Hilltoppers Big 6 GP, Ricky Brabec Starts Strong In Abu Dhabi, MXGP of Argentina, WADA Testing In St. Louis, Jason Anderson Finds His MoJo And More! – The Weekly Dirt: April 1, 2015

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, where today we cover the Hilltoppers Big 6, Brabec starts Strong In Abu Dhabi, the MXGP of Argentina, WADA Testing In St. Louis, and Anderson Finds His MoJo. There’s plenty to go over, so let’s get going.

Nagl Back On Top, RV2 Fourth

Ryan Villopoto was fourth in Argentina. Photo Courtesy Monster Energy Kawasaki

Motorcycles’ Max Nagl returning to the top step of the podium when the Husqvarna rider claimed the overall win at the MXGP of Patagonia, Argentina.

In the opening race, Nagl came off the line strongly but in getting pushed wide in the first set of corners he dropped down to around 10th overall. Fighting his way forward, the German clawed his way back inside the top five after the first six laps before going on to pass rival Ryan Villopoto to take third ahead of the American, with Suzuki’s Clement Desalle and Italian KTM rider Antonio Cairoli in second and third, respectively.

Nagl claimed the holeshot in Moto two, but dropped to third by the end of the lap, however by lap seven the German had already taken the lead and held on to claim his third race victory of the season and with it the overall win.

“This is a fantastic result,” said Nagl. “I’m so happy for everyone involved that made this victory happen – it was a real team effort. We had some problems during Saturday but we managed to overcome them and with each lap on race day I felt more and more comfortable.”

Cairoli finished the second Moto in second ahead of Desalle with Villopoto once again in fourth. Overall, the results looked like 1. Nagl, 2. Desalle, 3. Cairoli and Villopoto in fourth ahead of Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON).

As far as the overall standings:

1. Clement Desalle (BEL, SUZ), 133 points;

2. Maximilian Nagl (GER, HUS), 123 p.;

3. Antonio Cairoli (ITA, KTM), 123 p.;

4. Ryan Villopoto (USA, KAW), 106 p.;

5. Gautier Paulin (FRA, HON), 96 p.;

WADA Testing At St. Louis Supercross

Cole Seely was tested by WADA in St. Louis. Photo by Shan Moore

WADA was out in force in St. Louis, testing certain riders for banned substances. Cole Seely was one of the riders being tested that night, along with Jason Anderson, and Cole told us he had been tested just a few weeks before, so there seems to be no rhyme or reason to WADA’s methodology. And while we’re on the subject of testing, James Stewart’s appeal goes before the FIM this week in regards to his 16-month suspension (retroactive to the date of the positive drug test, which was at the Seattle SX on April 12th, 2014) for the use of a banned substance (supposedly Adderall). What that means is that if the appeal goes Stewart’s way then he could be eligible to ride the outdoor series… stay posted.

Jason Anderson Finds His MoJo

Does Jason Anderson have his MoJo Back? Photo By Shan Moore

Jason Anderson started out the 2015 season with a bang by finishing second at Anaheim 1. However, the 450-class rookie seems to have moved into a a slump ever since… at least until this weekend in St. Louis, where he got on the podium for the second time this season, finishing third behind Ryan Dungey and Eli Tomac.

The a Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory racer was in third place for most of the first half of the race, following Weston Peick for the first 10 laps, before getting by the N-Fab/AutoTrader.com/Toyota Yamaha rider on lap 11 to move into second. However, a few laps later – lap 14 to be exact – Tomac made an aggressive pass on the Husky rider, putting Anderson back into third for good.

“Yeah, tough crash last week and I’ve had kind of some tough go’s at some of the races,” said Anderson. “It’s good to be back, though. I wouldn’t say I’m back; I feel like I’ve been riding good, it’s just I’ve been in the back of the pack riding good and you don’t want to be doing that. I feel like after two hard weekends, it feels good to be back up here.”

"I feel like I'm riding good now, I just need to get used to riding up front there a little bit," added Anderson. "It gets your heart rate going a little bit just being up front. But I feel like I'm fit and ready to do battle every time I go out there. I just need to come back Houston and get good starts and just be up front."—Shan Moore

Udall dominates Hilltoppers Big 6; Brabec starts Strong In Abu Dhabi

Since he didn’t want to wear out the CRF450X he’s been racing in the National Hare & Hounds, Colton Udall found a 2008 CRF450R with a blown gearbox for $800, rebuilt it for about $1300 and proved it could still be a winner. He must like Twentynine Palms because he also won last year’s Big 6 there. Photo By Mark Kariya
Shown here on his way to second in Vet Lightweight (250cc) Expert behind winner Morgan Crawford and Vet Heavyweight (Open) Expert Andrew Puckett, Rowan Trefz came back that afternoon to take his first WCGP Pro II victory. Photo By Mark Kariya
When a rider went down right in front of him during the 50cc race, Kellon Trubey had nowhere to go and no time to react. Fortunately, no one seemed to be hurt and both continued riding. Photo By Mark Kariya

The U.S. Marine Corps is the smallest branch of the U.S. military so it’s no surprise that it also receives the smallest budget of America’s armed forces. Marines, however, pride themselves on doing the most with what they have—something that off-road racers know all too well.

Take Colton Udall, for example. The Ox Motorsports.com Honda privateer has a limited budget so instead of using the CRF450X that he normally rides in the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series for round four of the AMA District 37/MSR Big 6 Grand Prix Series, he decided to build a budget bike. He found a previously raced 2008 CRF450R with a blown transmission for $800 and rebuilt it better than new with some $1300 worth of new OEM parts, sponsor pieces and a few special items he had laying around.

How’d it work?

Like a charm at the 41st Annual Hilltoppers Motorcycle Club Grand Prix and its AMA West Coast Grand Prix Series feature race in the Big 6 program at Twentynine Palms, California (perhaps best known for its large USMC base). “The bike works really good,” Udall claimed. “I can hit any bump out there wide-open, over the bars and the thing straight.

“It’s a formidable weapon here; as you can see, I can go fast on it. It worked good at REM (the weekly Saturday local motocross at Glen Helen) two weeks ago, and it works good, even out here, from tight REM to wide-open Twentynine Palms.”

Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna’s Blayne Thompson—one of several riders doing double duty over the weekend and riding the WORCS race a couple hours away in Lake Havasu City, Arizona—trailed early leader Trevor Stewart and Udall for the first half of the race before Pro II leader Stewart succumbed to the pressure and first overshot a fast turn and later crashed. From there, Thompson had a solo ride to second with Precision Concepts Kawasak-mounted Justin Seeds stealing the third spot on the podium from Ryan Reina with a couple laps to go. Reina held on for fourth with Mark Samuels, Udall’s teammate, coming back for fifth overall.

Rowan Trefz passed the banged up Stewart before getting the white flag, giving him his first Pro II victory; he switched to the division last year after winning Vet Pro in 2013. And Trefz did it on a YZ250F rather than its older two-stroke brother, the YZ250, that Stewart relied on. Mitch Anderson rounded out the class and was eighth overall on his 250 XC.

Thompson, Seeds, Stewart, Anderson and a number of other Big 6 racers did double duty over the weekend since it also served as round four of the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC World Off-Road Championship Series (WORCS) a couple hours away in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

In the Pro class, Precision Concepts Kawasaki’s Robby Bell ran his WORCS win streak to four in a row, leading every lap of the always brutally rugged course on the shores of the lake. Hinson Honda-mounted Justin Jones didn’t get his best start, but he quickly moved into second and stayed there for the rest of the race followed by Thompson, Seeds and Dylan Schmoke.

Dalton Shirey dominated the Pro 2 division aboard his Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna, winning for the second time this season to lead in points while Logan Chambers owned Pro 2 Lights for his third triumph of the season. However, third-place Anderson owns a small lead in points over Chambers, 85-82.

Riding is just one part of racing rallies, as Ricky Brabec has discovered. Navigating plays a huge role so making sure you have your road book carefully marked is just one of the responsibilities a rider has after finishing the day’s stage. The American rally rookie sits sixth after three days, though, so he’s learning quickly in this sort of tryout for a run at Dakar next year. Photo Courtesy Team HRC

Half a world away in the United Arab Emirates, the 25th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan got underway and, as expected, immediately turned into a battle between Red Bull KTM and Team HRC Honda in this, the opening round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Defending champ Marc Coma made a big statement on the first day, winning the 163-mile stage by one minute, 21 seconds over Red Bull KTM teammate Sam Sunderland with Team HRC’s Paolo Goncalves a further 4:12 back followed by Red Bull KTM’s Ruben Faria. American desert racing fans cheered when they found Ricky Brabec fifth, less than 12 minutes behind Coma.

Day two saw Team HRC’s Joan Barreda put the electrical issues of the first stage fully behind him and romp to victory in the longest stage of the race, almost 12 minutes ahead of runner-up Sunderland. However, Sunderland took the overall lead by 3:30 over Coma who was eighth on the day. Brabec finished sixth and dropped to sixth overall, having avoided mistakes and concentrating mostly on learning how to navigate.

The third day saw Team HRC’s Paolo Goncalves win the stage by 29 seconds over Coma, who moved back into the overall lead, 5:04 ahead of Goncalves. Brabec remained sixth overall after finishing seventh for the day.

Brabec remarked on his Facebook page, “It’s tough out here, these guys are fast,  and these sand dunes are huge and soft!”

In a team press release, he added, "Now that I'm used to riding the dunes, I'm having fun and not struggling as badly. I'm just letting the bike do what it wants and now I'm getting the hang of it. I can't wait for the next two days!"—Mark Kariya

That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.