Welcome to The Weekly Dirt, the place to go each Wednesday to catch up on the latest happenings in the realm of off-road motorcycling. EnduroCross, Dakar Bikes, James Stewart, Land Use and more…
Photos by Adam Booth
Mike Brown couldn’t have picked a better round to get his career-first EnduroCross win than at the Enduro-X during this year’s X-Games in Los Angeles. En route to the win, Brownie beat out what may have been the most stacked lineup of riders in EnduroCross history, and thanks to the ESPN broadcast of the race, his victory was witnessed by one of the largest crowds to every witness an EnduroCross race.
Of the two finals, the women’s class was first, and it left the line and immediately tangled up in a fairly massive pileup in the river rock corner. Trials rider and Gold Medal hopeful Louise Forsley was dead last coming out of the first turn, but by the end of the second straightaway she held the lead over last year’s winner Maria Forsberg and fastest timed practice qualifier Tarah Geiger. The ensuing six laps made for several lead changes, with every rider falling or getting hung up at some point. In the end, Forsberg was out front when the checkered flag flew, with Forsley in second and a steady Chantelle Bykerk in third. A number of crashes put Geiger outside of the top five, but without hitting the deck the women’s motocross racer might have been at the top of the podium. That’s racing!
In the final race of the night, the men’s final, Mike Brown got the start that he needed to get and pulled out front to an early lead. Blazusiak was dead last, but we’ve seen him come from last to first several times before and this certainly did not mean the end of his night. The bulk the action was in the middle of the pack, as Taylor Robert, Cody Webb, Cory Graffunder, Graham Jarvis and Kyle Redmond battled it out while maintaining a blazing pace around the brutal track. Brown enjoyed a clean track as he held the lead, but for the nine riders behind him the challenge was in not only riding a clean race but also getting around those who were having problems or were dicing with another racer. Graham Jarvis looked solid initially but lacked the intensity of some of the other competitors and had to settle for sixth place. Taylor Robert hit the deck extremely hard yet still managed to pull of a top five finish; he may have been on the podium if not for the crash. Blazusiak seemed to have trouble getting around the racers in front of him, and the crowd was shocked to see that the Polish superstar wasn’t able to muster more than a fourth place finish. Husqvarna’s Cory Graffunder used his long legs to his advantage and bagged an incredible X Games Bronze Medal, finishing just behind Trials star Cody Webb, who turned in an outstanding ride and showed not only solid speed but also poise on his way to a Silver Medal. Yet the ride of the night went to Brown, who quite simply rode the race that he needed to ride and looked dang good doing it!
As a points paying round of the GEICO/ AMA EnduroCross Championship, Enduro-X saw a shake-up in the points standings as Haaker got bumped from second place to sixth. Blazusiak still holds the lead just eight points ever Brown, while Robert, Webb and Graffunder round out the top five. The series now takes a bit of a break, with racing resuming on September 15th in Ontario, California. Keep an eye on www.dirtrider.com for more content from X Games throughout the week, and head on over to our sister site, www.motocross.com, for full recaps on the other two-wheeled events from X Games. —Chris Denison
Photo by Shan Moore
After a two-week break, the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship resumes this coming weekend with round six of the series at RedBud, in southern Michigan. According to Yoshimura Suzuki Racing, James Stewart will be lining up for this round, although his teammate Brett Metcalfe will not. In fact, Metty is expected to miss the remaining seven rounds of the series as a result of a broken tibia and fibula as well as a dislocated wrist sustained in a practice crash at Glen Helen Raceway last week, when the 28-year old Australian crashed hard in a rhythm section at the San Bernardino, California, track.
“We are all saddened that Metty’s season came to an end like this,” said Yoshimura Suzuki manager Mike Webb. “He has been so solid all year and lately has been gaining great momentum in the outdoors – we all certainly expected podium results throughout these last rounds. It’s a shame he won’t be able to realize those goals. Metty and his wife Sheena are expecting their first child in August and we will help and support Brett and Sheena in any way possible.”
Metcalfe moved into the top five in the overall championship points standings after picking up another top-10 finish at Budds Creek two weeks ago.
The return of Stewart will add a bit of intrigue to a 450 class that has become somewhat predictable over the last few rounds. Will Stewart be at 100%? Will he be able to challenge Dungey, who has dominated the last few races? No matter what, it’s sure to be an exciting race, provided the Yoshimura Suzuki rider is truly over his hand/wrist injury. The RedBud race has a history of producing epic racing and hopefully this weekend will be no different.
Star Valli Rockstar Energy Yamaha announced that starting with the RedBud round, Tommy Weeck will be riding the bike vacated by the injured Kyle Cunningham. Cunningham injured his ankle at Budds Creek and decided to take some time off to heal, opening the door for the youngster Weeck to fill in.
Photo courtesy Honda
Honda announced this week that it will field a works team in the motorcycle class in the 2013 Dakar Rally. Honda’s last appearance in the prestigious event was in 1989, and the manufacturer has won the prestigious event on five different occasions during a nine-year period spanning from ‘81 to ‘89.
The Honda team, to be called Team HRC, will include Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues, who took third place in the 2012 Dakar Rally, and Brazilian Felipe Zanol, who brings a wealth of experience in motocross and enduro race events, as well as Sam Sunderland (United Kingdom) and Javier Pizzolito (Argentina). They will ride a prototype machine developed and produced by the Motorcycle R&D Center at Honda R&D. The prototype machine is based on the CRF450X, the popular worldwide enduro racing model that combines ease of handling with superior competitive strength. Kit parts designed for use on the standard CRF450X model have also been developed and will be made available to a limited number of teams.
To be held in January 2013 in South America, this year’s Dakar Rally covers over 8000 km, travelling north to south through Peru, Chile and Argentina.
Tetsuo Suzuki, President, Honda Racing Corporation, commented “The Dakar requires competitors to cover several hundred kilometers per day for more than two weeks. It needs a totally different type of vehicle from events such as motocross, trials and road races. Honda has put a great deal of effort into designing and building a powerful and winning machine. We are aiming for the championship from this first year.” —Shan Moore
Photo by Adam Booth
While on a recent trip to the Husqvarna factory in Italy we got a look at this new 650 single-cylinder machine. Husqvarna plans on releasing this in a full-street configuration as well as a dual-purpose bike. In dual-purpose trim it would more along the lines of the KLR650 rather than Husky’s TE line. It will be a street bike with some off-road capability. Husky can’t use the term adventure bike because KTM has it trademarked. The 650 powerplant is based on the engine that powered the BMW F650 in 1999. The Husqvarna 650 engine is now being produced in China which will help keep the price of the bike lower. —Adam Booth
Land use notice: CARNEGIE EXPANSION UNDER ATTACK!
Anti-OHV groups are starting to post new websites, and notify environmental groups, especially for folks living in the area of Carnegie SVRA with a full fledged effort to NOT allow the expansion of the Tesla and Alameda properties OHV users purchased some 15 years ago. Please look at www.teslapark.org and you can see one of the first anti-OHV ones to appear.
As most folks know, the comments deadline was pushed out longer because many folks were not aware of the deadline. D36 LAO lobbied State Parks, and a 30 day extension was granted, so July 11 is the new deadline. Anti-OHV organizations, with long lawsuit based groups such as Center for Bio-Diversity, Center for Sierra Nevada, etc., appear to be gunning for yet another lawsuit in the future over the expansion of OUR SVRA.
They want OUR land that WE paid for for themselves, and NON-Motorized recreation… As you will see if you look at the website above, the efforts are starting NOW and they WILL start banging the heads of the legislature to stop the long awaited expansion.
Be sure you are involved in the process, on the mailing list, and submit comments NOW!
Plan on a fight, and probably an ugly one – ENEMIES of OHV want Carnegie to go away, and they will do whatever it takes to take our PARK!
WWW.OHV.PARKS.CA.GOV Click on Carnegie SVRA
Key Lead on project:
916-414-5858 for more information
BE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR NOTICES ABOUT THE GENERAL PLAN PROCESS —Jimmy Lewis