Racer X Notebook: HangtownMonday, May 23, 2011 | 1:40 PM
- The Hangtown track was much, much rougher than anyone can ever remember it. Rain during the week made the track soft, and in addition, the Dirt Diggers crew trucked in plenty of rice hulls, which are byproducts of all the rice production in the area, and act similar to laying sand or sawdust on the track. Early in the practice sessions, riders commented on how the layer of rice hulls on top of the track made traction deceptive, as you could easily dig underneath the soft stuff into the harder, more slippery base. Things mixed in more as the day went on, and the bumps got bigger and the ruts got deeper.
The fans came out in droves for the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship from Hangtown.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- The track was smoother and faster in the first practice sessions, and that’s when Mike Alessi unleashed his Red Bull KTM 450 SX-F and landed a 2:05.1 lap—the only 2:05 anyone would reach all day. Chad Reed was second fastest in that session with a 2:06.0. The track slowed significantly from there. In the next session, Ryan Villopoto was fastest, but his best time was merely a 2:09, and in the motos, times were deep into the 2:16-2:20 mark.
- Alessi’s day—and championship hopes—came to an end when he crashed early in the second practice. He appeared to have cross-rutted on a jump, and decided to bail off the bike, tuck and roll. He came down on his head and was knocked unconscious. In addition, Mike had already suffered a concussion two weeks ago at the Las Vegas Supercross. He was, however, safe to race coming into Hangtown. Mike’s father Tony explained that Mike was free of all concussion effects by Thursday after Vegas, and then still sat out the USGP last weekend as a precaution. “It was hard to give up a shot at $100,000,” said Tony of the bounty offered up to any U.S. rider if he were to win the USGP. “But you’re rolling the dice on your whole season if you go out and knock yourself out again there.” Unfortunately, Mike’s crash at Hangtown had the same effect.
- Technically, Kevin Windham is riding on Josh Grant’s American Honda Racing CRF450R, and Trey Canard’s bike is there on display. Chad Reed’s TwoTwo Motorsports Bel-Ray racing Honda is very much a factory bike underneath, as well, with Reed of course running some products from his sponsors (such as a Pro Circuit exhaust, while the factory bikes use Yoshimura). Reed also receives Red Rider rewards contingency money.
- Unfortunately both Reed and Windham suffered a small mechanical problem with their bikes in the first moto, traced to a special new airboot. A different airboot was used for the second moto, and they had no problems.
- Andrew Short had mechanical troubles on his Red Bull KTM 350 in the second moto, and he didn’t finish. Short seems snakebit by bad luck each year early in the season, as mechanical troubles put him back in points last season when he was riding Hondas, as well.
Reed rebounded from a tough 2010 outdoor campaign with a victory at Hangtown.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- Even worse luck for DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing’s Ryan Sipes, who crashed in the first turn of the first 250 moto and injured his wrist. He failed to score any points on the day and will now have to go in for further evaluation.
- Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki swept the podium in the 250 class, but their new Lites West SX Champion Broc Tickle had a bad day. He crashed in the first moto and sliced his elbow open badly enough to require stitches. After thirteenth in moto one, he gutted out a solid seventh in moto two.
- Christophe Pourcel looked fast on his Motoconcepts Yamaha 450, taking fourth overall in qualifying and even passing Ryan Villopoto early in the first moto. He went backwards from there, with reports that his fork settings were off, leading to problems on the rough track. He finished seventh. He was way, way back off the start in moto two and fought back to eleventh, giving him eighth overall.
- Muscle Milk/Toyota Yamaha JGR’s Justin Brayton missed the race with an ankle injury suffered at the Las Vegas supercross. At first it was though the injury wasn’t too bad, but Brayton tried to ride during the week and could not. The team hopes he will be back in a few weeks.
- With Ryan Morais out after hip surgery, the Rockstar Suzuki team now has Hunter Hewitt, who rode for the team last year, back under the tent. Also, Nick Paluzzi is on as the replacement rider for Ian Trettel.
Hunter Hewitt is back under the Rockstar Suzuki tent for the outdoor season replacing Ryan Morais.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- Where’s J-Law? Apparently, no one still knows for sure, even though his Suzuki City bike was prepped and went through tech inspection, Lawrence simply never showed up at the race. Then Josh Hansen sent out a tweet about going riding with Lawrence for fun at a track in Southern California. No one knows what this means for Lawrence as far as racing going forward.
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