Salt Lake City SX Practice Report

Salt Lake City SX Practice Report

April 30, 2011 7:40pm
Practice is complete here at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. Despite our best journalism attempts, we haven’t found much salt around this city at all. Don’t even see a lake, either.

But salt might have been needed as snow actually came down this morning! It was cold, and flakes started landing at about 10 am and didn’t let up until noon. The snow didn’t really accumulate on the track, and eventually the sun started shining and the snow went away. But it hasn’t gotten warm.

The track is actually pretty tricky. One rhythm lane doesn’t seem to offer a “correct answer” as both main lines through it are difficult. The fastest technique is to end the section going on-off-single, but bouncing off that final single may be tough for 20 (or 15) laps. A few riders are jumping over the table, which looks smoother but not quite as fast. That could change tonight, though.

The whoops are also very unique. They’re fairly flat, but spaced far apart, with a big gap after the fifth whoop. The gap is so big that most riders just drop in and then jump out of the whoops by going triple-triple. But James Stewart just blitzes across the top.

Stewart was the fastest of the SX Class. His best time was a 42.6 from session one, and he also landed a 42.7 in the second session. Villopoto logged a 43.32 in session two for second overall—that’s a pretty big gap. Ryan Dungey went 43.37, Chad Reed 43.42 and Andrew Short a 43.58. Kevin Windham, Davi Millsaps, Justin Brayton, Austin Stroupe and Tommy Hahn rounded out the top ten. Jake Weimer was 16th fastest in his return to racing after breaking his arm in the off season.

As if anyone doesn’t know, there are only nine points separating the top four in points, and of course those four where the fastest in practice. Stewart seems really sharp in practice—even sharper than at the last two rounds, which he won. But in this crazy season, it seems like avoiding trouble is more important than simply going fast, so anything can happen tonight. Throw in some championship pressure and drama, and we’re set for some heat in the cold.

In the Lites class, the spoilers are making their presence known, with Martin Davalos topping practice with a 44.20 over title contender Eli Tomac’s 44.24. Cole Seely (44.58), Josh Hansen (44.63) and Kyle Cunningham (44.66) rounded out the top five, followed by Ken Roczen, Broc Tickle, Tyla Rattray, Travis Baker and Ryan Morias.

Tickle, Hansen and Tomac are battling for the title, with just seven points between them. Riders like Davalos, Seely and Cunningham could play a big factor in the points tonight.

Follow our twitter updates @racerxonline for up-to-the-minute stuff from the race. The show airs on television tomorrow afternoon on CBS (SX class) and SPEED (Lites) so if you want to know what’s happening as it happens, follow us!