Dungey's SX Title, AMA West Hare Scrambles, AMA Trials Opener, GNCC Action, plus Much More! - The Weekly Dirt: April 15, 2015

Welcome to Weekly Dirt, where today we take a look at Ryan Dungey’s title winning ride this weekend in Houston, plus, we cover the AMA West Hare Scrambles, the Aires US National MotoTrials Opener, and the Big Buck GNCC. There’s plenty to go over, so let’s get going.

Ryan Dungey Does The Deed (Cooper Webb, Too)

Ryan Dungey claimed his second 450 SX title in Houston, and the first for KTM. Photo By Shan Moore

Few gave Ryan Dungey much of a chance at claiming this year’s 450-class Supercross title, with the likes of Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, and Trey Canard (who have handily won the final outdoor round of the 2014 season), however, the Red Bull KTM rider, as he usually does, stayed consistent through the first four rounds to let things settle in, which allowed him to take over the red number plate signifying he was the series points leader – and he did all of this without winning a single race.

However, as usual, it was his consistency that put him in that situation, finishing off the podium only once during the first four rounds (a fourth at the opener at A1).

But then at round five something seemed to click and Dungey became the aggressor, reeling off six wins in the next 10 rounds to easily wrap up the title this past weekend in Houston, with three races remaining on the schedule.

For sure, Dungey is one of the hardest working racers in our sport, and that, plus the combination of KTM’s new Factory Edition, which Dungey had a hand in crafting, so naturally it suited him well.

“The team and I worked so hard to get to this point,” Dungey said. "There are hardly words to explain how good this feels. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but my team stood behind me through it all and provided me the best bike. I am so excited for this championship but am looking forward to the next goal. We aren’t done yet.”

Of course, Dungey got plenty of praise from KTM, as well.

“To win any World Championship is an outstanding success and is of immense importance for KTM,” KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. “But the US Supercross title is very special and highlights our huge commitment in the worldwide motocross sport. With tenacity we made it to the top in this sport, which releases a vast amount of emotions. I would like to thank all those that have been involved and helped to push forward this extremely important project, and of course, I’d like to thank Ryan who has had a great season in 2015.”

KTM Head of Motorsports, Pit Beirer, added that one of my personal dreams came true today. “We started our Supercross race department completely from scratch in 2011, and what has been achieved in this very short time is outstanding,” said Beirer. “The key to everything, and I call it the best trip of my life, was my first meeting with Roger De Coster in the summer of 2010. Together with Roger we have formed the best and strongest team you can imagine. From there our worldwide race network has become stronger and it has been a 24-hour effort each day. With the full commitment of our R&D and Motorsports departments in Austria and the USA, we managed to create the best bike in a short time. However, we cannot perform without the best riders on our bike, which is why we are thankful to Ryan. He trusted us at a very early stage of the project. Ryan has set some major milestones for our company; first 450SX win, first professional Motocross Championship title and now he has brought our final goal of the 450 Supercross title. I would like to say thank you team and thank you Ryan.”

Tyler Bowers Out With Back Injury

Tyler Bowers will miss the remainder of the SX series due to a back injury. Photo By Shan Moore

Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers issued a press release this week staying that the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider will miss the remainder of 2015 to undergo back surgery due to an ongoing lower back issue. Bowers has been dealing with the issue all season, but was hoping to make the statement after the Las Vegas round of the series.

“It’s a big bummer,” said Bowers. “I love racing and love my entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, which is why it makes it so difficult to force myself to sit on the sidelines.”

Of course, Bowers will miss the final two rounds of the Supercross series, but the heartbreaker is that he’ll miss the outdoor series, as well.

Here is the letter that Bowers issued:

I was planning on releasing this statement after the East/West shootout in Vegas, but unfortunately things have had to move up.  I will be unable to compete in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship and the remaining rounds of Monster Energy Supercross to undergo surgery to my lower back.  I have been dealing with two compressed discs as well as displacement of the L5 vertebrae resulting in sharp pain and numbness down my leg while sitting, driving, bending over, twisting or when I lower my chin.

The pain has now become constant and I have been unable to find any relief through medication, therapy, exercise, etc.  I wear flip flops often because I am unable to bend down to put on or tie my shoes without severe pain.  I have been mis-shifting my bike which led me to try a smaller boot size, but it was actually me losing the ability to control my foot.  I now have sensations that something is crawling up my leg, but when I look down there is nothing there.  My leg has now begun to tremble and it gives out on me as well.  Never wanting to quit, I went to Houston to give it my best effort.  Throughout practice, I struggled to deal with the pain as well as frustration from the limits my body has placed on me.  I pushed myself during the Heat race and felt horrible afterwards.  In the Main, it was evident that it was not safe for myself or the other racers to have me on the track.  Mitch, Dr. Navarro and I spoke after the race and it was decided that I should move my surgery up and allow me to be able to recover from my back issue sooner, allowing me to focus on a strong future rather than continuing to struggle through this current season.

I feel gutted having to pull out of the series knowing how much work goes into my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team.  This opportunity has been a dream come true for me considering at one point in my career I was forced to split and sell firewood to make ends meet.  I told Mitch when he signed me that I will not be sidelined by broken bones as I have raced three days after having collarbone surgery and five days after having ankle surgery in the past.  However, it is difficult to not feel like I have let my team down.  Every member of the team from the crew at the shop to the race team work so hard each day and I will be thinking of them as I do my part to get back to being able to make their efforts pay off. 

I want to say thank you to my team and sponsors for their continued support.  My fans have been awesome and are one of the reasons I pushed so hard to continue to be at the races.  I’d like to congratulate Cooper on his championship.  I want to thank my doctors and staff including Dr. Navarro, Nataly & Amanda who worked so hard to get me through as long as possible.  A heartfelt thank you to my Queen and future wife, Bradi for all that she does to get me through everyday, it’s always an adventure!

Thanks for reading,

TB911

Pat Smage Kicks off 2015 Aires US MotoTrials Series With Double Win In Texas

Seven-time champ Pat Smage took a double win at the Aires US National MotoTrials Series Opener In Texas. Photo By Shan Moore
Cody Webb went 2-3 on his new Montesa Cota 4RT 260. Photo By Shan Moore
Young Gun Andrew Putt finished third on Sunday. Photo By Shan Moore
Second year Pro Bryan Roper beat out Webb for second on Sunday. Photo By Shan Moore

Pat Smage took a giant step forward towards an eighth national Aires US MotoTrials National title this weekend by taking a double win at the two-day opener near Amarillo, Texas. The event was held on a 12,000-acre ranch which houses the second largest canyon in the US and most of the sections were at the bottom of an eight-mile loop that ran through the canyon.

Smage jumped out to a big lead early on lap one of Saturday’s event and never looked back, and even cleaned the entire final lap for a score of 3 for the win and will be looking to add to his lead at this coming weekend’s rounds 3 and 4 near Kingman, Arizona.

Also riding this weekend’s round will be defending AMA EnduroCross Series champion Cody Webb, who is riding the new Montesa Cota 4RT 260. Webb finished second last Saturday but then slipped to third behind up-and-comer Bryan Roper on Sunday. However, look for Webb to improve as the season carries on since he got his new bike just a day before the Texas event.

Pushing Smage and Webb this year will be a bevy of Young Guns, including Sherco USA’s Bryan Roper (who will be basically riding in his back yard this weekend since he’s from Arizona), Sherco USA’S Andrew Putt (who will be travelling to Europe with Roper this year to gain experience), Gas Gas-mounted rookie Pro Alex Niederer from Austria via Florida, plus third in the national standings last year, Logan Bolopue, on another Sherco USA-backed stead. Bolopue is still recovering from a severe back injury but is expected to be back to his full abilities by mid-season.

If you’d like a chance to see the most skilled competitors in the USA at riding a motorcycle over insanely impossible terrain, then you need be to in Arizona this weekend where you will see Smage, Webb, Putt, Niederer, Andrew Oldar, Bolopue, Daniel Blanc-Gonnet and a host of other riders.

The event will be located at Hualapai Mountain Park, 6250 Hualapai Mountain Road, Kingman, AZ 86401

Please call Mary @ 928.681.5700 between Wed-Sun 10am to 5pm to coordinate available Cabin Rentals, Camping Spots or Full Hookup RV spot reservations. http://www.mcparks.com/parks/hualapai-mtn-park/

For more information on the event, please go to www.mototrials.com and click on the 2015/2016 Event Information tab and then go to "AZ Event Info".

Here are the results from last weekend’s round in Texas

Results

Round One

1. Pat Smage (Shr) 3

2. Cody Webb (Mon) 24

3. Andrew Putt (Shr) 27

4. Bryan Roper (Shr) 36

5. Alex Niederer (GG) 45

6. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 52

7. Shad Petersen (Bet) 159

Round Two

1. Pat Smage (Shr) 2

2. Bryan Roper (Shr) 13

3. Cody Webb (Mon) 17

4. Bryan Putt (Shr) 19

5. Logan Bolopue (Shr) 49

6. Alex Niederer (Bet)  53

7. Shad Petersen (GG)  112

Kailub Russell Remains Undefeated In GNCC Series

Kailub Russell claimed his fourth consecutive overall win at the Big Buck GNCC. Photo Courtesy GNCC/Ken Hill

Kailub Russell remained undefeated in the Grand National Cross Country Series when he claimed the overall win at the Big Buck GNCC from start to finish, the FMF/KTM rider’s four-straight win of the season.

Russell grabbed the holeshot to start the race and never looked back, although he did have a couple crashes.

“I crashed on the opening lap in a pretty fast section but was able to recover quickly and didn’t’ lose the lead,” said Russell.

A few laps later just 50 yards from the first crash spot, Russell hit the ground again. “This time I kind of lawn-darted myself into a tree and that one hurt. I still managed to get going without losing my lead but I had to charge hard throughout the remaining laps to put a gap on the field again,” he said

After six laps of racing, Russell finished the three-hour race just short of a minute ahead of Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna's Josh Strang. Russell now holds a 20 point lead in the championship point standings. —Shan Moore

Vaughn Wilk Is First-time Winner At AMA West Hare Scrambles

Though he’d never finished on the Pro podium at major event before, Vaughn Wilk was determined to win the Shasta Dam GP after nearly winning last year but throwing it away on the last lap. No such trouble this year. Despite a so-so start, he picked off the competition steadily through the first half until in front and then controlled the race from there to the end. Photo By Mark Kariya
Joey Fiasconaro has been the scourge of the FMF 250cc Pro division so far this season, but he may have provided a preview of things to come as he not only led that class from start to finish for the fourth time this year, he also led overall for the first half of the race, eventually settling for second overall. Photo By Mark Kariya
Points leader and round-two winner Cory Graffunder got the holeshot and led the early going but didn’t feel comfortable on the fast, rocky fire roads at the speeds Wilk and Fiasconaro were going so he settled for a solid third. More important, he beat his closest rivals in the points chase, adding more to his series points lead. Photo By Mark Kariya
A growing number of minis and women riders came out to the very scenic Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, continuing a trend of steadily increasing popularity of the series. Photo By Mark Kariya

Vaughn Wilk became the fourth different winner this season as the Kenda/SRT AMA West Hare Scrambles Championship Series hit its halfway point with round four at Lake Shasta, California, the Redding Dirt Riders Shasta Dam Grand Prix. Making it even sweeter, the Northern Californian had never podiumed before earning his first major Pro-level victory.

“I just got my first Pro win of any kind at the District race two weeks ago,” Wilk said. “I almost won this race last year and I kind of threw it away on the last lap so I felt really motivated .”

But Wilk and his Valli Construction YZ450F first had to find a way past fellow D-36 racer Joey Fiasconaro and his Sierra Motorsports KTM 250 XC who’d passed holeshot winner and current series points leader Cory Graffunder about 30 minutes into the race. After leading the first two 20-mile laps, Fiasconaro began to tire and left the door open for Wilk, but Fiasconaro still held a solid second place overall the remaining two laps, keeping his record of FMF 250cc Pro wins perfect so far this season.

SRT KTM 300 XC-mounted Graffunder earned his fourth podium this season and, more importantly, finished ahead of his two closest rivals in the championship to add a few more points to his lead. FMF/Maxxis/RPM Racing KTM’s Travis Coy, second in points, finished fourth on the day—his first time off the box this season—while Purvines Racing Beta’s Nick Burson—who’s third in points—couldn’t duplicate his winning round-three ride and claimed fifth for the day.

However, three of the four remaining rounds lean decidedly toward a faster, desert flavor; with only Oregon’s Funky Chicken a real woods race. Theoretically, both Coy and and Burson could find that to work in their favor, and now Wilk and even Fiasconaro—among others—must be viewed as legitimate threats for race wins so the championship is far from settled.

In rally news, after a tremendously successful Dakar where she finished ninth overall, Laia Sanz has left Team HRC to become the first female rider on the official KTM Factory Rally Team as well as its representative in the FIM Enduro World Championship's Women's class where she is the three-time and defending champ. Sanz, of course, comes from a trials background and won the women's world championship in that discipline 13 times before adding the EWC tour to her calendar, though that consists of only eight rounds contested on four weekends, all in Europe.—Mark Kariya

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