Honda’s Ricky Carmichael has another perfect night in 250supercross, this time in front of about 55,000 fans at Indianapolis. Early inthe program Carmichael won a hotly contested heat race with Ezra Lusk, but hegot away clean on the first lap of the main and led every lap.
His closest challenger this season, Chad Reed, had a mid-packstart and fought his way to third. Reed’s teammate David Vuillemin, last year’swinner here, was in second by the third lap, but he wasn’t close enough tocatch Carmichael.
The track had a long start that favored powerful 4-strokes likethe Honda CRF450, and this time the holeshot went to Amsoil/Chaparral’s TravisPreston, only on his second race on the big bike. Carmichael made a quick passand checked out. Vuillemin passed Preston and Ernesto Fonseca for second. Reed,who had to qualify from a semi after falling a couple of times in his heatrace, just made it to third on lap 7.
"Tonight was definitely a long night for me," said Reed,"I guess it was just one of those weekends. It was a pretty rough weekthis week back home, and it showed this weekend. This next week I’m going to godown and do a few little things different and try and enjoy myself in Daytona.I had a few little problems, but I’m not making any excuses. I’ve just got toconcentrate on my racing and get good starts like I was doing at the beginning.I seem to be a little slow off the starts. I’m not used to it if you have a lotof traction and I’ve just got to get used to it. I’m going to go out this weekwith Timmy (Ferry) and he’s actually getting a starting gate put into his housethis week. It seems like the both of us are struggling a lot there, so we’regoing to be working on that this week."
Since Reed is just in his first year racing 250s in America, manypeople still can’t believe he has run so close to Carmichael. When asked aboutwhy he has been challenging the defending champ better than anyone, Reed said,"With all due respect to everyone, he’s been in the 250 class a while nowand it seems like everyone can come around and step it up and do what he’sdoing. I think this is why there is so much talk this year. I seem to be theonly one that is willing to challenge him. I have to get my butt off the startso we can have some races and give these guys (reporters) something real totalk about. There is a lot of talk going on. There have been people ahead of methat have won it in their first year, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t have thatattitude. I was brought up to want to win. If I didn’t want to win, I wasn’tgoing to be going to the races. That is what racing was all about to me. My dadwould kick my butt, if I didn’t want to win we would miss races. If I startedto win easy and started clowning around he would put the bike on the trailerand I had to go home. It’s all about winning. There’s no better feeling than winning. Sitting where I am sitting nowsucks. I don’t like it. I want to get back on top."
Reed did well in the previous races and one of his strong pointswas whoops. "I really enjoy the whoops but it seems like we didn’t haveany whoops tonight," he said, "I think that was my problem tonight. Ididn’t get into my rhythm. (If someone says "you have the speed, calm downand you can win," that’s a whole lot of BS. That is not the way I ride. Iwas brought up to go at it and try and if you end up on the ground, you end upon the ground. I feel better going down on the ground rather than riding aroundin third. These two go pretty fast. They are not going to let me win. I just needto step it up and do what I was doing in the beginning."
If Reed had a bit of an off-night, his teammate David Vuillemindid not. He had fast times in practice and won his heat race, and he remindedthe post-race press conference that he did well in his rookie season againstanother defending champion, Jeremy McGrath. "First of all, I want toremind somebody that I had a rookie season too, and I think I was prettygood," he said, "I won four races, I beat McGrath in Phoenix starting10th, and I haven’t seen anybody beating Ricky like that. He was the legend atthat time and I beat him 4 times that year. It was my rookie year. I thinkevery year you find somebody like, ‘Hey, this is the guy that’s coming up.’Jeremy won in his first year – a rookie, you know?"
"It was a good race," Vuillemin said of the main,"It was one of the first races of the year that I rode pretty good. Iwasn’t that fast in the heat race and I made a pass with Chad and he went downand kind of messed me up. I started like 8th in the main event. I was reallyaggressive the first few laps and got second pretty quick. I was like four,five seconds behind Ricky and it stayed like that a long time, and I was tryingand trying, and it seems like I haven’t done tat in a long time so I was kindof happy for it. My bike is working way better than it was last year. Next weekis a tough one so I am thinking about that."
"He (Vuillemin) gave Jeremy a hell of a run (in his firstyear)," said Carmichael and he agreed with Vuillemin about rookiechallengers. "I actually kind of screwed it up for him at Chicago – I feltkind of like crap because I was just another guy out there in the way and Isquirreled out on the start and messed him up, but yeah he was phenomenal thatyear. You know, Jeremy is still the greatest rider ever in the sport.
"I’ve gotten good starts and I’ve gotten bad starts,"said Carmichael, "I haven’t gotten the holeshot – it’d be nice to get theholeshot award. The starts have been really long and the 450s definitely havean advantage. I’ve felt like I have enough speed that if I get a mediocre startI can come up through the pack and challenge for the win. The only thing thatis bad about getting a bad start is you have to deal with the chaos."
Carmichael lost here to Vuillemin last year when Vuillemin waitedto make a surprise pass on the last lap. This time Vuillemin didn’t catch him."I actually didn’t know who it was," Carmichael said of Vuilleminbehind him, "I didn’t know if it was Chad or David, then I kind of got aglimpse of him going through the whoops one time, and I saw that it was him,and it was good. I like to see David out there. We have a lot of history fromracing last year, and the same if Jeremy was out there, I’d like to see him upthere. I have a lot of respect for these guys. David struggled in the beginningand a lot of people forgot about him, but he’s still up there."
"This one was important for me to win and go into my favoriterace of the year, obviously, Daytona," said Carmichael, "To me that’sthe easiest race. A lot of people think it’s hard. And last year people arelike, ‘Man, that race is so hard.’ But it might be a mud-bogger this year, sothat would change the scenario all around. Cobra would be loving it then. Hecan handle the mud, that’s for sure.
250cc THQ World Supercross GP/AMA Supercross Series Event Results
1. Ricky Carmichael, Havana, Fla., Honda
2. David Vuillemin, Corona, Calif., Yamaha
3. Chad Reed, Corona, Calif, Yamaha
4. Ernesto Fonseca, Canyon Lake, Calif., Honda
5. Sean Hamblin, Sun City, Suzuki
6. Andrew Short, Colorado, Colo., Suzuki
7. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha
8. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
9. Damon Huffman, Canyon Country, Calif., Honda
10. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda
250cc AMA Supercross Series Season Standings
1. Ricky Carmichael, Havana, Fla., Honda, 210
2. Chad Reed, Corona, Calif., Yamaha, 188
3. David Vuillemin, Corona, Calif., Yamaha, 169
4. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 143
5. Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, Ga., Kawasaki, 123
6. Ernesto Fonseca, Canyon Lake, Calif., 95
7. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Yamaha, 92
8. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha, 89
9. Michael Byrne, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda, 75
10. Mike LaRocco, South Bend, Ind., Honda, 73
250cc THQ World Supercross GP Season Standings
1. Chad Reed, Corona, Calif., Yamaha, 251
2. David Vuillemin, Corona, Calif., Yamaha, 238
3. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 216
4. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha, 143
5. Mike LaRocco, South Bend, Ind., Honda, 136
6. Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 135
7. Damon Huffman, Canyon Country, Calif., Honda, 124
8. Ryan Clark, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 123
9. Sebastien Tortelli, Temecula, Calif., Suzuki, 121
10. Grant Langston, Lake Elsinore, Calif., KTM, 76
Sobe Suzuki’s Branden Jesseman kept his cool after a weak start atthe third round of east regional 125cc supercross, and it paid off with hissecond win, and the points lead. Yamaha of Troy’s Brock Sellards, who led theseries going into the weekend, led much of the main until he lost steam, andthen fell, finishing seventh.
Sellards had a practice crash during the week that left him with aweak shoulder, and it affected his ability to hang on and ride 100%. ProCircuit’s Mike Brown moved into second in points, just 8 points behind Jessemanand 1 point ahead of Sellards.
For the third time in three races, Team Trinity’s Kelly Smithgrabbed the holeshot, and a $1,000 bonus from www.sxgp.com. Sellards quicklytook the lead and pulled away, leaving Smith in second for a few laps ahead ofAustralians Troy Carroll and Bret Metcalf, 2000 west champion Shae Bentley,Brown, and Jesseman.
Sellards set the pace and rode a clear track until the 10th lap,when Jesseman moved up through traffic and took the lead. Sellards was feelingthe effects of riding with and injured shoulder and fell with two laps to go.Brown moved into second when Sellards fell, and Bentley third. Metcalf, who isin his first season racing in the US, held on to fourth.
Bentley has missed a lot of races due to injury and illness sincehe won the west regional 125 title in 2000. "It has definitely been awhile," Bentley said of his time off, "I came in here with highexpectations. I put too much pressure on myself. Racing is totally differentfrom just going out there and riding laps. As far as me being in shape and allthat, it has nothing to do with it, it’s just mental for me. I have theability. I can run with these boys. I just need to get some confidence."Bentley said the time away was tough. "I went through a few depressionsand stuff and didn’t know if I wanted to see another motorcycle again," hesaid, "I have just never had that give up attitude. I just need to do itfor myself and I feel like I am getting closer. I just need time on the track,racing, riding during the week, and training."
Bentley was dropped by Pro Circuit, and hooked up with theEscondito Cycle Center (ECC) team when he rode for the Charlie’s Angel’s 2movie last year. "I was doing some Charlie’s Angel’s stuff for ECC,"he said, "I had an option (to join the team) and they called me up. Itsounded like a good deal. I met them at Elsinore and rode the bike. I had beenwith Kawasaki ever since I can remember. I rode the (ECC Suzuki) bike and feltreally good on it. The main thing is they believed in me. That’s what I wanted.I wanted people that were 110% behind me. I took the chance and I am glad Idid. I have been working hard. They don’t put any pressure on me. It is adifferent scene. I am happy with everything that is going on."
Brown had a good weekend, despite crashing out of the secondpractice on Friday.
"The weekend started out pretty good. It started good inpractice," he said, "I didn’t get the best of starts. I was up withJesseman one time and made too many mistakes. Mistakes cost me the race Ithink. I had a big crash on Friday and luckily I didn’t get hurt there, just alittle bruised up. I just have to work on being consistent and getting a betterstart. Every time I went on the track it seemed the whoops were different. Inpractice they were kind of big and they got smaller and smaller. By the end ofthe race you could go faster there."
Brown is just 8 points behind Jesseman, but the series will bepast the halfway mark after the next race at Daytona. "I have won achampionship, but (Branden got) three more points this weekend," he said,"I need to get up on top a few times and should be alright. When I startedthe series I wanted to win as many as I can. These guys are riding good and thefirst race was not my best of the year. I have been working really hard duringthe week and have been improving each week. Daytona is an outdoor sand race sohopefully I can start winning next weekend."
"I think I made mistakes everywhere," said Brown of hisnight, "I felt good in the corners and the whoops." Even though Brownis older than most of the class, he says he is feeling better. "I feel Iam in better shape and riding better than when I was their age," he said,"I don’t feel as old as I am, that’s the main thing. I can’t give any morepoints away. There are only four more races left. I need to win as many as Ican and get as many points as I can. I have always done good there (Daytona)and I like the outdoor racing."
Jesseman’s experience showed when he was shut out of the firstturn and kept his cool. "I had a slow reaction off the gate which gave mea not-so-good of a start," he said, "I was coming up through the packand I saw a couple of people making mistakes so I was just trying to stay calm.I was just trying to stay calm. I noticed on the parade lap the track was a lotmore rutted up than it was the whole weekend so far. I just wanted to play itcool and push as hard as I could and stay in control. I got up through the packand passed a few people. I saw Brock had a big lead on me. I was going to tryand push it a little harder and then I started catching him a second or so alap then he made a few big mistakes. I figured it was from his injury theprevious week. I just got around him as fast as I could and tried to ride myown race, and came out with the win. The first few laps I just stayed relaxed.I just rode the track and it came out that people made some mistakes and I wasable to pull up on them and capitalize on them. I just didn’t try to rushanything. Everyone was going to be making mistakes because the track was morerutted and everyone is usually a little giddy in the first few laps. That iswhen I think staying relaxed came to my advantage."
Jesseman was asked about his training and if he would ride a 250when the series goes west, but he wasn’t sure. "I haven’t really thoughtabout it," he said, "I haven’t spent much time on a 250 in supercrossso it is kind of up in the air. I think the most important thing is riding thebike so I put in a lot of motos during the week. I do a lot of cardiovascularand other stuff as well. I work hard enough to go out there and to 15-20 lapshard. Being able to stay relaxed and not tightening up and getting arm pump isthe issue for me in supercross. It is not really about getting tired. It’sstaying relaxed and focused out there."
125cc Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Series Event Results
1. Branden Jesseman, Fombell, Pa., Suzuki
2. Mike Brown, Piney Flats, Tenn., Kawasaki
3. Shae Bentley, Fayetteville, Ga., Suzuki
4. Bret Metcalf, Australia, Ohio, KTM
5. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha
6. Erick Vallejo, Mexico, NL, Yamaha
7. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha
8. Mattieu Lalloz, France, Suzuki
9. Ryan Morais, Turlock, Calif., Honda
10. Ryan Mills, Clintondale, N.Y., Honda
125cc Eastern Regional AMA Supercross Series Season Standings
1. Branden Jesseman, Fombell, Pa., Suzuki, 70
2. Mike Brown, Piney Flats, Tenn., Kawasaki, 62
3. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha, 61
4. Kelly Smith, Ludington, Mich., Yamaha, 45
5. Erick Vallejo, Mexico, NL, Yamaha, 41
6. Michael Byrne, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda, 36
7. Mattieu Lalloz, France, Suzuki, 35
8. Brett Metcalf, Australia, Ohio, KTM, 34
9. Ryan Mills, Clintondale, N.Y., Honda, 32
10. Steve Boniface, Temecula, Calif., KTM, 30