Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. Today we have news from Dakar, plus a preview of this weekend’s Oakland Supercross, Windham retires, an impression of the new 6D helmet and the Big Sky Off-road goes national, so let’s get with it!
Cyril Despres Takes Fifth Dakar
After more than 8000 km of racing, through Peru, Argentina and Chile, Cyril Despres picked up his fifth Dakar trophy at the 2013 edition of the world’s most famous rally, the French KTM rider adding the 2013 title to his wins in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012. Despres, who won Stage three and led the overall standings from Stage 10, is now just one win away from Stephane Peterhansel’s record of six Dakar Rally victories.
“It’s true, I needed to cross the line and see all these pictures and people here to know that no one can take this win from me anymore,” Despres said. “I went for it, with all the surprises a Dakar can throw at you: little navigational mistakes, perhaps fewer than the others. In the end, I’ve got a good reason to be very happy. The day when winning the Dakar becomes easy, it won’t be interesting any more. And this day is still far!
“It’s too long, it’s too tough, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, you’ve got to rise early in the morning, you’ve got to find your way out of the dune mazes in Peru and Chile, you’ve got to tackle the stones and cactuses on the courses near Córdoba… it’s just too tricky for it to be easy to win. And it’s even better when you win a difficult race. I’m always focused on what I have to do: I think too much about this race to be impressed. We’re up against a grueling element, the desert. Then there are the stones, the Andes… and we experience them.”
The 2013 edition of the race had more than its share of dramatic moments, including the last minute withdrawal by Despres’ long time teammate and rival Marc Coma, which opened the door for Kurt Caselli to step into his place. The KTM rider from California recovered well from crashes and technical setbacks to put adversity behind him and finished a creditable 31st, after earlier winning two stages in what was his Dakar Rally debut.
Another American, Honda’s Johnny Campbell, asserted himself well with 40th in the final overall standings after finishing second in the eighth Stage.
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 43:24:22
2. Ruben Faria (KTM) 43:35:05
3. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) 43:43:10
4. Ivan Jakes (KTM) 43:48:16
5. Joan Pedrero (KTM) 44:19:51
6. Oliver Pain (Yam) 44:30:52
7. Helder Rodrigues (Hon) 44:35:44
8. Javier Pizzolito (Hon) 44:50:29
9. Frans Verhoeven (Yam) 44:50:57
10. Paulo Goncalves (Hsq) 44:52:4
Kevin Windham Calls It A Career
It surprised us all when Kevin Windham announced at Anaheim 2 that he was retiring. The 34-year-old ended his 19-year pro career. But all good things must end at some point.
The Geico Honda rider had wanted to stretch his career through the 2014 Supercross season, but he said after a crash in Houston that ended his 2012 season and a spill and concussion at the Monster Energy Cup last October that the dangers of the sport weighed too heavy on his mind.
“I would love nothing more than to ride forever,” Windham said. “The choice to retire was going to be hard no matter when I did it.”
Windham finished his carrer with 19 AMA Supercross career wins, more than 200 Supercross starts, two Supercross Lites titles, and three runner-up Supercross points finishes.
“I would love nothing more than to ride forever,” Windham said. “To the fans of Supercross, this might seem to be a hasty decision, but I’ve been talking to a lot of people for a lot of months. I thought I would be able to come into the season and ride myself out of that funk and that mental hurdle I was having to overcome. With every passing lap – be it at the test track, my home track, or the stadium – it became more and more difficult to ride with the clarity I needed to be safe, fast, and successful.”
Who Will Win This Weekend’s Oakland SX
Could this weekend’s Supercross round in Oakland be a game changer for someone? It could, especially if we get rain. And at this point we’re looking at a 40% chance, according to “The Weather Channel”.
Adverse conditions can be the great equalizer, but a little inside info here, Trey Canard is a great mudder. But anything can happen when the conditions are bad, so I’ll keep my money in my pocket for this one.
For sure, Ryan Villopoto is riding a wave of momentum after dominating at Anaheim last weekend. That was the performance we all expected from the start, but starts are what’s been holding the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider back. You can be sure, however, that RV and his mechanic Mike Williamson have been working overtime on getting off the line and his starts will most certainly be improving. You can’t rule Villopoto out no matter the conditions.
Chad Reed showed some improvement, as well, at A2, and seems to be getting a handle on the new Honda, but the rider that’s been the biggest question mark this season is Ryan Dungey. A third, an eighth and a sixth is definitely not what anyone expected out of the KTM rider’s first three races. He’s been the victim of poor starts too, and with a loaded field like we have this year, plus with the first two tracks being slick and tough to pass on, it’s been difficult to come from the rear. My opinion is, he’s going to have to get a little more aggressive, though. In the past, Dungey has relied on his consistency, but I don’t think that’s going to work this year, he’s going to have to start going for wins.
Davi Millsaps and Canard are the two riders in the driver’s seat right now, as the two sit one and two atop the overall standings. Millsaps has been inconsistent in the past, but this seems to be a new and improved Davi on the Rockstar Energy Suzuki. As for Canard, if the Oklahoma rider can stay healthy for an entire year, this could be his season. Both riders have proven to have the speed, but only time will tell. Perhaps we’ll have a better idea after this weekend.
In the 250 class, can anyone stop Eli Tomac? Like Villopoto, Tomac hasn’t gotten the best of starts this year, but he still finds a way to get to the front. The GEICO Honda rider is super aggressive and smart at the same time. An unusual but deadly combination!
Like last year, Ken Roczen seems stuck in second place. Small mistakes seem to be holding the Red Bull KTM rider back. In Phoenix, it was a bobble off the start, that he call a “beginner’s mistake.” At A2, Roczen made a mistake while running second behind Cole Seely that allowed Tomac to get around. He’s got the speed, and once he cleans up his act you can bet Ken Roczen will stand on top of the podium in 2013.
Taddy Blazusiak Honored As AMA National Championship Series Athlete of the Year
The American Motorcyclist Association honored the accomplishments of hundreds of AMA champions from all motorcycle racing disciplines on Saturday, Jan. 19, at the Aladdin Event & Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio. The banquet celebrated the 2012 racing season and announced the recipients of a number of special awards that recognize the best of the best.
The AMA’s highest competitive honors, the AMA Athlete of the Year awards, recognize a rider from each of the two categories of national championship competition: AMA National Championship Series and AMA Grand Championships.
Taddy Blazusiak, the overall champion of the 2012 AMA EnduroCross National Championship Series, won the AMA National Championship Series Athlete of the Year award. Blazusiak–who is originally from Poland and resides in Murrieta, Calif., when in the United States–dominated the series to win his fourth consecutive AMA EnduroCross title. He has 27 career main event wins in AMA EnduroCross.
Zach Bell won the AMA Grand Championship Athlete of the Year Award. Bell, from Cairo, Ga., was the AMA Motocross Horizon Award Winner in 2012, winning the 250 A class championship with a 1-1-1 moto finish.
The AMA Sportsman of the Year award was presented to World and AMA National Speedway Champion Billy Hamill. Hamill is not only a world-class athlete, winning at the highest level of his discipline, but in recent years he has donated his own time and resources to promote the sport of speedway racing to America’s youth.
“This is a very proud moment,” Hamill said upon accepting the award. “I’ve been racing a long time and never won this award, so this is quite an honor. I would like to thank the AMA for recognizing my efforts and what I’m trying to do to promote American speedway. We do what we do for our love and passion for the sport of motorcycling.”
Molly Terry was the AMA Female Rider of the Year. At the 2012 AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships Terry, from Creve Coeur, Ill., was the 450 Modified Mile champion, beating many of the best male amateur dirt-track racers in the country. She also was the Women’s class grand champion at the event.
AMA Veteran/Senior Rider of the Year was Kurt Nicoll. Nicoll, from Temecula, Calif., was the Vet 35+ Champion at the AMA EnduroCross Grand Championships.
Adam Cianciarulo was the AMA Racing Youth Rider of the Year. The Port Orange, Fla., resident dominated at the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s last summer, winning the Super Mini 1 (12-15) and Super Mini 2 (13-16) classes.
Other special awards included:
AMA Racing Media Award Motoplayground Magazine
Motocross Organizer of the Year Unlimited Sports
Off-Road Organizer of the Year Western New York Off-Road Association
Track Racing Organizer of the Year Steve Nace Racing, Dirt Track
ATV Organizer of the Year Mid-America Cross Country
Recreational Road Riding Organizer of the Year Motorcycle Sport Touring Association
Recreational Off-Road Organizer of the Year Tri-County MC
AMA Club of the Year Brandywine Enduro Riders
American Motorcyclist Association adds AMA Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship to 2013 schedule
The American Motorcyclist Association is elevating one of its most-successful and popular off-road amateur racing events to national championship status. Starting in 2013, the AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, will crown amateur national off-road racing champions in a wide range of classes on Aug. 24-25 at Montana’s Big Sky Resort.
“In much the same way the AMA Dirt Track Grand Championships and the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch award national titles in those disciplines, the AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, will recognize the best amateur off-road riders in the country,” said AMA Off-Road Racing Manager Chuck Weir. “Riders will come from a range of backgrounds — enduro, hare scrambles, EnduroCross, cross country and desert racing — to battle for bragging rights on the national stage.”
The first-place finishers in every class will receive an AMA national No. 1 plate, and the top-three riders in each class will be invited to the annual AMA Championship Banquet. Classes will be run across a range of skill-, age- and motorcycle-based categories. The AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM, will take place at the same venue that has hosted the AMA-sanctioned Big Sky XC the previous four years. The Big Sky XC has enjoyed steady growth since its inception in 2009, drawing ever-larger crowds to a far-north location that perfectly captures the adventurous spirit and showcases the national terrain challenges that embody the country’s best off-road racing.
Riders must earn a coveted spot on the starting line at the AMA Kenda Big Sky Amateur National Off-Road Championship, presented by KLIM. The most common route to qualifying is a top-10 finish at one of 12 regional Climb to Big Sky qualifiers. In addition, being in the top 10 in final 2012 points — or through the current season as of July 15, 2013 — in one of 13 popular off-road racing series in the United States and Canada will qualify a rider. The national event also will allow a very limited number of open positions, available starting on July 15. Details are at www.bigskyxc.com. The qualifier schedule and eligible series for qualifying through points are listed below. For more on AMA-sanctioned motorsports competition, see www.americanmotorcyclist.com/racing.
2013 Climb to Big Sky Qualifiers
Feb. 16: AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship, Salinas, Calif.
Feb. 24: AMA East Hare Scrambles Championship, Perry, Ga.
March 2-3: AMA Big 6 Grand Prix, Glen Helen, Calif.
March 24: AMA National Enduro Championship, Blackwell, Texas
April 6-7: AMA Pipestone XC, Whitehall, Mont.
April 13-14: AMA MACC, Monster Mountain XC, Madison, Ind.
April 14: AMA East Hare Scrambles Championship, Arrington, Va.
April 20 (Youth), April 28 (Amateur): AMA SERA Enduro, Westpoint, Tenn.
May 5: AMA WNYOA Dream Riders, Van Etten, N.Y.
May 12: AMA D23, Millville, Minn.
July 6-7: AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship, Elkton, Ore.
July 6-7: Shale Shaker XC, Blairmore, AB, Canada
(Rider must have finished in the top 10 in 2012 or be in the top 10 in class championship points as of July 15, 2013)
AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship Series
AMA East Hare Scrambles Championship Series
AMA National Enduro Championship Series
AMA Mid-America Cross Country National Championship Series
AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series
AMA Endurocross Series AMA Western Checkpoint Enduro Championship Series
AMA D37 Big Six GP Series AMA Virginia Championship Hare Scrambles Series
AMA Mid-South Winter Championship Cross Country Series
AMA NETRA (Northeast)
AMA SETRA (Southeast)
AMA WNYOA (New York) Western Canada Cross Country Championship Series
Bowers Heads Up Arenacross Standings
This past Saturday night signified the conclusion of the third round of the 2013 AMSOIL Arenacross season with a second night of action inside Van Andel Arena, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After a dominant night on Friday in which he swept each of the two Arenacross Class Main Events, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers kept the momentum going on Saturday, once again winning each of the Main Events. The impressive performance was Bowers’ fourth overall victory this season and extended his lead in the championship.
The first Main Event provided a glimpse of what lay ahead for Bowers’ competitors when he grabbed the holeshot to post a wire-to-wire finish without much of a challenge from any rival. Team Faith/Fly Racing KTM’s Jeff Gibson followed in second, while Mosites Motorsports Kawasaki’s Michael McDade rounded out the podium in third.
Once again, Bowers held the distinction of being the rider to select the inversion for the second Main Event. On Friday night, Bowers’ selection inverted the entire 16-rider field, but on Saturday, the top eight riders had their gate picks altered.
Pitted on the far outside position of the first row, Bowers still managed to pass the field out of the gate and grab another holeshot. Once in the lead, Bowers never let up, putting forth another wire-to-wire effort to claim his ninth Main Event win in 12 attempts, including a perfect four victories this weekend. He was accompanied on the podium by Gibson and Motosport.com/JBR/Spinechillers Racing KTM’s Nathan Skaggs, of Chillicothe, Ohio.
In the overall classification, Bowers was followed by Gibson, while Skaggs finished third.
With his second straight night earning maximum Main Event points, Bowers moved to 35 points ahead of his teammate Zach Ames, of Prospect, Ohio. The countdown to the Race to the Championship has now reached its halfway point, with only three rounds remaining until the four-round showdown to crown a champion.
In Saturday night’s Head-to-Head Bracket Racing, Skaggs became the first rider of the 2013 season to win two championship points this season. The KTM rider, who also won the bracket on Friday night, defeated Bowers in the captivating two-lap sprint.
Arenacross Class Results – Main Event 1 (Grand Rapids)
1. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki
2. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM
3. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki
4. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM
6. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki
7. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM
8. Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda
9. Dave Ginolfi, Budd Lake, N.J., KTM
10. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki
Arenacross Class Results – Main Event 2 (Grand Rapids)
1. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki
2. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM
3. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM
4. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM
6. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki
7. Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda
8. Daniel Blair, Lodi, Calif., Suzuki
9. Dave Ginolfi, Budd Lake, N.J., KTM
10. Michael Willard, Newark, Okla., KTM
Arenacross Class Overall (Main Event Finishes)
1. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM (2-2)
3. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM (4-3)
4. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki (3-6)
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM (5-5)
6. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki (10-4)
7. Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda (8-7)
8. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki (6-11)
9. Dave Ginolfi, Budd Lake, N.J., KTM (9-9)
10. Daniel Blair, Lodi, Calif., Suzuki (11-8)
Arenacross Lites Class Results (Grand Rapids)
1. Steven Mages, Sardinia, Ohio, KTM
2. Kyle White, Freeport, Ill., Honda
3. Steve Roman, Apollo, Pa., Suzuki
4. T.J. Phillips, New Castle, Pa., Yamaha
5. Michael Willard, Newark, Ohio, KTM
6. Jacob Knable, North Chesterfield, Va., Kawasaki
7. Zachary Newberry, Fincastle, Va., Suzuki
8. Vaughn Mays, Genoa City, Wis., KTM
9. Patrick Massie, Washington Court House, Ohio, Kawasaki
10. Tucker Snyder, Proctorville, Ohio, Kawasaki
Arenacross Class Points (After Race 6 of 16 )
1. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki – 186
2. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki – 151
3. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki – 150
4. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM – 125
5. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki – 110
6. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM – 109
7. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM – 108
8. Daniel Blair, Lodi, Calif., Suzuki – 104
9. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM – 102
10. Dave Ginolfi, Budd Lake, N.J., KTM – 81
Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class Points (After Race 6 of 8 )
1. Michael Willard, Newark, Ohio, KTM – 57
2. Steve Roman, Apollo, Pa., Suzuki – 51
3. Scott Zont, Algonquin, Ill., KTM – 45
4. T.J. Phillips, New Castle, Pa., Yamaha – 36
5. Jim Neese, Jamestown, N.C., Kawasaki – 29
6. Vaughn Mays, Genoa City, Wis., KTM – 29
7. Jacob Knable, North Chesterfield, Va., Kawasaki – 28
8. Zachary Newberry, Fincastle, Va., Suzuki — 21
9. Tucker Snyder, Proctorville, Ohio, Kawasaki — 19
10. Travis Delnicki, Woodstock Valle, Conn., Suzuki – 18
Dirt Rider Takes A Ride In The 6D Helmet
I got to try the long awaited new 6D helmet last week at Perris Raceway and although it wasn’t a production model I came away impressed. I got brief overview of the helmet from 6D’s Founder/CEO Bob Weber about the ODS dual liner suspension system that I thought was pretty trick. I won’t get to any of the technical details here (you can see that here http://www.dirtrider.com/features/6d-advanced-impact-defense/ ) but wanted to let you know how it felt while riding.
The fit is accurate as I wear a medium and it went on my head like a helmet should. Immediately out on the track I noticed tons of airflow through my head, which I was excited about. It was almost like an air conditioner was turned on to cool my noggin off. It did make it a little louder than other helmets I have tried but wasn’t too loud. The liner feels good against my face but maybe could of used a larger cheek pad size to fill out the area between my cheek to the cheek pad. I have a skinny face and it’s not uncommon for me to run a fatter cheek pad to compensate.
Another cool feature that I liked was the visor adjuster knob actually has little arms that I can grab to make adjustment easy. The visor goes far enough up that I don’t look like a squid when I ride and the mouthpiece area is far enough in front of me to compensate for my large nose. Basically it felt great on my head but what’s more important to me is that the technology that goes in this helmet will save me later when I decide to take a soil sample. Look for a more in depth test on the all-new 6D helmet when we get our production version in the next couple weeks. —Kris Keefer
Recently spied: ‘80s MXer Mike Guerra at world’s largest gun show
If you’re involved in the traditional outdoor sports in any way, it seems you make the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade) Show an integral part of your business calendar. Some call it the world’s largest gun show, though being a trade event limited to bonafide businesses and media, it’s manufacturers and distributors selling their wares to the thousands of dealers on hand. (The six- to 18-month backlog most manufacturers cited is another story.)
Besides some fellow SORC hacks, we saw more than a few motorcycle people, like the folks from Yamaha. And in a pleasant surprise at the expansive Colt’s Manufacturing Company, LLC, booth, we ran into one Mike Guerra.
For those who are unfamiliar with the name, the Colt’s Mike Guerra (there’s also a Mike Guerra who works for Yamaha, but they’re not related) rose to fame in the late 1970s as a top motocrosser in New England. His career probably peaked when he went to race the GPs in 1981 and ’82 following four years of campaigning the AMA Nationals, and he got his sole GP overall victory in Spain on a Husky 250 that last year–the final MX GP triumph for a Swedish-built Husky.
After that, a lingering knee injury kept him from competing at that level again, and despite taking the ’83 season off, he knew it was time to get a “real” job. Several of those followed, including a stint at the ill-fated Cannondale, before he landed at his current place of employment: Colt’s. It was a perfect fit for the New England native who enjoys hunting and sport shooting, and he’s worked his way up to be the Marketing and Spare Parts Sales Manager at the oldest firearms manufacturer in the U.S., having started business in 1836. (That makes it second oldest worldwide only to Italy’s Beretta, which has been around an astounding 500-some years!)
But while guns are how he makes his living, Guerra still enjoys getting after it on two wheels. He recently had another knee surgery and is looking forward to warmer weather in Connecticut so he can give his KTM 300 a good workout. —Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.