Happy New Year and welcome to the Weekly Dirt, your place for the latest in off-road news. Last year turned out to be a pretty incredible year when it comes to off-road racing, both here and abroad. But 2013 may be even better, beginning with Supercross, which will see a loaded field of the sport’s best talent take to the starting line at this weekend’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross opener at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium. Be sure to keep up with every round of this year’s series right here at DirtRider.com, as we bring you the inside scoop from each race. But for now, sit back and enjoy your serving of dirt for the week!
Caselli “In” For Dakar Rally
This year’s Dakar Rally will not be the traditional showdown between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres that we have grown accustomed to over the past five years. During the last half decade, either Coma or Despres has won the Rally. In addition to that domination, the two KTM riders have won 43 of the 90 stage tests during that same period!
In 2013, however, Coma will not be competing due to a left shoulder injury suffered a few months ago in the third stage of the Morocco Rally. In Coma’s place, American off-road superstar Kurt Caselli will make his Dakar Rally debut for KTM.
“It has always been a goal in my career to compete in the Dakar,” said Caselli. “There would be no way possible for me to achieve this without the ongoing support of KTM. To be able to race the greatest off road race in the world aboard the best bike in the world is truly a blessing. This is not only a milestone in my career but also in my life.”
The 5000-mile race will start in Lima, Peru on January 5 and will take competitors through Peru, Argentina and Chile. Meanwhile, Coma will now concentrate his efforts on regaining complete fitness ahead of the rest of the 2013 season and looking forward to the Dakar 2014.
Check in next week for an update from the race, in the meantime, Mark Kariya has more from Caselli below.
Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational To Janniro
The Monster Energy World Invitational lived up to expectations on Saturday night as 18 of the world’s fastest riders took to the track inside Industry Racing’s Grand Arena in front a record setting, sellout crowd over 4,000 fans. After 23 events and a full night of racing, American rider Billy Janniro stood atop the podium for one of the biggest wins of his career.
“Monster did a great job tonight,” said Janniro. “I don’t know how many thousands of people were here, but it was awesome. To win in front of everyone and for these Europeans to be here, it was a big achievement. I’m very happy.”
The 20 events that ultimately set up the pair of semi finals were full of drama, excitement, and the trademark competitive action that defines motorcycle speedway racing. Throughout each set of heats, the crowd stood on its feet, withstanding sub-50 degree temperatures and giving the riders all the support they could ask for.
Ultimately, American rider Ricky Wells garnered the top seed going into the Semi Finals, winning four of his five events. He was joined by fellow Americans Janniro, Billy Hamill, Greg Hancock, and Charlie Venegas, along with Brits Edward Kennett and Scott Nicholls, while Swede Antonio Lindback rounded out the top eight riders that featured just three international competitors.
With exceptional talent filling each Semi Final, the action was sure to be some of the best of the evening as only the top two finishers from each would advance to the Final and the chance to be named winner of the inaugural Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational.
In Semi Final 1, Hamill, a Monster Energy Athlete, made an impressive move coming out of the second corner to vault from third to first place heading into the third turn. He fended off Wells for the entire race, as the pair pulled away to solidify their spots in the Final.
Semi Final 2 became a showdown between Janniro and Hancock, with both riders battling for the win and leaving their fellow riders well behind. The duo crossed the line mere inches apart to make it an all-American Final.
The culminating race of the night became a battle of track position, with each rider’s chosen lane at the start setting the foundation for a chance at victory in a four-lap sprint to the finish. As the top seed, Wells had first pick and selected the third lane, with Janniro lining up next to him in the second lane, Hamill on the far inside, and Hancock on the far outside.
As the starting ribbon rose, Janniro positioned himself in the lead with a quick move inside as the riders jockeyed for momentum. He was closely followed by Hancock, who put forth an impressive challenge throughout the entire four-lap race but couldn’t generate enough speed to make a pass. Behind them, the battle for third was equally as exciting with Wells slipping past Hamill on the final lap to claim the third spot on the podium.
“I really wanted to win this one. This is the biggest event we’ve had here in the U.S. since the late 80’s,” exclaimed Hancock, a Monster Energy Athlete in the FIM Speedway Grand Prix. “This is one of the greatest events to be a part of for me, having Monster on board to support the sport here in the states. They have lifted this sport so much and for American Speedway this was a big hit. Just look at the crowd that turned out. I could talk all night about it. We’re really grateful.”
With the biggest crowd ever seen at Industry Racing, it’s safe to say that the Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational was a success and a fitting complement to the resurgence of motorcycle speedway in America. The fans welcomed the global group of riders with open arms and never left their seat, cheering on the world’s best speedway riders through to the final checkered flag.
“This event was unbelievable and a huge lift for the sport in America,” added Hancock. “This is going to be a long term thing and it’s the beginning of something great. There were a lot of people here looking at what this sport could be on this scale.”
Monster Energy World Speedway Invitational
Industry Racing – City of Industry, Calif.
December 29, 2012
World Speedway Invitational Results
1. Billy Janniro
2. Greg Hancock
3. Ricky Wells
4. Billy Hamill
Junior 250cc Results
1. Max Ruml
2. Broc Nicol
3. Dillon Ruml
Mini 150cc Results
1. Courtney Crone
2. Maverick Molloy
3. Wilbur Hancock
Alliance Forged Between Ricky Carmichael and AMSOIL Arenacross
Feld Motor Sports® announced this week an alliance has been forged between AMSOIL Arenacross and five-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ricky Carmichael to create and establish a formalized rider advancement system for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, events through AMSOIL Arenacross.
This new advancement system will be called “Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross.”
The purpose is to create a formalized rider advancement structure exclusively within AMSOIL Arenacross that establishes advancement guidelines for all riders who aspire to compete professionally at the sport’s highest level.
Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross is an integrated plan for AMSOIL Arenacross and Monster Energy Supercross that is designed to formally connect the two championships. The plan further develops future supercross riders and ensures that participants achieve higher standards as they earn required Road to Supercross points and receive a supercross endorsement from the AMA.
“I am really excited to be a part of AMSOIL Arenacross and to be an ambassador for the sport,” said Carmichael. “With the implementation of the Road to Supercross, the championship will grow to its full potential and expose riders to an indoor racing environment that simulates Monster Energy Supercross. Additionally, racing in an intimate setting like AMSOIL Arenacross will pay off tremendously as they make their transition to the world supercross stage.”
“Racing in the AMSOIL Arenacross environment helps riders get better prepared for their transition to Monster Energy Supercross,” said Todd Jendro, vice president of two wheel operations, Feld Motor Sports. “This program will help them develop the necessary skills by competing on professional indoor tracks with steep jumps, rhythm lanes, whoops, different soil compounds while racing indoors in front of large crowds and against other top qualified riders. Additionally, AMSOIL Arenacross presents competitors with the professional atmosphere and providing opportunities to learn media interaction, television exposure, autograph sessions and live event expectations through Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross.”
“Before I made the transition to Monster Energy Supercross, I developed my skills through arenacross, and I think the restructured AMSOIL Arenacross program, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, will give riders the proper experience to hone their skills in a professional indoor environment,” said Justin Brayton, who finished fourth in the 2012 Monster Energy Supercross Championship.
To receive a supercross endorsement from the AMA, riders must earn three Road to Supercross points. A Road to Supercross point is earned by qualifying for the Arenacross Class in three separate events in a given AMSOIL Arenacross season.
In 2013, riders may take advantage of earning their Road to Supercross points through AMSOIL Arenacross as well as the traditional rules for earning a supercross endorsement. Beginning in 2014, all riders must earn three Road to Supercross points to obtain their supercross endorsement.
“Professional motocross and supercross share a common heritage and technical similarity. However, each discipline has evolved to be distinct in a number of different ways. The creation of Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross will provide a natural transition and formalize the requirements for participation at the sport’s highest level,” said Kevin Crowther, AMA Director of Supercross and Pro Racing Relations. “The Road to Supercross creates the framework to ultimately develop safer, more-experienced riders for Monster Energy Supercross.”
Feld Announces Expanded Coverage For 2013 Supercross
Feld Motor Sports® announced today that the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, will enjoy the largest television package in the sport’s history. Nearly 100 hours of Monster Energy Supercross will air domestically across SPEED, CBS and FUEL TV. In addition, over 150 countries around the globe will broadcast Monster Energy Supercross, including a groundbreaking live programming schedule in Australia, the Middle East, and Africa on ESPN International.
A Monster Energy Supercross milestone, SPEED will air live coverage from a record 11 races, including the first and third stops from Angel Stadium (Anaheim, Calif.) Chase Field (Phoenix), Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego), Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas), the Georgia Dome (Atlanta), Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis), Rogers Centre (Toronto), Reliant Stadium (Houston), Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City) and Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas). SPEED will also air a one-hour Monster Energy Supercross preview show before the gate drops on the season opener from Anaheim (January 5) and a 30 minute preview show from the season finale in Las Vegas (May 4).
Monster Energy Supercross will receive nine hours of next-day coverage on CBS, comprised of five 450SX Class races, including the second stop from Angel Stadium (Anaheim, Calif.), O.Co Coliseum (Oakland, Calif.), Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis), the Metrodome (Minneapolis), and CenturyLink Field (Seattle), as well as four one-hour season specials. The season specials include a preview show, a midseason show, a year-end show and a special one-hour show on two-time defending Monster Energy Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto.
Rounding out the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross domestic television package is the re-airing of every SPEED broadcast on FUEL TV.
“We are on the brink of one of the sport’s most anticipated seasons ever, and it’s only fitting to showcase it domestically on SPEED, CBS and FUEL TV,” said Ken Hudgens, COO, Feld Motor Sports. “This television package brings consistent coverage to the loyal fans of Monster Energy Supercross. That, along with the most robust international television package ever, will make the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross season the most watched season ever.”
2013 Monster Energy Supercross TV Schedule (Original Airings)
|12/22/2012||Supercross Preview Show||CBS||3:00 p.m. ET|
|1/5/2013||Angel Stadium||Anaheim, Calif.||SPEED (Live)||9:30 p.m. ET|
|1/12/2013||Chase Field||Phoenix||SPEED (Live)||9:30 p.m. ET|
Angel Stadium (250SX Class)
1:00 p.m. ET
O.Co Coliseum (250SX Class)
1:00 p.m. ET
|2/2/2013||Angel Stadium||Anaheim, Calif.||SPEED (Live)||10:30 p.m. ET|
|2/9/2013||Qualcomm Stadium||San Diego||SPEED (Live)||10:30 p.m. ET|
|2/10/2013||Ryan Villopoto: A Champion||CBS||Noon|
|2/16/2013||Cowboys Stadium||Arlington, Texas||SPEED (Live)||9:30 p.m. ET|
|2/23/2013||Georgia Dome||Atlanta||SPEED (Live)||7:30 p.m. ET|
|2/24/2013||Supercross Mid-Season Show||CBS||Noon|
|3/3/2013||Edward Jones Dome
Edward Jones Dome (250SX Class)
1:00 p.m. ET
|TBD||Daytona Int’l Speedway||Daytona, Fla.||SPEED (Live)||7:30 p.m. ET|
|3/16/2013||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis||SPEED (Live)||7:30 p.m. ET|
|3/23/2013||Rogers Centre||Toronto, ON.||SPEED (Live)||8:00 p.m. ET|
|4/6/2013||Reliant Stadium||Houston||SPEED (Live)||9:30 p.m. ET|
Metrodome (250SX Class)
1:00 p.m. ET
CenturyLink Field (250SX Class)
1:00 p.m. ET
|4/27/2013||Rice-Eccles Stadium||Salt Lake City||SPEED (Live)||9:30 p.m. ET|
|5/4/2013||Sam Boyd Stadium||Las Vegas||SPEED (Live)||10:00 p.m. ET|
|5/5/2013||Supercross Season Review||CBS||Noon|
Television schedule is subject to change
In addition to television coverage, you can watch Supercross coverage on the Internet. Supercross LIVE!® is returning bigger and better than ever before and will provide three hours of live streaming video coverage from each Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, race in 2013.
Jim Holley, a former World Supercross Champion, and Kevin Barnett, a former member of the U.S. Men’s Olympic Volleyball Team and professional broadcaster, will host the three-hour Supercross LIVE! program from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. local time. Holley and Barnett will provide in-depth analysis of the afternoon’s practice and qualifying sessions as the riders and teams prepare for the night racing, in addition to interviews and behind-the-scenes coverage.
As the only place to follow live practice and qualifying coverage from Monster Energy Supercross, Supercross LIVE! provides fans with an inside perspective before the gate drops on the night’s qualifying and Main Events. Additionally, there will be video snippets made available throughout the race day that can be viewed on www.SupercrossOnline.com, the official website of Monster Energy Supercross, or the YouTube Channel www.YouTube.com/SupercrossLive.
To enhance the initial live stream, the season opening press conference from Anaheim, Calif., will also stream live at Noon PST, featuring Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed, James Stewart and Justin Barcia. Combined with the record TV package that’s already been announced, this season’s Monster Energy Supercross coverage will be the most comprehensive in the history of the sport.
“We are excited to bring this aspect of our live event experience directly to the viewers at home or on their mobile devices in a way that has never been done before in the history of the sport,” said Linda Ardehali, director of new media, Feld Motor Sports. “It’s easy to access and the banter between Jim and Kevin is always informative. Best of all it’s free! A must-watch for all Monster Energy Supercross fans!”
Kurt Caselli Does Dakar And Other Desert Stuff
When rally ace Marc Coma from Spain hurt his shoulder at the Rallye OiLibya Morocco a few months ago, little did Kurt Caselli, looking ahead only as far as the Baja 1000, realize what it’d eventually mean.
Late last week, KTM announced that Coma’s recuperation wasn’t proceeding as expected, forcing the three-time Dakar winner to withdraw. In his place, Caselli got the call from the factory to tackle the world’s best-known rally where his goal is to get Coma’s works 450 Rally machine safely from Lima, Peru, to Santiago, Chile, over the course of 15 grueling days.
Asked when he learned of his newest assignment, Caselli answered, “Two days ago!” (meaning Wednesday the 19th). I’ve been calling sponsors and getting boots and helmets and goggles and everything to try to put it all together before I leave.” And he leaves a few days after Christmas!
Though Caselli is familiar with the desert and raced to the E3 win at the 2007 ISDE in Chile, he knows that rally navigation is going to be his nemesis and when asked if he’d been practicing, he laughed and replied, “Uh, no! I looked at a few YouTube videos, but that’s about it. I talked to Jimmy Lewis for a while today; I talked to [Chris] Blais for a little bit–so I’m kind of understanding some stuff, but it’s definitely going to be better when I get there and actually do it.
“Obviously, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
But that’s not the only difference, of course. Though it shares major components with his hare & hound machine, Caselli knows the bike will feel quite different: “The motor’s the same, the frame’s the same–it’s just the fairing and the gas tank and, obviously, all the navigation stuff’s all different. I don’t even get to ride the bike [before the race]. I’m just kind of showing up and seeing how it goes. I’m a little nervous about that, but the good thing is that they really wouldn’t put me out there in the wrong kind of position.”
However, Caselli insists he’s under no pressure to perform in his rally debut: “I talked to Alex Doringer–he’s in charge of the rally stuff for KTM Europe–and he said they really want me to get my feet wet and see how it goes, try to finish and just learn about the navigating and all that stuff.
“So it’s nice to hear they’re not expecting great things–they just want to make sure I get over there and have the opportunity and hopefully come back a few years and put forth a little more of an effort.
“It’s good. I’m excited. It still hasn’t sunk in that I’m going to be over there and do that whole thing.”
One of the reasons Caselli got the call in the first place was he let KTM management know several years ago that he was interested. “I kind of voiced my five-year plan with [KTM North America’s] Antti [Kallonen] and also Alex a few years ago when we were talking about the World Enduro stuff, that I’d like to stay and do World Enduros, WORCS races or something a little bit faster and eventually get into Baja and get into the rally stuff. So I know they remembered that, and talking with Coma at the [Baja] 500, I told him I’d love to start working on doing some rally stuff and just learning it.
“I guess I was the first guy they called to see if I could come do the race since all of Coma’s stuff is already over there.”
Being on the big, heavy rally bike for two weeks is quite a bit different than being on a 450 SX-F and with the opening round of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series taking place right after he returns from Dakar, Caselli realizes he could be a little off the pace at his regular job.
“Obviously, I’m not going to be training for hare & hounds the whole month of January for the first round, but that’s neither here nor there,” he said. “I’ll still be riding and physically I’ll still be in good shape when I get home–barring injury–so I’m not too concerned with it. I know I have a week or less to get back on a regular bike and do some time on that so that’s definitely not too much of a worry for me. I feel like I can come back and get back on a regular bike and feel fine pretty quickly.
“I’m definitely excited about the Dakar thing, but for sure I’m still thinking about hare & hounds and making sure that I’m in somewhat of a good shape to be able to be competitive at the first round, anyways.”
Speaking of Dakar, the factory Honda squad that Johnny Campbell is on has been whittled down. While the entire five-man team spent time testing in the SoCal desert recently, Felipe Zanol and Sam Sunderland were injured. That leaves Helder Rodrigues as the frontline rider for the HRC-developed, fuel-injected CRF450 Rally, with Campbell and Javier Pizzolito chasing, though it might move one into more of a contending role.
All of the Dakar preparation has, of course, cut into the time Campbell’s been able to devote to his own JCR Honda team. Asked if he was ready to announce it yet, he sent a text: “Team not final as I have a few things cooking but won’t be ready to take out of the oven til I return from Dakar!”
One of the things the JCR Honda team will be running, of course, is the three-round SCORE Desert Series. There could be big changes in store in that world after longtime SCORE owner Sal Fish, 73, announced last week that he’d sold the organization to Nevada hotel/casino owner Roger Norman, who has also campaigned a Trophy truck in the past. Norman earlier purchased the HDRA organization, making him the owner of two of the most high-profile desert racing series in the country, and he’s already run several races via that body. Coincidentally, one of the races on the 2013 HDRA schedule is the Reno Extreme, which will also serve as round eight of the AMA hare & hounds.
One of the priorities that Norman has pushed for is his vision of a world championship for desert racing, and he’ll begin right away. While racers can compete separately in any of the three series (HDRA, SCORE or World Championship of Desert Racing), “The World Championship will be comprised of three HDRA races in America and three SCORE races in Baja. The World Championship is the culmination of six of the seven races of the HDRA and SCORE race series with the Tecate/SCORE Baja 100 in Ensenada, Mexico, as the deciding factor with double points.”
Since there are no bike classes in HDRA except at the HDRA Reno Extreme and the SCORE Baja races are team events, Norman has devised a way to include bikes in the World Championship. Being an AMA hare & hound, it’ll still be one rider, one bike. For those chasing World Championship points, all riders on the team will still race but again, it’ll be one rider, one bike. The top three riders per team will earn points that go towards the World Championship. There is also talk of having bikes racing on a different day than the trucks and buggies, though nothing has been finalized at this point.—Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.