PICKERINGTON, Ohio (July 18, 2006) -- Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Villopoto are the leaders in their respective classes of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF as the series makes its way to the Toyota Pro Motocross Nationals at Thunder Valley Motocross Park in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, Colo. The July 23 event kicks off the second half of the 12-race championship.
Carmichael, 26, of Havana, Fla., has won five of the six outdoor nationals so far this season riding a Makita Suzuki and is well on his way to earning his seventh straight AMA Motocross Championship. This could be the last appearance for Carmichael in Colorado. Earlier in the season the winningest AMA Motocross racer in history announced that he would race a limited schedule in 2007.
Last Sunday Carmichael dominated the championship round in New Berlin, N.Y, to push his series lead to 44 points over Australian Chad Reed of Team Yamaha. Kevin Windham is a distant third in the series, another 53 points behind Reed.
“I’m looking forward to keeping it going,” Carmichael said of his current winning streak. “I like the track in Colorado. The elevation makes it tough. It’s hard to breathe so you definitely have to be fit and that all plays into my strengths.”
Two of Carmichael’s main rivals, Chad Reed and James Stewart, both suffered crashes last week in New York. Reed soldiered on to finish fourth overall. Stewart did not start. It remains to be seen what the status of both riders will be in Colorado.
“Things are starting to come around,” said Windham, who took over third in the championship last weekend. “Every race we’ve learned something. It took me awhile to get going this year, but we’re moving in the right direction. It feels good.”
Millsaps led both motos last week in the early going and went on to score his third podium result of the year.
While Carmichael’s lead looks secure in the premier class, things are in a state of fluctuation in the AMA Motocross Lites Championship. The victory in New York for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto gave him the series lead for the first time.
“It feels good,” Villopoto said of securing the points lead. “I’ve pretty much been trailing Mike [Alessi] and now I’m up front. I feel it’s my race [for the championship] to lose as long as I can stay consistent.”
As the series moves to Colorado, Villopoto says he’s going to keep things just the way they are. “I’m not going to do anything different. I just want to keep it rolling.”
Alessi dropped to second in the standings as the first half of the season came to a close, but he doesn’t sound terribly upset about his circumstances.
“I had so much pressure to keep the series lead,” admitted the Red Bull KTM rider. “Now it puts a little pressure on him [Villopoto]. It’s going to be a dogfight to the finish. I’m not going to give up. We’ve got six rounds to go and I’ve been picking it up lately and getting into better shape. I plan on coming back strong in Colorado.”
Local fans will be cheering for Honda’s Andrew Short. A native of Colorado, Short grew up racing at Lakewood and has been looking forward to this race all season. “I’ve been there for two weeks [practicing],” Short said. “I love Colorado. Of all the races, I really want to win this one.”
Last year’s Lakewood Motocross Lites winner Ivan Tedesco is racing for Suzuki in the main class now, but will miss this Sunday’s race. He is recovering from shoulder surgery. He hopes to return to action sometime next month.
This Sunday marks the second year of the return of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship to Lakewood. The track hosted nationals in the 1980s. The facility saw major renovations in preparations for last year’s return and it promises to be even better this season.
OLN cameras will be on hand at Lakewood to record the action. The race will air on Saturday, July 29, at 6:00 p.m. eastern. Motocross Lites will broadcast on Monday, July 31, at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
WHAT: Toyota Pro Motocross Nationals at Thunder Valley Motocross Park, round seven of the 12-round AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: Thunder Valley is located 15 minutes west of Denver off I-70.
WHEN: July 22-23, 2006
COURSE: 1.2 miles (approx), hard pack and sand.
2005 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki). AMA Motocross Lites: Ivan Tedesco (Kawasaki).
SCHEDULE: Saturday (July 22) - Pro practice, 1:00-3:25 p.m.., Pre-qualifiers 4:05 p.m.; Sunday (July 23) - Practice, 9:00-10:30 a.m. Qualifying, 10:45 a.m. Opening Ceremonies, 12:30 p.m. Final events start at 1:00 p.m. with two 30-minute, plus two lap motos for each class.
TICKETS: 2-Day VIP ticket allows access to bleacher seating. Adult $60, youth (6-10) $40; 2-Day pass (no seating provided) Adult $40, youth (6-10) $20; Sunday only (no seating provided) Adult $30, youth (6-10) $15.