The Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Series picks back up again this weekend at Steel City in Pennsylvania after a week off from competition. If you remember, Ryan Dungey wrapped up the 450-class title with a 1-1 moto score at the last round of the series at Unadilla in New York. For those who predicted that Dungey would be relegated to back marker status when he signed with KTM just under a year ago, well, it’s time to face reality. Roger DeCoster and crew elevated KTM to elite status in the American motocross scene in a short period of time, and Dungey punctuated the ride to the top by serving up the 2012 450 outdoor title two rounds early.
If you remember, DeCoster took a chance on Dungey several years ago, signing him while he was a relatively unknown amateur. And under DeCoster’s guidance Dungey won a Supercross Lites title and the 2010 outdoor title for Suzuki, before DeCoster moved on to KTM the following year. Well, it seems that Dungey returned the favor by taking a chance on DeCoster and an unproven program at KTM by signing with the Austrian marquee for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The result of the alliance has been KTM’s first-ever AMA Supercross win and their first AMA outdoor title.
Interestingly, after the Unadilla race, DeCoster revealed a promise he had made to Dungey when he signed with KTM. “I’m really happy and I’m also relieved that Ryan clinched the title, because we promised him when he signed that if he came with us he would have the equipment to win,” said DeCoster. “It’s tough for a rider to believe those words because this bike had never won in America. And now it’s a done deal, so I’m pleased.”
There’s been a lot said about James Stewart and his choice of motorcycle brands over the last two years, which is all fine and good. We all like a good conspiracy; that’s just a part of human nature. But sometimes the Internet blogs can take something and run with it in the wrong direction, which is what I think happened in the case of Stewart and his relationship with Yamaha. I’m not talking about his relationship with management at Yamaha, or with any team he’s been associated bike in the past. I’m talking about the rumor that he was crashing because of the bike… either how it was set up or it’s geometry. It doesn’t matter if Stewart came out and said this himself, or implied it, or if it was something that just got started, it was still a big rumor that made the rounds and it was something that I think was unfortunate. We all know that Ryan Dungey’s style is more conservative than most. Well, Stewart fits into the opposite end of that spectrum, and is more of a “crash or win” kind of guy. Two weeks ago at Unadilla, I personally witnessed James lose the front end and go down while holding a relatively comfortable lead during the first moto. That’s an unforced error in my book, and certainly no fault of the bike. He went down again in the second moto and reportedly broke his thumb. In fact, Stewart has gone down numerous times since returning to the series on a Suzuki and I doubt any of it was the fault of the bike. Some speculate that his concussions might be playing into it and affecting his reaction time. He’s had more than one, and most recently “barely” passed the concussion test after a nasty crash at this year’s Indy Supercross. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of one highly competitive athlete – with very little track time – anxious to reaffirm his status at the top. And that’s my opinion exactly; I think he’s riding over his head. I think it’s just a matter of Stewart pushing too hard and going down. But no matter the cause, to say it’s the fault of the bike is amateurish.
GNCC points leader Paul Whibley took a big win at this weekend’s Fourth Annual Big Sky Cross-country at Big Sky Resort, topping a large contingent of off-road heavyweights at the high-altitude event in Montana. The Am Pro Yamaha rider also pocketed $5000 of the overall purse for his efforts.
Set on rugged alpine trail ranging in altitude from 7500 feet to 10,000 feet, this year’s Big Sky XC attracted nearly 50 Pros. After getting off the line in second behind Brenden Ritzman, Whibley took the lead near the end of the opening lap and stretched it to a five-minute margin by the finish of the three-hour race.
The race also doubled as the final round of the AMA Western Hare Scrambles Championship, and a solid finish was all it took for factory Husqvarna’s Cory Graffunder to wrap up the 2012 title, despite riding with a broken foot that still wasn’t quite healed up.
Consistently picking off riders after a sub-par start, Graffunder piloted his FMF/Stillwell Performance Husqvarna TXC511 to a 15th overall finish, which was enough to give him the 2012 AMA Western Hare Scrambles Championship!
“I’m still pretty banged up from my crash last month,” Graffunder explained. “Between my foot, and my back, it’s been nearly a month since I’ve been on a motorcycle. I just had to come out here and ride a solid race. It didn’t matter if I won the race; I just needed to score points.”
2012 Kenda Big Sky XC Results
1. Paul Whibley
2. Brenden Ritzman
3. Jordan Ashburn
4. Bobby Prochnau
5. Jimmy Jarrett
6. Cody Webb
7. Jed Haines
8. Jason Schrage
9. Jason Thomas
10. Colton Udall
Frustration For Knight At EWC GP of Sweden
It was a weekend of frustration for KTM Enduro Factory Team rider David Knight at the Enduro World Championship’s GP of Sweden. Hoping to build on his winning performance at round five of the series in Italy, Knight instead endured a weekend of niggling technical issues that hampered his progress throughout the sixth round of the season, while his teammate Christophe Nambotin rode to a 1-1 sweep of the E3 division.
After making his customary winning start during the Friday evening super test, the KTM rider soon developed problems during the opening lap of day one. Damaging the reed block on his 300 EXC, Knight lacked power to perform to his best. Although still able to post the fastest times of his class during the slow but highly technical extreme test, it was on the long and bumpy enduro test that David struggled most. With no time to replace the part until the evening work area at the end of day one, Knight soldiered on to place tenth.
With the mechanical issue rectified, Knight was determined to deliver a more competitive performance on day two. However, although able to significantly improve his pace, the Manxman was still troubled by jetting issues and eventually placed a frustrating fourth in the Enduro 3 class. Knight’s results from the GP of Sweden now leave him fourth overall in the E3 championship standings with two rounds remaining.
Results – GP of Sweden, Day 1
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 1:05:32.82; 2. Aigar Leok (TM) 1:06:10.08; 3. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 1:06:23.01; 4. Manuel Monni (KTM) 1:06:53.37; 5. Marko Tarkkala (Beta) 1:07:18.18; 10. David Knight (KTM) 1:09:53.47
Results – GP of Sweden, Day 2
1. Christophe Nambotin (KTM) 1:03:32.74; 2. Aigar Leok (TM) 1:03:46.44; 3. Joakim Ljunggren (Husaberg) 1:04:24.85; 4. David Knight (KTM) 1:04:40.18; 5. Manuel Monni (KTM) 1:04:45.80
The Enduro World Championship continues with the GP of Finland on September 1/2.
GEICO Honda rider Bell sidelined for remainder of the year
GEICO Honda rider Zach Bell will miss the remainder of the 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship series as well as the Monster Energy Cup in mid-October after suffering compression fractures in both his T3 and T4 vertebrae. The 18-year-old rookie was injured during an accident in the second moto of last weekend’s Unadilla National in New York.
“I came off the track and I really wasn’t hurting that bad,” Bell said. “I really thought it was just a muscle strain or pull. We went home and got some initial x-rays and they didn’t see anything. We had another doctor look the next day and he saw the fractures.”
The highly-touted Georgian had just joined the GEICO Honda team following a brilliant amateur career, capped by being named winner of the prestigious AMA Racing Motocross Horizon Award at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. Bell ended his amateur career by winning all three 250 A class Motos.
O’Mara Joins RCU
MX Sports and Ricky Carmichael just announced that former champion and fitness guru Johnny O’Mara is joining the 2012 Ricky Carmichael University faculty lineup. O’Mara will join returning instructors Jeff Emig, Jeff Stanton and Mrs. Carmichael in teaching students at the Lake Elsinore Campus Monday, September 10, following the final round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, in Lake Elsinore, Ca.
As a two-time champion, O’Mara’s addition to the RCU lineup now brings the championship total to 27 amongst this year’s faculty. Led by 15-Time champ, RC, the accomplished panel of instructors bring years of racing experience to the lesson plan, while also providing classroom-based knowledge to students.
The 2012 Best In The Desert Vegas To Reno took place last Friday with a dusty battle across the Silver State of Nevada. The longest point-to-point race in the US covered 538 miles of Nevada dirt roads and after nearly nine hours, the THR Motorsports team of Robby Bell and David Pearson took the win by a little over six minutes ahead of Justin Morrow and Nick Burson, also Kawasaki KX450 mounted. Rounding out the top three were Max Eddy and Marc Samules on a Honda CRF 450X. Curt Caselli and Quinn Cody were looking for a win on the factory KTM but more importantally they were testing for the upcoming Baja 1000. Their V2R race bike was the same bike they competed on in the Baja 500 back in June with just an oil change for race prep. They also ran race lights for the duration of the event to stress the ignition in race conditions. Not sure how the testing went, but the getting very lost in the heavy dust put an end to a good race as the duo finished a distant fifth almost 30-minutes off the winning time.
Some old dude named Jimmy Lewis unretired from racing for about 200 miles to help run with some friends, Curt Curaso and Steve Gabbert in the 40 Expert class taking a win on a Beta.
Though any really good shop should be able to dial you in to this level, American Beta has taken personalization to a whole new level. Through your local Beta dealer and the BYOB program you can basically custom build your bike in a five-step program to most anything you’d like, provided Beta has basically “approved” that part as being a good compliment to their bike. Dirt Rider just took delivery of a custom built RS 520 for Editor at Large Jimmy Lewis and it looks as if Lewis himself put all of his favorite stuff on it. And in reality he did. But instead of turning wrenches and swapping out parts in tha garage, the bike is delivered that way. Look for a full test of this bike really soon. Want to know more, check out : http://www.americanbeta.com/byob/RS
King Of The Motos
The Race is back and Entries are available!
The most hardcore survival race in the US is back for 2013 and entries are now available. After a successful test of concept last year anyone can enter in 2013 provided they get in before the rider limit is reached. Attempting to see if they can finish what will be a true one man/one machine test of skill and endurance, the promoters are promising a much longer course. Entries are available for Pros, experts and team amateurs with two riders on two bikes riding the course together helping each other along.
Want to get in, look here for all the info and some coo links to the action from last year!
http://ultra4racing.com/category/kingofthemotos/ —Jimmy Lewis
Brown, Blazusiak, And… You!
Photos by Chris Green
KTM is once again giving EnduroCross amateur rides a chance to ride the track under the eyes and instruction of Mike Brown and Taddy Blazusiak. For 2012 the selected rounds are the Denver (October 6) and Boise (October 27) rounds. The first 20 KTM racers to sign up get an hour on the track the night before and will surely learn a lot about how to conquer the obstacles from two of the best in the business.
Want to hear what it’s like from a first time EX racer? Check out http://www.dirtrider.com/features/online-exclusives/141_1109_my_ktm_endurocross_rider_experience/
The sign up list of the first 20 non-pro riders fills up fast, so go to www.endurocross.com, select the entry form link, and choose the KTM experience from the drop down list. —Chris Green
Caselli and Cody focus on 1000 instead of the $10,000
Kurt Caselli started Vegas-to-Reno in Baja 1000 night trim, the factory 450 sporting a special Baja Designs three-row LED light array, auxiliary oil cooler and the same engine they’d used at the Baja 500.
About 70 miles later, the light was ditched due to the bracket starting to crack, but Quinn Cody (shown) and Caselli continued to motor on, eventually finishing fifth and, they felt, getting invaluable testing in that they hope will pay off with the Baja 1000 win and SCORE championship.
“At the beginning of the year we hadn’t planned on racing Vegas-to-Reno,” Kurt Caselli of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team revealed. “It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. We wanted to put 500 more miles–race miles–on the exact same motor that we ran at the Baja 500.
“We took the motor out of the Baja bike, put it in the new frame that was equipped with lighting mounts in front of the steering [head]. We were testing some different lights from Baja Designs and that was the newest, latest-edition of LED stuff. Usually, we run just regular [quartz-halogen lights].”
After testing the lights two nights before Vegas-to-Reno and deeming them satisfactory, Caselli and teammate Quinn Cody decided to go ahead and run them in V-R, despite it being a daytime race–for the faster teams, at least. “We decided it would be a better idea to set the suspension up according to the lights and leave the lights on there the entire  miles just because between Quinn and I, we’re the two night riders that are going to be riding down there at the 1000.”
Unfortunately, a back-of-the-class start stymied their efforts with billowing walls of dust from the seven bikes that started in front of them (even at 30-second intervals), not that they were really there to give it their usual 100 percent. As Caselli admitted, “I didn’t have any intention of going there to really win the race–I don’t think Quinn did either; we were just there to kind of do a test and a shakedown of the Baja bike.”
For a multi-time champion to confess that he wasn’t there to win is doubly shocking, especially considering the $10,000 winner-take-all bonus that V-R offered. “It’s tough to go to a race like that and not want to be competitive,” Caselli agreed. Yet, he insisted, “We’ve got other things in mind, bigger fish to fry, obviously, with the Baja 1000 at the end of the year.”
And things are looking good in the KTM camp, it would appear. A post-race dyno run on the race motor showed “…there was zero loss of horsepower after 1300 miles so really good results and that’s what we were looking for. This motor that we’re using is rally-spec, which is what they use in the Dakar Rallye–identical to those–and they told us from the get-go that it would go 2000 miles with no problems. Obviously, we had to put that to the test, and now we’re seeing they weren’t kidding around when they said that.
“All we have to do is figure out some lights, which is kind of a big issue, but I think it’ll get handled in the amount of time we have.”
So how hard was it to do a race to test instead of race to win?
“I feel as if I’m getting maybe older and wiser,” Caselli noted. “It was a lot to just go ride and put some time on the bike and not really worry about being 10 minutes behind or 20 minutes behind.
“I think with the program that we have set up at KTM and the Baja effort, we’re doing, I think, a lot more than any other team. We put a lot more effort into testing and building the bike and just getting everything ready for all the races that we do. For me, that’s what’s going to pay off in the end. It’s not so much going to a race for $10,000 as much as going to a race for a championship in November. I’m not worried so much about being a Vegas-to-Reno winner as much as I am being a Baja 1000 and, obviously, SCORE champion.” — Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, check in next week for more off-road news.