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. This week, we go around the country to catch up on what happened this weekend:
If you missed the coverage of the Monster Energy Cup on our sister sight, www.motocross.com, this was the last major race of 2012 with a million dollars up for grabs. Last year Ryan Villopoto took home a cool million, this year he was not as lucky. However, Muscle Milk Factory Honda rider Justin Barcia lined his pockets with $100K for taking the overall in front of millions of viewers all over the world and a packed house in Las Vegas. Ryan Dungey claimed second place and Eli Tomac rounded out the podium with third.
This race marked the return of Villopoto, Chad Reed, and Kevin Windham after they all three sustained injuries earlier in the year. Villopoto looked the fastest of the day and appeared to have a chance at the million after winning the first of three races. Yet RV went down in moto two and opted to sit out of the final race of the night. Windham didn’t even make the night show due to a crash during practice so he sat out since he hit his head fairly hard during that mishap.
Other calamities involved Ryan Dungey. In two of the three races he had shift lever issues from what looked like contact with other riders or tuff blocks. RD rode those races stuck in second gear.
Chad Reed was happy to get back to racing, but was slightly off his normal pace and has some more training and testing to do before A1 in two months. Eli Tomac impressed the field with his 450 skills and the final race win of the night.
The MEC was a little look into what we have in store for the 2013 Supercross season. There is a lot of talent stacked in the 450 class and we have yet to see James Stewart or Trey Canard on a Supercross track. — Scott Hoffman
Silly Season Amps Up
It’s silly season in the Motocross/Supercross world and the most recent announcement comes from Jeff Ward Racing, who revealed last week the acquisition of Dean Wilson, the 2011 250 Motocross champion signing a deal for the 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Kawasaki-backed team. Wilson is filling the void left by Josh Grant, who left to join Justin Brayton on the JGR Yamaha squad, making the second time Grant and Brayton have teamed with Gibbs. Leaving JGR in 2013 and heading to Rockstar Energy Suzuki will be Davi Millsaps, who will ride a 450 for Bobby Hewitt’s team. In news announced just before the Monster Energy Cup, Chad Reed became the latest athlete to sign a deal with Monster Energy, joining Ryan Villopoto on the “Monster Army.”
GNCC Title Race tightens
FMF/KTM’s Charlie Mullins claimed his first GNCC win of the season at the Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Mullins battled race-long with Am Pro Yamaha’s Paul Whibley and Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampions’ Thad DuVall, before both Whibley and DuVall experienced problems on the final lap, leaving Mullins alone at the front.
After the trio had mixed it up at the front for most of the race, Whibley took the lead on the final lap and looked certain to claim his fourth win of the season, only to run out of gas in a creek on the backside of the track. Meanwhile, at about the same time, DuVall started suffering clutch problems, although he was able to limp home in second place behind Mullins.
Whibley wasn’t so lucky, and finished the race in fourth, although he was later docked 15 seconds for receiving fuel from a fellow racer (via the tried and true “beer can” transfer method), which dropped him to fifth.
Whibley came into the race with a four-point lead in the series standings over Kailub Russell, but with his fifth place finish and a third place finish by Russell, Russell now holds a slim one-point lead over Whibley heading into the series finale on November 3rd at Loretta Lynn’s. Should be an exciting end to the season!
2013 National MX Venue Announced?
Although it hasn’t been officially announced, a member of MX Sports, the governing body of the Lucas Oil AMA National Motocross Series, took the microphone at the Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and announced to the crowd that the venue would be the site of a round of the national motocross series in 2013. Groundwork had obviously started on what will for sure be a hilly and undulating course sprawled the Crawfordsville cornfields. Stay tuned!
2013 National Trials Schedule
If you’re into the Trials scene, the North American Trials Council met in Dallas this past weekend where it agreed to an eight-round schedule for the 2013 season. The series consists of five two-day (Saturday/Sunday) rounds and kicks off on June 15-16 in Cayuta, New York and finishes up on August 24-25 in Duluth, Minnesota.
The 2013 schedule is as follows:
June 15-16 Cayuta, New York
June 22-23 Higate, Vermont
July 27-28 Kingman, Arizona
August 3-4 Sipapu, New Mexico
August 24-25 Duluth, Minnesota.
U.S. Gets Sherco Enduro Models
There will be a new player in the realm of off-road motorcycles in the form of the 2013 Sherco SE300i “Race” model, which will be imported by Offroad U.S.. Since very few riders in the US have even seen a Sherco off road motorcycle, much less ridden one, Offroad U.S. plans to introduce them to the public with demo rides at most of the National Enduro rounds and other selected events.
Glen Helen 24-hour Video
A few weeks ago, the DR crew put together two teams for the infamous Glen Helen 24-hour for an upcoming feature story in the mag. Guest team member and Irish ripper Geoff Walker put together a fun little video from the event, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dR85gW_aCpE. Stay tuned to an upcoming issue for the full story!
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Tough end to 2012 EWC series for Knight
David Knight’s participation in the 2012 Enduro World Championship drew to a close at the eighth and final round of the series, the GP of France held in Brignoles, where the three-time world champion returned to international competition following his recent lay-off from competition due to a stomach operation. Well aware that he would be anything but well prepared for the event, David nevertheless opted to compete and used the event as a first step towards rebuilding his bike fitness.
Unable to rest following his winning outing in the British Enduro Championship one week earlier, David made an impressive start to the GP of France and topped the Friday night super test. Third on the first special test on day one, David performed well during the opening two laps before fatigue set in and he was unable to attack the third and final lap. Ending the day ninth David was pleased to have finished.
Day two saw David improve to seventh in class. Making some alterations to his bike he again found the event tough, but once again pushed on to finish the day. In finishing both days of the GP of France David secured fourth in the Enduro 3 World Championship.
“I always knew that this event would be tough because my bike fitness isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be following the time off I’ve had after my operation,” said Knight. “Also, I travelled straight to France from last weekend’s British championship race and immediately started walking all the tests – I didn’t have any time to rest. It’s what I was expecting, so I just focused on getting to the finish of each day. I really enjoyed the event, and it’s good for me to get two full days of racing under my belt. But it’s been pretty tough. Things started really well with the super test on Friday night. I felt good there and was looking forward to the first day. But it didn’t take long for me to start feeling tired, so it was just a case of pushing on and finishing the day. Day two also started well enough. I went ok on the first test and then 20 seconds faster on the enduro test than I was on day one. So things were looking good. On the second lap I fell on the enduro test. I started getting tired then and making silly mistakes. Then on the last lap I crashed again, into a pile of rocks. It was just a case of getting to the finish then. Obviously this hasn’t been the way I wanted to finish the world championship but finishing the event is an important part of getting over my surgery and getting back to full fitness.”
Results – GP of France, Day 1
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 46:26.74; 2. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 48:24.66; 3. Aigar Leok (TM) 48:50.80; 4. Manuel Monni (KTM) 49:04.48; 5. Benoit Fortunato (Honda) 49:37.33; 6. Sebastien Bozzo (Beta) 49:42.52; 7. Marko Tarkkala (Beta) 49:48.69; 8. Christophe Robert (Husaberg) 49:49.64; 9. David Knight (KTM) 49:54.06
Results – GP of France, Day 2
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 45:10.46; 2. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 47:01.85; 3. Aigar Leok (Husaberg) 47:10.50; 4. Manuel Monni (KTM) 47:12.25; 5. Sebastien Bozzo (Beta) 47:28.98; 6. Sebastien Guillaume (Gas Gas) 47:42.12; 7. David Knight (KTM) 48:13.27 — Shan Moore
KTM brings in big guns, but was it to help Caselli?
It was impossible not to notice more riders than normal pitting out of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team camp at round eight of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Series two weeks ago.
In addition to series regular and defending series champion Kurt Caselli, there was Quinn Cody and Ivan Ramirez (both of whom had hare & hound experience but hadn’t raced the series much if at all this year for various reasons) as well as Mike Brown (who’d be tackling his first hare & hound).
With Caselli trailing points leader David Pearson by 13 points going into the race, some might’ve thought the orange brigade was trying to get bodies in between them to minimize Pearson’s potential points haul, if possible.
But Caselli insisted that wasn’t the case and that there were no such team orders.
“Mike Brown came out and raced, and he’d been actually wanting to do one for a while and just hadn’t got the opportunity. This was kind of the only [hare & hound] he could do [with his schedule], and it also happened to be where it kind of looked like we were trying to put ourselves in a team position to get some riders in between myself and Pearson.
“But Pearson rides well. He’s been in this position before, and he knows that these guys aren’t going to go out and try to knock him down or anything. It’s just racing.
“It was cool to see everyone out here. It brings more validity to the series, to see other guys coming over–especially guys like Mike Brown. He’s won supercross championships and outdoor [MX] championships, and to see him out at a National hare & hound, it’s cool!”
Asked what advice he gave “Brownie,” Caselli laughed and answered, “ ‘Brownie,’ if you think about it, he’s been a professional racer for 20 years. The biggest injury he’s had is a broken collarbone, I think. He’s a smart rider and he knows when to go fast and when not to, so we got out and ran the bomb a few times. I told him just to look for smooth lines and try to get a good start, kind of let the race come to you, be patient out there.
“He’s always real aggressive, but he’s changed quite a bit since he started riding EnduroCross and Baja. He’s really become a more patient rider and so I wasn’t worried about it. I didn’t give him too many pointers. I said, ‘Just go have fun and you’ll do fine. Get a decent start, try to be smart in the dust and that’s it–that’s desert racing. You can only go as fast as you can see.’ ”
Looking closer, it was actually more of a KTM Baja test. Indeed, Cody spent more time testing light setups with Baja Designs’ Tex Mitchell the night before than he spent riding the race–he called it a day on loop two in order to give his still-healing wrist a break. Brown used a different engine spec than Caselli’s usual hare & hound bike, and Ramirez wanted to get in some race miles, having not ridden a National since round five where he stopped to help Caselli after the champ crashed and got hurt.
At the upcoming finale this weekend, Caselli said things will be back to normal: “We’re going to go to the last round and I think it’ll just be [me against Pearson] and we’ll see what happens. That’s all I can do, is ride my own race. The last round is just another race–I’ve got to go do my job and try to ride smart and try to win–that’s all I can do–and see how the cards fall after that. I’m not going to do anything different: same bike setup, same thing we’ve been doing all year and just try to go win. That’s all.”
Purvines Racing tapped to be Beta’s factory U.S. off-road team
Kawasaki’s decision to curtail its Team Green off-road support program promised to shake up the off-road racing world, and the first major announcement as a result can now be made public: Purvines Racing principal Ron Purvines reports that his team will compete on factory-backed Betas in 2013 after relying on Hondas in its maiden season and Kawasakis this year.
“We’ll be Beta’s factory off-road team,” he shared on Thursday evening via phone from Las Vegas. “We’ll have access to all factory parts.”
Purvines Racing will continue to focus on desert racing next season, fielding another strong, heavily populated squad in the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series, Best in the Desert’s American Off-Road Racing Series, a few rounds of the GEICO AMA EnduroCross Series, “…and we’re looking at doing that new extreme series (the five-round, AMA-sanctioned Get-Xtr-Eme series–four in the SoCal desert and one outside of Reno).” In addition, he hinted at stepping into SCORE’s three-round Desert Series in Baja sometime in the future.
Much of the team’s personnel will carry over from this year: Nick Burson, Dan Capparelli, Justin Morrow, Axel Pearson and recent recruit Ryan Smith. They’ll be joined by Ryan Abbatoye, Curtis Bradley and Jesse Canepa; in addition, Purvines is negotiating with T.J. Hannifin and Gary Sutherlin.
Currently, Purvines plans to employ Beta’s 498 RR for most of the team’s riders, with Pearson and Smith contesting the 250cc class on the new 250 RR two-stroke.
Team sponsors include but aren’t limited to Dicks Racing (suspension and engine work), Fox (shocks), Maxima (lubricants), Sachs (forks) and the aforementioned resources available from the factory in Italy.
For Purvines, the new team partner means his group has reached a new level that makes his sacrifices even more satisfying. “It does; it’s been a long, expensive two years,” he notes, “but it’s worth it because [sponsors have now] come to me.”
While he entertained offers from Kawasaki and Yamaha, Purvines declares, “Purvines Racing has pretty much found a home with Beta.” — Mark Kariya
That’s a wrap for this week. Keep tuned in to www.dirtrider.com for more killer content!