The second round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series is upon us and a lot has been said about Anaheim 1, mainly by the media. However I took a stroll through the pits at Phoenix’s Chase Field on Friday evening and managed to get a few thoughts from the folks who are actually under the gun – the team managers and the riders. You can be sure a lot of “adjustments” were made during the past week and a lot of suspension and engine settings got tweaked. I think the teams that were unhappy about their situation outnumbered the ones who were happy. Anyway, the feeling in the pits seemed to be one of anticipation, so I think we’ll see on Saturday night which teams were able to deal with what they learned at A1 and which ones struggled.
Speaking of struggling, KTM has to be at the top of that list, after Andrew Short finished 10th last week. For sure, Shorty is a contender and I think he has a shot at winning some races this year, but I also think he was caught off guard by the way the new 350 reacts in race situations. I spoke with Roger DeCoster on Friday and here is his take on A1:Equipment-wise on the 250, I think we’re up there. I don’t think we’re at a handicap anywhere on the 250. On the 350, I think we’re close, but we need to see improvement and none of our riders rode too well. I think Andrew was pretty unhappy after the race and he said he couldn’t get out of his own way. He tried and tried but nothing clicked. The 350 you have to ride kind of like a 250 and he rode it like a big bike. In practice he has been riding really well and he rode really well on Thursday, and I think this Saturday will be a much better day for him. I have a feeling we are not too far off, especially on the 250. Ken Roczen had a little bit of bad luck, and considering this is his first race in Supercross, I think he had a good weekend. He hurt his leg a little bit when a rider came down on him in practice and combined with this being his first race and that is too many things for him to show his best potential. But I think it’s going to be a good weekend for us, including in the big class.
Davi Millsaps is another rider who had a bad weekend at A1. After five years with Honda, Millsaps is riding for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2011, and in addition to getting familiar with a new brand; he is also trying to get to know a new mechanic and a new team manager. On Friday, I spoke with Davi who had just returned from a practice session at a local track in the Phoenix area.Every year this track has been really hard packed and I seem to do okay here. The last couple of years I started from behind and was able to catch up, so hopefully I can have a good race here. I think that things are actually working out for me pretty good with JGR. Last weekend at A1 was a little nerve-wracking, since it was the first weekend for all of us to be together at the track and we had to work a few of the bugs out. This is the first time I’ve been on a new team in a while, so it’s taking some adjustment, but everyone here gets along real good and I’m doing the same, so I’m just looking forward to the rest of the year.Millsaps’ teammate Justin Brayton kicked off the new season with a win in his heat race at A1, but suffered a poor start in the main and wound up with a 16th place finish. Brayton had just finished a bicycle ride when I talked to him and he talked about the positives he took away from last week’s race.
Last week was good. I felt really good in practice and it was A1 and everyone usually has the first race jitters but I actually felt really good. I went into the heat confident and won it, so I was feeling pretty good about the night. But in the main I got a good jump off the line but I hit a rock or something about 10 feet out of the gate and that popped my holeshot device up and I went into a wheelie and kind of tangled with Reed. So I came out with a bad start and that translates into riding with guys I shouldn’t be riding with and making a lot of mistakes. I ended up crashing twice, so it was definitely not the main event result I was looking for, but I’m excited for this weekend. Obviously, I proved to a lot of people that I have the speed. I was smooth and confident out front and that’s what I’ve been working on all season so I looking to get a good start here in Phoenix and run out front.Ivan Tedesco ended up with a seventh place finish at A1 after getting the holeshot to start the main event. “Hot Sauce” ran out front for a while but dropped off the pace due to “chassis” issues. H&H team manager Kenny Watson spoke to me today about the progress the team is making.
Starts were totally good, but we had a little work to do during the week. People don’t realize – everyone was talking about the fact that Villopoto hasn’t raced in a long time, but Ivan has been out as long as Ryan has. So A1 was the first time Ivan has raced since St. Louis last year. We tested during the week before Anaheim and Ivan’s speed was good, but we had no one to judge him by. And Ivan got the holeshot in the main at A1, but once Villopoto caught him and passed him, Ivan tried to ride at that speed and the wheels kind of came off a little bit. He was making little mistakes and the bike wasn’t working the way he wanted it to so he backed it down and rode the best of his ability, which was good enough for seventh. So we will just take what we came away and try and improve. We are running the new Showa fork and there are a few things we needed to change with that, so that is coming along. We also changed a few things with the chassis and some things with the steering, so hopefully that is the key and if not we will go back and work some more next week.