Kawasaki/Racer X Race ReportSunday, July 23, 2006 | 10:23 PM
In this article…
- Ricky Carmichael
- Andrew Short
- James Stewart
- Ryan Villopoto
- Chad Reed
- Davi Millsaps
- Kevin Windham
- Tim Ferry
- Broc Hepler
- Mike Alessi
The similarities between Ricky Carmichael and Ryan Villopoto keep getting more obvious. Now it’s not just their red hair and short stature, or the fact that they both began their career with the Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team or both chug Monster Energy Drink on the podium. It doesn’t even end with their obsession with turning the throttle wide open all the time. Now it has spilled over onto their results, as both riders are dominating their respective classes week after week in the AMA/Toyota Motocross Series.
In fact, Villopoto is becoming almost too good at his Carmichael impression. At this weekend’s Toyota National presented by Red Bull at Thunder Valley in Lakewood Colorado, Villopoto actually seemed more dominant than Carmichael, if that’s even possible.
How did it all happen? In the 450 class, Davi Millsaps has now become a holeshot artist, which is impressive since Davi was considered, “least likely to become a holeshot artist” in his 250F days. But now Davi’s on a CRF450 and he pulled the first moto holeshot, taking his third straight Racer X Holeshot award. Meanwhile Carmichael was buried way, way in the back. Apparently the gate flinched and Ricky almost hit it, and then he grabbed the brakes and found himself sitting there when the gate actually hit the ground. In addition, Stewart and Chad Reed were buried in the back early as well.
Stewart eventually worked his way to the front and ended up passing Millsaps. But Millsaps hung tough and almost got him back at the end. Windham was up and down for the whole moto. Reed stayed in fifth the whole time, but then he fell on the last lap and couldn’t start his bike. He ended up with a DNF, but that counted as 16th since he had lapped far up into the field.
Anyway, it turned out the explanation for all of the strange happenings of the moto broke down to altitude. All the 450s were running hot and sputtering and stuttering, but that actually led to great racing since the riders would charge for a few laps and then slow the pace.
In moto two Millsaps nearly got his fourth-straight $500 holeshot, but privateer Kyle Mace snuck to the inside and just got the money. Kyle Mace! Soon Millsaps was into the lead again, but it wasn’t long before Carmichael was there to take the lead and leave.
Millsaps corrected him to say that he’s 186 pounds.
Millsaps held second all the way, surviving challenges from Reed, Stewart and Windham.
“I don’t know, I was just running my pace, doing 2:20s,” said Millsaps. “That was a good pace for me, and I didn’t get tired. I just kept running the same lines and hoping they would fall off.” Then he laughed like he always does,
Meanwhile Reed held on for third in the moto. He’s still ailing with a bad knee, but he’s grinding it out and trying to preserve second in the standings.
Windham got passed by Stewart, but then he passed Stewart back. He was fading big time down the stretch and Tim Ferry nearly gobbled James up before the finish. Stewart’s 2-4 was good enough for third overall, but he didn’t even have the energy to go to the podium or the post-race press conference.
Carmichael has a huge lead in the series of course and he’s got all the momentum you could possibly have.
Short admitted the jitters of the local race nearly did him in. “I think I was a little too excited out there, I made way too many mistakes in the first half of the moto,” said Short.
Short was ready to fix that problem in the second moto. Villopoto grabbed the Racer X holeshot money, but Short was right there diving underneath him in turn one. Short was determined to hang onto the kid this time, and suddenly Villopoto lost his front end in a rut and went down. Short was now in the lead and the fans were going crazy!
But then a few turns later, Short stumbled in a corner and Hepler moved into the lead. Short then rode past the mechanic’s area with his arm held up in an “I don’t know what’s wrong here” gesture. And something was wrong, because he only made it about a half of a lap longer before his engine expired. The fans were sunk.
“Ryan’s just going really fast right now,” was all Alessi could say about losing momentum in a title chase that once seemed like it was all his.
Ryan sure is going fast right now. He has that in common with Carmichael.