The first round of Supercross is known as A1 to the fans and folks of the industry, we’re not referring to the steak sauce. “Anaheim 1″ is the first of three rounds hosted at the Angels’ Anaheim Stadium, hence A1. While the storm is just rolling in, we won’t know the damage of it until late Saturday evening when the podium will be topped with the point-leading athletes of the 2010 Monster Energy Supercross Series. We headed across the way to get the skinny on the top riders and their teams at the SX media day.
Times change and with that so do teams, sponsors and teammates. With the teams restructuring their rosters, some riders remain in the same contract teams as the previous season. Andrew Short is one of the few riders to do so, he was first up at the press conference hosted by Jason Weigandt. Pete Peterson sat down with Andrew just moments before he was center stage, “How is preparation coming into the new year comparable to last season?” Red Bull Honda team rider Andrew Short responds, “Last year we had an all-new bike and it was a big deal just figuring it out. Our bike this year has evolved quite a bit, the outdoors helped us dial the bike even more.” Andrew explains his game plan for Saturday night, “come out swinging and set the tone for the rest of the year.”
Next up to bat would be Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, who is coming into the 2010 season as a rookie in the 450 class. He is your 2009 AMA West 250 Supercross Champion, AMA 250 National Motocross Champion and also graced the winning Team USA at Motocross of Nations. “You’re known as a serious trainer, what have you been doing differently with your training regime going into the 450 class?” Given the bigger bike with more power and weight, it takes a bit more strength to hang on to it so it has raised the bar on my training. More training on the bike during the week.” Ryan Dungey shares his goal with Peterson going into the new year, new season, new class “Be consistent. Get up there, win races and championships. One step at a time, one race at a time.” Pete noticed Ryan’s new kicks, “I’ve been working awhile with Nike on the new boot,” Ryan will premier the fresh new Nike MX Boot to the fans on Saturday night at A1.Weigandt introduced JGR’s Josh Grant followed by an energetic arrival in front of the lights and cameras, Josh took the spotlight showcasing his new Shoei lid. An early-week crash found Josh Grant to become part of the rumor mill. Pit-bound Pete finds out the aftermath of this pre-season jolt, “I just had a crash on the practice track this week, made a mistake in the whoops section and went down smacking my melon. The crash left me dizzy with a shoulder injury. Depending on if I can hang on and how my head is feeling, I can say I don’t know if I’m going to race this weekend.” Last year at the opening round despite consuming a haybale cover, Josh Grant continued to push through the jump and landed up ending the night on top of the podium.
Ryan Villopoto was the center of attention now. He moved up last year to the 450 class and had won Seattle Supercross aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki machine. I caught up with Villopoto in the pits, “I have a year that I’ve already raced and I feel more ready now than I was last year. Along with the experience, we’ve made some good improves with the bike.” Ryan takes on Chad as a new Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate in 2010, “we have a good team around us and we can learn off each other, hopefully one of us will be taking home the championship.” A crash in the first moto at Hangtown put Ryan out of commission for the remainder season following the moto he later announced he would be undergoing surgery. “Everything is good with the knee,” states Villopoto, “got it fixed over the summer, did some rehab and I’ve had about 3-4 months of solid riding so I’m ready.”
New to the Monster Energy Kawasaki tent is Chad Reed, he was up next. Reed recently took his fourth Australian Supercross Championship aboard his new Kawasaki KX450F. He had a busy year in 2009 taking the AMA National Motocross Championship along with the Monster Energy Triple Crown Championship and was awarded Athlete of the Year by the AMA. In popular demand with a continuous lineup of camera and voice recorders, I snuck in, “How did you prepare differently coming into this season than last year?” Chad responded, “It was actually very similar. I think they kind of rival each other; team switch, bike switch, new mechanic. Everything I’ve learned; from the mistakes you make last year to the things that you do good last year. Bring that under this year and make up the 4 points that I was short last year.” Reed is confident with his new teammate and team for 2010, “It’s been going really well. Anaheim 1 will be my first race in the US with my new team, Monster Energy Kawasaki. I’m excited to get that ball rolling, I really enjoy being around the test crew, and Ryan is a great kid with a lot of potential.”
James Stewart was the last up to the stage where he was awarded with a shiny, shiny Championship ring. The racing was intense last year at the final round of the series in Las Vegas, Stewart won the 2009 Supercross Championship by only 4 points! James will be starring in his own reality show that is scheduled to air March 28th. During his absence from the outdoor series, much of the tv show was filmed. Pete somehow managed to break up the crowd surrounding James, “This is a new year with a lot involved; new riders stepping up, new guys on new teams. Everyone is healthy now, it will be interesting to see where I stand.” With athletes back-to-back traveling schedule during the 17 weeks of the series James states, “For the first six races, everyone can go wide-open since it’s fresh. The season doesn’t really ‘start’ in until Daytona, after the traveling starts taking a toll and the training really kicks in.” Stewart was amped and looks more than ready to retain the Supercross Championship.