By Brendan Lutes and Donn Maeda
The second round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series went off without a hitch last weekend inside Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. And with a live broadcast on SPEED, you likely already saw all the on-track action as it went down. What you didn’t see, though, was what went on behind-the-scenes and inside the pits. So without wasting anymore of your time, here is this week’s Monday Kickstart.
Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs/Honda rider Cole Seely carried the red plate - designating the series points leader - into Phoenix. "It looks good," joked Seely. "It matches my Honda perfectly. It's really cool to be the first rider of the season to earn the red plate. I hope to have it many more times throughout the series."
Ryan Morais reported that his transition to the 450 class is going well, and that he feels comfortable aboard the larger bike and the with the longer 20-lap main events. "It might have been tough if I didn't practice 20-lappers all winter long," joked Mo. "But everything is all new for me: a new class, a new bike, a new team and a new brand." Last week, Morais reported that his Yamaha YZ450F actually ran too cool at Anaheim 1, and that the radiators would be partially blocked off for Phoenix. And how about the largest single improvement made to the YZ450F? "When we rotated the engine 2mm forward in the chassis, that really made a difference in the way the bike cornered," said Morais. "The vague feeling that the front end had before was totally eliminated." Lightspeed and Dubach Racing offer kits to rotate the engine in the chassis.
John Knowles from Scott Sports shows off the new Trey Canard signature Hustle goggle. "Trey played a huge role in the look of the new goggle," said Knowles. "He chose the Hustle frame because he likes the adjustability of the fit system. And if anyone is curious, he likes setting number three." To learn more about the TC41 Hustle goggle, visit www.scott-sports.com
Now that's a serious tripod...
Quote of the weekend? Rockstar Suzuki's Jason Anderson: "I was looking through a magazine, and there was a photo of me sitting there with my long hair all in my face, and I thought, 'That's no good. I can't be looking like that,' so I cut my hair off and started tucking in my jersey."
Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto was wearing a new version of the Alpinestars Bionic neck brace, that had a lot more raw carbon fiber exposed.
John and Kelly Louch are two behind the scenes players in motocross and Supercross. John is a highly regarded personal trainer who currently works with Austin Stroupe and Nico Izzi of the Star/Valli/Rockstar Yamaha team, while Kelly runs The Connection, the modeling agency responsible for supplying the Monster Energy girls.
From 2009 to 2011, Ryan Villopoto penned a guest editorial column in TransWorld Motocross titled, "Big Game." Nice to see that the name is still alive and well!
Jeff Ward Racing mechanic Oscar Widerman gave us the lowdown on Josh Grant's Kawasaki KX450F for a future episode of "Behind Bars" at Phoenix. One of the most interesting things we learned, was that the rear end of JG's bike is 15mm lower than stock, thanks to a list of small modifications that add up to a big height difference.
In addition to a shortened shock, Wirdeman said that this aftermarket shock linkage from Suspension Direct helps get the back end of the bike low for JG.
Fans with homemade support shirts are the best...
All this T-shirt was missing, was, "Superpumped!"
David Vuillemin was on hand in Phoenix to help support and advise his friend Kyle Chisholm. "I even got a green shirt to support the Chiz," joked DV.
Kyle Chisholm and his mechanic Chris Rohde discuss bike setup after the first afternoon practice session. "The track is a lot more fun than last week's at Anaheim 1," said Chisholm. "I think it will provide for some better racing tonight, for sure."
To commemorate his switch to Kawasakis, Shoei made Josh Grant a one-off green version of his popular JG Replica VFX-W. Us? We think they should go into production with it...
The Rockstar Suzuki team bikes feature these special throttle position sensor guards, made by Litespeed. The guard protects the delicate parts from both roost, and the rider's knees and boots.
The Star/Valli/Rockstar/Yamaha team, like the Geico Honda squad, are using TCR hubs. Troy Cardiel has long built some of the coolest wheels in the business.
GET seems to have successfully infiltrated the pits with its high-tech data acquisition equipment, programmable ignitions, and lap timers. This sensor on the side of Ryan Moriais' Yamaha YZ450F is used to monitor the engine's operating temperatures, among other things.
1. Last week's track was very different than a traditional Supercross track, and many of the riders weren't shy about speaking out about their distaste for the course. This week, however, Dirt Wurx built a track that many of the racers raved about. Making it even better was the fact that the retractable roof of Chase Field was left open, likely allowing moisture to remain in the track and not dry out like it has in years past.
2. With just about every major team in the pits—apart from JGR/Toyota/Yamaha—running Dunlop tires, the Dunlop crew was very busy installing tires all day long.
Where is the best seat in the house? We'd have to say right here in the pool and Jacuzzi.
During the heat races, a fan jumped the wall surrounding the pool and decided to go for a quick swim. Needless to say, he was promptly escorted out of the stadium by security. Thankfully, the race was televised live on SPEED, so he probably didn't miss much if he was able to find a bar willing to turn the race on.
Anaheim was sold out, and round two was just as heavily attended. All day long, the pits were packed with people and very tough to walk through.
Sound testing is much stricter this year, and at Anaheim many teams struggled to make it through on the first attempt. At Phoenix, sound testing was off to the side, away from everything. We can't help but wonder, though, if the huge parking structure behind the testing location amplified the sound levels.
How important is it to mechanics to save weight on the bikes? Many of them cut the unnecessary background off the number plates and shrouds.
Geico Honda's Eli Tomac has shown some amazing speed at the first two rounds of competition. At Anaheim, he had some bad luck in qualifying, but was able to come back and land on the podium in the main. In Phoenix, he won his heat race and finished just off the podium in fourth after battling his way up to the front. Look for him to win a race soon.
We showed you a close up look at Grant's custom green helmet, but here's a look at all three colorways together.
In the evening's racing, Grant had some bad luck. After being forced to ride in the LCQ, he came together with Butler Brothers/BTO Sports/Suzuki's Jimmy Albertson and didn't make it into the main. In only his second Supercross race in over a year, though, we're expecting Grant to turn things around.
Privateer Honda-mounted Tommy Hahn's season has ended already. During the evening program, he came together with JWR/DNA Energy Drink/Kawasaki's Kyle Chisholm and broke his leg. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Tommy.
No this isn't Ryan Dungey's Factory Red Bull KTM, it's the exact bike that you can purchase from KTM. In order for the Austrian company to be allow to field the fuel-injected 450SX-F that Dungey is racing, 200 units had to be imported and made available to the public. As a result, a very trick late-release 2012 KTM 450SX-F is available to everyone.
We spotted this very trick brake-bleeding device being used by Brett Metcalfe's mechanic. The unit connects to an air compressor and requires no pumping. Just open the brake valve and push down on the brake pedal to move brake fluid through the line.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Dean Wilson had been battling a cold all week leading up to Phoenix. But after a less than stellar sixth place performance at the opening round, Deano wasn't going to let a little cold hold him back. All day he showed excellent speed, as he qualified first into the night show and quickly established himself as the man to beat by winning his heat race. In the main event, Wilson did more of the same, taking the early lead and running away from the field.
The Team Muscle Milk/Honda pits were complete this week as Trey Canard returned to racing.
Canard was all business, and just like last year, former factory racer and Supercross Champion Timmy Ferry to help him out. Here Ferry, Eric Kehoe, and Trey's mechanic Brent Presnell talk about bike set up and strategy before practice begins.
Trey had this scar to show off from his collarbone surgery. Chicks dig scars, Trey.
Nope, the bright red pants of the TwoTwo Motorsports/Honda squad weren't a one-round deal for A1.
Monster Energy Kawasaki's Ryan Villopoto has had his grandfather by his side for his entire career, and even though he won everything there is to win last year, that hasn't changed for the Washington state native.
Even with the points lead and the weight of the red number plate, Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda's Cole Seely looked calm and collected all day long. As it turned out, Cole rode well once again, qualifying through his heat race and turning that into a solid fifth place finish. In the points standings, Seely is now only one point behind the new leader Tyla Rattray.
Here's a shot of Seely's Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda CRF250R adorned with the red number plate backgrounds.
If you caught last week's Bell Helmets Pit Pass videos, you already know that Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer is running the new Atlas Neck Brace. If you didn't catch the videos, now you know. The brace is an all new option for neck protection.
Star Racing/Valli Yamaha's Ryan Morais was running this all-new Ride Engineering front brake caliper. Check out www.ride-engineering.com for more information.
Morais' teammate Austin Stroupe is receiving support from Factory Yamaha, which allows him to run quite a few trick parts from the company. One of those parts is a hydraulic clutch. Unfortunately for Stroupe, though, he hasn't been making the main events. At Phoenix, he was in a qualifying position in his heat race before going down in the sand section on the final lap.
Nico Izzi isn't a very tall dude, and that is evident by the amount that the seat is cut down on his Star Racing/Valli Yamaha YZ250F.
Chad Reed is running this trick carbon fiber guard on the right side of his bike. The guard helps to keep his boot from hanging up on the side panel.
Many of the teams in the pits are running Dubya wheels and the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda team is one of them. These trick carbon/aluminum hubs are stronger and lighter than stock.
Yamaha is playing a much bigger role in the JGR/Toyota/Yamaha team's program this year. Here, JGR's Manager Jeremy Albrecht talks with Yamaha's Jim Perry between one of the three practice sessions.
Last week it was no secret that James Stewart ran Dunlop tires during practice, but after some backlash from the team's sponsors, he was only running Pirelli tires at Phoenix. In order to make sure Stewart and his teammate Davi Millsaps were completely comfortable, Pirelli had numerous tire options for the riders and set up right in the JGR/Toyota/Yamaha pit area.
Bikes have been fuel-injected for a few years now, but it's still amazing to us that all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse—and some understanding of engine development—and the power characteristics can be changed. Here, Millsaps' bike gets adjusted before practice begins.
Here's a closer look at all the wires plugged into Davi's YZ450F.
As if you would expect anything less from the JGR crew—NASCAR on the television in their pit area.
Last year, Nick Paluzzi was a replacement rider on two factory-supported teams. This year, he's aboard a KX250F on an all-new privateer team. Paluzzi struggled at the first round, but came close to qualifying for the main event in Phoenix. Look for him and the team to start to make mains once everything is figured out and they get into a routine.
After winning the West Coast Lites Championship last year, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle is in his first season of Supercross class competition. Broc finished 12th in the main event at Anaheim I, but failed to qualify for the main event in Phoenix. Still, in only his first season on the big bike, he has shown some great speed.
Geico Honda's shoe sponsor DVS has stepped up their support of the team for 2012. And with that comes some cool butt patches for the riders at select rounds of the series. At the rounds that the riders wear the butt patches, they will be thanking that region's top retail store. At Phoenix, it was Industrial Ride Shop.
DVS's Dano Legere was hard at work in Phoenix, supporting his rider Kevin Windham. The former Manfriend of the Year, still has it.
K-Dub was sporting these cool new Spy Whip goggles. Check them out on Spy's website for more information.
The new bodywork on the Red Bull KTM's is very cool. Here's a closer look at the front fender of Marvin Musquin's 250SX-F. It's designed to be more rigid and flex less than last year's fender.
At Phoenix, Musquin finished second, putting himself in the heat of the championship points chase. Marvin now tied for third in points with Dean Wilson.
Best. Pick Up Kit. Ever.
After going down on the first lap of the main event, Ryan Villopoto clawed his way back up to third by the end of the main event. His effort helped him to remain in the points chase, as he now sits tied for first with Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey.
JGR/Toyota/Yamaha's James Stewart's season has gotten off to a bumpy start. Bike set up issues and bad luck have plagued his first two rounds. At Anaheim, Stewart finished sixth, and at Phoenix he finished eighth. He now sits seventh in the championship points chase.
Former major league baseball pitcher Randy Johnson was shooting photos at Phoenix. The Big Unit is reportedly really into photography and has shot other motorsports events. He also had everything that money could buy for camera equipment.
Rockstar Brett Michaels is offering up the Brett Michaels Rock Hard Ride Hard award again this year. The award goes to the rider who overcomes the most adversity during the season. Brett has been riding motorcycles since he was six and is a huge fan of the sport.
Former World Motocross Champion Tyla Rattray has been very consistent at the first two rounds of racing. The South African has finished on the podium at both Anaheim and Phoenix, and for that now sits in the points lead heading into the third round of competition at Los Angeles next weekend.
Quite possibly the best mullet we've seen in a long, long time.
During the first lap of the heat race, Jimmy Albertson landed on Nick Wey before the first triple. The resulting crash took both riders out with Albertson breaking some teeth and Wey coming out only slightly bruised and battered. Albertson will likely sit out the next round in Los Angeles, while Wey is planning on racing the event.
Phoenix was a historic night for the Red Bull KTM team as it marked the first-ever Supercross class win for the Austrian bike manufacturer. No one challenged Dungey throughout the main event—he pulled the holeshot and never looked back. The win also moved Dungey into first in points. He now sits tied for the lead with Villopoto.
One Industries made up some really cool one-off gear for the Rockstar Suzuki squad to wear in Phoenix.
Pro Taper made these custom Michigan Mafia bar pads for Michigan's own Nick Wey. In case you haven't seen it, check out last week's kickstart for a look at NYK's leather Michigan Mafia riding vest that he sports during opening ceremonies and on the line.
Gratuitous Monster Girl photo. See you next week!