AURORA, Ill.- As the Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp'd Mobile AMA
Supercross Series prepares to make its annual visit to Southern
California on Jan. 7 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the sport's top teams
and riders are using the final two weeks of the year to make last
minute adjustments and preparations.
The Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP kicked off earlier this month with back-to-back races north of the border in Toronto and Canada, where the trio of Ricky Carmichael, Chad Reed and James Stewart renewed their heated rivalries. Although Stewart walked away with a clean sweep of the Canadian rounds after winning convincingly ahead of Carmichael and Reed, the Kawasaki rider admits it was only "a good start to a long season."
"There are two races down and 16 more to go if I'm to reach my goal," explained Stewart, who enters his second season of racing in the AMA Supercross division, formerly known as the 250 class. "I really learned a lot last season with everything that I went through. I know that I'll need to be consistent as well as fast to win this championship."
If Stewart is to reach his goal of winning his first supercross championship, Kawasaki teammate Michael Byrne, who, like Stewart, will ride the Kawasaki 450. Byrne showed he could ride the big bike at the US Open in October where he challenged Carmichael for most of the weekend and wound up finishing second overall.
Carmichael is fresh off one of the most successful seasons in 34-year history of the sport. He claimed just about everything there is to win in a supercross/motocross season, including the World Championship; AMA Supercross Championship; AMA Motocross Championship; was the leading force in Team USA's win at the Motocross Des Nations; and picked up the overall win at the US Open. He has racked up a record 14 AMA championships and is poised for a run at number 15. After running the entire season in 2005 as the lone rider out of the Suzuki pit, Carmichael will get some support from rookie Ivan Tedesco, the two-time reigning 125 Western Region champion. Tedesco showed great speed in Canada and will join Carmichael in racing Suzuki's four-stroke bike.
Although Reed did not win either of the opening rounds thus far this season, there is no reason for alarm from the Yamaha camp, as their former supercross champ is a perennial slow starter who last year nearly overcame a huge early-season deficit to Carmichael with a late-season charge. Reed will be joined by Heath Voss, the 2004 World Supercross GP champion, and the two are expected to campaign the Yamaha 450.
Kevin Windham was expected to be the top contender out of the Honda stable but a recent broken arm put him off the bike for at least a couple months and out of the championship hunt. Honda will now look to veterans Ernesto Fonseca, aboard a factory-prepped Honda 450 and Mike LaRocco, who rides a 250 two stroke for the factory-backed Factory Connection team, to lead the charge. David Vuillemin makes the switch to the BooKoo Honda team for 2006 and is expected to ride one of the only 250 two-stroke bikes in the field.
Seven-time supercross champion Jeremy McGrath will contend a limited schedule on a Honda. He is scheduled to compete at the three Anaheim rounds, Phoenix, San Francisco and San Diego.
Other teams/riders that will contend for the title include: Tyler Evans and Mike Brown competing for Rockstar Suzuki; Tim Ferry, Kyle Lewis and Juss Laansso with Moto XXX; Jason Thomas, Jeff Gibson, and Keith Johnson for Subway Honda; Jiri Dostal, Clark Stiles, Brian Mason, and Jake Marsack for Team So Cal; Nick Wey of MDK Honda; Erick Vallejo and Jacob Saylor with Tamer Motorsports; Forrest Butler, Karsten Butler, Brandon Butler, Doug DeHaan, and Cole Siebler of Champion's Honda; and Daton Beavers with Rolcomm Racing.
"This is one of the deepest fields in recent history," said Todd Jendro, sr. director of supercross for Clear Channel Entertainment's Motor Sports Division. "We literally have seven or eight guys that have a legitimate shot to win on any given weekend. They should provide great racing for the fans at each and every round this season."
For more information about the Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series, please log on to www.supercross.cc.com. For media requests, please contact Denny Hartwig at 630-566-6305 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.