The 2006-‘07 Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series is expected to have one of the deepest fields in the sport’s history, with more than 10 riders in the featured AMA Supercross division who have a legitimate shot at winding up on the podium at any given race.
One of the early-season favorites will be fielded out of the Kawasaki stable, where defending Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP champion James Stewart appears poised and ready to stake his claim to not only another Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP title, but his first Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series championship. Supercross veteran Tim Ferry has been added to the team, giving Kawasaki’s factory team a potent one-two punch.
“I know what I want to achieve this year and I’m not looking down the road for that,” said Stewart. “There are a lot of people saying the title is mine to lose. That’s exactly what it is. If I start thinking that, then it is mine to lose. I feel like I’m definitely a lot smarter and I hope that the third year’s the charm.”
Cernic’s Kawasaki riders Paul Carpenter and Jeff Gibson are new to Kawasaki’s AMA Supercross class line-up but will give additional presence on the track and a pair of riders capable of registering consistent top-ten finishes.
Unlike year’s past, Suzuki’s hopes of a title will not rest on the shoulders of Ricky Carmichael, who will only enter a handful of races this season while he turns his attention to a four-wheel career. Although Carmichael will be an obvious threat this weekend in Anaheim, he has handed over the team reigns to Ivan Tedesco, a former AMA Supercross Lites champion, who picked up several top finishes in his rookie season a year ago.
Tedesco, who is questionable for Anaheim after suffering an injury in Toronto in early December, will be joined on the track by WBR Suzuki’s Michael Byrne and Bloodshot Suzuki’s Tyler Evans.
“This is my last race at Anaheim and I’m going to go out there and do my best,” said Carmichael. “We’ve had some good battles, me and James especially, and I’m sure that we’re going to find each other out there on Saturday night. What a great way that would be for us to have a fantastic race to lap 20. It’s what the fans want to see and obviously it’s great for the sport as well.”
Chad Reed opened the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP season with a win in Toronto, giving Yamaha and newly-formed L&M Racing an early indication of his championship plans. His Yamaha teammates, Nathan Ramsey and Grant Langston, will compete alongside Reed and provide a trio of riders capable of running up front.
Last weekend Reed sustained a shoulder injury and his participation for this weekend’s race will be decided on Saturday.
“Chad’s pretty rough right now,” said team manager Larry Brooks. “He fell pretty hard over the weekend. He went over the front of the bike and the bike hit him. We’ll see if he can race. He’s doing everything he can to get better. He has a couple chipped bones and stress crack in his shoulder blade.
“Structurally he can race. Its’ just a matter of if he can take the pain. If anyone can do it he can do it. Everyone’s put a lot of effort into this and he’s not one to just roll over.”
Honda’s AMA Supercross class line up just might be the deepest of any of the manufacturers and is lead by Team Honda’s Davi Millsaps and Factory Connection Honda’s Kevin Windham. Both Millsaps and Windham are expected to produce this season and will counted on to be in the thick of the championship hunt.
“I’m healthy and that’s all I can ask for,” said Windham, who missed most of last year’s Amp’d Mobile Supercross season with a broken arm. “From here on out I’ll continue to try to improve and put myself into a position to win races. It’s a long series and a lot can happen. There are already injuries that people have to face at this point so I want to keep health on my side and keep myself focused.”
The competition in AMA Supercross Lites is expected to be just as tight, with stacked fields expected in both the eight-race AMA Western Region and seven-race Eastern Region championships. Each year the AMA Supercross Lites division blends a unique field that ranges from an emerging group of talented riders with a young crop of new professionals that have recently graduated from the amateur ranks.
Atop the list of returning AMA Supercross Lites riders expected to make a mark this season are KTM’s Mike and Jeff Alessi, Josh Hansen, Zach Osborne and Martin Davalos, who started this season with a win in Toronto. Mike Alessi made a successful debut campaign a year ago and will be counted on to lead the squad in 2007.
Honda is lead by Factory Connection riders Josh Grant, Ryan Sipes, Billy Laninovich and Jake Weimer. After a strong late-season finish a year ago, Grant is poised at a championship run. Team Honda’s Tommy Hahn will make his debut from under the factory tent this year and will by joined later in the season by Andrew Short, who is recovering from ACL surgery and is expected to be out until March or April.
For the first time in years, Team Yamaha will field an AMA Supercross Lites program from within the factory rig. Broc Hepler and Josh Hill will lead the charge, but it will be the experience and promise of Hepler that will be counted on for early results. Yamaha also supports the efforts of Star Racing Yamaha, Yamaha of Troy and Motoworld Racing Yamaha, whose list of riders totals a dozen and features Matt Goerke (Yamaha of Troy), former Lites champion Branden Jesseman (Motoworld Racing Yamaha) and Canadian motocross champ Dusty Klatt (Star Racing Yamaha).
Kawasaki’s AMA Supercross Lites program will again be fielded by Pro Circuit Kawasaki, the winningest AMA Supercross Lites team in the history of the sport. The team will be lead by rising star Ryan Villopoto, who after winning the AMA Motocross Championship last summer, will be among the group of riders at the top of the list of pre-season favorites. Joining Villopoto will be teammates Bret Metcalf, Ben Townley and Chris Gosselaar. Also expected to be a factor is the MotoSport Outlet Kawasaki squad of Steve Boniface, Bobby Kiniry, Kyle Chisholm and Matt Boni.
Suzuki will be well represented in the class as well with first-year pro Ryan Dungey and WBR Suzuki’s Troy Adams, Kelly Smith and Andrew McFarlane. Dungey will ride out of the factory rig of Team Suzuki and will look to improve on his debut performance in Vancouver last December where he finished second.
For more information about the Amp’d Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp’d Mobile AMA Supercross Series, please log on to www.supercrossonline.com. For media requests, please contact Denny Hartwig at 630-566-6305 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.