Welcome to the Weekly Dirt, the place to go each week to feed your off-road habit. This week, we start in Oakland, California, where James Stewart made a huge statement by taking his first Supercross win of the year. Then we travel all the way across the country to Sumter, South Carolina, where the national enduro series kicked off in a big way. So get your ticket punched and hold on.
The 2012 Supercross series produced its fourth winner in four weeks when James Stewart gave JGR Racing and Pirelli their first-ever SX wins in Oakland. It’s been a rough season up to this point for Bubba, but the Florida rider kept it in on the track for 20 laps and collected the “W”. For sure, Stewart looked comfortable on the very technical and rutted course, and it seems the JGR boys are finally getting a set-up that Stewart can work with. Right now, it’s anybody’s series, with Stewart, Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed all in the hunt. For more on the Oakland race, head on over to www.motocross.com for Scott Hoffman’s excellent report (and Kardy’s sweet photos).
East coast off-road racing got underway big-time this past weekend with the opening round of the AMA Rekluse National Enduro Series in Sumter, South Carolina. It was a huge event with a huge entry! Over 575 riders lined up in the Sumter sand to do battle on the traditionally tight and whooped out trail. This is always a biggie since it’s the first big national race of the year in the east and even the GNCC guys who won’t be contesting the entire enduro series show up to shake out their gear and get ready for another season.
It appears that the enduro series is really taking off, with plenty of new interest from the manufacturers and lots of new satellite teams. American Honda is involved in the series for the first time in a long while through the support of Thad DuVall and the Shenandoah Honda/Offroadchampions Team. Honda has also posted $43,000 in contingency for the series, which is a good chunk of change. Another manufacturer getting involved is Husqvarna, who is throwing its support behind Fred Andrew’s team, FAR Husqvarna. Freddie has Pennsylvania rider Andrew DeLong on a TE310, while GNCC star Jason Thomas will be riding a 250F.
This year’s Sumter race featured a stacked pro class. In fact, 25 pros fought it out for the top prize, and in the end it was 17-year-old privateer Steward Baylor taking the win on a KTM. Baylor took the lead in the opening test and held it the entire distance, despite the best efforts of eight-time national champ Michael Laffery, who was second overall on a factory Husaberg, and Charlie Mullins, who rounded out the podium on his FMF/KTM.
An interesting note is that Mullins was riding one of the new 450 Factory Editions, or “Dungey Replica” as they are being called. Mullins is the only off-road team member on the bike right now because, according to team manager Antti Kallonen, they don’t have enough spare parts to support two riders. Mullins trashed two motors in Sumter when he accidentally unscrewed the oil filler cap with his boot allowing the crankcase oil to spew out. Mullins fried a clutch because of this in the third test. The crew replaced the motor at the next gas stop, and then Mullins did the exact same thing it the fifth test! You can bet this won’t happen at the next round!Mullins says the Dungey Replica is an awesome woods bike, with a lot more torque than the 450 SX-F that he rode at the beginning of last year. He also said that the bike handles better, as well, and that the front end stays planted much better.
Two of last year’s standout performers, Russell Bobbitt and Nick Fahringer, had bad days, with Bobbitt finishing sixth and Fahringer getting 13th. Both riders are coming off of injuries, and suffered from lack of seat time. Fahringer had ACL surgery in the Fall, and just needs to get back in the groove, where Bobbitt is recovering from a wrist injury and had the speed but admitted that the wrist is still weak and he had problems holding on.
Brad Bakken is also returning from a nasty wrist injury that he suffered last year, but turned in a nice fifth on a YZ250 supported by his new team Obermeyer Yamaha/Raines Riding University/Offroadviking.com. Bakken said he struggled in the first test, because his suspension setting was a little off, but the rest of the race flowed pretty well for him, and the Virginia rider was able to make up for lost ground. -Shan Moore
You saw the crash, now Ryan Morais is starting his recovery. Ryan has insurance, but he’s in a hospital that is out of network right now, and the Road2Recovery Foundation (www.road2recovery.com) is raising money to help Ryan get through the injuries from his LA Supercross crash that left him with fractured vertebrae, ribs, and jaw. Road2Recovery is having a ride day this Saturday in Bastrop, Texas (just outside of Austin) at Red Rock Motocross Park. If you’re in the area, log on and sign up. If you’re nowhere near the track, you can still log on to donate money or items to be auctioned off.
UPDATE: The rider entries for this day are already sold out, but spectators ($10 donation) are encouraged to come out and watch, buy raffle tickets, and bid at the auction.I go to tour the K&N Filters facility in South California recently, but it was nothing like this! http://youtu.be/iSAybL-VSig It’s all cars, but remember K&N got its start with dirt bike filters. Besides, this video is fun, and it gives a link at the end to sign up to win an R/C car. -Pete PetersonThat’s all for this week, don’t forget to check out Motocross.com and be sure to tune in next week for more Supercross action and a complete rundown of the week’s happenings in the world of off-road racing.