San Diego SX Notes: Part 2

AURORA, Ill. (February 8, 2008) – Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, of Belle Plaine, Minn., has three races left in the Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites championship to win his first championship. He’s learning that the road to winning a championship is never smooth. He left Anaheim 1 with a three-point lead over Jason Lawrence. He went into Anaheim 2 nine points ahead of Lawrence. Heading into San Francisco, he was 22 points ahead of Broc Hepler. He led Dan Reardon by 19 points heading into Anaheim 3. It was that night in Anaheim, where he crashed a few times that his commanding lead diminished to eight heading into San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium tomorrow night.

San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium is a special place for the Rockstar Makita Suzuki Factory squad, as it is not only is close to home for all three of them – Dungey, David Vuillemin and Mike Alessi -- they also have an autograph signing scheduled for one of Suzuki’s well-known dealerships: Escondido Cycle Center.

Going into this weekend, AMA Supercross Lites rider Dungey is still in possession of the championship points lead, having won both the Anaheim I and Anaheim II races. The young rider hopes to pick up another victory at this weekend’s race.

“In the last two races everything hasn’t gone our way,” said Dungey. “But that’s racing and you have to take the bad with the good. I’d love to go to San Diego and get a win but at the same time, I know the championship is what matters, so I want to go out and ride smart and get as many points as possible. I’ve continued to work with Johnny O’Mara and stick with my regular program this week. And like I said, my goal is to ride smart and put myself in good positions on the track.”

Like Dungey, his Rockstar Makita Suzuki AMA Supercross-class teammate Alessi is also looking forward to the San Diego race. Alessi has raced at Qualcomm Stadium in the past and enjoys the venue.

“I raced in San Diego back in 2006,” said Alessi. ”I had a lot of fun because Live Nation and Dirt Wurx always do a great job putting on the race at Qualcomm Stadium.  Getting ready for the race, my training has been the same as usual.  Although I have had some suspension testing to do this week, I’m just putting in laps and doing my regular training.”

Similarly, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Vuillemin is enthusiastic about the upcoming San Diego race. The Frenchman is still recovering from a knee injury and he recently went to France to have his personal physician work on the leg.  Even so, he is optimistic about this weekend.

“San Diego is always special because it’s where I won my first AMA Supercross-class race in 2000,” said Vuillemin.  “I like the huge stadium and it’s always an open track.  It’s a packed house every year and that makes it fun.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be 100 percent by this weekend. I haven’t been completely ready this season yet.  I am frustrated because I know I could do way better.  In spite of my injuries, though, I am doing my best to show up at the races and give the maximum of my abilities on that day.”

Former AMA Supercross Lites class champion Ivan Tedesco, who is riding in his debut season with the Red Bull Honda team, broke a bone in his hand last weekend in Anaheim. He’s expected to miss the next few races. Ironically, he set the fastest lap in practice prior to crashing. “I really felt great out there today,” said Tedesco. “I have had a rough start this season and today I was feeling it. I am really bummed about this, but I can’t dwell on it.”

Yamaha also ran into some bad luck last weekend with Grant Langston watching from the sidelines with blurry vision, and Broc Hepler breaking his thumb. Langston’s situation comes at the tail end of several mishaps this situation. “He led a few laps of the opener and ended up fourth, he was in third place in Phoenix and had a shock problem,” said Jim Perry, Yamaha’s team manager. “At Anaheim 2, he was fast in practice, crashed on the first lap in the main event, worked his way into the top 10 and got a flat tire.” Perry also said that Hepler will be out six weeks and will return for the final Western Regional AMA Supercross Lites race at Seattle’s Qwest Field. At one point Hepler was in second place this season and led for three laps Chase Field in Phoenix.

AMA Supercross class points leader Chad Reed, of Team San Manuel, is enjoying some better luck. Winning four of the first five races, Reed has a 26-point lead over Torco Fuels Honda’s Kevin Windham. It’s shaping up to a season reminiscent of 2004 when Reed won his first AMA Supercross class championship and Windham kept him honest week after week. Things look good for Reed in San Diego having won four races at Qualcomm since 2003. The Australian native scored his 30th-career AMA Supercross class win last weekend and joins Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael as the only riders to win 30 or more AMA Supercross class races.

Josh Hill will be the lone rider under the factory Yamaha tent this weekend. As a rookie in the AMA Supercross class Hill sits in 10th place with 49 points. “He’s only rookie in the class, and needs more race time, but he’s looking forward to the rest of the season and the challenge,” added Perry. “In the heat races, he has led a lot of laps and has finished second to Reed in those races.”

With traditional Southern California weather is the forecast for San Diego, the Monster Energy Kawasaki team is ready for another great night at Qualcomm Stadium. Timmy Ferry continues to ride well and after earning his second podium of the season at Anaheim 3.  He hopes all of the bad luck is behind him and he can repeat his podium performance from last year.

“San Diego is a good track for me,” said Ferry. “I love the dirt; they brought in some new stuff a couple of years ago. There’s a ton of people there and they always go crazy. I got a second there last year, not to far behind the winner. It’s always a good feeling to be up on the podium and I want to be there in San Diego.”

Ferry’s teammate Travis Preston made his Kawasaki debut at Anaheim 3 and despite only two days of preparation, he made the main event directly from his heat race and held on to finish 15th. With another week of riding and learning the Kawasaki KX™450F, Preston feels he’ll improve even more.

"Coming to San Diego I’m going to work on my heat race,” said Preston. “If I can do better in the heat race, I can get a better gate pick in the main. Every time I ride, I learn something new about the bike, so I’m going to keep learning.”

The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team is coming off of a double podium as Austin Stroupe and Brett Metcalfe finished second and third, respectively at Anaheim 3.

“It’s supposed to be dry in San Diego, and I’m looking forward to the race there,” said Stroupe. “I have been riding really well, and I’m working on my endurance to stay out front. I think it is going to be a good weekend.”

By being more aggressive in both the heat race and the main event, Metcalfe has finished third in the last two events and is currently fourth in the championship standings.

“I think these technical tracks are working in our favor,” said Metcalfe. “I’ve got a little bit of speed to make up, so I’m going to work hard on that cause I’m trying to get a win. I am going to keep pushing myself as hard as I can because that is what it is going to take to win a race.”

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