Okay, kiddos. Anaheim is on the books and there’s plenty to talk about, for sure. How many of you lost the office pool by betting on someone other than Ryan Villopoto this past weekend? Well, there’s lots more racing to go, but first, here’s a little bit about A1, new testing, retirements and freebees. Get ready for the Dirt.
The Supercross games have finally commenced and the opening round at Anaheim this past weekend was certainly no disappointment. Ryan Villopoto threw down the gauntlet and made sure everyone knew that he won’t be giving up his title without a monumental fight. Chad Reed was solid and consistent all night, winning his heat and riding off to a smart runner’s-up finish in the main. Meanwhile, after nearly a year off from racing, James Stewart proved to he’s fast enough on the JGR Yamaha, but still has a thing with laying it down. Ryan Dungey was in the mix, but just a tad off the pace. No doubt, KTM team manager Roger DeCoster will make a few tweaks this week for Phoenix. Justin Brayton on the factory Honda, and Andrew Short on the McGrath/Brooks team looked good as well.In the Lites division, perennial favorites Pro Circuit Kawasaki and GEICO Factory Connection Honda must be scratching their heads after Cole Seely schooled everyone on his TLD Honda.Here are your talking points during water cooler breaks at the office this week:
Phoenix can’t come fast enough for me!
There was some important news breaking on the medical front at Anaheim 1 from Dr. John Bodnar and the Asterisk Mobile Medical Unit. This year, Bodnar and crew will be implementing a new program for evaluating concussions, which is designed to help protect riders from compounding the effects of head injuries.For now the program is strictly on a volunteer basis, however, starting with this year’s outdoor series it will be mandatory that every rider be tested to establish a baseline value so that if he takes a hit to the head in the future he can be retested to determine the degree and severity of concussion. Asterisk can then advise the AMA on when – and if – that rider can return to racing.”We want to treat concussions just like any other injury,” says Bodnar. “In the past, ringing your bell was something that wasn’t taken too seriously. Now we realize it’s just like breaking your leg and you need to recover from that. Just because you’re still walking and talking doesn’t mean it’s safe to ride.”We’re looking at ways to manage concussions, like you see in a lot of sports now like the NFL and Hockey. The main part of this is the impact testing, which is basically a computer module that the rider will sit at and play a video game-type of thing where we test recall and speed and hand-eye coordination. What that gives you is a baseline of the rider pre-concussion. And what the baseline test will do is it will give us a picture of the rider pre-concussion, and then if the rider does hit his head we can test again two or three days later and it should show some areas where they’re having difficulties. We combine this with other neuralcognitive testing, and this all gives us a picture that tells us if the rider still is having symptoms and therefore can’t ride.”
A quick look in the JGR pits after the Anaheim 1 final revealed an interesting look at James Stewart’s beautiful handmade fuel tank. With the radiator shrouds ripped away by his mid-race crash, one can see that a lot of work was done to slim up the ergonomics of the cockpit area to fit the YZ450F to Bubba’s “over-the-front-wheel” riding style. The radiators are also slimmer, and a bit taller too, to maintain the same volume of coolant.In case you were wondering who the new head guy for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Supercross team was, Dan Fahie has taken the wheel after the abrupt departure of Mike Fisher a few months ago. Fahie, who moved over from Kawasaki’s road race program (which got canned for 2012), has an extensive background in motorcycle racing and holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Dalhousie University in Canada. He began his racing career in 1997 as a Superbike technician for Muzzy Kawasaki, and in 2002 he joined the Kawasaki Factory Road Racing team as a crew chief where he was instrumental in three AMA Supersport Championship. Although he joins an already extremely successful program, look for Fahie to keep Kawi near the top with his tech-savvy background and mild mannered approach.Last week we told you about Jonah Street’s surprising retirement from rally racing. Well, it seems that Mika Ahola is also looking to spend some time on the front porch, the Five-time World Enduro Champion announcing on New Year’s Day that he was retiring from racing. The Honda rider from Finland won titles in three World Enduro classes (E1, E2 and E3), as well as three individual ISDE titles.”After 21 years of Enduro competitions, I have come to a decision that took a lot of self-examination and soul-searching,” said Ahola. “The outcome was that I don’t have anymore enough ambition to continue so I will retire from racing.”Last year Ahola became the oldest rider to win a WEC title at 37, when he claimed the 2011 E3 title.”My ambition for this sport has been completely satisfied and I feel like it is time for me to move on and see what else the world has to offer than racing,” Ahola added. - Shan MooreIf you’re going to the Phoenix Supercross this weekend, don’t just wear your jersey in the stands, wear full gear, then wake up early the next day and get signed up for the free KTM demo rides at Arizona Cycle Park (www.arizonacyclepark.com).Signs up start at 9:00am Sunday morning to pick from SX, XC and XC-W models. There will be an autograph session from 10:00 AM until noon with Dungey, Musquin and Roczen. Don’t eat too much funnel cake on Saturday night! - Pete PetersonThat’s all for now. Tune in next week when we go all “Inside Baseball” on the Phoenix race.