Racer X Notebook: Monster Energy CupTuesday, October 18, 2011 | 10:00 AM
By Aaron Hansel and Jason Weigandt
- As expected all along, Team Suzuki was back in business for the Monster Energy Cup. Rumors went out around the time of the Motocross of Nations that the team was laying off employees and possibly folding, but sources said Yoshimura was about to swoop in, rehire everyone, and get the team back to the races. Indeed, that’s what happened, as Brett Metcalfe rode on the same machine he did earlier in the year, and Mike Webb was back as Team Manager. The only difference is that the team is operated by Yoshimura with the help of Suzuki, instead of the other way around.
- And Metcalfe rode very well, nearly winning his heat race and scoring third overall—not bad considering Metty was sidelined for most of the 2011 supercross tour because of a broken wrist he suffered in Atlanta. Metcalfe and the Suzuki team will be back at Anaheim, although we do hear it could be without Rockstar and Makita as team sponsors. What about another rider? It’s not much of a secret that Suzuki is trying to get James Stewart for 2012, but any Stewart announcement appears to be over a week away.
Metcalfe would finish third at the MEC behind Villopoto and Dungey.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- Stewart’s other potential suitor is the Joe Gibbs Racing team, which is sticking with Yamahas for 2012.
- Amateur riders are making team switches, too. Zach Bell was mounted on a Factory Connection (GEICO) Honda after years on Kawasakis, and he rode it to the first race win in the Amateur All-Star competition. And long-time Honda recruit Cooper Webb was riding a KTM in SuperMini. For more, here is yesterday's report.
- On Saturday at the Monster Energy Cup, Valli Motorsports owner Chad Lanza told us that some big news involving his team and Star Racing would be coming soon. Lanza was unable to elaborate further, but judging by the number of Star Racing personnel hanging out inside of the Valli pits all weekend, we’d guess that the two teams are working on creating some kind of collaboration for 2012. As for the original plans — Metal Mulisha to merge with Valli —we’re not sure how this will affect that plan.
Justin Hill captured the Amateur All-Star title at the Monster Energy Cup.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- For safety reasons, there are a few seats at every supercross race that are marked off, but that seat number was especially high at the Monster Energy Cup. The unusually high number of closed seats, which Monster’s Eric Johnson said was roughly 15,000, was due largely in part to the portion of track that looped up into the stands. Putting on races, especially one like the MEC, is extremely expensive, and building a section of track that cut into the bottom line couldn’t have been an easy decision. Hats off to Feld Motorsports for giving up a large number of sellable seats in order to include an obstacle that was both memorable and exciting for the fans.
- Justin Hill, the younger brother of Hart and Huntington’s Josh Hill, took home the overall win in the Amateur All-Star race with 4-1 moto finishes. The class was made up of the fastest Loretta Lynn’s riders from the A and B classes, and it’s interesting to note that only two A riders ( Austin Politelli - second, and Jessy Nelson - fifth) made it into the top five. Sure, A riders like Kyle Peters and Justin Bogle made the jump to the pro ranks after Loretta Lynn’s and were not eligible to race, but B riders Hill, Cole Thompson and Zach Bell all deserve props for holding it down and getting into the top five.
- While the original intent of the Monster Energy Cup was to hold three 10-lap sprint races, the long track led to long lap times of over 1:30, so each 10-lap main event ended up being nearly as long as a 20-lap supercross main event on a smaller track. The final race, for example, lasted 15 minutes. Add in the addition of semi qualifier races, and anyone who took the long road to the main event took a really long road—Kevin Windham rode an estimated 48 laps during the night through his heat, semi, last chance qualifier and three main events, which equates to somewhere around 80 minutes of racing. And that doesn’t even include practice!
Davalos was the top-finishing Lites rider at the MEC, finishing fourth overall.
Photo: Simon Cudby
- Martin Davalos was the top-finishing rider who normally races in the Lites class —although he was on a 450 for this event. Davalos finished fourth overall, just in front of Eli Tomac, who also normally competes on a 250 in the Lites class, but rode a 450 here.
- Like a lottery winner, Ryan Villopoto was given two options for his massive cash bounty—take the big 50 percent tax cut right off the top and go home with $500,000, or take the full $1 million, paid out at $50,000 per year for 20 years. Villopoto took the $500,000 up front. [Update Oct 18: We were incorrect. Villopoto elected to take the $50,00 per year for 20 years--sorry!]
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