Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we’ve got some big news, as well as the start of the AMA Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship with the Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic. Next, coming in from Spain, Barcelona was rocked by the X Games Enduro X event. And lastly, we head out to Utah for a Hare and Hound. Here we go!
In a bit of business-related news, Dirt Rider is proud to announce that distinguished publishing company Bonnier Corp has acquired the DR brand. As the current publisher of several flagship brands including Popular Science, Field & Stream and Cycle World, Bonnier looks to expand its presence as the pre-eminent publisher in the men’s market. In addition to Dirt Rider, eight other brands are making the switch; Bonnier has also acquired Motorcyclist, Sport Rider, Motorcycle Cruiser, Hot Bike, Baggers, Super Streetbike, Street Chopper and ATV Rider.
“The acquisition supports Bonnier’s strategy to be focused in vertical enthusiast interest media,” said CEO Dave Freygang. “We believe in going deep into selected verticals, and it’s essential that our brands be in a leadership position within those verticals. Since the acquisition of Cycle World in 2011, we’ve realized that the opportunities within the motorcycle market are significant.” Together, these motorcycle titles come together to form the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, which will become the largest motorcycle-enthusiast media group in the world. What does it mean for Dirt Rider? Other than a new office (in the same part of Orange County) and a new logo on the back of our staff business cards, it is business as usual for the DR brand!
2013 Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic
The roar of the crowd at Hangtown rivals the fever pitch of Anaheim One as the outdoor nationals begin once again. With all of the top names of the sport healthy and present, Sacramento played host to hotly contested season opener. With such a deep field of competitors in the premier class, it was hard to decide which battles to focus on, but with the top three being Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and Rockstar Suzuki’s James Stewart, the front of the pack garnered most of the attention.
Continuing his dominance from the Supercross season, Villopoto took the overall victory over the two past champion in his wake with a solid 1-1 finish on the day, ending up 20 plus seconds ahead of second place in each moto. Dungey went 2-2 on the rough Northern California track and Stewart went 3-3 for the day. As the results suggest, motos one and two were pretty similar in the 450 class with Stewart getting both holeshots and dropping back to third while Villopoto put on a riding clinic.
It was interesting to watch a few new, and old, faces on the 450 starting gate. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson traded in his lites bike to run in the premier class for the first time. Though his day didn’t go as well as he probably wanted with a 14th overall, he still crossed the line ahead of a very stacked field. Returning to the National stage was past 125 champion Travis Preston finishing 17th on the day, which is not bad since his last professional race was in 2006.
In the 250 class, Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen followed Villopoto’s lead and took the overall with 1-1 moto finishes. Rounding out the podium was last years champion, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett followed by a hard charging GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac. To keep the podium finishers honest, Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin finished fourth overall with 4-4 moto scores.
With one race in the books, this years Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship could be anyone’s guess, but if Villopoto keeps up his blazing speed, he might be the safe bet.
450 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (2-2)
3. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki (3-3)
4. Trey Canard, Oklahoma City, Okla., Honda (4-4)
5. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (5-5)
6. Ryan Sipes, Elizabethtown, Ky., Suzuki (8-7)
7. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM (6-10)
8. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki (12-6)
9. Tyla Rattray, Durban, South Africa, Kawasaki (9-9)
10. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki (13-8)
250 Class (Moto Finish)
1. Ken Roczen, Apolda, Germany, KTM (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (3-2)
3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (2-3)
4. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (4-4)
5. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Honda (9-5)
6. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha (8-7)
7. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki (12-6)
8. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (7-13)
9. Joseph Savatgy, Cairo, Ga. KTM (10-11)
10. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki (13-9)
X Games: Barcelona, Spain
This was the second of four global stops for the X Games this year, the first in Brazil, and the next two in Munich, Germany and Los Angeles, California. One of the fastest growing racing disciplines in the dirt bike world, EnduroCross was in full force in Spain with the top racers in both the men and women’s classes.
Mike Brown has been a fixture in dirt bike racing for a long time, and at 41 years of age, the FMF/KTM rider can add a second X Games gold medal to his shelf. He also adds this when to his victory this year at the opening round of the AMA EnduroCross series in Las Vegas, beating out the Polish race-winning-machine Taddy Blazusiak who has taken the last four EnduroCross championships. Brownie was uncontested in the Spanish soil leading the race from gate drop to checkered flag.
American Beta rider Cody Webb took a dramatic third place on the night with a final lap pass over Blazusiak; both riders went down on the last lap bringing them close and challenging them to the final seconds of the race. Rockstar Energy/Lucas Oil/JCR Honda rider Colton Haaker landed on the podium getting a silver medal for his steady, solid riding.
For female dirt bike racing, EnduroCross is quickly become the premier discipline with an increasing number of competitors at each round. In Barcelona, Enduro X gold medalist Laia Sanz once again stumped the rest of the competition beating out KTM rider Maria Forsberg who had to settle with silver. Rounding out the podium was Sandra Gomez Cantero.
1. Mike Brown (KTM)
2. Colton Haaker (Hon)
3. Cody Webb (Bet)
4. Taddy Blazusiak (KTM)
5. Cory Graddfunder (Hsq)
6. Kyle Redmond (KTM)
7. Gary Sutherlin (Kaw)
8. Bobby Prochnau (KTM)
9. Alfredo Gomez (Hsb)
10. Taylor Robert (Kaw)
1. Laia Sanz
2. Maria Forsberg
3. Sandra Gomez Cantero
4. Tarah Gieger
5. Kacy Martinez
6. Chantelle Bykerk
7. Rachel Gutish
8. Jolene Van Vugt
9. Carmen Segura
10. Laia Mante Sola
Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition (COHVCO) Mission To Save Our Sport
Every trail, track, dirt road and riding area has to be maintained, organized and protected and as riders we all need to do our part. But how many of us sign petitions or send letters to our elected officials? Well, now you can use Facebook to show your support. For a $25 donation the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition will send you this new ‘S.O.S.’ Save Our Sport sticker that you then slap on your bike, quad or side-by-side and post a picture of it on Facebook. This not only lets everyone know how responsible you are, but also creates a visual record of your, and everyone else who posted pictures, support for politicians and law makers.
Caselli school’s ‘em in Utah H&H
If Kurt Caselli ever decides to teach riding classes full-time, he’ll probably have no trouble getting endorsements from Ivan Ramirez. Since moving to Southern California to live at Caselli’s house, Ramirez has seen his desert racing results improve markedly in the AMA Racing/FMF/GPR Hare & Hound National Championship Series. The latest example of the improvement Ramirez has shown took place on Saturday when he led most of the Sugarloafers Motorcycle Club’s 53rd Annual Cherry Creek National Hare & Hound near Jericho, Utah, round seven of the series.
Unlike round six in that same area two weeks ago when he took a wrong turn leaving the pits after the first loop, Ramirez never put a wheel wrong. Western Design Racing TM’s Tuffy Pearson took the early lead after an impressive line just as they funneled through the banners at the end of the relatively short bomb run, with Ramirez and the rest of the field giving chase. There would be no storybook ending for Open A points leader Pearson in his final National of the year, though. (He’ll be going on a two-year mission for his church in the near future.) Instead of another podium finish, he found himself with on the side of the trail with a broken engine and could only watch as his rivals flew by, many stopping to check to see if he was okay.
Ramirez took the lead at that point and seemed very comfortable out front; as expected, Caselli settled into second place and had a good view of his pupil. “I think it’s kind of important to criticize each other during the week,” Caselli said. “He’s so good at listening and being open to suggestions so it was perfect—I was able to get behind him and really see what he was doing so I know what to do when we go back home during the week to help him out. He’s definitely making a lot of progress and I know he feels it. Confidence-wise, that’s the biggest thing.”
Caselli would pass Ramirez early on the third loop, going on to win for the fifth consecutive round, Ramirez easily holding on to second place for the second 1-2 finish this season by the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team duo. “I struggled a little bit last time,” Ramirez admitted, alluding to the wrong turn he took which cost him the lead at the previous round. “But I’ve been learning more and I’m more focused on what I’m doing. “This time I paid more attention and the signs were bigger so I’d take my time when I [read them]. “Last time, I was upset with myself because I didn’t pay attention. It’s my bad; I learned.”
Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson continued his run of podium finishes with another third place for the third straight time, this despite getting sick on the final loop. But the points he gained got him a little closer to Off-Road Support/Kawasaki of Simi Valley’s Jacob Argubright, who was a distant fourth after a horrible start. Argubright still holds second in points, but Burson whittled three out of that gap and they’re now separated by five, 140-135; Caselli has a full race lead with 175. Fifth overall and first 250cc A for only the second time this season went to Levii Hutchings even after a couple crashes (including one right after the banners marking the end of the bomb). But he put together a great third loop to solidify fifth place aboard his West Weld Industries KTM and, combined with previous points leader Nic Garvin’s crash DNF, Hutchings now leads in class points with three rounds to go, unofficially.
Gotta mention Tuffy Pearson’s sister, Maggie, who’ll now be the only Pearson racing the Nationals full-time for the Western Design Racing TM team. The points leader in Women A/B, Maggie took her customary spot at the front of the class and was 46th overall after two loops. With about 10 miles to go in the race, however, her 125 stopped due to a broken throttle cable. She wasn’t carrying tools, but she reportedly flagged down Senior B racer Paul Nelson and he loaned her his fanny pack. After disassembling the carb, she wrote in her race report, “It took me a while to figure out what to do. After a couple failed attempts, I was able to tie the two [broken pieces of cable] together and put everything back together.
“It took me about a mile of tipping over and trying to figure out how to get smooth with the throttle before I figured out the best way to make it work. I would reach my right hand over to the left side of the bike and pull the cable. With only one hand on the handlebars it was kind of hard, but I was able to make it work. It was a crazy race, but it was worth fixing the bike and getting a finish. A DNF was not what I wanted! I already have one and I knew I couldn’t get another one so I didn’t care how long it took me–I was going to finish.” With Megan Blackburn–who’s second in points–taking a DNF, Maggie Pearson now owns an even bigger points lead over her rivals than Caselli.
Back to Argubright: He raced a Western Design Racing TM 300 EN the weekend before at a local Utah EnduroCross-type event, finishing third behind Husqvarna’s Cory Graffunder and Johnny Campbell Racing/Rockstar Energy Honda’s Colton Haaker. We asked Argubright about his new ride and he explained: “I’m going to finish out the year on Kawasaki in the Nationals. Woody and Cheryl [Taylor] of Western Design are going to help me out for EnduroCross. Now that I can, I’m just trying different things. It’s really similar to my [KX450F] as far as the ergonomics of it. It’s pretty common [-feeling]. Look at Tuffy; Tuffy does good on it, except for he burned it down [today]. I haven’t even got the suspension done [so] I’ll go do that and make it my own. I like it. It’s really torquey and fast–and it’s a two-stroke so I can’t complain.”