Monday Kickstart – Southwick MX 2012

After a few weeks off, the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships visited the sands of Southwick,¬†Massachusetts, at MX 338. And while there was some amazing racing action in all the classes, that’s not all that happened at Southwick. Check out this week’s Monday Kickstart for everything that went down at the ‘Wick.

The weekend's racing opened up with the announcement of Team USA for this year's Motocross of Nations in Lommel, Belgium. Alongside returning team captain Ryan Dungey will be current 250 points leader Blake Baggett and Justin Barcia. With Barcia moving up to the 450 class next year, the MXoN will see him aboard a 450 competing in the MX3 class. Baggett will compete in the MX2 and Dungey in the MX1. The Lommel track is a notoriously rough sand track where European riders shine. When questioned about it, team manager Roger DeCoster said the team will be heading over early in order to get some testing in before the race.

The start straight at Southwick features one of the tightest turns on the circuit, funneling the riders into a tight left hand corner then immediately into a right hand corner. Needless to say, it's the perfect recipe for a first or second turn pile-up. As it turned out, in many of the motos there were crashes in either the first or second turn, with some of the top riders falling victim.

Team Muscle Milk Honda's Justin Brayton was one of the top riders that got tangled up in the first turn. Justin went down in both motos and was forced to come from behind. In the first moto, he turned in a 19th after coming back from dead last. In the second, though, he pulled out after a few laps. No word on the reason.

Here's a shot of the first 450 moto pile-up. The Yamaha is that of Kyle Regal.'s Michael Byrne was another rider that went down in the first turn. The Australian crashed in the first moto and only completed one lap before returning to the pits with what appeared to be a mechanical issue. Byrne found redemption in the second moto, though, as he carded a fifth.

Once again, MotoConcept's Mike Alessi took the holeshot in both 450 class motos. The Suzuki rider jumped out to lead the first moto for numerous laps before succumbing to the pressure of Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey. Alessi went on to go 3-2 for second overall. He remains second in the points standings.

It just isn't Southwick without local hero John Dowd racing. The 47-year-old racer has done a couple other races this year with the hope of retaining his number 16 for another year. In order to do that he had to earn 25 points this season. By earning points in both motos at Southwick (10-16) and finishing 14th overall, Dowd just squeaked in with 26 points, keeping his national number for one more year. Dowd plans to race Unadilla next week.

Another Southwick legend, Doug Henry, is still a very big part of the race with the front straight being named after him. The friendly rider was also on hand to take in the action.

After qualifying first, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Broc Tickle turned in his second podium finish of the season with a 6-4 for third overall. Tickle has been working very hard this season and it appears that it has really been paying off.

There were some new faces in both classes, but the most anticipated was Zach Bell aboard a Geico Honda. Bell just recently dominated the 250 A class action at Loretta Lynn's and came into Southwick looking to show his blazingly fast speed. As it turned out, Bell qualified an impressive ninth and parlayed that into an amazing start in the first moto.

In the first moto, Bell jumped off the gate to take the holeshot, and within the first few laps, opened up a five-second lead over former World Motocross Champion Marvin Musquin. This photo was taken on the first lap of the race. All told, Bell led for a total of five laps before letting his teammate Eli Tomac go around him. Bell then did his best to keep Tomac in sight, but ultimately went down and knocked his head pretty good in the process. Bell did not start the second moto.

Here, Bell pulls into the pits after crashing in the first moto. As we mentioned, he returned to the pits shortly after this photo was taken. He didn't return for the second.

As for Bell's teammate, Tomac, he went on to a dominating win in the first moto. The second moto, though, didn't go as well as he would have liked, but he still managed to finish third for second overall. In the second moto, Tomac caught and passed eventual moto winner Blake Bagget, but in the process miss-judged a tight left hand turn, hit a tree, and was ripped off his bike. During the week before the race, Tomac took a trip to some sand dunes by his house in Colorado to get some sand practice in.

Pastrana wasn't just there to watch the 250 and 450 racing action; he actually lost a bet to friend Ashley Fiolek after she won X Games a few years ago. Because of that, he had to wear this pink shirt in support of Fiolek. In true TP fashion, he had some fun with it and enjoyed every minute.

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Blake Baggett took another overall victory, extending his points lead in the 250 class. Baggett went 3-1 for the overall and had to battle for his win in the second moto where he passed Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen for the lead with only two laps to go in the race. Here, Baggett gets a hug from his mom.

Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen nearly won his first moto of the season at Southwick, as he led the second moto until the two-lap board came out. Once that happened, Roczen said he simply got tired and gave it his all. During the off-weekends before the race, Roczen returned home to Germany where he enjoyed some time with his friends and family and also raced a German National Championship race. At the race, Roczen won both motos by over 12 seconds.

Roczen also got a new haircut during the break. Better than his long flowing locks of before? You be the judge...

Roczen's teammate Marvin Musquin had his best moto showing of the season during the first 250 class moto where he finished second behind Tomac. During the second moto, Musquin went on to finish fifth for fourth overall.

Another rider other than Bell that was making his professional motocross debut was multi-time off-road champion Kurt Caselli. Kurt is easily one of the top off-road riders in the country right now and one of the most versatile riders to ever swing a leg over a dirt bike. Unfortunately, he suffered from bad starts and failed to score points with his 25-24 finishes. Be that as it may, he still had a lot of fun. Look for a TransWorld Shadow video of Caselli later this week.

Kurt wasn't the only KTM off-road rider in attendance at Southwick, as former National Champion Mike Brown joined him under the off-road team semi.

Brown has competed at a few other races this season with some impressive results, but his best showing was this weekend at Southwick where he finished sixth overall with a score of 9-7. Brown will easily retain his permanent national number three with his total of 48 points for the year.

Another rider that rode his heart out at Southwick was Monster Energy Kawasaki's Tyla Rattray. In the first moto, Rattray was another victim of the first-turn pileup, but in the second, he capitalized on his good start to run up front and take over the lead when Dungey had to pit for gas--more on the pit stop shortly. Tyla held off a hard-charging Dungey to take his first-ever 450 class moto victory. His combine scores of 20-1 were good enough for fifth overall. Here, he catches his breath after his second moto victory.

It's that time of year again where we start seeing new 2013 gear from various companies. Southwick wasn't the first time, but we figured we'd mention it anyways. Muscle Milk Honda's Tommy Hahn was sporting some of Fox's newest offers in both motos.

Michael Byrne, and all the other Fly sponsored riders, were wearing Fly's 2013 gear that appears to be very clean and cool looking.

Lastly, the Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda riders were all showing off TLD's newest gear offerings throughout the day.

Justin Brayton also debuted some new 2013 One Industries gear. The new gear will be available September 1st.

Hahn had his best moto finish of the year with his third place in the first moto. Hahn has been filling the shoes of Trey Canard during this outdoor season.

Southwick always brings out some special modifications to not only bikes, but riders' gear as well. We caught One Industries' Jeremy Deegan gluing an extra nose guard onto Justin Brayton's helmets. Deegan said that the 100% goggles that Brayton prefers don't have a nose guard on them, so he glues a little extra protection onto his helmet.

Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda's Eric Gass received some fresh stitches in his right thumb after he--let's just say--had an incident with a knife. He never heard the last of it from the team.

Many of the teams were running added mud protection on the radiators of the bikes. This plastic mesh was on Josh Grant's JWR Kawasaki.

To keep mud from building up on his rider's bike, Gass applied panty hose to the radiators. Be careful with that knife special buddy!

Tire choice is always important, but it's amplified at the unique Southwick track. Here, Monster Energy Kawasaki's Dana Wiggins changes the front tire of Jake Weimer's bike before practice. He said that last year, Weimer ran a hard terrain tire, but this year elected to go with a soft terrain front.

In the rear, many riders were running this aggressive Dunlop sand tire.

After doing well and having fun at Washougal a few weeks ago, Hart & Huntington/Dodge/Kawasaki's Josh Hill returned for some more outdoor fun at Southwick. In the first moto, Hill finished 16th, but he pulled out and returned to the pits midway through the second moto.

One rider that deserves a shout out is Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil/Honda's Jessy Nelson. As a last minute decision to race the outdoor series, many wondered if Nelson was ready. He has proved, though, that he is ready for the big time, and at Southwick, he turned in an incredible ride. In the first moto, he ran up front and held on to finish fifth. In the second moto, he got off to a great start and ultimately finished 11th for eighth overall on the day.

The JDR/J Star/KTM team has some of the trickest bikes in the pits. We noticed this O2 sensor on the headers of the bikes. We're not sure if they run it during racing, but it was on the bikes during practice.

We also spotted this very cool carbon fiber guard on the throttle bodies of the JDR bikes.

After riding as a fill-in rider for the JGR/Toyota/Yamaha team for the first part of the season, Kyle Regal is now on his own and aboard a privateer Yamaha in the 450 class. We snapped this pic of him conferring with his old sponsor Merge Racing between practice sessions.

Geico Honda's Justin Barcia was sporting these very cool chrome Allsport Dynamics wrist braces. In the motos, Barcia got tangled up in a pileup in the second turn during the first moto, but climbed back up to finish seventh. In the second, he finished fourth for fifth overall.

In the WMX racing action, Honda's Ashley Fiolek dominated both motos, going 1-1 on the day. In doing so, she closed within five points leader Jessica Patterson.

See you next week at Unadilla!