Welcome to the first practice report of the 2013 Lucas Oil Motocross Championship, coming to you from the Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic in Northern California, where conditions couldn’t be better to host the opening round of what promises to be an exciting and incredible series. The track looks beautiful and features the same basic layout it’s had for the last few years-traversing up and down the hills of the facility. As usual, the dirt is full of rice hulls, which help hold the moisture, and so far, the track appears to have far fewer rocks than in the past. The weather is also fantastic, with the weather report currently calling for a high of 85 degrees. That’s much better than the high 90s and occasional triple digit temps we’re used to seeing at this venue, which is something the large crowd that has already descended on the Hangtown hills are certainly thankful for.
Right now there are so many storylines to follow it’s not even funny. 2011 450 National Champ Ryan Villopoto makes his return to Lucas Oil Motocross after missing the 2012 season with a torn ACL, James Stewart, who won the first four motos last year before getting hurt is here, Cooper Webb is set to begin his professional career (Adam Cianciarulo is out with flu-like symptoms) and much, much more. For more storylines to follow, check out Racer X Online’s Ten Things to Watch.
When the first 450 practice got going Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey was fast right away, but on lap six it was none other than Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia, who is entering his official rookie 450 season in Lucas Oil Motocross, who set a 1:57.971, the fastest lap of the session. Behind him was his teammate Trey Canard with a 1:58.218, James Stewart (1:58.909), Ryan Dungey (1:58.923), and Ryan Villopoto (1:58.958). Dean Wilson, who is entering his first season on the 450, was eighth fastest in this session with a 1:59.703.
When the second 450 session went out, times were slightly slower. The track was broken in and more lines had developed, but the racing surface had also gotten much rougher. The conditions agreed with James Stewart, who put in a heater of a lap (1:58.309) just after the halfway point that would be the fastest time of the qualifier. Ryan Villopoto, who came in second, did better in this session as well with a 1:59.084 posted on the fourth lap. Justin Barcia, whose fast time from the first session held up for fastest 450 time overall, was third with a 1:59.681, followed by Trey Canard (2:00.075), Ryan Dungey (2:00.157) and Mike Alessi (2:00.485).
In the 250 ranks things promise to be interesting, as a host of top guns are returning from injury. Reigning Champ Blake Baggett, Jessy Nelson, Justin Hill, Darryn Durham, Zach Bell, Jeremy martin, Alex Martin, Nico Izzi, Justin Bogle and more are all making their return to racing here at Hangtown. Of course, if the rest of the day plays out anything like the first practice session did, they’ll have their hands full trying to go through Eli Tomac, who set a blistering 1:57.513 in session one. Amazingly, that’s faster than Justin Barcia’s fastest time, although that’s due in part to the fact that the track was at its best during the first 250 session; lines had developed but it wasn’t very rough yet. Jason Anderson was second fastest with a 1:59.353, followed by Blake Baggett (1:59.495) who despite complaints of wrist pain on press day looked very fast, Marvin Musquin (1:59.530), Ken Roczen (1:59.834) and Darryn Durham (2:00.514). Rookie Cooper Webb looks great and was twelfth fastest in session one with a 2:01.406.
In the second 250 session, which took place after the 450s, the track had gotten pretty rough, and times were significantly slower than session one. The rough conditions didn’t matter to Tomac, however, as he once again topped the field. He recorded a fast lap of 1:59.330, followed by Ken Roczen (1:59.816), Jason Anderson (2:00.401), Marvin Musquin (2:00.674) and Zach Osborne (2:01.169).
Be sure to check Racer X Online often throughout the day, and follow us on Twitter, @racerxonline, for updates on the action from the opening round of Lucas Oil Motocross.
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