James Stewart, 2013 Yamaha Dirtbikes, Baja 500 // The Weekly Dirt: June 8, 2012

Welcome to the Weekly Dirt, the place to go each week to get your off-road fix. There's plenty going on this week so get ready for the Dirt, there's a lot to cover.

2013 Yamaha YZ125
2013 Yamaha YZ125
2013 Yamaha YZ250F
2013 Yamaha YZ85
2013 Yamaha XT250

Photos courtesy Yamaha

Last week, we gave you our opinion of the all-new Honda CRF450R, which is a twin-piped, air-forked, full-revised machine that has riders everyone talking. This week, part of the Dirt Rider crew is back east riding the 2013 Kawasaki KX250F, and just this morning Yamaha released info about their 2013 Motocross bikes, the YZ250F and YZ450F. Both machines are relatively unchanged, but Dirt Rider's Pete Peterson made the point while talking around the water cooler this morning that unchanged might be the best bet leading into a new bike season packed with unproven technology (referring to Kawasaki's and Honda's bold air-fork moves). Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: We can't wait to ride these bikes back-to-back-to-back! Check out the full test on the KX250F on our homepage soon, and keep your eyes open for more first impressions of the 2013 bikes.

In other new model news, Yamaha also announced the release of several Mid-Year 2013 Models. While some of these are Scooters and Street Bikes (yawn), quite a few have knobbies: In the dual-sport category, Yamaha will once again be unleashing the XT250, WR250R and TW200. The 2013 WR250R will remain part of the off-road segment, while we are quite pleased to see that the YZ85, YZ125 and YZ250 two-strokes are still in the lineup for 2013. Check out the July 2012 issue of Dirt Rider—on newsstands now—for the full 125cc MX shootout, complete with our straight-up opinions on the YZ125! —Chris Denison

David Pearson took full advantage of Kurt Caselli’s injury-forced absence at round five of the hare & hound Nationals. Winning for the first time since last year’s season opener catapulted him into the series points lead with three rounds left.
Though Robby Bell (shown) missed his first pit and lost the lead, teammate David Pearson made up for that during his stint with Steve Hengeveld keeping them in it. Bell then finished with a race-winning sprint at the Baja 500, a welcome rebound from sixth at San Felipe. The first Kawasaki overall in Baja since 1996 keeps the THR team in the hunt for the SCORE title.
David Kamo hustles the JCR Honda CRF450X past a cattle guard en route to second at the Baja 500, matching the finish he and teammates Colton Udall and Timmy Weigand earned at the San Felipe 250.
Team manager Antti Kallonen introduces the riders who would eventually take their 450 SX-F to third, not the follow-up they expected after winning the San Felipe 250. From left are riders Ivan Ramirez, Marc Coma, Mike Brown and Kurt Caselli.

Photos by Mark Kariya

Just when it appeared that Kurt Caselli of the FMF/KTM Factory Off-Road Racing Team was unbeatable, he proved that he is indeed human, a crash at round five of the AMA Racing/Kenda National Hare & Hound Championship Series leaving him with a broken scapula, separated shoulder and cracked collarbone, stopping his win streak at four straight.

“It was actually a lot more than what I originally thought after ,” he said. And since he’s in recovery mode, Caselli plans to see if his doctor agrees now is the time to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. “I might take the summer off,” he continued. “I was supposed to do X Games, but it’s not looking like I’m going to be able to make that.

“I think it’s better if I just get healed and come back ready for the rest of the National hare & hound series—that’s obviously on top of the list—and also be ready for the 1000; I want to be 100 percent going down into that. I’ve got Six Days in there as well and that’s going to be tough on my body. It’s kind of a forced vacation some recovery on my body.”

With Caselli on the sidelines, the door was wide open for round five and THR Motorsports Kawasaki’s David Pearson took full advantage. The closest challenger in points, he won round five—also in Utah—marking his first series triumph since winning the 2011 season opener. Even more important, though, it vaulted the 2007 series champ into the points lead, 142-120, with just three rounds left.

And it didn’t stop there. Immediately after that, Pearson and teammates Robby Bell and Steve Hengeveld turned their full attention to the 44th Tecate/SCORE Baja 500. The long days of testing and pre-running in Baja paid off with a dramatic win, making up for their disappointing showing at the San Felipe 250. It also marked the first Kawasaki overall victory in Baja since 1996. The Johnny Campbell Racing Honda trio of David Kamo, Colton Udall and Timmy Weigand settled for a close second while Caselli’s squad of Mike Brown, Marc Coma (yes, the three-time Dakar champ) and Ivan Ramirez had an off day with crashes to finish third.

“Call it whatever you want to call it—redemption, relief. It’s just a fantastic feeling!” Bell exclaimed.

What it does is set up a barnburner at the Baja 1000. —Mark Kariya

James Stewart - Photo by Shan Moore

You certainly know by now that James Stewart crashed out of last weekend's Lakewood, Colorado round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships, and suffered what he indicated was a jammed wrist. And if you follow James Stewart on twitter then you know that he hasn't ruled out returning to the series for High Point, which would be great for the series. (James Stewart will race High Point this weekend- Update from @JS7: See ya Sat http://instagr.am/p/LlfOV2BPcf/." Ryan Dungey took over the points lead after going 1-1 in Lakewood, and now holds a 36-point lead over James Stewart (who sits third) and a 35-point lead over Kawasaki's Jake Weimer. If you remember the undefeated run that Stewart went on a few years ago, then you know that Stewart is by no way out of the title hunt. I'm not rooting for either guy, I'm just puling for an exciting and competitive season and if Stewart goes on a rampage and reels off a bunch of wins and starts closing on Dungey's points lead then we'll get just that.

This is my opinion only, but I think Dungey’s plan all along was to not take too many chances and just make sure he’s still around at the end of the season, and try to push Stewart just enough to make a mistake, and then capitalize. After all, when is the last time Stewart completed an entire series? If that truly was the plan, then it seems to have worked, so it will be interesting to see how this thing plays out from there, hopefully, starting this weekend at High Point.

Tommy Hahn - Photo by Shan Moore

Just when Tommy Hahn was starting to make progress after spending much of the year recovering from an injury, the Muscle Milk Honda rider goes down again with a broken finger, suffered at Lakewood. Hahn takes it from here: “I was coming through the mechanic’s area and I got hit in the hand with a rock and it broke my finger pretty good,” explained Hahn. “It’s a clean break and it’s right next to the joint, so I can’t move my finger without the bone displacing, so I have to keep it still for a while. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to heal, but I can still do cardio and I’ll be back when this thing is healed.”

“I just feel like I’ve been doing little things here and there to help me and I think it’s been paying off for me,” added Hahn. “I’ve been wanting to get a start so I can get up there and break away with those guys and run with them, and that’s what I did. I got a great start in the first moto and I was feeling great. But unfortunately I got hit in the hand with a rock and it hurt too bad to keep going.”

Destry Abbott helped lead the Action Kawasaki team to the win at the Perry Mountain 24-hour Challenge - Photo by Kenny King

Back east, the Action Kawasaki team of Garett Edmisten, John McCabe, Mose Howard, Destry Abbott, Gary Sutherlin, and Jacob Argubright beat out Max Motorsports KTM's Mark Lewis, Jase Lewis, Geoff Braico, Dustin Gibson, John Dowd, Jeff Cowan to take the win at this year's Perry Mountain 24-hour Challenge, in Maplesville, Alabama. The two teams battled most of the race, swapping the lead a few times; however, by mid-afternoon the Action Kawasaki had taken the lead and never relinquished it. Max Motorsports finished out the event in second, while TJSKTM.com finished third. —Shan Moore