PICKERINGTON, Ohio (June 6, 2006) -- It took Ricky Carmichael two-and-a-half years to build the longest winning streak in AMA Motocross history, and after losing his first overall following a 27-race winning streak, it took Carmichael exactly one week to return to his winning ways last week in Mt. Morris. Pa. As the series moves to the grueling Motocross 338 circuit in Southwick, Mass., on Sunday June 11, Carmichael has taken back the lead in the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
Kawasaki’s James Stewart showed blazing speed and took victory in the series opener on May 21 in Sacramento. His win made him the first rider other than Carmichael to lead the AMA Motocross Championship point standings in five years. But that speed came at a cost as Stewart suffered a hard crash at Mt. Morris, resulting in a concussion. He dropped from first to seventh in the series standings after scoring no points in round two. Stewart hopes to return to action at Southwick.
While Stewart had problems, Carmichael continued his uncanny consistency and pace en route to winning Mt. Morris and earning back the series lead. He genuinely seemed to regret the fact that Stewart toppled out of their last battle.
“I felt bad for James,” Carmichael said. “We were having a great race and I hated to see him crash like that. It was a nasty place to go down. There is only a certain speed that you can go, and I think we are on that limit.”
“The pressure is off a little bit in the point standings,” Carmichael admitted. “But the championship is not over by any means. We have a long series to go and I’m sure James is going to come back strong. I still have goals and want to win as many races as I can.”
Carmichael has announced that this will be his last full-time season on the circuit. The 26-year-old Floridian is nearly unbeatable on the sandy Motocross 338 course. He’s won eight of the nine nationals (including the Motocross Lites class) at Southwick since turning full-time pro in 1997.
Young Mike Alessi leads the AMA Motocross Lites class after two rounds. The Red Bull KTM rider from California, who just turned 18 a few weeks ago, won the series opener and was third in round two. Alessi holds a narrow eight point lead over 17-year-old Ryan Villopoto, who won last week in Pennsylvania. Josh Grant, 19, has been consistent; taking fourth and second respectively in the first two rounds, and is a close third in the standings.
That sets up an early three-way battle for the Motocross Lites lead between three riders, all under 20.
Alessi is trying to play a smart strategy in this year’s championship chase.
“My goal is to just be consistent,” said Alessi, who says this is his final season in the support class. “There are 15 riders who can win in the class and I would guess there are going to be a lot of different winners this season. So the key is to be in the top four or so every moto and so far I’ve been pretty close to accomplishing that goal.”
Grant Langston may have the inside line on getting back in the thick of the championship battle at Southwick. The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider from South Africa is the defending race winner and is riding in spite of having a wrist injury.
Southwick is considered by many to be the toughest track on the AMA Toyota Motocross calendar. The smooth sandy surface becomes a rutted obstacle curse after practice and qualifying. Only the fittest of riders have the opportunity to win on the energy sapping track.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of AMA Motocross at Southwick. The picturesque town first hosted an outdoor national in 1976. Holland’s Pierre Karsmakers won the inaugural event that year on a Honda.
The Southwick National will air on OLN on Saturday, June 17 at 6:00 pm EST. The Motocross Lites class will be shown on Monday, June 19 at 5:00 pm eastern. Go to www.olntv.com to register for email reminders of the shows.
WHERE: Motocross 338, located on 46 Powdermill Road, Southwick, MA. Follow Rt 57 west for 10.5 miles. Turn left at middle school on to Powder Mill Rd. Track is 0.4 miles on left. Look for American Legion Post 338 sign.
WHEN: June 10-11, 2006
COURSE: 1.3 miles (approx), sandy loam.
2005 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki). AMA Motocross Lites: Grant Langston (Kawasaki).
SCHEDULE: Saturday (June 10) - Pro practice, 1:00-3:25 pm., Pre-qualifiers 3:45 pm.; Sunday (June 11) - Practice, 9:00-10:30 am. Qualifying, 10:45 am. Opening Ceremonies, 12:30 pm. Final events start at 1:00 pm with two 30-minute, plus two lap motos for each class.
TICKETS: Saturday: Includes Sunday admission Adult: $40.00. Sunday Only: Adult: $30.00; RAIN OR SHINE, Cash Only. NO personal checks or credit cards are accepted, Child Under 6: FREE - must be accompanied with adult.; Sunday Parking: Located at Recreation Center and School Grounds Area. $10.00 donation to Parents School and Youth Sport Activities.