By the DR Staff
Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we have Vegas to Reno news, Pete Peterson talks to Wil Hahn about the 2013 season, we take a look at the US MXoN squad, and we check out Rockstar Energy Racing’s move to KTMs for 2014! Hey, we got a lot goin’ on, so let’s get to it.
Rockstar Energy Racing To KTM
It was announced last week that the Rockstar Energy Racing Team signed a three-year contract with KTM Motorsports for the AMA Supercross and Pro Motocross Championship Series. The team, which is managed by Bobby Hewitt, will make its KTM debut on October 19, 2013 at the Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. If you remember, Davi Millsaps is the feature rider for the team and he finished a strong second in this year’s Supercross series.
“As a satellite team, we will always be the little engine that could, but having the support of KTM is a huge advantage,” said Hewitt. “We are delighted and grateful to race KTM motorcycles and eagerly excited for the opportunity to utilize KTM’s new Factory Services program. This will be a very exciting venture for our team.”
For 2014, the Rockstar Energy Racing Team will continue to support Davi Millsaps as its premier 450 Supercross and Motocross class rider. It will also field a two-man Lites team with returning rider Jason Anderson as well as the 2013 Rookie of the Year, Joey Savatgy. The title sponsor will remain with Rockstar Energy Drink and the remainder of the 2013 season sponsors will return to support the team for the 2014 season.
“I believe with my team’s support and my dedication to training that I can win on the KTM,” says Millsaps. “I am excited for this new opportunity and am expecting another great season as I contend for the championship.” His teammate, Anderson, added to his statement, explaining, “I raced KTM’s for my last few years as an amateur and really loved the motorcycles. I am happy with the team’s decision to switch to KTM’s and I feel the bikes will be a good fit for me this season. I hope to put the KTM on the box at the opening round in Anaheim.”
Americans Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac to compete at 2013 FIM Motocross of Nations
Even with Ryan Villopoto electing to sit this year’s event out, the U.S. squad of Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac will still be heavy favorites when they arrive in Teutschenthal, Germany, for this year’s FIM Motocross of Nations on September 28-29.
And especially now since it was announced that Jeff Herlings will have to miss the event due to a broken shoulder blade he suffered while qualifying at the Grand Prix of Belgium, only Team Belgium seems capable of mounting any serious challenge to the Yanks.
For sure, Team USA will be on a mission to regain the Chamberlain Cup it lost at the hands of Team Germany at last year’s race in Lommel, Belgium. For sure, the conditions at Lommel – endlessly deep sand – presented a problem for the Americans, but this year’s event in Germany will be more to our liking.
Roger DeCoster will once again manage the team and will give the US squad every advantage possible.
And as far as the team goes, Dungey is as solid as they come. Meanwhile, last year was a learning experience for Barcia, who now comes in with more time on the 450 than he had last year. And for Tomac, could there be anyone riding better than he is right now?
AMA Director of Supercross and AMA Pro Racing Relations Kevin Crowther thinks the 2013 team is stacked from top to bottom.
“As always, the AMA enjoys significant support from the racers, the fans and, of course, the industry,” Crowther said. “Not only are we bringing the most-talented riders possible, but our support crew is second to none, led by Hall of Famer Roger DeCoster along with staff such as Jeff Canfield and the Asterisk medical team, I’m confident that we’ll give our riders everything they need to be successful.”
Riders in the FIM Motocross of Nations compete in either the MX1, which features 450cc bikes; the MX2 class, which includes 250cc motorcycles; or the open class. In Germany this year, Dungey will race MX1, Barcia will race Open, and Tomac will compete in MX2.
The FIM Motocross of Nations is one of the most high-profile motorsport events in the world. It features national teams competing for a combined score to determine the overall championship-winning country. The event emerged in post-war Europe in 1947 and has run uninterrupted since that time.
The United States last won the FIM Motocross of Nations in 2011 when the event was held in Saint D’Angely, France. The United States is the all-time leader in FIM Motocross of Nations overall team victories with 22. Great Britain is second with 16.
Stewart To Skip Final MX Round
Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing announced on Tuesday that James Stewart will sit out the final round of the 2013 AMA Pro Motocross season next weekend in Lake Elsinore, CA. Due to recent injury, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider plans to take time to fully recover so that he can focus his efforts on preparing for the upcoming AMA/FIM Supercross season, which starts in January 2014.
“This was a tough call to make,” said Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing Team Manager Mike Webb. “Especially since we’ve had some good momentum going after the win at Millville. But as a team, we all agreed that after the setbacks at the last two races, James’ time would be best spent recovering so that he can focus on Supercross testing in September. After that, we can turn all of our attention to winning the Supercross championship in 2014.”
Prior to ending the 2013 AMA Pro Motocross season one race shy of completion, Stewart raced his Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 to overall victory at the Spring Creek National and finished on the podium at three additional events. Furthermore, Stewart was fastest qualifier in multiple rounds and picked up five holeshots this season. In the 2013 Supercross season, the Yoshimura Suzuki rider became one of just three racers ever to have gone nine straight seasons with a win.
KTM 1190 Adventure Demos at 10th Annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally
Steamboat Springs, CO
If you’re into adventure or dual sport riding, then you need to make plans to join KTM staff and enthusiasts for the 10th Annual KTM Adventure Rider Rally in scenic Steamboat Springs, CO on September 13-15, 2013. Attendees will get a chance to be some of the first to throw a leg over the new KTM 1190 Adventure and 1190 Adventure R models during the week’s demo rides.
The KTM Adventure Rider Rally is entering its tenth year as the only national festival for KTM owners and enthusiasts. This year’s rally offers unbelievable adventure riding opportunities and the chance to demo the new 1190 Adventures before they hit dealer showroom floors.
Participants will learn from KTM experts as they cover a technical overview of the KTM 1190 Adventure in between jam-packed days of dual-sport riding. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to take a riding seminar, ride one of the laid out loops or take a guided tour with one of KTM’s professional athletes including: Mike Lafferty, Kurt Caselli, Mike Brown and Paul Krause. Select meals are included throughout the three-day event. Please see the event flyer for more details.
The KTM Adventure Rider Rally provides riders of all skill levels an opportunity to ride with and learn from adventurers from all over the world. The KTM Adventure Rider Rally is designed for KTM 640, 690, 950 and 990 Adventure and Enduro owners but is open to all brands of street-legal motorcycles.
Clear your schedule and pre-register to receive a reduced rate at $150 per person and receive a free event t-shirt. This price does not include bike or lodging. KTM has a reserved group rate at the Steamboat Grand Resort. Register now at: www.ktmorangeevents.com. —Shan Moore
Dropping in on: Wil Hahn
Geico Honda’s Wil Hahn has had a roller coaster year. He broke his hand – and on the same day clinched the 250F West Supercross Championship. After surgery on his hand kept him out of the first four nationals he came out swinging and dominated the first corner for the rest of the summer. This past weekend at the Utah National, he went a disappointing 12, 13 for 11th overall, stating in a team press release that he, “just felt off all day.”
The day after the Utah race, we spoke with him for an upcoming Pro Riding Secret in the magazine, then threw a few more questions at him about 2013 so far.
Pete Peterson: It’s been an up and down year for you – how are you feeling about 2013 overall going into the final outdoor race of the year?
Wil Hahn: Obviously supercross was awesome. It was everything that I drew up in my mind for the season coming in, in December of last year. It was everything and more [than] I wanted. If I could have drawn it up on a piece of paper, that’s how it went. Unfortunately getting hurt at the last round, ever since then I feel like I’ve been in catch up mode. That’s been the hardest thing, just getting back on the guys’ pace. You want to carry everything over from supercross, and I feel like I’m behind the ball a little bit coming in, but that was just the way it was. In fact I’m still paying [catch up] a little bit. It’s been up and down every weekend but I’m still getting better and I’m doing well, so I can’t complain a whole lot.
PP: So when you miss those first four rounds of outdoors from your broken hand [his injury at the final supercross race] – once you’ve already missed round one, how do you determine when to come back?
WH: Purely by feeling. I went and had surgery the Tuesday after Vegas supercross and from then on out it was just therapy every day. As soon as I could get on the bike I got on the bike. And from there on out it was basically when I could do 30 plus 2, and I could do it as hard as I could. Because there were a few days when I was fine, but then I did like 45 minutes on the bike and I couldn’t really hold on much anymore and it was painful, so it’s something that you’ve just got to kind of roll with it. And the team – I live in California and the team has a lot of people who know when I’m ready and when I’m not. They wouldn’t let me go racing if I wasn’t ready.
PP: Is it hard to find a track that will be as challenging as an outdoor national track, to go out and see if you can really do 30 plus 2?
WH: Yes and no. It’s just one of those things. I’ve been doing it for quite a while now, so I know how a track’s going to shape up and if I can do a moto here on some of the more hard surface tracks, even if they are more rough on the East Coast, it’s pretty much softer dirt so it was easier on my hand. It wasn’t a matter of condition it was just a matter of if I could hold on for the moto.
PP: You just completed the first round held at Miller Motorsports in Utah. How was that track?
WH: I thought the layout was awesome. The had a really good layout with good vision, and the pits, their whole set up was awesome but I can tell you it wasn’t very fun to see [during] that second moto when the wind was going about 60 miles and hour and banners are flying everywhere; it was just basically a dust storm. I can tell you that’s not ideal for racing, not very fun for us to be putting it on the line [during] something like that.
PP: The vision was the biggest problem, or the wind?
WH: The wind in general. You go off a jump and you’re trying to compensate for [changing] wind. One lap you have a headwind that’s so bad that you’re hitting a jump wide open, then the next lap you’re hitting it wide open but the wind dies on you and you overjump it really far. Everyone has to deal with it, I understand that, but it’s just something that’s not safe for us.
PP: Do you have a quick tip for jumping in a crosswind?
WH: ‘Hope for the best’? [laughs]. I was hoping for the best but I wasn’t very good this weekend so I don’t know if I’m the guy to go to for tips on that. I think you’ve just got to compensate and turn towards the wind. Every time you go with it, it just blows you off the track.
PP: This year you’ve had an amazing year of holeshots. What are you doing better than your competition?
WH: I’m just a bit more relaxed at the time, nothing really different. Just roll with it and have fun. I have a good bike behind me right now and I’m very acquainted with it and just know it really well.
PP: The Utah track had a unique first turn with a long drop to it, with a lot of holeshots coming from the inside. Was that a surprise or were you guys expecting that?
WH: I thought it would come towards the middle a little bit more. But we picked our gates and then they were watering and digging the start straight so much that it kind of changes your gate position a little bit. Were we surprised? Nah, not really, because of the elevation I thought you could just control it from the inside, and that’s just the way it was.
PP: Do you have your ride lined up for next year?
WH: Yeah, I’m signed with Geico, not changing a thing and staying with these guys.
PP: Your brother Tommy’s retired. I hear he’s training a young amateur racer now. How do you plan for your brother to work into your off season getting ready for 2014?
WH: Just continue to be my brother and not change a thing. Just be there for guidance any time if it’s necessary but for the most part he just lets me do my thing and learn on my own.
PP: Are you guys riding together and trying to take advantage of his experience?
WH: I’d like to, but I’ve been living in California and he’s still living in Texas so we haven’t ridden together a ton lately. But we bounce stuff off each other and talk to each other, just find the time for that.
Wil’s sponsors are: GEICO Honda, Amsoil, Alias, DVS Shoes, 6D helmets, Skull Candy, Replay cameras, Metro Honda, Oakley goggles, Yoshimura, DID, Pro Taper, Cycra, Muscle Milk, Planet Fitness and Dunlop tires. —Pete Peterson
Beta the best from Vegas to Reno
Nick Burson (shown) and partner Justin Morrow started Vegas to Reno in front and stayed there all day to record their first BITD win of the year–and arguably the biggest American off-road triumph for Beta.
The Purvines Racing Beta team scored its biggest win to date when Nick Burson and Justin Morrow squeaked out a six-second margin of victory over the Western Designs Racing/THR Motorsports/Precision Concepts Kawasaki duo of Robby Bell and David Pearson at Best in the Desert’s General Tire Vegas to Reno marathon run.
According to BITD chief Casey Folks, it was the closest finish ever in this 543-mile-long race that started just outside Beatty, Nevada, and finished in Dayton.
Burson and Morrow were the first to get the green light while Bell/Pearson took off fifth.
The clear air undoubtedly helped the 498 RR-mounted eventual winners, but it didn’t take too long before Bell and Pearson had their KX450F up to second and closing. The remainder of the race was a nail-biter, with the top two teams often separated by just seconds.
But Bell/Pearson were unable to bridge the gap and saw their 2013 BITD win streak stopped at three, their time of nine hours, two minutes and five seconds frustratingly close to Burson/Morrow’s 9:01:59–a difference of just six seconds! However, they were consoled by the fact that second place was plenty to repeat as the series champs, with one round remaining.
Fellow Kawasaki riders Ricky Brabec and Ty Renshaw claimed third followed by Honda-mounted Justin Morgan/Mark Samuels and Adam Thissen/Robert Underwood on another Kawasaki.
There’s now a long break in the series (at least for the bikes and ATVs) before the finale in December, the Henderson 250.—Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.