Kawasaki Announces 2007 Motocross Racing Teams2006-11-04 08:42
Kawasaki will blend future talent with experienced champions in a 2007 Supercross/Motocross lineup featuring four teams and 12 riders. James Stewart, one of the sport's premier riders, will be joined in the Supercross and Motocross divisions by racing veteran Tim Ferry on the factory Kawasaki Racing Team. In addition to the factory squad, the Cernic's Kawasaki Racing Team adds two more KX450F pilots. In the Lites class, 2006 season powerhouse Team Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki will consist of three returning riders and one new addition, all on KX250Fs. New to Kawasaki racing for 2007 and rounding out the Lites line up, is the four rider Team Motosport Kawasaki squad. With four KX450F and eight KX250F riders, Kawasaki expects to expand its presence and maintain its winning ways throughout the 2007 season.
"We're happy to see so many Kawasaki motorcycles in the field for 2007. We expect our factory and Pro Circuit riders will set the standard for the deep pool of KX-mounted talent on our teams" said Kawasaki Racing Team Manager Mike Fisher, adding "Kawasaki is looking for our top riders to capitalize on their experience and leadership to help continue the this year's impressive results into the 2007 season."
Stewart, 20, from Haines City, Fla., fought a dramatic race-by-race battle with Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed to earn his first Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP Championship in 2006. Stewart faced stiff competition during his climb to success, but he prevailed by going undefeated in his heat races and collecting ten main event wins to earn the title. Stewart narrowly missed winning the Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Championship by two points during an epic battle with Carmichael which culminated at the series finale in Las Vegas last May.
Stewart continued this momentum straight into the 2006 AMA Motocross series by earning his first AMA Motocross overall victory during the season's opening round at Hangtown MX Park, breaking Carmichael's 27 race outdoor motocross winning steak. Stewart's Motocross season ultimately became a rollercoaster of challenges due to an early season crash which left the young Floridian out of the hunt for the championship. Stewart rebounded to post nine top-five finishes and three overall victories at Hangtown, Washougal and the series finale at Glen Helen Raceway, eventually working his way up to fourth in the point standings. Stewart continued his winning ways in post season racing, helping Team USA win the 2006 Motocross of Nations, before a dominant trip to Las Vegas for the U.S. Open, where he finished 1-1 for the overall title.
"We are counting on Stewart to win multiple events and put a strong title run together in 2007," said Fisher. "He proved his speed and skill in both Supercross and Motocross, and his experiences last season will help Stewart continue his success in 2007."
Tim Ferry, 31, of Dade City, Fla., also began pro racing at 16. He received national recognition, when he nabbed the AMA Eastern Region Supercross Lites Championship in 1997. Ferry was later selected to represent Team USA at the 2003 Motocross of Nations. His main goal is to win another championship and although he missed most of the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injury, he rebounded in 2006 with six top-ten finishes in Supercross. The season was shaping up well until he suffered a disappointing leg injury which forced him to miss the last three Supercross races of 2006. That injury also forced the Floridian out of contention for the first two rounds of the AMA Motocross season. Ferry returned for the third round in Southwick, Mass. From then on, Ferry scored three top-five and six top-ten finishes, ending the season in ninth place overall for the highly competitive 2006 Motocross season.
"Tim is a hard worker and gives it everything he's got while racing," said Fisher. "He is smart on the racetrack and knows how to move through the pack. He also knows how to turn a bad situation into a positive effort and he records consistently strong results."
Kawasaki's official assault on the 2007 AMA Supercross/Motocross Lites class will once again be provided through Mitch Payton's aftermarket company, Pro Circuit. Fielding a four-rider squad, Team Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki expects to continue their winning ways from 2006. Three '06 riders are returning to the team in 2007, including 2006 AMA Motocross Lites Champion and Rookie of the Year, Ryan Villopoto, 18, from Poulsbo, Wash. Villopoto took full advantage of his relentless speed and assertive riding style during his rookie season to finish in third place overall during the 2006 AMA Supercross Lites Western Region series. Villopoto carried that momentum to the outdoor series and racked-up six overall wins during the summer to earn the AMA Motocross Lites title.
Also returning for 2007 is Ben Townley, 22, from Auckland, New Zealand. As a former FIM MX2 World Champion, Townley possesses the rare combination of speed and control required to win at the highest levels. However, he missed a majority of the 2006 AMA Supercross/Motocross Lites season due to injury but posted an impressive third place overall at the AMA Motocross finale at Glen Helen Raceway. The final returning rider is Chris Gosselaar, 24, from Victorville, Calif., who quickly became the model of consistency during the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region series. The resilient Californian strung together six podium finishes, plus another top-ten finish, en-route to earning second place overall in the final AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region championship. Gosselaar capped his 2006 racing efforts with a podium finish at the U.S. Open and is looking forward to a strong start in 2007.
New to the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki roster this season is Brett Metcalfe, 22, from Murrieta, Calif. Brett had an impressive season in 2006, with three top-five finishes and four top-ten showings in AMA Supercross Lites competition. Metcalfe also made the podium twice in AMA Motocross Lites competition, with two second-place overall finishes, an additional top-five finish and three more top-ten showings. He ended the series fifth in the final AMA Motocross Lites point standings.
In addition to the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Team, the 2007 Lites classes will see four more KX250Fs fielded by Team Motosport Kawasaki. Billy Keefe will manage the team, which includes motocross veteran Steve Boniface and long-time Team Green riders Kyle Chisholm, Matt Boni and Bobby Kiniry.
Originally from France, Boniface is no stranger to competition as this will be his seventh year racing in the U.S. Boniface is coming off of two top-ten Motocross Lites finishes and is ready to build upon this in 2007. Chisholm, who will pilot a Kawasaki for the tenth year in a row, earned the Canadian MX2 East Championship in the summer of 2006. He also achieved top-ten finishes in Southwick, MA and Glen Helen Raceway in Motocross Lites action and one top-ten finish in the AMA Supercross Lites Eastern Region Championship. Bobby Kiniry of Skaneateles, N.Y., enters his fifth year of AMA Supercross/Motocross Lites competition aboard his new KX250F. Kiniry scored a third place at last year's US Open, and followed that with a second place finish in the Toronto round of the 2006 Amp'd Mobile World SX Championship. Rounding out Team Motosport Kawasaki is rookie Matt Boni. Hailing from Geneva, Fla., Boni is making his pro debut in 2007 and will continue his Team Green streak as this will be his seventh year racing on a Kawasaki. Boni gave the KX250F its first ever-amateur motocross championship by winning several classes at the 2003 Florida Winter Olympics.
In addition to Stewart and Ferry on the factory Supercross/Motocross team, Kawasaki will see the return of the Billy Keefe managed Cernic's Kawasaki Racing Team with a two-rider lineup on KX450Fs.
Heading the team and returning to Kawasaki for the 2007 season is 25-year-old Ithaca, N.Y. native Paul Carpenter. Carpenter, a former Team Green and factory Kawasaki rider, finished eighth overall and posted seven top-ten finishes with one top-five finish in the 2006 Supercross Lites Western Region Championship. He also finished 11th overall in the Motocross Lites Championship with top-ten finishes at Red Bud, Spring Creek and Steel City. Carpenter's new teammate, Jeff Gibson, will be riding a Kawasaki for the first time since his inaugural year as a pro in 1999. Gibson celebrated two top-ten Supercross finishes at San Francisco and Indianapolis in 2006, and ended the season as one of the top AMA Supercross privateers. Both Carpenter and Gibson will prove to be definite assets to Cernic's Kawasaki Racing Team.
Source: Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. (KMC)
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