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Kawasaki's Monday Race Report

It proved nothing. So get your tickets to Anaheim.

The rematch of the Toronto Supercross, starring Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, came at round two of the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP at the BC Place in Vancouver. After a week of wondering if Kawasaki’s Stewart did or did not “toy” with Makita Suzuki’s Carmichael during his win in Toronto, the two Florida superstars were ready to get it on again here. Unfortunately, no one was able to prove anything this time, as Stewart jetted off with a good start and the early lead, while Carmichael got a bad start and had to work his way up. It was the classic supercross/motocross formula, as by the time RC was into second, Stewart already had an eight-second lead, and at best Ricky was only able to match the pace, but not chop off seconds per lap like he needed to. Even after slowing on the final laps and doing some showboating, Stewart won by 7.4 seconds. At one point his lead was nearly 12 seconds, but late in the race Carmichael closed back in.

You can try to read into all of this thinking who is faster or what would have happened if Ricky had gotten off of the gate, but basically it’s all up for discussion, and we won’t have any real answers until Anaheim 1 on January 7th.

Chad Reed finished third for the second race in a row. He looked much, much faster than his rusty performance last weekend, and he even set the fastest time in the first practice session. Reed was especially fast in a nasty set of whoops, as he was skimming the top on his YZ450F while everyone else was jumping through the section. But then in the second practice, Reed crashed in that whoop section and got up slowly. He walked off with a limp, and was noticeably slower in the main. Reed said his knee was sore, which is never a good sign. In fact, he even had trouble just climbing onto the platform for the press conference. Chad has three weeks to get better and Dr. Jeff Spencer on his side. He should be okay.

Once again fourth went to Makita Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco, under the radar as always. David Vuillemin looked fast on his BooKoo Honda CR250, putting in fast practice laps and running strong early in the main. But he faded back a bit and finished sixth, with Kawasaki’s Mike Byrne finishing fifth, one better than his showing last weekend.

Stewart had the fastest lap times in the second practice session on Saturday, but Carmichael raised the bar and put in a lap just a hair faster in his heat race. But Carmichael hasn’t gotten good starts in both heats and mains this season on his Makita Suzuki RM-Z450, which he said is a surprise since he started well at the U.S. Open. This time Ricky said he got a good jump but then wheelied a bit.

Carmichael is not worried yet. He said he had a game plan for the main, but he couldn’t use it due to the bad start. He also said he has a set training regimen, and it is based around him peaking in January, not December. And he’s not going to deviate from that plan one bit. Ricky said the training is based around surviving the grueling 13-week straight schedule that comes up beginning with Anaheim. So there are a lot of factors at play here.

On Stewart’s side, he said he’s just going to keep on working. Whatever he is doing, it’s working right now, because he was super fast early in the main, and he looks very smooth and comfortable on the Kawasaki KX450F. After Kyle Lewis grabbed the holeshot on his Unbound Energy Moto XXX Honda, Stewart got around him and had a 3.5 second lead on the first lap. From there, he had complete control of the race.

But does he have control of the series? Too early to tell.

In the Supercross Lites, Red Bull KTM’s Nathan Ramsey had control of the first turn and got away, with Sobe/Samsung Honda’s Billy Laninovich in tow. Honda’s Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps had won the heat races, but they both started poorly, especially Millsaps, who must have been 15th or so. That’s a bad start even based on his low standards.

But Millsaps was hauling, and he made up major time – of course – through the whoops. He would catch and pass Laninovich, but Ramsey ran a solid race. Millsaps was hanging it out and making up time when his lines came together, but then other times he would make mistakes and lose time. Ramsey rode like the veteran he is, rarely wavering, staying solid, and winning the race. Millsaps said he felt much better than he did in Toronto even though he won that race. And believe it or not, the only riders faster than ‘Saps in the final Saturday practice session were Stewart and Carmichael, although Reed was out of that one with the crash.

Ryan Sipes took fourth in a brilliant ride on the WBR Yoshimura Suzuki, and he was right in there with the big names all weekend in speed. Sipes will be a contender this year. Short was a disappointing fifth, as he just couldn’t move through the pack like Millsaps, and couldn’t close the gap on Sipes down the stretch.

Enjoy the holidays, folks. Someone has to, because you can bet Ricky, James and Chad will be working hard right through them.

See you in Anaheim.

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