Freestone notes, GNCC quotes, and new Hondas…
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The Texas round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series this past weekend was a barnburner, with Ryan Dungey giving James Stewart a good run for his money. Stewart never gave up his lead, however, and ultimately led all 17 laps of both motos on his Yoshimura Suzuki, but he knew all the while that the Red Bull KTM rider was right on his tail. After turning in a fairly dominating ride at the opener in Hangtown, it’s good to know that someone is capable of challenging Stewart, which will add a bit of drama and excitement to the series. We don’t need another runaway title winner, especially after the way this year’s Supercross series ended up with all the injuries leaving Ryan Villopoto alone to dominate – that just makes for a boring series. So if Dungey can continue to push Stewart, then all will be good in the world of outdoors.
Another regular, Davi Millsaps, missed the Texas race due to internal bruising he suffered in a practice crash just two days before. The JGRMX/Yamaha rider rode the morning practice session but then decided he better sit out the rest of the day. Hopefully “Daisy Mud flaps” will be ready to go in Denver this coming weekend and he can challenge for a podium finish like he was starting to do in the Supercross series.
Mike Alessi has been a good surprise, challenging the factory teams on his MotoConcepts Suzuki with podium finishes at the first two rounds. Mr. 800 looks extremely fit and with his good starts might even be in the hunt for a win here and there. Another ride who has picked up the pace is Nico Izzi, who ran with the frontrunners in Texas, although a crash in moto two left him with a disappointing overall score, his fourth place finish in the first moto was impressive.
Unlike in the 450 class, the 250 class should be tight all year, with GEICO Powersports Honda’s Eli Tomac the latest to step it up and put his name in the hat as a potential series champion after the unbelievable performance that Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett turned in at the series opener. Tomac was fast as stink in Texas, and he had his way with the field, coming from around fifth or sixth at the start of each moto and then working up into the lead and pulling away. Another rider to keep an eye on is rookie Pro Jessy Nelson, who ran up front in both motos. Of course, Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen, and Blake Wharton will definitely be in the mix as well. This class is loaded with talent and I don’t expect any one rider to dominate.
If you’re looking for more MX news, head on over the Motocross.com to read “What Really Happened” from the Texas race at: http://www.motocross.com/uncategorized/what-really-happened-freestone-mx/
In off-road news, Paul Whibley regained the lead in the GNCC series with a solid win this past weekend at the inaugural Mountaineer Run GNCC in West Virginia. Whibley had to deal with a trio of KTM riders throughout the race, with Charlie Mullins and Kailub Russell and Rory Mead battling for the initial lead before Mullins once again dropped out with mechanical problems on his 450. It amazing the bad luck that the defending series champ is experiencing. And like the problems that Josh Strang suffered last year, maybe it’s a case of the “number one plate jinx”. Anyway, back to the Mountaineer. Whibley eventually worked his way to the front with Russell taking second and Mead third. It was a really rocky and slippery race, and I think Russell and Mead had a few tip-overs, which allowed Whibs to come out on top. The Ax Man now has a five point lead in the XC1 series standings as the series heads into the second half of the season, and with Snowshoe looming in a couple of weeks.
In the XC2 class, points leader Stu Baylor sit this one out due to a nagging wrist injury, but he had enough of a points lead that he could afford to do so. The rumor is that Baylor had surgery on the wrist, which involved a pin or plate, but Baylor is denying it.
In the meantime, FAR Husqvarna’s Andrew DeLong got his second-straight win in the class and seems to be regaining his speed after missing the first two rounds with a broken collarbone. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Baylor returns to action at Snowshoe, which is normally a pretty grueling race.
For all you Honda fans, Big Red just released part of its 2013 lineup of all-new Hondas, including the CRF450R, which the company says is a “game-changing ride” for those who are serious about 450-class motocross racing. Also introduced was the CRF250R, which is touted as the next step forward from the bike that won both Supercross Lites championships in 2012; and the CRF150R race bike, which continues to set the pace in its class. Here’s a little insight into each of the bikes:
With the 2013 CRF450R, Honda elevates the level of performance for 450-class motocross machines. This brand-new machine features a rolling chassis fully focused on meeting the needs of today’s “scrub generation” of riders by integrating an all-new aluminum frame along with an innovative suspension package, plus a strategically engineered short dual-muffler exhaust system that tucks in closely to the center of mass. Designed from the get-go as a total package that would be eminently flickable, responsive and lightweight, every element in the 2013 CRF450R chassis has been focused on attaining a low center of gravity along with class-leading mass centralization. The new-concept KYB PSF® (Pneumatic Spring Fork) is significantly lighter and it allows incorporation of a larger, more sophisticated 32mm cartridge damper piston that resets traditional thinking for front suspension performance. That’s matched with a new single-shock Pro-Link® rear suspension, plus a revised engine that churns out an awe-inspiring hit in the low-end and midrange along with massive top-end power. There’s also a new six-spring clutch, a stouter transmission and much, much more. Bottom line: The 450 motocross machine that has become the ride of choice for many top-level AMA Pro riders now grows even stronger for 2013. To find out more about the CRF450R, go to http://powersports.honda.com/2013/CRF450R.aspx SRP: TBD; Availability: September 2012.
Even with winning both SX Lites championships in 2012, Honda understands the never-ending need to push designs forward to stay competitive. To that end, the new CRF250R incorporates changes to its powerplant and suspension that help kick it up to the next level for 2013. Recalibrated fuel injection settings have given the CRF250R a bigger hit and more response in the low-end and midrange—this in an engine already noted for its broad powerband and an amazing, right-now power response. Superb handling has long been the calling card of the CRF250R, and now new damping circuitry front and rear plus new fork springs with a stiffer rate deliver better bump absorption, improved tracking and more precise handling through those extra-rough sections of track. In addition, new-generation Dunlop Geomax MX51 tires improve traction and feel, while the rear tire also shaves 0.9 pound of unsprung weight off the rear wheel assembly for more responsive action. Such improvements only serve to highlight the CRF250R’s well-documented championship-caliber credentials, and all this and more will help the CRF250R retain its standing as the bike to beat on tracks all around the country in 2013. To find out more about the CRF250R, go to http://powersports.honda.com/2013/CRF250R.aspx SRP: TBD; Availability: August 2012
With the CRF250L, Honda reintroduces the concept of a 250-class dual-sport motorcycle. This is a machine that’s more than ready to take on some serious off-road challenges without giving up street-riding accommodations. The compact and sophisticated liquid-cooled DOHC 249cc single-cylinder powerplant produces smooth and consistent torque at low rpm to aid off-road work, yet the short-stroke engine also spins up excellent high-rpm performance for the street. All through the rev range, the CRF250L pumps out a well-balanced and very capable level of power, along with excellent fuel economy. Its off-road-oriented chassis, which includes a long-travel 43mm inverted fork and single-shock Pro-Link rear suspension, make it equally at home on city streets or country trails. And with styling cues carried over from Honda’s legendary CRF® motocross bikes, the CRF250L offers the full package, whether the day calls for low-cost transportation, a weekday commute or genuine dual-sport adventure. To find out more about the CRF250L, go to http://powersports.honda.com/2013/crf250l.aspx SRP: $4,499; Availability: August 2012
Leave it to Honda to expand the notion of what a beginner bike should be. The popular CRF70F has long held a place of honor among Honda’s family of fun, entry-level off-road bikes, but now the CRF110F takes over that slot in the lineup. The CRF110F features a low seat height, modest size, and a four-speed transmission with an automatic clutch on par with the CRF70F that it replaces. The new 110cc powerplant is tuned to meet the needs of those new to riding, and with a new throttle-limiter feature it offers additional tuning options to suit a variety of riders. Also, the CRF110F gets a new, convenient electric starter. Toss in race-inspired styling evocative of the hot new CRF450R, and you have a great new option that expands the family of entry-level dirt bikes from Honda. To find out more about the CRF110F, go to http://powersports.honda.com/2013/crf110f.aspx SRP: TBD; Availability: Fall 2012
Younger racers may be smaller in stature, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a giant-sized heart for racing—and winning. So for these younger racers, Honda designed the CRF150R/RB as an integral part of the CRF racing lineup. This is the full-on racing machine, with a high-output 149cc liquid-cooled four-valve four-stroke engine with exceptional torque and drivability throughout the powerband. The championship-caliber chassis includes race-tuned suspension components with plenty of travel front and rear, all set to take on the toughest tracks around. Over the years and all around the country, the CRF150R/RB has won tons of championships at the highest levels of amateur racing. And that makes it the proven choice for younger competitors who are ready to take their racing up to the next level. To find out more about the CRF150R/RB, go to http://powersports.honda.com/2013/crf150r.aspx SRP: CRF150R $4,990; CRF150RB $5,140; Availability: July 2012
CRF50F, CRF80F, CRF100F, CRF150F and CRF230F
With the CRF110F replacing the CRF70F, the family of Honda off-road play bikes has never looked better. The automatic-clutch-equipped CRF50F is stair-stepped right below the automatic-clutch-equipped CRF110F, while the CRF80F and CRF100F are a step up with increased power, taller seat heights and manual clutches. Higher up the ladder, we have the CRF150F and CRF230F, which are just the right size to suit older beginners and experienced adult riders equally well. Together, these six progressively sized options in the family make it easy to find just the right match for beginning and advancing riders. And you can rest assured that no matter which of these six bikes fills the bill for your newbie, each one comes fully equipped with that famous Honda quality and reliability that keeps the joy in riding over the long run. All in all, the CRF family offers the perfect set of options for family fun. SRP: TBD; Availability: CRF50F – Fall 2012; CRF80F, CRF100F and CRF230F – September 2012; CRF150F – October 2012
To find out more about Honda’s complete family of CRF motorcycles, go to http://powersports.honda.com/offroad/trail.aspx —Shan Moore
That’s all for this week, check in next week for more off-road news.