Racer X Notebook: Phoenix

Racer X Notebook: Phoenix

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  • The heartbreak of the night award would have to go to Rockstar Valli-Star Yamaha’s Ryan Sipes, who had been living dangerously through qualifying, and had it all catch up to him in Phoenix. Sipes won two races in 2011 (Indy and East/West Shootout) and was the fastest qualifier at Anaheim 1 last week. But crashes in Anaheim sent him to the LCQ, where he qualified to then finish fifth in the main. In Phoenix, he crashed in a rhythm in the final practice, tearing up his bike. He returned ready for his heat race but crashed trying to make a pass on Tyla Rattray, sending him to the LCQ again. And in the LCQ, he got into a battle with J-Star JDR KTM’s Matt Moss. Sipes put a hard pass on Moss for the final transfer spot, so Moss retaliated with a failed block pass attempt and took both down on the last lap. Neither made the main.


Moss and Sipes may have had the best battle of the night. But it ended with both missing the main.
Photos: Andrew Fredrickson

  • The British are coming! The recipient of the final transfer spot was Englishman Adam Chatfield, who cruised past the downed Sipes and Moss to make the main. That made for two Brits in the main (along with Max Anstie, who finished ninth in the main). And Zach Osborne may be from Virginia (and ride for Puerto Rico at the Motocross of Nations) but he is riding for the British-based Monster/Bike It Yamaha team.


  • Sipes’ teammate Gareth Swanepoel missed the main at Anaheim, but made it in this time to finish 17th. But the third Lites rider on the team, Nico Izzi, actually had the most drama. A big crash on a triple in practice left Izzi coughing up blood, which required a trip to the hospital. He was released just in time to make it back to the stadium for his heat race. Izzi toughed out an impressive eighth in the main event.


  • Or maybe Sipes wasn’t the heartbreak of the night—after all he escaped uninjured. Tommy Hahn, meanwhile, broke his fibula (lower leg) in the main event. He expects to be out at least eight weeks, with hopes of returning before supercross concludes. And don’t forget that Tommy’s brother Wil fractured his hip the Wednesday before the race. And at Anaheim Tommy lost a tooth and Wil broke his nose. Do they really feel each other’s pain?


  • BTOSports.com/Butler Brothers Jimmy Albertson had a wild night with a bad ending. Josh Grant took him down on the last lap of a heat race while they were battling for tenth. The duo got it on again in the LCQ, but this time Albertson came out ahead when they collided and Grant went down. Albertson got the last transfer spot, but then crashed in the main and hurt his shoulder.

Albertson was able to claw his way into the main event at Phoenix, but crashed and now may miss L.A.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson

  • DNA/Jeff Ward Racing’s Grant failed to qualify, which just adds him to what should be a big list of big-name riders that will miss mains this year.


  • Yoshimura Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe had a much better night after struggling at Anaheim 1, where he finished eleventh but was never really on pace. Team Manager Mike Webb thinks the team did too much testing at their private Suzuki track in Corona, and the strange Anaheim layout threw them off. “Metty likes to steer with the rear wheel, but the dirt at Anaheim was too tacky in spots and he couldn’t do it effectively,” said Webb. The team rode at three different SX tracks during the week before Phoenix to develop a more versatile setup, and it paid off, as Metcalfe looked much more competitive. He finished ninth in the main.


  • Who is the most consistent rider early in 2012? Gotta be Dodge Motorsports/Sycuan/Hart & Huntington’s Josh Hansen, with back-to-back tenth place finishes in the SX class.

Consistency has been the motto for Hansen in 2012.
Photo: Andrew Fredrickson

  • New rules for 2012 put red number plates on points leaders, and since Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey are tied, they’ll both run red at Phoenix. Cole Seely’s red plates will return back to black at L.A., with Tyla Rattray taking over the points lead by virtue of 2-3 finishes in the first two rounds.


  • Jake Weimer might be turning the most heads in the early season, as the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider followed his impressive come-from-behind fifth at A1 with a podium (second place) at Phoenix. He also won his heat race. Weimer is currently tied with Chad Reed for third in the series.

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