Monday Kickstart : Peace Out 2012

It’s the final day of 2012. Apparently, the Mayans were wrong, and all is right with the world. It’s been quite a year, but we are looking ahead to an even better 2013. The Supercross opener in Anaheim is just a week away and we cannot wait. James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Chad Reed, Justin Barcia, Trey Canard, Josh Grant, Kevin Windham, Josh Hill…EVERYONE is healthy, for once, for now.

This week will be crammed with events, as Press Day takes place on Wednesday, the premier of REvival 41, the documentary on Trey CanardnThursday night, and then Saturday kicks off bright and early. You will of course be able to find coverage from all events here on TWMX.com, but be sure to follow us on the numerous social media platforms we now use. We will call the race as it happens on our Twitter handle (@twmxdotcom), fire up discussions on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TransWorldMoto), post artsy photos through Instagram (@twmxdotcom), and stream videos and all other interesting findings on our newest outlet, Pheed (https://www.pheed.com/TransWorldMotocross).

Early weather reports from Anaheim are calling for perfect weather, as temperatures throughout the week will be in the high 60s and low 70s with no real chance of precipitation. Just another way this weekend is becoming more and more amazing.

Bliss…

Will you be one of the faithful in attendance, or will you be watching from the comforts of your home? With hours of live coverage on Speed Channel Saturday night, cheap beer in the fridge, and your own bathroom, you truly cannot go wrong. The A1 broadcast will begin at 9:30PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME. So, if you are unaware of what that means for your locale, that is 8:30 CENTRAL, 7:30 MOUNTAIN, and 6:30 WESTERN. Still not making sense? Check your TV Guide.

To draw even more excitement,  many riders and industry brands will be making major announcements this week. Be sure to check back this week, namely January 2nd, for more on these stories.

Ones To Watch: Supercross 250 West Coast

Don’t let the 450 class get all of the attention this Saturday night; the youngsters wringing the hell out of their small-bore 250s demanded their share of respect. Team managers are notorious for waiting until the final moment to announce which coast their riders will contest, namely Mitch Payton, so a last-minute switch due to injury or other circumstances should be taken into consideration. That said, here is a list of riders to keep your eyes on when the gate drops.

The Defending Champion

1 – Eli Tomac –  Geico Honda

After last year’s battle with Dean Wilson for the title, which truly was a “last man standing” affair, one should expect Eli Tomac to defend his number one plate with the same amount of desire. Jeff Kardas Photo

With a title to defend, Eli Tomac is easily the favorite for the 250 West Coast Supercross Championship. Last year’s hard-fought duel with Dean Wilson showed that the Geico Honda rider is not afraid to get aggressive and this is a trait he may have to call upon at some point in the series. This is expected to be Tomac’s last Supercross season as a 250 rider, and possibly his last period, as he yearns to bump up to the 450 in the summer.

The Trends

4 – Blake Baggett – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

Is this the year Blake Baggett’s Supercross luck sways?

Despite being one of the most impressive riders on the gate today and the defending 250 National Champion, Blake Baggett has never truly been seen as a threat for a title in Supercross. He has proven that he has what it takes to win indoors (Baggett won a main event in his rookie year, as well as Daytona and Las Vegas in 2011) but his riding style of waiting until the final moments of a race to strike does not mesh with the high-paced sprint that is a 15 lap Supercross main event. Is this the year of change?

94 – Ken Roczen – Red Bull KTM

His first Supercross races on American soil were chaotic, but Ken Roczen learned to dial down the intensity and victories followed soon after. Last year, his first full season stateside, Roczen dealt with a seemingly never ending illness brought on by travel, but he still took the top step of the podium. With no cross-country trips and more importantly a better understanding of American racing, all eyes are on the KTM rider.

43 – Cole Seely – Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil Honda

“Cole From Newps” spent the majority of the year on the sidelines. Can he and the TLD team take home another A1 win?

Seely started his 2012 season with a bang, as he took the win at the opening round. Finishes over the course of the season were a bit sporadic, but he remained an outside title threat when the series hit Salt Lake City in the spring. A vicious crash in practice and the resulting internal injuries ended not only his chances but the rest of his year. Will lightening strike twice for the TLD crew and Seely?

The Challengers

21 – Jason Anderson – Rockstar Energy Suzuki

When Anderson was benched by his team in 2011, many wrote the rookie off without hesitation. He rebounded in 2012 with numerous practice times in the top-five and his spirited ride in SLC, proving that he is still a threat on any given night.

28 – Tyla Rattray – Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki

Although he was never touted as a Supercross specialist, Tyla Rattray’s natural talent is undeniable. He was expected to jump to the 450 class after 2012, but when negotiations stalled and his was left without a ride, Payton made a spot on the team for his longtime rider. Should Tyla avoid injury, he will be Pro Circuit’s second title contender.

With a slew of wins to his credit, 250 veteran Ryan Sipes is the dark horse of the 2013 West Coast Championship.

35 – Ryan Sipes – Rockstar Energy Suzuki

Few riders in the 250 West Coast class have been in the division as long as Sipes, but that is not a bad thing. The Kentucky rider has his share of wins, most recently Seattle 2012, and should be considered “THE” dark horse of the 250 championship.

32- Malcolm Stewart – J-Star JDR KTM

Mookie’s time in the 250 class has been rocky, to say the least. The opinion of many is that he is too “big” for the bike and has hit the ground on more than a few occasions because of it, one could debate that it is because of his desire and pursuit of being at front of the pack. The younger Stewart is a maturing rider and expectations for his third year in the class reflect it.

23 – Jake Canada – MotoConcepts Racing

Aboard far from factory equipment in 2012, Jake Canada surprised many during last year’s East Coast tour. Rather than wait and wonder in contracts would pour in, he resigned with the team and began working on their 2013 program. Topping the previous season will be a tall order, but Canada and the team are sure his speed will continue to increase.

59 – Christian Craig – Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil Honda

CC’s pro career reads like a movie script: A son of one of the sport’s most naturally gifted riders follows his father’s footsteps, gets seriously injured, and spends his life overcoming the odds. After many years of setbacks, here is hoping Craig gets the happy ending.

38 – Kyle Cunningham – Star Yamaha

Kyle Cunningham was expected to shine in 2012, but the personable Texan never had the chance to race without injury. From the broken wrist that mired his early season to the lights out concussion at Indianapolis, it was surely a forgettable year. Now on the West Coast, he and the team hope to have left the bad luck in the past as he will be Star Yamaha’s marquee rider.

40 – Martin Davalos – Monster Energy Pro Circuit

Mitch Payton’s signing of Davalos raised numerous doubts and questions, but if their is anyone who can get a career in order, it is the PC boss. During his time in America, the Ecuadorian has shown flashes of speed, but never consistency. This may very well be Martin’s last chance at proving his potential, and he has all of the resources to do so.

338 – Zach Osborne – Geico Honda

Zach Osborne is ready to prove that 2012 was no fluke. Back in the US fulltime after heading abroad to rebuild his career, he is now aboard Geico Honda equipment and working closely with the team. Osborne competed last year in select events and landed on the podium twice before heading to compete in Europe.

The Rookies

Jessy Nelson unexpectedly joined and placed well in the pro ranks last year. Will his SX results be the same?

36 – Jessy Nelson – Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil Honda

It would be pretty damn sweet to see Jessy Nelson take to Supercross as quickly as he did to the Nationals. Can he? Only time will tell.

176 – Joey Savatgy

The kid who made #armswag famous is about to go pro. His season should be just as entertaining as the hashtag.

205 – Josh Cachia – J-Star JDR KTM

The Aussie’s American debut was brutal, but Nathan Ramsey is working closely to make sure the same fate does not happen.

MONSTER ENERGY SPEEDWAY INVITATIONAL

We just couldn’t go another week without watching some racing. We’ve been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, so it seemed only appropriate to make the short excursion up to the City of Industry in LA County to take in some Speedway racing. Monster Energy took over title sponsorship of the popular summer SoCal racing series late this past Summer, and they invited some of the World’s best to come race in the brisk SoCal winter air for the Monster Energy Speedway Invitational. If you’ve never been to a Speedway race, you’re severely missing out: sweet leathers, brakeless bikes, sideways spinnin’, beer-gardens-at-every-corner, awesomeness. Check out the official race report and some snaps we shot in between trips to the bar (kidding, of course…sort of).

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Official Race Report below…

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. (December 29, 2012) - The Monster Energy World Invitational lived up to expectations on Saturday night as 18 of the world's fastest riders took to the track inside Industry Racing's Grand Arena in front a record-setting, sellout crowd over 4,000 fans. After 23 events and a full night of racing, American rider Billy Janniro stood atop the podium for one of the biggest wins of his career.

"Monster did a great job tonight," said Janniro. "I don't know how many thousands of people were here, but it was awesome. To win in front of everyone and for these Europeans to be here, it was a big achievement. I'm very happy."

Billy Janniro (left) took the biggest win of his storied Speedway career at the Invitational this weekend.

The 20 events that ultimately set up the pair of semi finals were full of drama, excitement, and the trademark competitive action that defines motorcycle speedway racing. Throughout each set of heats, the crowd stood on its feet, withstanding sub 50-degree temperatures and giving the riders all the support they could ask for.

Ultimately, American rider Ricky Wells garnered the top seed going into the Semi Finals, winning four of his five events. He was joined by fellow Americans Janniro, Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock, and Charlie Venegas, along with Brits Edward Kennett and Scott Nicholls, while Swede Antonio Lindback rounded out the top eight riders that featured just three international competitors.

"It was a good start to the night, I couldn't complain too much," said Wells. "I had a good setup and good people behind me and everything was just working really well for me. I think I started off the night really fast and carried it through."

Speedway is so cool.

With exceptional talent filling each Semi Final, the action was sure to be some of the best of the evening as only the top two finishers from each would advance to the Final and the chance to be named winner of the inaugural Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational.

In Semi Final 1, Hamill, a Monster Energy Athlete, made an impressive move coming out of the second corner to vault from third to first place heading into the third turn. He fended off Wells for the entire race, as the pair pulled away to solidify their spots in the Final.

Semi Final 2 became a showdown between Janniro and Hancock, with both riders battling for the win and leaving their fellow riders well behind. The duo crossed the line mere inches apart to make it an all-American Final.

The culminating race of the night became a battle of track position, with each rider's chosen lane at the start setting the foundation for a chance at victory in a four-lap sprint to the finish. As the top seed, Wells had first pick and selected the third lane, with Janniro lining up next to him in the second lane, Hamill on the far inside, and Hancock on the far outside.

Lots of Monster Energy EZ-Ups canopied the pits for each of the racers…

As the starting ribbon rose, Janniro positioned himself in the lead with a quick move inside as the riders jockeyed for momentum. He was closely followed by Hancock, who put forth an impressive challenge throughout the entire four-lap race but couldn't generate enough speed to make a pass. Behind them, the battle for third was equally as exciting with Wells slipping past Hamill on the final lap to claim the third spot on the podium.

"I really wanted to win this one. This is the biggest event we've had here in the U.S. since the late 80's," exclaimed Hancock, a Monster Energy Athlete in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix. "This is one of the greatest events to be a part of for me, having Monster on board to support the sport here in the states. They have lifted this sport so much and for American Speedway this was a big hit. Just look at the crowd that turned out. I could talk all night about it. We're really grateful."

In addition to the star-studded international battle of pros, the future of American Speedway also put on a show on the packed crowd with Mini 150cc and Junior 250cc competition. Courtney Crone provided one of the most memorable moments of the evening when she took the victory in the Mini 150cc class. Max Ruml was dominant in the Junior 250cc class, winning each Heat and the Main Event.

"This was the start of something great for American Speedway," boasted Hamill. "Monster has come on board and revived speedway, recognizing it's a pure form of racing like we saw tonight. It's very promising for our young riders and I think more kids that do other disciplines will take a long hard look at racing speedway now and see it as a big opportunity."

With the biggest crowd ever seen at Industry Racing, it's safe to say that the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational was a success and a fitting complement to the resurgence of motorcycle speedway in America. The fans welcomed the global group of riders with open arms and never left their seat, cheering on the world's best speedway riders through to the final checkered flag.

"This event was unbelievable and a huge lift for the sport in America," added Hancock. "This is going to be a long term thing and it's the beginning of something great. There were a lot of people here looking at what this sport could be on this scale."

"This is a great spectator sport," concluded Hamill. "There isn't a bad seat in the house, even with a big crowd like we had tonight. Its no-holds-barred racing and something I'm proud to be a part of, and I think this is something we will build off of here in America."

Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational
Industry Racing - City of Industry, Calif.
December 29, 2012

World Speedway Invitational Results
1. Billy Janniro
2. Greg Hancock
3. Ricky Wells
4. Billy Hamill

Junior 250cc Results
1. Max Ruml
2. Broc Nicol
3. Dillon Ruml

Mini 150cc Results
1. Courtney Crone
2. Maverick Molloy
3. Wilbur Hancock