The city of Vancouver has quite a few connections with the USA. It’s considered a sister city to Los Angeles, BC Place stadium (home of the Vancouver Supercross) is designed after the Pontiac Silverdome and Minneapolis Metrodome (all of which were done by architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill), etc. The city’s old nickname from the late 1800s is The Big Smoke.James Stewart did just that, dominating his heat race and the main event on his way to his second main-event win in as many tries on the KX450F. The turn-around has been simply astounding, after Stewart missed much of both the 2005 supercross and motocross series and sat out the US Open with a mysterious ailment.”I mean, basically I spent my whole summer in the hospital being sick, and the US Open, I definitely came a long ways from being on the ground, bent over before I even got on a motorcycle to coming out here and winning,” Stewart said. “It’s still a long ways to go. I wouldn’t say it’s a new beginning, but I’m definitely trying to make it. I’m going to go home and work and try to continue my success.”He says he was worried at a point that he wouldn’t get it figured out. “You definitely get worried when you’re trying to get things on the right path but it just seems like things just keep kicking you back,” Stewart said. “I knew I had my family behind me, and my team, and it was a matter of time before I was going to get it right, and I think we figured out what was going on, and I think you guys can see that.”Stewart’s pants at the Canadian supercrosses read: New Beginning. The old James Stewart is definitely back.”I definitely came in expecting to win—well, I wouldn’t really say I was expecting to win, but I wanted to,” Stewart said. “I think it’s good for me and we have a lot of work, and it feels good to come in and know my program’s working and get these two victories. I’m going to go back home and work hard. My dad back there is going to be all over me. I’m just going to train hard and try and get ready.”The style of racing has definitely changed now that the top guys are all on 450s. “I think the biggest reason I chose it is I thought for sure it was a better motorcycle,” Stewart said. “I think the pace is going a lot faster, but I think you can ride it a little easier—ride it a little more cautious, but have a lot of power. I don’t really think the racing’s going to change. I think the three of us are going to be up here every weekend, I just think you can’t banzai it like a 250—run it in on someone and try to come out and pull away. I think you have to take your time and set them up. It’s going to make for some good racing for the next 16 races.”Ricky Carmichael agrees with the assessment of the 450 vs. the 250. “It’s definitely a different bike to ride, with a little bit different style of racing, I guess,” Carmichael said. “The same guys are going to be up front, just it’s going to be different. It’s funny, everybody picks out the negative points of the 450, but they never pick up the positives, and obviously it’s a better bike and we ride different on them. I think the speeds are a lot faster, and with the attitude on the bike, the style is a lot slower. But I think we’re going to see a much faster pace, but at the same time, it’s going to look slower.”Carmichael made some setup changes to his RM-Z before Vancouver, and he felt a lot more competitive, even if his start kept him from showing it by battling with Stewart again. “I definitely made some positive changes for this weekend, and I’ve got some more things coming up for the next two weeks, so we’re looking forward to it—it’s fun, it’s motivating, and it’s just funny,” Carmichael said. “We’re all on the 450s, and the times are changing.”Regarding his start: “I got a good jump, and it seems like when I get over the gate, I wheelie a little bit, so I went in there and Reedy and Ivan kind of squeezed us all out and I thought I was going to go down, then I [saw] Chad slide a little bit, and Ivan really slide, and I got around them and got all balled up. I made it through okay, but I was in the middle of the track. I was definitely where I didn’t want to be. I think everybody just kind of slid sideways.”He’s also not changing anything he’s doing now before Anaheim. “I said on the podium that we’re beating a dead horse, but 18 races is longer than any of us have ever had, and it’s going to be a new element for all of us,” Carmichael said. “It definitely makes the training and the testing and the working a lot easier when you’re not winning, so that’s going to be easier. We got beat, and I don’t think there’s any reason to give the trophy out yet, but I’m just looking forward to improving and being consistent. I’m just going to do my best. I’m not going to try to be somebody I’m not. I just have to ride to my best ability, stay safe, and do what I can do within my means.”Although Carmichael doesn’t like to lose, he did stick to his plan—although we don’t know what that plan was. “I had a gameplan before I went out there, and I feel like I stuck to it—I’m not going to tell you what it was, but I did what I wanted to do,” RC said. “I just didn’t start where I wanted to start. That’s the way it goes, and no excuses, you have to get a good start, and I didn’t do it and I got beat. I felt that I rode good and had some consistent laps.”Third-placed Chad Reed felt like he made progress at Vancouver, too—although the result was the same as Toronto. “I think the end result in reality is that I think we’ve achieved what we wanted to, and we’ve got two races on the bike,” Reed said. “We need to regroup and make things better, and that’s a plus for me. Results are not where I want them to be, and that’s where it is, but the bike’s great. I have a choice in choosing the two-stroke or four-stroke, and I think I’m on the best bike we have available. There are just some things I need to change—nothing on the bike, it’s all me.”A big get-off in the whoops in practice didn’t help things. Reedy got up limping. “Obviously my knee is quite sore, but I was going through the whoops and I wasn’t even pushing through them and one just caught me and threw me over the bars and I hit my knee,” Reed said. “It swelled up right away, so then I felt like I was getting ready for a time trial or something—between the heat and the main event, I basically sat on the bicycle the whole time.”The motorcycles competing in the Canadian races were running the CMA logo on their front numberplates, rather than the AMA logo that is seen on the bikes Stateside. The CMA is the Canadian leg of the FIM, just as the AMA is for the USA.MotoXXX’s Kyle Lewis was sporting his team’s new colors—as they’re now sponsored by Unbound Energy Drinks. “I’ve been talking with [agent] Scott Sepkovic for a while, and I tried to put together some stuff last year, but he had another energy-drink deal and brought it to the team, and it worked out,” Lewis said. The 2006 MotoXXX team includes Lewis, Timmy Ferry, Juss Laansoo and Josh Summey.Tyler Evans switched back to his RM250 from the 450 he rode in Toronto, but it only lasted one practice before Tyler was back on-board his 450. He stayed on it the rest of the night, finishing 14th.Team Solitaire’s Ryan Clark has added a teammate to his franchise in fellow Albuquerque native and former 125cc SX winner Justin Buckelew. “I knew I wanted to expand and go a little bit bigger, so the first thing I needed to do was get another rider, and I wanted to get somebody that I personally believed in and had a good work ethic and would be a good representative for the team and the sponsors,” the other RC said. “Justin Buckelew is a perfect fit, I think. I’ve known him a long time. I grew up with him living in Albuquerque, and I think he’s just had a bad run the last couple years with some injuries, but I think we put together a good program for him and we can put him on the podium this year.”He’ll be riding 125 East, which is where we’ll be putting most of our effort in for him—he’s up here getting experience. I think he’s obviously a really good 450 rider, as he proved last week with an eighth place in the main event, and I think where he’s going to shine is on the 125 back east. With our program, training together and riding together, we’re going to be really competitive and get it out there every week.”MDK/Motosport.com/MSR’s Nick Wey was up in Canada mainly to secure his eligibility for the privateer points fund for the AMP’D Mobile World Supercross GP Series, and he was up there racing a 450 in supercross for the first time.”It’s obviously a much bigger bike, and it’s a lot to get used to,” Nyk said. “I’ve been riding the ’06 at home a lot. Back home, the team’s focusing on Anaheim, so I’ve been at these last couple races here on my ’05 just trying to get through these races the best I can and come out of here healthy and focus on the American series. It was important for me to come up to the Canada rounds to be eligible for the privateer stuff, and the team helped me out as much as they could. I’m pumped to be here, but I’m really looking forward to Anaheim when I’m on the new bike and we’ve got all our ducks in a row. Last year, coming off my injury, I didn’t have a lot of time to get used to the 450 before I jumped in and started racing it, so it’s been a learning curve ever since I started riding it, and I think the biggest thing is it doesn’t get as much pop off the jumps, so that’s going to take some getting used to. But I’m excited to be riding one bike all year this year and not having to adapt to something outdoors. I really like the 450, and I feel like I learn something every time I’m riding. I’m excited for the new year.”Keith “I’m not Kevin” Johnson is making progress in his new ride on the Subway/Coca-Cola Honda team. Keith has tried, unsuccessfully, the last couple of years to ride a YZ450F outdoors as part of his former Star Racing team, but always quit riding it and switched back to his YZ250. Now, on the new team, riding a 450 is the only option, and he’s picking it up.”It’s coming along pretty good. I like the bike—I like it a lot. The power’s good,” Keith said. “The thing that I had to adjust to is that the acceleration’s a little bit different—it’s not as snappy, and the hesitation sometimes that they have off the bottom is a little bit different to get used to—you have to rev it up in the air a little bit. We figured out a lot of jetting tricks, so we’ve got it pretty good now. I rode for KTM in 2000 when they first came over, but other than that I’ve been on Yamahas my whole life, so it’s kind of nice for a change. At the same time, I miss the clan, but it’ll be a good season.”He also says he’s happy just being a rider for a change. “The whole reason we have the Star Racing and Bobby J’s was helping and everything, I wanted to do that on my own, too,” Keith said. “That was kind of a challenge, trying to run the team and race and all that. So it’s nice to have a break and just be a racer. I want to see what I can do. It’ll be good.”Johnson’s new teammate Jason Thomas has seriously improved his SX skills since last year. “I did a ton of off-season racing, and I did really well at all of them, but the only drawback is that I didn’t get to stay with my program as much as I would’ve liked to, so I’ve got three weeks to really get back on my program and day-in, day-out do the things I was doing going into the US Open [where he finished fifth overall],” JT Money said. “I feel all right here, I’m just trying to get my bike set up better. It’ll come around. I’ll pick it up. I just need to get through the race. I think the more technical a track is, I feel like I’m better suited for it and I think I can get separation from a lot of guys when it’s more technical. Last week, the track got worse and worse, and that helped me a lot—I pulled away from the guys behind me. I wasn’t quite there with Byrne and Wey, but it was a lot closer than I’ve been before. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I see improvement, I just need to keep working at it.”The WBR Suzuki team made it up to Vancouver to judge themselves against their 125cc West competition, and they all looked very solid, with Ryan Sipes battling for a podium spot in the main event, and rookie Michael LaPaglia grabbing a top-10 in his first Supercross event.The SoBe/No Fear/Samsung Honda team bikes were sporting three tail pipes between the two of them in Vancouver, whereas at Toronto, there was one pipe each. “Actually, the bikes that we are doing these two races with are ’05-spec bikes,” said team manager JC Waterhouse. “We had planned all along to use the same settings that we used at the US Open into this race, but we’ve been evolving the twin-pipe situation this whole time, and Wednesday before this event, we found a combination that’s really, really good. So we only were able to put it on one of the two machines, and Billy [Laninovich] got it for this weekend. But starting on Monday of next week, both guys will have it.”"Last week, after Toronto, we did some testing, we worked really hard and got our bike better,” Laninovich said after grabbing his second-straight podium finish. “And there’s a lot of faster guys here this weekend, so I’m glad to get on the podium. I think I’m stronger than I was last year, and I believe I’m riding better. The competition is stepping up a lot. Every year, it gets faster and faster, so I just need to go for it, too, and get faster.”Jake Weimer’s bike, still with the single pipe, was equipped with a really clean production version of Pro Circuit’s quiet end cap, which has been in use since the beginning of 2005 in prototype form.Word in the pits was that Team Honda didn’t require their riders to race in Canada, but would support them if they wanted to go. The result was the two 125cc guys (Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps) chose to attend, and 250cc riders Ernesto Fonseca and Travis Preston decided to stay home until Anaheim I.Davi Millsaps was spotted trying on eyeglasses in the pits. “I’m nearsighted and farsighted. Thank God I can’t see you!” he exclaimed to our pit reporter Steve Cox.In a moment of clarity, Millsaps was serious when asked about how he feels at Honda. “I really like this bike a lot, and I’m definitely glad I switched,” Davi said. “People are great over here, the bike’s great, and I’m really glad my mechanic Carlos came with me too. Right now, I’m really working on getting comfortable with the race bike. I feel really good on it—I feel really good on the practice bike. I can’t tell you what the main thing is, but I just know that I love everything about this team right now, and I’m not dogging Suzuki at all—I liked Suzuki—but these are my guys.”Millsaps was somewhat dejected after his 18th-to-2nd ride in the main event. “Nathan rode a great race,” he said. “I felt really good last night. I felt bad and won last weekend, and I felt good and lost this weekend. Go figure.” But that doesn’t mean his confidence is shaken heading into the AMA series. “It’s definitely hard coming through the pack at this race because of all the rocks, and the whoops were really chewed out and there were only a couple good lines—and if everyone was in that line, you have to go in a crappy line. It was hard to pass,” he said. “Everyone rode a good race, but I just felt like I just rode that much better.”For the second year in a row, Nathan Ramsey won the Vancouver Supercross in the 125cc (or “Lites”) class. “My father-in-law, he’s Canadian,” N8 said. “He lives in the States, now, but we always talk about it. Everytime I go to a race, he’s like, ‘I give you my power,’ but up in Canada, it’s a little bit more special to him.”He would’ve been in the running for a better finish than last place at Toronto, too, except he ran into Millsaps’ rear wheel and crashed. “Last week went good all the way up until I clipped that guy’s rear wheel [motioning to Millsaps],” Ramsey said.”The heat race went good and I felt good and my Red Bull KTM was riding really good, but it gets crazy out there—like everybody says. The first three laps are pretty messy and I just happened to not pay enough attention. But my bars were too bent to keep going. I got to watch, and that’s no fun. So I just went back and had a really good week working on the things I work on. I came into this weekend and I liked the track. I liked that it was demanding and it had a nice rhythm section and a couple different-style whoops. You had good parts for everybody. I liked it. All weekend, I started feeling better and got that good start and it made it easier.”Mini Interview: Boo-Koo Honda’s David VuilleminDirt Rider: Are you sticking it out with the two-stroke?
David Vuillemin: I hope so. I hope it’s what I’m going to race. I’m happy to be on the two-stroke, and I don’t really like four-strokes. I don’t really like bikes that pop and miss and that. I like a bike that’s really crisp and responsive. The bike is not known as being the best 250 out there, if you see all the shootouts and stuff, but the team did good work, and we’re getting closer. The bike is a little different from my Yamaha—that had a little more bottom end, but less top. But we weighed the bike, and it was like 217, and the limit is 216, so we are right there. The bike will be at the limit, which is good, but we just need to work a little more on the suspension and more on the engine.DR: You recently moved to the Lone-Star State. How did that go?
DV: We moved old-school. We did everything ourselves. We rented a big U-Haul and drove my SUV, my pickup and my U-Haul to Dallas. It was kind of fun. The only thing is that the gas prices were so high, we spent so much money in gas (laughs). It’s going smooth. We’ve got a good setup there, the track’s not too far from my house, the shop either, and the team owner [Michael Holigan] is doing things right. He hired a suspension guy, an engine guy, I got the mechanic I wanted, so it’s going pretty good. Today’s going to be a great race to see where we’re at starting and racing against 450s.So are you using Vancouver basically as a yardstick for the AMA Series?
I wish I went to Toronto, but I signed up to do that race in Geneva, which is pretty fun, and you can actually make a bunch of money. It’s too bad because I can’t get in the privateer fund. But I’m still a privateer, but I have a factory salary, so it’s a good thing. I don’t really need that money anyway. It’s better to the other guys that struggle all year long. Things are going good. It’s been cold in Texas the last couple days, but that’s it. I feel more free and more in control about my racing program, and I’m more relaxed, and we’re going to do our best to race with the factory 450s. That’s our goal. It’s kind of weird to see those guys on the 450s now, from one year to the other, it’s a few 450s to everybody on 450s.Tell us about your third gear company of 2005.
Actually, this was a team-deal. I signed with Holigan with the gear—pants and jersey—were included in my deal. They worked out something with Thor, and I’m pumped to be with them. It’s a good company, the gear is good, they have great service, so it’s good. Gear is gear. It’s not like tires or suspension.How about this black bike, huh?
Sometimes I dream about being Deegan, so I’m riding a black bike in my dreams. But when I wake up, I still have a blue or red bike. So this is my first ‘official’ day with the black bike.So now you are Brian Deegan…
Maybe, yeah. I’m sure I can hook up and go ride with them now. It’s cool, though. You have to understand that the Boo-Koo can is black, and when you see the other companies, they use the color of the can.Isn’t it cool that somebody’s coloring the bike the color of the sponsor, rather than coloring the sponsor the color of the bike?
It’s because we don’t sell bikes. We want to sell drinks. That’s a big difference. Yamaha wants to sell Yamahas, and we want to sell Boo-Koo.Ultimately, though, the motorcycle buyers will know you are on a Honda anyway…
Yeah, the hardcore fans, they know. But it’s good, and we don’t have a lot of factory support, which is pretty much zero, but they give us all the bikes and parts we need, so it’s good.