With factory doors closed, Reed defied the trend and a tight timeframe to assemble his own small yet committed team.
TwoTwo Motorsports made it to the start gates at the season opener in Anaheim, and a refreshed and re-invigorated Reed took his place aboard a new bike in the Honda CRF450.
Without pressure, Reed’s passion for riding has shone. Despite the obvious challenges facing his startup outfit – lack of data and minimal parts, amongst others – the two-time champion has shown it is certainly not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather, the size of the fight in the dog.
With 10 podiums to his credit, including an emotional win in Jacksonville, a determined Reed has held his own against the factory efforts, and done so with the help a small group of supportive sponsors as well as his own back pocket.
Heading to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Reed sits just 9 points shy of leader Ryan Villopoto, and 20 Main Event laps from the end of a season that will go down as the most entertaining and hard-fought in history.
Whatever the result, the Australian will be satisfied with TwoTwo Motorsports’ debut season.
“We’ve fought hard this year and will celebrate as a team at Las Vegas regardless of the final result,” said Reed.
“Everyone has given 100% this season and without this dedication and effort we would not be where we are now – 9 points off the lead with a round to go.
Reed rued a missed opportunity at Salt Lake City and knew he would need to put everything on the line to pressure leader Villopoto into a mistake.
“I rode tight last weekend and I am disappointed because a win was in sight,” he continued. “I could have been 3 points down, but now I’m 9. That’s the way the season has played out – it’s unbelievable that there are still 4 riders in this race after all that has happened.
“If I can start well and be aggressive for the whole race then I’m putting myself in the best possible position. All I can do is race for the win and whatever the result I will look back on our first season as a success.”
The odds may be stacked against Reed – he must win and hope Villopoto finishes sixth or worse – but nothing can be discounted in a season filled with strange occurrences.
As well as gunning for the green bike ahead of him, Reed will also need to fend off a silent assassin in 2010 champion Ryan Dungey, who has built his campaign on consistent points-paying finishes.
And what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas, quite literally. A one-off graphics kit produced by sponsor Factory Effex will adorn Reed’s TwoTwo Motorsports’ Belray Racing machine for the event.
Only time will tell whether the iconic #22 can make it to #1 for the third time in a decorated career.