James Stewart Denied, Pourcel To Husky, ISDE Team Announced, Lucerne NHHA, Musquin Stays With KTM, Cody Webb Back To Trials, plus Much More! - The Weekly Dirt: April 29, 2015

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, this week we cover Gary Sutherlin’s win at the recent H&H, Christophe Pourcel signs with Husky, Marvin Musquin extends his contract with KTM for two more years, and Cody Webb returns to his roots. There’s plenty to go over, so let’s get going.

James Stewart's Appeal Denied

Photo By Shan Moore

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart has been waiting days to learned if his appeal would go through, which would allow him to start racing sooner. Well, Monday he learned that the FIM appeal that might have allowed him to begin racing the upcoming 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship has been denied. Instead the suspension will remain in place until August 11, 2015. Stewart says he will now focus on his return to competition.

“It was an incredibly frustrating process and disappointing decision, but we’ll have James on board with the team for 2016 and beyond and we look forward to his return. We have a few warm-up events later this year and then we’ll be back in full force for the 2016 Supercross season,” Yoshimura Suzuki team manager Mike Webb said.

Even though it’s been a trying time, not only for the delays, but also for not knowing the outcome of his appeal, Stewart said at least he can now look forward to putting this behind him and is looking forward to racing again.

“It’s extremely disappointing that my appeal was denied,” Stewart said. “But I’m glad this is over and now I can turn my full attention back to preparing for the few events I’ll be competition in this year and coming back strong for 2016.

“I thank Yoshimura Suzuki, my sponsors and all the fans who have given me a ton of support through all of this. The one thing this time off has done is made me realize how much I miss racing, so it’s going to be a great day for me when I get to see that gate drop again.”

Stewart plans to defend his Red Bull Straight Rhythm title later this year and is also slated to contest the Monster Energy Cup in October.

Christophe Pourcel To Rockstar Husky

Christophe Pourcel signed to ride for Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing. Photo Courtesy Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing

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This was certainly a surprise to me, but Christophe Pourcel signed to ride for Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna Racing. It was a surprise because I had him pegged to go to Kawi… maybe Husky was just a tad bit faster getting to the Frenchman. According to the press release, Pourcel will ride the outdoors for Rockstar Husky in the 450 class. According to the press release, Pourcel will ride the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Series in the 450 class aboard a Husqvarna FC 450.

“We tested the bike last week and I had a good thing going with Bobby and Robert Jonas,” said Pourcel. “They made me feel very comfortable with the team. The test of the bike went very good. That is why we made the decision to go this way. They believe in me and that was a big part of my decision to join the team. The 450 has always suited me; I’ve been riding a 250 for a long time and I feel it’s best for me to go back to a 450 and compete. I look forward to the opportunity for a future with the team.”

Team Manager, Bobby Hewitt, has worked with some of the industry’s top riders over the past decade and is credited with aiding Jason Anderson in his first AMA pro championship. He too looks forward to the future with Christophe on the team. “Knowing Christophe had multiple options from other teams for this year’s outdoor series but chose to sign with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing says a great deal about our program and the bike.  I am very happy to have Christophe join the team and I look forward to the start of the Motocross Season,” said Hewitt.

Pourcel will join Jason Anderson, Zach Bell, Martin Davalos and Zach Osborne in the 2015 outdoor season.

Musquin Extends Contract With Red Bull KTM

Marvin Musquin extended his contract with Red Bull KTM through 2017. Photo By Shan Moore

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This one was a little easier to predict, but newly crowned East Regional 250SX champ Marvin Musquin renewed his contract with Red Bull KTM, which will see him with the team through 2017. What is more surprising is that Musquin will be racing in the 450 Supercross and 450 Motocross Championships starting in 2016.

“I’m really excited to spend the next two years with KTM,” stated Musquin. “They are my family. It feels like home under the Red Bull KTM tent as we’ve spent almost 7 years together already. I know how much effort they have put into R&D to give us the best KTM race bikes and I believe in them just as they believe in me. I’m looking forward to even more success with my team.”

“The whole team is happy to have Marvin re-sign with team,” commented Red Bull KTM Factory Team Manager Roger De Coster. “Marvin and Ryan (Dungey) have a great working relationship. I have not seen a bond this great between teammates in a long time and we are happy to work with them both. Marvin is a smooth rider with great technique and we feel he will easily adapt to the 450 and we are looking forward to what he can bring to that class.”

KTM's Marc Coma won this year's Sealine Rally

Marc Coma used a strong early push to win this year’s Sealine Rally in Qatar. Photo Courtesy KTM Images

Red Bull KTM’s edged HRC Honda Teammates Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves to win this year’s edition of the five-day Sealine Rally in Qatar. Round two of the 2015 FIM World Championship Cross Countries Rallies. Series. This year’s 1200-mile event turned out to be a rough one, and even Coma admitted there was no room for mistake. Barreda and Goncalves came on strong in the end, one of each winning the final three days, a far better result than two weeks ago in marks a far more positive result than two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, although it was not enough to catch Coma, who had set a quick early pace.

“We tried to be consistent and not make the slightest mistake because this rally is so intense it is impossible to recover if you make a mistake,” said Coma. “It was a very hard fought win and the team did a great job. We started the year very well, and we are still on the right way. Now it is time to enjoy this beautiful moment and then begin to work ahead of the next race in Sardinia.”

Final results Sealine Cross-Country Rallies 2015

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap
1 COMAMarc SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory 19:56'48
2 BARREDA ****Joan   SPA Team HRC + 4'40
3 GONCALVES ****Paulo   POR Team HRC + 6'33
4 VILADOMSJordi SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 17'59
5 QUINTANILLAPablo CHI KTM Warsaw Rally Team + 18'00

US ISDE Teams Announced

The US World Trophy and Junior Trophy teams were announced this week for this year’s ISDE in Slovakia. Photo Courtesy KTM Images

The American Motorcyclist Association has announced the U.S. World Trophy Team and U.S. Junior Trophy Team for the 90th International Six Days Enduro in Kosice, Slovakia, Sept. 7-12.

Leading the U.S. effort on the World Trophy Team will be Mike Brown, Thad Duvall, Taylor Robert and Kailub Russell, Ryan Sipes and Gary Sutherlin. Brown will serve as team captain. While, the U.S. Junior Trophy Team will include Grant Baylor, Steward Baylor, Justin Jones and Layne Michael.

Once again, Antti Kallonen, KTM North America's off-road racing manager, will manage the U.S. ISDE team.

"I'm happy once again to be able to assemble a group of fast riders for both the World Trophy and Junior Trophy teams," Kallonen said. "This year's event being held on European soil is going to make it little harder competition for us than last year's event but our goals haven't changed and we are aiming to get on the top step with the Trophy team."

The 2014 ISDE in Argentina was one of the best for the U.S. team. The U.S. Junior Trophy Team won its division for the third time in event history, while the U.S. Trophy Team finished second last year. The United States has never won the Trophy division, although it also finished second in 1982 and 2013. —Shan Moore

H&H Win Number Two For Sutherlin

After a relatively tentative first 40 miles, Gary Sutherlin turned it up and put both Ivan Ramirez and Ricky Brabec behind him to score his first win since opening the season on top. Photo By Mark Kariya
So far, Dalton Shirey’s racked up a perfect record in the FMF 250cc Pro division, this time finishing a best-to-date fifth overall. Photo By Mark Kariya
Though he’s been on the Super Mini podium before in the past few years, Hayden Hintz didn’t make it to the top step until the Virgin Voyage, which he dominated. Photo By Mark Kariya
Rally in Baja on Friday, Quinn Cody of the Kurt Caselli Foundation hustled back across the border in time to administer the King-Devick baseline test to Youth H&H; riders who volunteered. It’s the same type of test used in many high school sports nowadays. If a rider is suspected of sustaining a brain injury, he or she takes the test again, helping the test administrator determine if the rider should be referred to further medical treatment. Photo By Mark Kariya
Adventure bike rider Landon Norman from San Jose, California, happened to be riding his BMW F800GS in the area and decided to check it out on Saturday. After going on a little trail ride, he decided he had to enter his very first race so he spent the afternoon stripping off the bike’s panniers and extraneous street parts. The next morning, entered in Open C, he turned a lot of heads by completing the 40-mile first loop—and not finishing last! Photo By Mark Kariya

Robbie Goolsby has twice as much work now that FMF KTM support rider Gary Sutherlin is healthy and racing again. Besides prepping Sutherlin’s 450 XC-F, he’s also got to ready Ivan Ramirez’s similar mount.

But after the weekend they had outside of Lucerne Valley, California, for round four of the Kenda/SRT AMA Hare & Hound National Championship Series, it’s probably safe to say Goolsby doesn’t mind. Not only did Sutherlin make his return to the series after DNFing round two with a broken wrist and missing round three as a result, he won with Ramirez making it an FMF KTM 1-2.

“I was riding really tentative the first half and Ricky rode great,” Sutherlin confessed. “The first 40 miles I think he put a minute on me. He left me. He was pinning it and Ivan was keeping me honest. It was good racing the first loop I knew it was going to go all three loops.”

Unfortunately for Brabec, he got lost a couple times and also put a small hole in the cases of his THR Motorsports/Precision Concepts/Bonanza Plumbing KX450F. Temporarily patching it and topping it off relegated him to third.

“I’m probably 90 percent right now; my wrist is still pretty sore,” Sutherlin said after dominating the last half of the race. “I don’t mean that in a bad way—I’m definitely hurting!—but I just rode a smart race today. What it all came down to was I really paid attention to the markings.”

Sutherlin’s triumph added 30 points to his total,  moving him into a tie for fifth at 60 with PCI Race Radios KTM’s David Kamo who was ninth on the day. The results also resulted in a tie at the top of the chart, Ramirez now even with Brabec at 101 points.

Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson rode to a solitary fourth followed by Zip-Ty Racing Husqvarna’s Dalton Shirey, the FMF 250cc Pro winner for the fourth time in the four rounds to date. The second half of the season starts with round five on Saturday in Utah.

Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma made it two in a row with his victory at the Sealine Cross-country Rally in Qatar, round two of the FIM Cross-country Rallies World Championship. (It also gives him a perfect three-for-three record in rallies so far this year if you count Dakar, which isn’t part of the series but is its own, stand-alone event, and marks his third consecutive win in this race.)

In what’s often considered the toughest rally from a navigation standpoint, Coma set the pace early, dogged by Team HRC’s Joan Barreda and Coma’s teammate Sam Sunderland just two weeks after the Abu Dhabi Rally.

After that opening stage, Coma again proved his mastery of the game, managing the race by being consistent (third in each of the remaining four stages) while his rivals found themselves hampered by one issue or another.

“It was hard,” he declared. “We tried to be consistent and not make the slightest mistake because this rally is so intense it is impossible to recover if you make a mistake.”

The Team HRC duo of Barreda and Paulo Goncalves got on track in stage three with Goncalves winning and Barreda seventh after getting lost. But they proved they had the intricacies of this race’s navigational challenges down by stage four, Barreda leading the way home followed by Goncalves in both that and the final stage.

That double 1-2 vaulted them to overall spots 2-3, respectively, to join Coma on the podium.—Mark Kariya

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