Welcome to the Weekly Dirt, your place for the latest in off-road news. This week we take a look back at the Indy SX, go to Georgia for the Maxxis General GNCC, check in on the final round of the Amsoil Arenacross series, and check out a cool video by KTM!
Indy SX Redux
It looks like Dean Wilson will be missing at the very least this weekend’s Toronto round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series thanks to his nasty crash at Indy. Initial reports indicated that the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider had suffered a broken rib and a collapsed lung, although Kawasaki would not confirm this. On Sunday, Wilson posted an Instagram that said he also suffered a broken back and a broken shoulder, but that apparently turned out to be incorrect.
It appears that all Marvin Musquin needed was to get that first win under his belt and now that he has, the Red Bull KTM rider is gaining momentum fast. Although he is still nine points down on leader Wil Hahn in the 250 standings, Musquin has four more rounds to make up the difference. And at the rate he’s going he might just get the job done. The former MX2 world champ admits that he’s more at home on the softer tracks, and in the past Toronto has provided a lush surface, so we’ll see what happens this weekend.
The Indy race provided some good racing the 450 class, as well, and Ryan Dungey was one of the riders that clicked it up a notch. The Red Bull KTM rider struggled at the start of the season, but now seems to be getting his ducks in a row. He’s still in the hunt for the title, but he needs to get a few wins before the other Ryan (Villopoto) gets on a streak. One or two more wins for Villopoto will put some serious distance between him and the competition in the standings.
Russell Retaliates At Georgia GNCC
In almost a repeat of the last week’s opening round at River Ranch, in Lake Wales, Florida, FMF/KTM teammates Kailub Russell and Charlie Mullins battled it out for the victory at the Maxxis General GNCC, round two of the Grand National Cross Country series in Washington, Georgia. This time, however, it was Russell coming away with the “W”. And like in Florida, it was a close one, coming down to the final lap!
After two rounds of racing, Mullins and Russell are all tied up at the top of the GNCC point standings with 11 rounds left. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot of racing to go in this series.
Third place went to Shenandoah Honda/USWE-Sports.com’s Thad DuVall, who actually took the lead on lap five, only to stall his bike and drop back behind the Mullins/Russell duel.
Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain ATV/MC’s Josh Strang finished a distant fourth after edging out KTM rider Chris Bach. Defending champ Paul Whibley was sixth on the Am Pro Yamaha.
The XC2 Pro-class winner was Andrew DeLong, which makes two wins in a row for the FAR Husqvarna rider, since he also won the opening round in Florida. DeLong once again a battled with 15-year-old Grant Baylor for most of the race, with finally getting the win by about 30 seconds ahead of Baylor. GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne was third overall in the XC-2 class, which identical to the Florida podium.
Kool KTM Video
Not quite ready to get back to work… and the boss is not looking? Here is a pretty cool video on the making of the KTM 250 two-stroke:
Bowers Clinches AX Title
The final night of AMSOIL Arenacross, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, was a true showdown of the season’s top riders in the battle to claim the 2013 title. With five-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael watching on, Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Jeff Gibson outlasted his closest rivals in the Race to the Championship to claim his second overall win of the season by sweeping the Main Events. However, with a solid pair of finishes of his own in the Main Events, Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki presented by Maxxis rider Tyler Bowers relied on a third-place overall finish to claim his third consecutive Arenacross Class title and become the inaugural winner of the Race to the Championship. A champion was also crowned in the Western Regional Arenacross Lites Class, with BWRengines.com Honda’s Maxx Malatia capturing his first career title.
Saturday’s opening Arenacross Class Main Event on the final night of the season provided a glimpse of what Gibson had in store. The KTM rider needed to overcome a five-point deficit in the championship standings to overcome Bowers, and did all he could to give himself the best chance at stealing the title. Gibson grabbed the holeshot and proceeded to never give it up, leading all 12 laps. Behind Gibson, Bowers positioned himself in a podium spot in third and moved past Team Faith/FLY Racing KTM’s Kelly Smith, last night’s winner, for second early in the race. Bowers followed in second, putting the pressure on Gibson in the final Main Event, while Babbitt’s Monster Energy/AMSOIL Kawasaki’s Zach Ames finished third.
Carmichael had the privilege of selecting the inversion for the final Main Event of the 2013 season and for the second night in a row selected the full 16-rider inversion. This added to the dramatic final showdown between Gibson and Bowers.
As the gate dropped on the second Main Event, Fun Mart Cycle KTM’s Michael Willard positioned himself at the front of the field, while Gibson was inside the top five despite the last gate pick, just a few positions ahead of Ames. Bowers wasn’t much farther behind, but needed to make up ground on his closest title contender in order to maintain his points lead.
Gibson made quick work of the riders in front of him and moved into second before the halfway point. Just a few laps later, he passed Willard for the lead. Ames followed him into second shortly thereafter. Bowers was successful in his climb through the field, but needed to make a last-lap pass on Willard in order to secure a spot on the podium.
In the end, Gibson’s perfect night and overall victory gave him the best shot at surpassing Bowers, but he ultimately fell just three points short of the title.
Earlier in the evening, Bowers provided an additional cushion to his points lead by winning the Head-to-Head Bracket Racing. He was awarded an additional championship point for his triumphant effort. That point proved to be a difference maker in the overall classification for the evening, helping Bowers finish second overall, just one point ahead of his teammate Ames in third.
Bowers completed the 2013 season with a class-leading 10 overall wins, including 20 Main Event victories. He became just the third rider in AMSOIL Arenacross history to claim three consecutive championships, joining Dennis Hawthorne and Buddy Antunez.
Arenacross Class Overall (Main Event Finishes)
1. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM (1-1)
2. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki (2-3)
3. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki (3-2)
4. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki (5-6)
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM (4-7)
6. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM (7-5)
7. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM (6-8)
8. Michael Willard, Newark, Ohio, KTM (12-4)
9. Daniel Blair, Lodi, Calif., Suzuki (8-10)
10. Tanner Moore, Auburn, Kan., KTM (11-9)
Final Arenacross Class Race to the Championship Standings (After Race 5 of 5)
1. Tyler Bowers, Danville, Ky., Kawasaki – 146
2. Jeff Gibson, Pataskala, Ohio, KTM – 143
3. Zach Ames, Prospect, Ohio, Kawasaki – 135
4. Michael McDade, Edinburg, Pa., Kawasaki – 112
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., KTM – 108
6. Willy Browning, Pleasantville, Ohio, KTM – 98
7. Daniel Blair, Lodi, Calif., Suzuki – 88
8. Nathan Skaggs, Chillicothe, Ohio, KTM – 85
9. Dave Ginolfi, Budd Lake, N.J., KTM – 82
10. Gared Steinke, Woodland, Calif., Kawasaki – 69
World Trials In America
If you would like to see the best trials riders in the world up close and personal then your best opportunity will be May 25-26, 2013 at the Trials Training Center in Sequatchie, Tennessee, as the amazing spectacle of World Observed Trials returns to the United States with a two-day stop of the FIM World Trials Championship.
The Trials Training Center is the perfect venue for viewing a trials event because of its excellent amenities and because of the unbelievable natural terrain that will test the best trials riders in the world.
Among the athletes expected to be vying for honors at the U.S. round will be Six-Time World Champion Toni Bou, along with fellow Spaniard and former world champ Adam Raga, five-time U.S. Champ Patrick Smage, 2010 U.S. Champ Cody Webb, plus a bevy of top riders from all over the world.
For more information on the U.S. round of the FIM World Trials Championship visit www.trialstrainingcenter.com. —Shan Moore
Dutto Doing Baja Again
You just can’t keep a committed dirt rider down. As we’ve witnessed with Doug Henry who’s battled back from several body-breaking crashes to spin very fast laps around motocross tracks despite being a paraplegic, some guys find a way to work around life’s setbacks to get back in the saddle again.
Nicola Dutto is another example. An off-road racer for many years in his native Italy, Dutto became interested in Baja racing and competed several times in both the 500 and the 1000.
But his life changed when he crashed and broke his back during the Italian Baja race in March 2010; the injury left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Remarkably, Dutto refused to give up his quest to compete in off-road events and less than two years later, he began racing again, this time in a Polaris RZR side-by-side modified with hand controls.
Now, he’s achieved another milestone, having outfitted a KTM with hand controls and a roll cage to protect his lower body. And he’s not only ridden it, he’s raced it–in fact returning last weekend to race at the same event where he was injured three years ago and performing at a high level.
“I cannot describe how I feel on the bike, but this KTM has an ease of driving and a delivery so sweet that it helps me in many situations,” he said. “I play with the bike and the best part is just that.”
Don’t label him fool-hardy, though, because he’s aware of his limitations and rides accordingly.
“When I was [riding this race], I respected [the riverbed where I crashed three years ago] because I was aware of the risks of this track. During my [ride, I was more aware of] the stones and the dangers of the journey. I told myself that they must be treated with more respect. I finished the special test that I had not completed three years ago, and seeing the path, I realized how a change in course of only 20 centimeters can change a life.
“This year I decided to do [the Italian Baja] because the problem [for me] of this race is [crossing rivers]. I can deal with stone, rocks, dust, sand, but if there is too much water in the rivers and I fell, I would risk drowning and I don’t feel like taking this risk.”
What’s next on his agenda? More racing, of course!
“Now, the most important event [for me] is the Baja 500; I depart for California on May 20. Then in July there is the Baja Aragon [in Spain] and in November back to California and the Baja 1000. I might also take part in some special KTM Cup races and maybe also do a race in Hungary as a guest.”
Bravo, Nicola! —Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.