Tomac Charges, Blazusiak Rallies and OHV Goes To College! - The Weekly Dirt: July 18th, 2012

The 2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, heads back to Washougal, Wash., this weekend for the 32nd time. Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey hopes to capture his sixth consecutive win of the 2012 season at Washougal, although he currently has an 80 point lead and could just ride around doing heel-clickers all weekend if he felt like it. MotoConcepts Suzuki's Mike Alessi continues to turn in strong rides and has put his privateer team in second in the 450 Class standings. Fans were bummed to see Nick Wey dislocate a hip last weekend in Millville—adding to an already too-long roster of injured racers—but it seems that the saving grace of Lucas Oil Motocross has been the 250 Class.

Blake Baggett - Photo by Shan Moore.

Last weekend, GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac captured his third overall win of the season, ending a recent string of dominance by points leader and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Blake Baggett. Baggett was in position to secure his fourth win of the summer at Spring Creek, but a crash while leading ultimately allowed Tomac the opportunity to capitalize, while also costing Baggett some points in the championship. Although he rebounded to finish third, Baggett will be looking to make up for the ground he lost to Tomac's GEICO Honda teammate Justin Barcia (who sits second in the overall points) and German speedster Ken Roczen, who is holding down four just behind Tomac. These four racers are making a breakaway of sorts from the rest of the pack (sorry, I've been watching a lot of Tour de France on TV lately), but there are a lot of races left and anything can happen. The Peterson CAT Washougal National will feature live broadcast coverage of the first 450 and 250 Class motos on FUEL TV and AlliSports.com, beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern. Same day coverage of the final 450 Class moto can be seen on NBC Sports Network at 11 p.m. Eastern, while the second 250 Class moto will air Sunday on NBC Sports Network at 11 a.m. Eastern.

Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship—Current Standings

450 Class Championship Standings

1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 336

2. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 256

3. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki, 244

4. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, Honda, 209

5. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Kawasaki, 187

6. Justin Brayton, Ft. Dodge, Iowa, Honda, 167

7. James Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Suzuki, 151

8. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Kawasaki, 150

9. Brett Metcalfe, Mannum, Australia, Suzuki, 142

10. Kyle Chisholm, Valrico, Fla., Kawasaki, 113

Ken Roczen - Photo by Shan Moore.

250 Class Championship Standings

1. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki, 315

2. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda, 297

3. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda, 281

4. Ken Roczen, Apolda, Germany, KTM, 273

5. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM, 218

6. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda, 191

7. Blake Wharton, Pilot Point, Texas, Suzuki, 156

8. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M, Suzuki, 145

9. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda, 128

10. Jake Canada, Sun City, Calif., Honda, 125

Trey Canard - Photo by Rodney Webb.

Looking ahead to the Monster Energy/ FIM Motocross of Nations in September, our homegrown U.S. squad may be at a disadvantage with guys like Ryan Villopoto, Trey Canard and Kevin Windham still out and recovering from injuries. There are a host of fast racers who can round out the team, but the question is who should they be? Personally, if I was MXoN team manager Roger DeCoster, I'd definitely have Ryan Dungey on my squad for MXoN—that's a no-brainer. Eli Tomac would be an epic pick for the 250F, simply because he's a proven performer who has shown a lot of fitness and maturity lately, both of which are paramount to a solid finish on the world stage. My final pick? Ricky Carmichael. Rumor has it that RC is training like a madman for Loretta Lynn's, so you know the guy is in somewhat decent shape. And I think even the European fans would be pumped to see the GOAT back on the track and holding it wide!

Dirt Rider Associate Editor Pete Peterson has a similar pick: Baggett deserves the ride, but I would pick Dungey, Barcia, and Tomac. Roger has Dungey's attention, and the Factory Connection boys seem to be able to ride full speed while playing nice with each other. With Baggett and another 250F guy, you have the factor of no one wanting to give up any confidence to their competitors. Somehow I see Tomac or Barcia more willing to race for the team high-five rather than pushing too hard to get an edge on a competitor. Andrew Short would be another good bet, but I think we're all watching the 250F guys this season more than the 450 class, so let's keep the excitement going with the MXdN."

DR tech helper Scot Gustafson offered yet another interesting perspective: “Dungey and Baggett are a given but the 3rd rider is not. Normally, we would take the 2nd placed 450 rider as the MX3 pick and that would be Alessi. I would say no to the Alessi pick, not because of the Tony and Mike show, but because they are on an unknown privateer bike. Even though Weimer has experience at the MXDN, I would choose Barcia. Unlike Alessi and Weimer, he has won races this year, has Jeff Stanton in his corner, and has won on a 450 in 2011 at Southwick, and Lommel is a sand track.” Gustafson brings up a great point about the conditions the team will meet in Belgium, but perhaps the deepest insight from the DR staff came from Senior Editor Adam Booth, who claims that we should definitely “send Barcia and his mustache to dominate the world!” I don’t even know what that means!

Kris Keefer - Photo by Adam Campbell.

MXNecessity posted a very cool interview this week with Dirt Rider test rider Kris Keefer. Having been with the brand for over 10 years, Keefer is one of the main reasons why the testing at DR is so thorough, and his experience and knowledge within the sport make him a hugely valuable asset to the team. The interview captures much of Keefer's background as an aspiring test rider, as well as some insight into his motivation as a racer. You can check it out here: http://mxnecessity.com/story/all/catching-up-with-kris-keefer

Ben Rego - Photo by Charla Cuthbertson.

Up North, the final two rounds of the Royal Distributing Canadian Enduro Championships ran in Race Horse Creek, AB this past weekend with Ben Rego taking home the win over CGRT teammate Shane Cuthbertson. This result earned Ben the E3 2012 Canadian Enduro Championship, which is Husaberg's first Canadian National title. "Ben has been riding very well and on a high since his invitation to the X Games and subsequent trip to LA," said Team Manager Lee Fryberger. "His confidence is very evident, as his riding style has shown marked improvement and his results are indicative of that. I couldn't be happier as a team manager." You can follow the CGRT squad on Facebook at Corner Grass Racing Team. —Chris Denison

Taddy Blazusiak - Photo courtesy of KTM.

In the off-road world, some of the stars of the AMA/ GEICO EnduroCross series are enjoying what is considered to be their summer vacation. With a sizeable break in the US EnduroCross schedule (the next round is September 15th in Ontario), defending champion Taddy Blazusiak is going to compete in the Desafio Litoral rally in Argentina, a very different event to what he specializes in. Taddy’s first ever rally adventure begins July 23rd with the six-day race linking together the Argentinean provinces of Misiones, Corrientes and Chaco. It will be more than 1,600 kilometers of challenging and picturesque countryside. Taddy will be teaming up with KTM teammate Cyril Despres and plans to ride a 450cc KTM rally bike, a production-based machine similar to the one Johnny Aubert raced during this year’s Dakar. After his first rally Blazusiak will compete in the sixth round of the Enduro World Championship, the GP of Sweden and then may also race in the GP of Finland. How’s that for a summer break?

"I don't have any plans to race the Dakar anytime soon," Blazusiak said, "It looks like it will be an amazing week, full of new challenges, exciting scenery, and lots of motorcycling first for me. The biggest challenge will be using the road book, which I know will take some time to learn. This is all about having some fun and keeping myself on two wheels. I've spent some time with Cyril Despres learning the basics of using a road book, as well as generally getting used to riding the bigger bike. Its amazing so easy race it's unbelievable. It's just like a 450cc enduro bike with navigational gear. The little time I've spent on the bikes been great fun." Stay tuned to www.dirtrider.com for updates on Blazusiak's wild season. —Adam Booth

Photo courtesy of KTM.

Speaking of KTM, the orange brand is proud to announce the launch of its new 2013 SX model-line digital brochure. Visit www.ktm.com/mx2013 to check it out.

Photo by Chris Denison.

In cool news from the education sector, scholarships are now available for OHV recreation management courses at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The fall semester OHV Recreation Management courses are PLS 450/550: Introduction to Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation; and PLS 452/552: Construction of OHV Trail Systems. The information in these courses can be invaluable for both agency personnel as well as the enthusiasts. The winner of the scholarship will be able to choose 1 of the 2 offered courses for this fall's semester.

This semester’s scholarship is being offered by the Right Rider Access Fund. The scholarship is being administered by the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council. The applications are due in the NOHVCC office on August 3rd. NOHVCC will review the applications and choose a winner in the shortest amount of time possible. Fall courses begin August 27th.

Information about all 4 courses, including how to register for the courses is on the NOHVCC website at: www.nohvcc.org/Education/MarshallU.aspx. For more information regarding the scholarship or to receive an application, contact NOHVCC staff at trailhead@nohvcc.org. Also, contact NOHVCC if your organization is interested in providing a scholarship for future courses or semesters. —Jimmy Lewis

That's a wrap for this week. As usual, keep it on two wheels and stay tuned to www.dirtrider.com for more breaking news, stories and info!