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450 Words: Glen Helen

At 6:30 in the morning of the 2007 Glen Helen National, I motored north up the 57 freeway towards San Bernardino and looked out the windshield. There was the Big A of Angel Stadium. Down below, I could see the parking lot that served as the pit area for the opening round of the 2007 AMA Supercross Series. The Friday evening before Anaheim ‘07, Grand Langston quietly confided to fellow South African and world and AMA national champion Greg Albertyn that he was struggling to come to terms with his new Yamaha YZ450F. The next evening inside the stadium, Langston went out and ended up on his head in the dirt, his supercross season shot.

GL hoists the #1 plate.

photo: Steve Bruhn

Hoping for a new start in the 2007 AMA Toyota Motocross Championships presented by FMF, Langston also struggled, his average finish in the first seven rounds somewhere just outside the top five. Then everything changed. Ricky Carmichael kept his promise and went into retirement and James Stewart began to hear footsteps, crashing big at Unadilla and throwing 50 points away. Still, at one point, Langston said that the big race was going to be for second overall in points between himself, Andrew Short and Tim Ferry. But then Stewart blew out his knee at Washougal, and it was on! Everyone smelled blood and the race for the prize that was the #1 plate truly began.

Coincidentally, Langston took possession of his new 2008 Yamaha at the end of July and placed second overall at both Washougal and Millville. The he won both Steel City and Freestone in Texas and found himself with an 8-point lead heading into Glen Helen—exactly where I was headed.

Langston had faith in his Yamaha.

photo: Simon Cudby

At 2:15 p.m. yesterday afternoon, an AMA official blew an air horn and the mechanics of Langston, Short, Ferry and Mike Alessi rolled the bikes to the starting gate. Only a handful of points separated the four, and with Kevin Windham and Mike Brown — straight from last Sunday’s MX Grand Prix in Holland — in the mix, there was plenty of potential for chaos and trouble. When the gate dropped, the race was a sort of accordion. As things sorted themselves out, Alessi rode brilliantly at the front, hounded by Windham. Just behind and beginning to collapse in on the leading duo were Short, Ferry and Langston. Then, two-thirds into the moto, both Ferry and Windham had bailed and Langston closed right up on Short. Soon, Langston was past Short, and then at the top of the 2000-foot high Yamaha Hill, Langston dove under Alessi and stole the moto win and, effectively, the championship

Once the 40-rider pack roared around the Talladega turn to begin the final moto of the season, for Langston, it was nothing more then a case of hanging on for 30-minutes-plus-two laps. He did that easily to place third behind Windham and Alessi, and in doing so won both the Glen Helen overall and his first AMA Motocross Championship. Yamaha must be glad they had as much faith in this motocross rider as he had in them—especially after the way that season started for both.
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