JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha’s Josh Grant became the newest first time winner when he landed his first career 450 class win at Red Bud. That’s five first-time 450 class winners this year, and seven total in the series if you count Christophe Pourcel and Jake Weimer taking their first firsts in the 250 class.
Grant’s win did break an odd streak, though, as he went 2-1 to get the overall. The first four first-time 450 winners this year won their races with 1-1 moto scores. Ryan Villopoto won both at Glen Helen, Mike Alessi won both at Hangtown, Chad Reed won both at High Point, and Ivan Tedesco won both in Colorado.
Well, technically Grant did beat Alessi across the finish at Hangtown, but Alessi was later awarded the moto win for a 1-1 when Grant was penalized. To Grant’s credit at Red Bud, he came within half a bike length of winning Red Bud’s first moto, finishing right behind Reed.
So why are we getting so many first-time winners this year? Well, it’s easy to find first-timers when everyone has been stuck behind the Ricky Carmichael/James Stewart road block to wins until this year. So that sets us up for the most amazing stat of the week:
The following riders won their first 450 (250 class then) races during the Carmichael and Stewart era, which ran from 2000 to 2008:
Ricky Carmichael: Glen Helen 2000
David Vuillemin: Hangtown 2000
Tim Ferry: Glen Helen 2001
James Stewart: Hangtown 2006
Grant Langston: Steel City 2007
So to review, only five riders broke through in the previous nine seasons, while five riders have won their first through the first six rounds of this year alone. That’s a heck of a road block!