In the previous round from Millville, Minn., Monster Energy Kawasaki’s James Stewart clinched his long-awaited first AMA Motocross title. Additionally, he kept his prefect season intact by winning motos 19 and 20, leaving him just four moto wins away. However, the newly crowned champion’s focus is still on racing well and earning overall victories.
“I just want to get two more overall wins,” said Stewart. “My goal all along was to win the championship, so I shifted it a little bit and I want to win every overall. Southwick is a tough track. The sand makes it difficult, but I have a lot of sand on my track at home so I should be in good shape.”
Even with the championship out of reach, teammate Tim Ferry still holds second spot in the points in what is shaping up to be an exciting battle among three riders. Currently holding a six-point advantage, Ferry hopes to put in two solid motos at Southwick.
“I need to keep it on two wheels this weekend,” said Ferry. “I always ride good at Southwick so I’m looking forward to the race. Right now it’s pretty tight for second in the championship and that is where I want to be. It would be really cool for Kawasaki to go 1-2 this year.”
In AMA Motocross Lites, the championship was decided as well with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto earning his third straight class crown. Even though his missed out on the overall victory for the second consecutive week, the Washington rider joins Ricky Carmichael, Mark Barnett, and Broc Glover as the only riders to win three consecutive AMA Motocross Lites titles.
“I want to win these last two events,” said Villopoto. “Now that I’ve got the championship locked up I don’t have to ride conservative. I really want to get these last two overalls.”
Villopoto’s teammate Brett Metcalfe put himself on the podium once again in Minnesota, further solidifying his hold on third place in the standings. Finally at 100% in health, he hopes to continue his recent tear.
“I’ve got a pretty comfortable lead over fourth,” said Metcalfe. “I just want to keep riding the way I have these last couple of races and try and get some more podiums. I think Southwick is a really good track. I race really well there.”
Rockstar/Makita Suzuki celebrated its second consecutive overall victory in the AMA Motocross Lites class as Minnesota-native Ryan Dungey pulled through at his home track. Even though the championship has been decided, he continues to improve and is the hottest rider on the circuit.
“I got third overall at Southwick last year after finishing third in both motos,” explained Dungey. “I’m looking forward to racing there again. This week, I’ve been practicing and getting ready for the weekend. I’ve been keeping my program the same, just going week to week. Having two wins in a row has definitely helped with my confidence, with my mind. Now I’m just ready to get in there and race and carry my momentum forward.”
Teammate Nico Izzi suffered hard luck in Millville. Despite a disappointing 11th-place finish, he still holds fifth place in the standings and is prepared for his Southwick debut.
“I’ve really just been staying with my routine this week,” stated Izzi. “(I’m) sticking with my usual training schedule. I’ve been doing a little bit longer rides, a few longer motos just to get ready for the sand at Southwick. I’ve never raced there but I know this will be our first track with rough sand. It should be interesting.”
In AMA Motocross, Michael Byrne garnered yet another podium finish. His late season turnaround has been one of the most impressive stories of the season. After sitting 10th in points after High Point, the Australian rider has climbed up to fourth in the standings and is a part of the tight three-way battle for second. Less experienced in the sand, two solid motos would be enough to make him happy.
At Red Bull Honda, the anticipated debut of newly signed Jimmy Albertson was for not as a shoulder injury has sidelined the young rider. Once again however, three bikes will run from under the Honda tent with Andrew Short, Ivan Tedesco, and Southwick-only member, Dutch GP rider Marc De Reuver.
Short added another runner-up finish to his season with a strong overall performance. He closed the gap on second place in the standings and rival Tim Ferry.
Tedesco experienced mixed results in his first race since Thunder Valley, putting in a solid seventh place finish in the first moto, but getting caught up in a first turn pileup in moto two.
De Reuver, seen as a sand track specialist, makes his debut and has high expectations for himself, stating that he expects to defeat all of his competitors with exception of James Stewart.
The AMA Motocross Lites squad at GEICO Powersports Honda will carry four riders under its tent. Rookie Blake Wharton had an impressive debut in Millville, earning a fifth place overall finish and riding in second for the majority of the second moto.
Jake Weimer continued his late season efforts for improved results, finishing fourth overall while both Josh Grant and Dan Reardon experienced hard luck with 10th and 17th place finishes, respectively.
Interview opportunities are available to the media by contacting AMA Toyota Motocross Championship media coordinator Brandon Short via email at Media@MXNationals.com or by phone at 951-203-2605.
For more information on the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship, presented by FMF, log on to www.amamotocross.com for live timing and scoring at @theWireLIVE!. Racer X Illustrated will host a new and improved webcast on www.motocross.com, with live racing action hosted by Jason Weigandt. The Racer X Motocross Show on Motocross.com has also been added on Saturday night of each race weekend, featuring practice footage and interviews taken earlier in the day.
Credential requests for each round of the 2008 AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF must be submitted via email to Media@MXNationals.com three weeks prior to the race. Media members interested in interviews with the riders of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship Presented by FMF should contact Brandon at 951-203-2605 or email Media@MXNationals.com.