horbeek probably is not a very well known name in American racing circles, but this young MX2 rider has stood on the Motocross of Nations podium three times already in his career for Team Belgium. On his good days he can run with the best of them.
Max Anstie's mechanic, Eric Gass, is always pumped to be at the races and was glad to be supporting Max in the USGP despite it being a late season addition to the schedule.
Ooh, shiny! Surprisingly, it appears that Roczen is running Fox Racing's slightly lower end V2 helmet, as opposed to the higher-end V3.
Jimmy Decotis made a last minute decision to race the USGP. His trainer, Ryan Hughes, was doing it, so why not give it a chance. It makes sense for riders to trying to make names for themselves to give races like this a chance, especially if they are not already under contract. Jimmy D had 18-18 moto scores, which are probably not what he was looking for, but not so bad considering he was up against true works equipment.
Ben Townley seems happy to be back on the scene in general and was in familiar territory racing the World GPs. While Ben was quite vocal about his distaste for the track on Saturday, he must have been somewhat satisfied to come out with a dominating moto win on Sunday.
The U.S. Nationals could learn a thing or two from the GPs. This double decker mechanics/team pit area is head and shoulders above what is used on the AMA tour and certainly helps add to the overall professional presentation.
Ken Roczen's Teka Suzuki RM-Z250 is a work of art.
Max Anstie showed that he has the speed to run with the MX2 group on Saturday when he placed second in the qualifiying heat. Sunday was a different story for Max, but he still gained valuable racing experience with the 35-minute-plus-two-lap motos.
Why have one time card girl when you can have two? Care to get rebootized?
The MX1 Class is just as stacked as the AMA Nationals. Let's see here, if Cairoli can beat Alessi, and Alessi can win a National moto, does that mean Cairoli is faster than the riders the AMA guys? And if Ben Townley can beat them both, does that mean he is the fastest 450 rider in the world right now? Well, that's why they have the races…and message boards. Argue away!
Jeff "The Chicken" Matiasevich showed up for the Vet Cup. He went 9-14 on the day for 11th overall.
Doug Dubach and Ty Davis chat before the second and final moto of the Vet Cup. Dubach dominated (1-1), while Davis went 5-6 on his trusty Husky.
The good doctor reminded everyone he is still one fast man.
The Europeans aren't generally used to hot temperatures during their racing season. Ken Roczen even carried around a giant piece of ice to stay cool.
Marvin Musquin absolutely dominated the MX2 class. It was as if he'd grown up next door to Glen Helen. Here he throws a little look-back whip after winning the second moto.
The KTMs looked quite good at Glen Helen. Much like in the European rounds, there was a KTM up front all day long in both classes.
Grant Langston looked great in the first MX1 moto. He was running fifth early in the race, but he faded to 12th by the end.
The new(ish) teammates Cairoli and Alessi share an embrace after Cairoli edged Alessi out for the first moto win of the day.
The finish line Red Bull awning took a digger in the middle of the second MX2 moto, taking out a few guys including Max Anstie. With only 7 minutes of the moto remaining, the race was red flagged and the racerz were rewarded their as-is finish.
Ben Townley was elated after his mop-up of the MX1 competition in the second moto. After getting his front tire taken out (courtesy of Alessi's rear tire), Townley was determined to put the Troy Lee bike up front. He did so in commanding fashion.
Troy Lee and Townley celebrated the big moto victory after Ben waxxed everyone in the second MX1 moto.