The 2010 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships and Moto USA WMX Championship came to a close this weekend at Pala Raceway near San Diego. A close 250 title hunt made for a great day and although things did not quite come down to the wire like many were anticipating, for a first time National, Pala offered up plenty of excitement for everyone. Now that the AMA titles are decided, the next big race on the calendar is not too far away as Team USA and the rest of the competing nations are in preparation for the biggest single race of the season, the Motocross of Nations, this year being held at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, CO. While the U.S. team is strong, there are certainly some other countries who could be a big challenge, especially Italy and France. Whatever sponsor conflicts existed before were cleaned up just before the weekend and now both Antonio Cairoli and David Philippaerts will both be representing Italy. At the moment Christophe Pourcel is a big question mark due to his dislocated shoulder, but if he does compete in what would be his 450 debut, he will be supported by MX2 wonderkid Marvin Musquin and MX3 rider Xavier Boog. This could be one very interesting international battle royale. For now, here is a look back behind the scenes at the final AMA National of 2010.
A very interesting side note. Had Jessica Patterson and Ashley Fiolek both signed up for the men’s Pro 250 Class, they would have just missed qualifying. Their lap times for practice would have placed them in 41st and 42nd place while Tarah Geiger would have been right up there in 44th position. What’s more? In actual racing, the number one and two WMX stars were faster than more than just a few of the 250 Class riders. Just a little food for thought.
It's hard to believe, but this championship marks only the third title for the Geico Powersports/Honda team in nearly 15 years of racing and the first national championship for both Canard and the crew. The crown is also Honda's first 250 Class/Lites/125 win since Steve Lamson's 1996 title.
This is where it all went wrong. According to his mechanic, Christophe Pourcel landed in a small pothole after a step up. Although he had been landing in the same spot for the entire race, for one reason or another, the bike bucked him over the bars this time around and he wound up dislocating his right shoulder in the ensuing crash.
Ben Townley had another solid day. Although he never managed to battle for a lead position, the New Zealander had 6-4 finishes that were good enough for fourth overall.
Cole Seely had his best race of the season and of his outdoor career in the first 250 Class moto. The TLD rider started in second place and ran up there for a while before giving up a few spots. When Blake Wharton and Christophe Pourcel both knocked themselves out of the race, their misfortune bumped Cole up to the final podium spot. Word is, Cole will likely being staying put on the TLD squad for next season.
Kyle Regal has gone through a tough up and down outdoor season, sometimes landing on the podium, then crashing out or falling mid-moto. A fifth in the first moto was the Texan's highlight of the day, not bad considering his very hard crash last week at Steel City.
The Honda of Troy team chose not to bring their team rig out but still had several riders competing. The Durham brothers both pitted out of the J-Law Racing/Arma rig for the day.
Tommy Weeck was a top amateur racer last year, and turned pro at Unadilla in 2009. But the friendly So.Cal resident was one of the victims of budget cuts and found himself with zero support for 2010. Fortunately he was able to round up some funds to compete in the last five rounds of the Nationals, and it has paid off. Tommy was having solid top 15 results for his first several races, and the Rockstar/Suzuki squad took notice. Due to several vacated spots, the team decided to give Weeck a bike and he immediately rewarded them with his best result yet…a ninth in the first 250 Class moto.
Careful, that isn't fruit punch in the there. Race teams take everything to the next level and no stone is left unturned. The DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha crew keeps their fuel on ice all day long. Cooler gas means higher efficiency and more power.
Believe it or not, this isn't a factory machine. In fact, it's not even a pro race bike. Heck it isn't even a full sized bike for that matter. This is JGRMX Cooper Webb's CRF150 that he rode in the Honda 150 Cup.
Monster girls. Need we say more?
Classy: this fan disregarded track rules, jumped the fence, and ran up the hill to first check on Christophe, then pulled his bike off the track since it was lying directly in the middle of the main line.
Not so classy: said fan helped Pourcel remove his jersey…before he nabbed it for himself. Okay, so the guy also brought him some water, but still. Help and leave it at that. Not the most appropriate time to be asking for handouts.
The ruts towards the end of the day in some sections were unbelievably deep. This uphill section at the back of the track was a mixture of sand and imported wood chips.
Now those are some peg-deep ruts. Dean Wilson demonstrates.
DC Shoes had one of the best setups we have seen at a National. At the top of the hill they had a pool, grass, barbeque, DJ, and of course, some ladies to make the day ease on by. Recent Loretta Lynn's Collegeboy champ, Tyler Beremen felt right at home.
Okay, so not too many people actually used the pool, but it still created a nice atmosphere.
Here is another view of the DC pool party. Guests had one of the best seats in the house for the race, as it was one of the few spots at Pala where you could see most of the racing. The track actually surrounded the spot on three sides.
Michael Sleeter signed up for Pala and qualified with ease. The long time KTM test rider had a scary moment in the first moto when he went tumbling down one of the bumpy downhill sections, hitting the ground hard. Fortunately he was able to remount and still raced the second moto as well.
Every little bit counts. Nick Paluzzi's YZ450F gets a little more breathing room thanks to the additional filtered slots cut into his air box.
Siiik truck. Hot chick. You're welcome!
There are always the random custom choppers that make it out to the So. Cal races. This scoot, located at the Rockwell rig, has a very classic look to it with a few modern additions…
…Such as the street knobby tires.
Remember Bobby Kiniry? The New Yorker has been racing up in Canada this summer, hence the number three on his jersey, but chose to race the last few US Nationals and has had some decent results. A 13th in the first 450 moto was the better part of Bobby's day as he did not finish the second heat.
For the first time in a while, Honda Red Bull Racing had a full roster during the autograph session, although not everyone was riding.
Davi Millsaps made an appearance at Pala, signing some autographs under the red tent, which could possibly be his last showing with the factory Honda squad.
There's nothing like a visit from your parents to brighten your day. Michael Byrne's father decided to make the journey from Australia to watch his son race. With such a long distance to travel, it is difficult for most families to make the journey, and apparently this was only Mr. Byrne's second time making to a U.S. race to watch his boy.
Dan Reardon has gone through a mediocre season and although the Nationals are over, the VMS/Yamaha rider will still be racing in the coming months. The Australian Super-X Series will be starting up in just over a month so Daniel will be heading back home to prepare for yet another championship run.
Jeff Emig helped with helmet cam duties early in the day. Here he talks shop with Dean Wilson before practice. Emig reminded the Pro Circuit phenom that he was racing pro before Deano was even born. Polite as always, Wilson said he never would have guessed that Jeffro was almost 40 years old.
Believe it or not, this is a shot of the crowd during practice. Yes, the turnout was good but it could have been great if there was better access to the facility. The two-lane road got so backed up that fans were reportedly waiting as much as three hours to get into the track. If they can figure out a good system for transporting people to and from the I-15 (only about 5 miles away) the Pala National will be a hit.
DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha's Eric Gass talks traction with Brian Fleck from Dunlop. The sandy to hard packed conditions made tire selection a bit tricky for teams.
If you were not up on a hill or in the bleachers, you would have been lucky to get a view like this. The mostly flat terrain course made it difficult for spectating on much of the track, but if you were willing to wander around, you could find a good spot or two.
Another American who has been racing in Canada this summer is young Aron Harvey. Normally a Blackfoot Yamaha rider, Aron entered the 450 Class as a privateer but struggled a bit winding up 28th overall.
Yes, that is a walking Volcom stone. Enough said.
Here, Jake Weimer talks shop with Twitch. Pala is a regular stop for the Metal Mulisha crew so most of the guys were on hand for the National. As for Weimer, the rumor mill has him ending up in many different places for 2011 but one thing is for certain, he will be a full time premier class rider next season.
Blake Wharton had a very scary crash only moments before Pourcel's incident. The high speed wad up instantly knocked the Geico Powersports sensation unconscious. Fortunately Blake was not seriously hurt, but that was the end of his day.
Christophe was in obvious pain, and it took a while before medics could even lift him up off the track. It was a heartbreaking moment that the Frenchman handled surprisingly well.
Jessica Patterson basically had the championship in hand heading into Pala and really only needed to score four points to take the championship. Instead she opted to dominate the first WMX moto. Fiolek gave it her best effort but actually fell on the first lap. She eventually finished second in the moto and even took the overall win but the damage was already done.
The crowd was sizable to say the least, easily in the tens of thousands. Unlike most rounds, fans also stuck around for the entire day of racing, so the even the WMX race had fans lining the entire track.
PJ Larsen was seen roaming around the pits. The new Australian Motocross National Champ will be coming back to racing full time next year, reportedly on a factory supported KTM program.
MotoConcepts/Yamaha's Vicki Golden had a mostly disappointing season considering her outstanding 2009 rookie year, but she certainly ended 2010 on a high note. The So. Cal local came from way back in the pack to finish third in the first moto. Her fourth in the second moto earned her third overall for the day.
MotoConcepts/Yamaha's Ryan Sipes had one of his best races of the season, running near the front in both motos to finish out the day in fifth overall.
Just like so many times this season, 10 to be exact, Ryan Dungey stood at the center of the podium. What more can be said about the guy? In practice he was almost two seconds faster than anyone else and he did not slow one bit come race time. He will be a force at the Motocross of Nations in two weeks.
The Pala crew did a good job with the track design and preparation. This long whoop section was extremely fast but actually did not claim too many riders. Some would choose to hammer through them while others would jump through them.
Considering that Broc Tickle got hurt midway through the season, he came back with surprising speed. Although he was not quite at the same pace as the beginning of the year, he was one of the few riders to consistently breakup the Geico Powersports and Pro Circuit train. Ironically, Broc is supposedly destined for Mitch Payton managed equipment for next season.
Darryn Durham really came on strong in the latter half of the season. The HoT rider is incredibly talented and is certainly deserving of a top-tear support ride, whether Honda of Troy starts receiving more support or the likable teen ends up elsewhere. At Pala, Durham had an up and down day, finishing 10th in the second moto.
Christophe Pourcel (in green, second person in at bottom left of the crowd) was forced to watch from the sidelines as Trey Canard rode off with the 250 National title. In truth, both riders were equally deserving of the championship, but luck was just not on Pourcel's side on Saturday.
You'd better believe Trey Canard was excited to earn the number one plate. There was no wiping the smile off of the new champ's face once he crossed the finish line.
Jessica Patterson took her first WMX championship since Ashley Fiolek came onto the scene. On top of the number one plate, Yamaha awarded the DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing/Yamaha rider with a check for $25,000. Congrats JP!