Moto-X 338 Motocross National Team Previews2009-08-27 18:53
Last weekend at Budds Creek MX Park in Mechanicsville, Md., Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Chad Reed stood atop the podium for the fifth time this season and was able to add the number one plate to his resume after clinching the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship 450 Class title. It is the first outdoor championship for the Australian rider and the third AMA title of his career. As the battle for second heats up between Honda Red Bull teammates Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco, the focus shifts this weekend to the tight 250 Class title hunt.
During the Budds Creek race, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel extended his small advantage over Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki's Ryan Dungey to 13 points with two rounds remaining. The advantage puts Pourcel in a comfortable position for the final four motos in which he needs to finish at least second in order to guarantee the championship no matter what Dungey does. While experience will play into Dungey's hand, Pourcel has not appeared to suffer from unfamiliarity, landing on the overall podium at all 10 rounds this season. The duo will surely engage in a fight to the finish, providing stellar on-track action for the fans.
This weekend, professional Motocross makes its only stop in New England, home of some of the most dedicated fans in the country. Historic Moto-X 338, in Southwick, Mass., serves as host of the Moto-X 338 Motocross National and will challenge riders with the only sand track on the schedule. As the site of many memorable battles throughout the years, Moto-X 338 always provides some great racing. Same-day coverage of the race will feature each class for the first time in 2009. SPEED will present the 250 Class beginning at 9 p.m. ET immediately followed by the 450 Class at 10 p.m.
With the championship in his hands, Reed can simply focus on winning from here on out. He has repeatedly stated how much he has enjoyed 2009 and now that the pressure is off, its time for the Aussie to have a little more fun and perhaps let it hang out. At his last appearance in Southwick back in 2006, he finished runner-up behind Ricky Carmichael and hopes to take the next step this weekend. His teammate Michael Byrne kept his solid season going last Saturday with a sixth overall. Last year in Massachusetts, he did not perform as well as he had hoped, finishing eighth overall. With the momentum he has built this season, he is confident that result will improve.
"I'm so happy to have gotten the championship wrapped up last weekend," stated Reed. "The Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki team was really patient with me while I tried to get my health issues under control this year, and they worked really hard to give me a bike I felt comfortable on. This is what that hard work is all about. I wanted to race AMA Motocross again this year because I wanted to support the series and have fun, and that's what I've been able to do. I'm looking forward to Southwick this weekend because now that the championship is settled, we can just go out and race and have a good time."
"Southwick has been somewhat up and down for me and hopefully this will be an up year," said Byrne. "I've been in Florida all week practicing in the sand so I can get a feel for it. I think the Rockstar/Makita/Suzuki RM-Z450 will be better this year in the sandy conditions because the team has been working hard on that. Hopefully, I can get some good starts and a good result."
Honda Red Bull Racing
Honda grabbed two of the three podium positions last weekend and added another name to the moto winner list with Davi Millsaps. The Georgia native held off a hard charging Reed in the first moto to take the win and backed it up with a sixth place finish in moto two to give him a career-best second overall. Since returning from injury, he has shown considerable speed, but has yet to put together a pair of equally strong motos. For Ivan Tedesco, Budds Creek was about gaining ground on his second place teammate Andrew Short, which he did. A third overall gave Tedesco a return to the podium and just an eight point deficit to his teammate. Short didn't appear to find his rhythm throughout the last round, posting seventh and 10th place finishes for eighth overall. However, he finished fourth at Moto-X 338 one year ago and could be looking at a nice rebound on Saturday.
As quickly as the excitement in the Joe Gibbs pit rose with the return of Josh Grant at Budds Creek, it diminished equally as fast when Grant decided to sit out the rest of the season after a rough first moto. Despite the unfortunate news, Cody Cooper gave with a strong overall performance. While his result of 13th overall did not reflect how well he rode, the New Zealander showed strength and returns to the site of his best career finish on Saturday. Last season, Cooper broke through as a privateer with second overall and is undoubtedly looking forward to coming back to Southwick this weekend.
Monster Energy Kawasaki
After an up and down season, Timmy Ferry was able to capture his best result of 2009 with seventh overall. After a ninth place result in moto one, he bettered his finish in moto two in eighth and received a much needed boost of confidence. Last year, he took third overall at Southwick to solidify his runner-up finish in the standings and hopes to break into the top five and maybe even steal a podium on Saturday. Kawasaki's newest rider Jake Moss showed the speed the team knew he had in the first moto. However, misfortune bit the Australian rider late in the first moto and put a damper on an otherwise solid debut. He rebounded for ninth in the final moto for 16th overall. Saturday will mark his inaugural appearance in the 450 Class at Southwick, where he 15th last season in the 250 Class.
"Southwick is a good track for me," said Ferry. "Because there is a lot of sand, it reminds me of my place in Florida. I do a lot of riding in the sand so I think I can get a good finish. I just need to get better starts."
"I think I can get a win in the last two races," explained Moss. "I just need to work on my fitness a little bit and ride within my limits. The Kawasaki is awesome and I know I can get some good finishes this weekend."
With his confidence running high going into the last round, Justin Brayton was disappointed with his 11th overall at Budds Creek after a pair of fourth place finishes at the previous two races. Despite the result, Brayton ran as strong as ever but suffered a setback in the first moto that hurt his chances for the day. The California rider bounced back in moto two for seventh and hopes to get back to top form this weekend.
"Each week I was steadily getting closer to the podium and then I just had some bad luck at Budds Creek and it pushed me outside of the top ten," stated Brayton. "I am focused and ready to get inside the top three this weekend. I have been training hard, riding as much as I can and feel confident I can place in the top three."
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
While Pourcel is leading the way with his chase for a championship, Jake Weimer is putting together a breakout season and it hasn't gone unnoticed as shown by his selection to the Motocross of Nations team. The Idaho rider captured his third win of the season last weekend in arguably the strongest ride he has ever had outdoors. Despite coming up just short of the moto one win, Weimer kept his teammate in his sights and the determination carried over into moto two where he took the lead late in a torrential downpour. After sitting in 10th after four rounds, he now sits fourth in the standings, on the cusp of taking third. For Pourcel, a smart ride in the rain showed his championship mentality. Knowing the pressure is somewhat relieved, it could be more of the same from the Frenchman. However, never one to back down, if a win is in his grasp don't be surprised if he makes a charge. For Austin Stroupe and Tyla Rattray, each rider continues to get back into top form after lengthy injuries. Each rider finished in the top 10 last weekend with Stroupe in fifth and Rattray in 10th. Neither rider competed at Southwick last season so it will be interesting to see how they fare in the sand.
"Southwick should be a good race for me," said Pourcel. "I race well on sandy tracks so hopefully I can win both motos and build a bigger cushion heading to the final race. I'm going to just concentrate on getting the best finishes I can."
"I need to get two good starts again," explained Weimer, who claimed both holeshots last weekend. "The second half of the season has been really good and I want to keep getting good finishes and try and finish third in the standings."
"It is good to be back on track," stated Rattray. "I'm glad I got a race in before coming to Southwick. Since it is a sand track, I think I can do well, but it helps having raced last weekend. I really want to get back on the podium and I think I have a good chance this weekend."
"I'm making good progress," added Stroupe. "I just want to finish out the season as strong as I can and hopefully get a couple of podiums."
Even though he has lost ground in the title hunt, Dungey has been at the top of his game. Top-five starts have forced him to work his way through the field a bit more than his rival, but the speed is there and so is the confidence. His runner-up finish last season at Southwick was surrounded by wins in three of the final four events. If any rider has what it takes to make a late season run, its Dungey and with every point on the line from here on out, its go time for the Minnesota native.
"I'm excited about racing Southwick this weekend," boasted Dungey. "It's a good track - it's a lot of fun and I feel pretty comfortable in the sand. We only have two rounds left in the season and everything is coming down to the wire. I've been focusing on doing my regular program this week and will just try to ride my own race this weekend and gain some more points in the championship."
GEICO Powersports Honda
Australian Brett Metcalfe was on the verge of claiming an elusive first moto win at Budds Creek, but as the rain came down harder, the track became increasingly difficult and a slight bobble relegated him to second. However, Metcalfe's never surrender mentality has brought him to third place in the standings and it is only a matter of time before that win occurs. Last year at Moto-X 338, he put together one of his best performances of the season, finished second and third in the motos for third overall and will look to improve on that on Saturday. Rookie Justin Barcia quietly took home fourth overall last weekend with moto results of fourth and seventh. The Georgia rider has become consistent late in the season, honing in on his endurance and using his stellar speed when necessary. For third member Blake Wharton, the final month of 2009 has been rough. After scoring no points two rounds ago, he suffered the same fate last weekend and can't seem to rid himself of bad luck. He hopes his 10th place result in Southwick last season will mean that things turn around for the final two races.
In just his second race back, Ryan Sipes led the way for the KTM team at Budds Creek. He finished eighth overall and rode at the front of the pack for the majority of the muddy second moto. British rookie Tommy Searle was one of the many riders who suffered from misfortune in the final moto, posting finishes of seventh and 21st for 13th overall. In his first race back from shoulder surgery, Wil Hahn brought home 25th.
"I have always heard stories about Southwick and I am very excited to see what this sand track is all about," said Searle. "Every track on the circuit is new to me and it is a thrill each weekend the first time I pull onto the track."
The talented competitors of the Women's Motocross (WMX) Class of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship return to action this weekend after a break that began at the conclusion of Washougal on July 25th. Honda Red Bull Racing's Ashley Fiolek holds a 49-point lead over rival Jessica Patterson and needs to gain just one point on Saturday in order to claim her second consecutive women's championship. Patterson grabbed the overall victory at Southwick last season and will look to maintain the momentum she captured at Washougal with her first overall victory of the season and keep her title hopes alive.
Source: MX Sports Pro Racing
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