The 31st Annual Kawasaki/Monster Energy Pro Motocross National on May 26-27 at High Point Raceway is round two of AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF. Round one last Sunday in Sacramento, Calif., produced one of the greatest man-to-man battles ever seen in AMA Motocross. Both Carmichael and Stewart pushed it to the limit in the season opener, but it was the relentless Carmichael who came through with 2-1 moto finishes to score the first win of the season.
Carmichael will be looking to earn his sixth consecutive national win at Mt. Morris aboard his Makita Suzuki. Stewart is seeking his first at the track since taking a popular victory in the Lites class in 2004.
Carmichael is only racing a partial series schedule this season and has a new perspective coming into this year’s series.
“I’m a fan now that I’m part-time,” Carmichael said. “It’s not fun to watch a race when there’s no one racing out there. But there’ll be good racing next week at High Point. They have epic fans there at Mt. Morris and whatever happens, it’s going to be good racing.”
Carmichael spoke about the pace he and Stewart are setting as well as the consequences.
“Obviously as you guys saw [at Hangtown]… we had an insurmountable lead on third place. When you’re riding that fast and you don’t feel comfortable stuff like that [crashes] happens.”
Stewart took the first moto of 2007 on his Monster Energy Kawasaki, but a crash in the second moto relegated him to fourth giving him second overall. In spite of finishing the weekend a little frayed, Stewart’s overall outlook remains positive coming into Mt. Morris.
“I thought I rode pretty well,” Stewart said after finishing second last week. “I’ve definitely improved my game a lot from last year to this year. Unfortunately I didn’t have the right set up. The track got rougher and we had to make adjustments and went the wrong way. After my crash I didn’t have a front brake, but I was able to ride it out.”
While Carmichael and Stewart renew their battle this Sunday, a host of other riders in the Motocross class hope to step up and challenge the top two riders. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tim Ferry continued his tremendous comeback earning his first motocross podium overall finish in nearly four years. Honda’s Davi Millsaps scored an impressive fourth with the highlight of finishing runner up to Carmichael in the second moto. Yamaha’s Grant Langston comes to Mt. Morris ranked fifth after a solid outing in the opener.
David Vuillemin joins Carmichael as a former High Point National winner. The Frenchman is ranked 10th in the standings.
The expected battle in Motocross Lites between Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ben Townley and Ryan Villopoto came to fruition in the season opener.
Townley, a former World Champion, won his first AMA Motocross event. It was a triumphant return for the New Zealander who missed most of last season due to injury.
“This start is a lot better than last year and it makes it that much sweeter to win,” Townley said after winning in California.
Townley said he expects his teammate and defending series champ to come back strong in Mt. Morris.
“He hasn’t got the No. 1 plate on his bike for nothing,” Townley said. “He’s a strong racer and will be tough to beat all year.”
Villopoto finished second overall to Townley in Sacramento last week, but since he went 1-2 in the moto finishes he’s actually tied for the top spot in the Lites standings coming into this Sunday’s race.
“I was making mistakes and bad line choices,” said the Lites champ of last week’s race. “I’m going home and working hard to get ready for Mt. Morris. I like that track. I think it’s better for me.”
Villopoto won last year’s Lites race at Mt. Morris.
Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey proved he’ll be a contender with a solid third overall last weekend.
“It was a big step, coming up from the amateurs,” he said. “I learned a lot last year when I raced the last four races and I really struggled. But I learned what it takes – it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I’ve been working hard lately and it’s paying off. I knew I could get on the box if I got a good start on my Makita Suzuki RM-Z250. So it wasn’t a complete surprise to be on the box and it was good to get third.”
This year marks the 30th anniversary for the Mt. Morris event. It was first held in 1977 with Tony DiStefano earning the win on a Suzuki.
Both the Motocross and Lites Nationals from High Point will be televised on SPEED. The Motocross class will air on June 10 at 6:00 pm Eastern. Lites will be shown on June 5 at 3:00 pm Eastern.
Tickets are still available. Visit www.highpointmx.com for additional information.
WHAT: 31st Annual Kawasaki/Monster Energy Pro Motocross National, round two of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF.
WHERE: High Point Raceway, located just north of Morgantown, W. Va., take I-79 to Exit 1 (Mount Morris) then go east 3 miles to the gate.
WHEN: May 27, 2007
COURSE: 1.2 miles (approx), hard pack dirt and clay.
2006 WINNERS: AMA Motocross: Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki). AMA Motocross Lites: Ryan Villopoto (Kawasaki).
SCHEDULE: Saturday — Pro timed qualifying, 1:00-4:35 pm., Lites Consolation Race 4:45 pm; Sunday — Pro Motocross Consolation Race 9:15 am. Qualifying 10:00 am. Opening Ceremonies begin at 12:30 pm with final events beginning at 1 pm.