Racer X Notebook:   Salt Lake City

Racer X Notebook:
Salt Lake City

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  • There was some big buzz going when snow started coming down on Saturday morning, but in reality this was far from a snow race. It wasn’t even a rain race or a mud race. It looked pretty cool seeing snow coming down in the pits, but by about noon, the snow stopped and the sun came out. The temperatures didn’t ratchet up much, though, making this perhaps the coldest race of the year (or at least as cold as the rainy February night in San Diego).

 

  • The track was actually dusty in spots when practice began, as the track crew purposely under-watered in case the rain (or snow) did become a factor. It didn’t. Most riders said the track was slick, but overall, this was nothing like the crazy rain/snow/sleet race from Salt Lake City last year.

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This year was nothing like the crazy snow/rain race from last year, but Salt Lake City did see some flurries early in the day.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Besides the snow, perhaps the second-biggest buzz revolved around Moto Concepts Yamaha signing Christophe Pourcel for this summer’s Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Except that by Saturday morning, they had not actually signed him. Moto Concepts Team Manager David Vuillemin explained that negotiations had only started on Monday, and it’s hard to nail down all of the details in a matter of days. This includes negotiations such as Pourcel’s gear sponsor (Moto Concepts is an O’Neal team but Pourcel may sign his own gear deal), logo placement (it’s expected that Pourcel will wear a Monster Energy helmet) and other matters. However, by the end of the night, Pourcel had signed the deal—Vuillemin said things were pretty much official by the time the Lites main event was completed.

 

Pourcel never actually rode the Moto Concepts bike, but he did ride the Valli Motorsports Yamaha YZ450F, so he’s at least familiar with the base. Vuillemin said the bike was not and will not be an issue at all, once Pourcel rode the Valli bike, he was sold on the Yamaha.

 

  • While most of the attention in the SX main event was focused on the battle for the race win—and the championship implications—there was an even better race going on behind that, with Kevin Windham, Justin Brayton, Tommy Hahn and Jake Weimer duking it out just behind the top five. Just two seconds separated Windham, Weimer and Hahn at the finish, with Windham grabbing sixth, and Weimer making a last-lap move on Hahn to steal seventh. For more on the battle, check out quotes from Weimer, Brayton and Hahn in our Kicker Open Mic.

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Windham finished sixth, a year after winning at Salt Lake City.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Brayton, meanwhile, was back after missing the St. Louis and Seattle races with a back injury he suffered in Dallas. Brayton has sprained vertebra in his back, so he was working himself back up to race pace. Of course he then goes out and gets one of his best starts of the season in the main event and finds himself in the thick of a battle with Reed and Villopoto off the start. He toughed out a ninth-place finish.

 

  • Meanwhile Brayton’s Muscle Milk Toyota JGR Yamaha teammate Davi Millsaps put in one of his best rides of the season with a fifth. Millsaps has been struggling mightily this year with complications from last year’s crash at the Budds Creek National in June, where he lost part of his kidney. “Man, you don’t realize how thankful you should be if both of your kidneys work right,” said Millsaps, who admits he could barely do more than eight laps before he was completely out of energy at most of the races this year. He finally decided to have some more blood work done, and he discovered his kidney problems had caused him to become anemic. He’s eating more red meat now and has started a new training program, and says Salt Lake was one of the first times this year where he has been able to ride 20 laps without hitting the wall. Look for more on Millsaps’ condition later this week on Racer X Online.

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Millsaps finished a quiet fifth at Salt Lake City.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Exactly what bike was Chad Reed riding in Salt Lake City? It’s at least clear that Reed was running the factory Honda hydraulic clutch, and a few other assorted bolt-on parts, such as wheels and footpegs. Some rumors claimed Reed was riding a full works engine and even suspension components, but Reed is denying those claims. Reed said after the race, “I don’t think there’s a lot from Trey’s bike. His bike is sitting over there at the Honda truck right now.”

 

Josh Hansen’s Lites West title hopes took a big blow when he crashed trying to force a pass on Eli Tomac on the second lap of the Lites main event. After the race, Hansen apologized to both his team and Tomac’s via his twitter account, admitting it was an immature pass.

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Hansen's title hopes were dashed in Salt Lake City.
Photo: Simon Cudby

  • Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen represented well with a second-place in the Lites class, just five days after racing to second at the Dutch GP on Monday. And that was a sand race in the heat and humidity, about as different as you can get from a supercross in the cold on Saturday. And on top of that, Roczen ended up catching a cold during all of his travel. With the Las Vegas SX and the USGP coming up on his calendar, Roczen says he now has 15-straight weekends of racing.

 

  • Perhaps the most action-packed moment of the night came in the SX LCQ, when Tony Gallo and Bobby Fitch ran into each other and ended up fighting on the track on the last lap. Those LCQs are intense!
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