By Jason Weigandt and Chase Stallo
The GEICO Honda team hasn’t had the best news to report lately—Eli Tomac and Zach Bell out with shoulder injuries, a disappointing eighth-place finish for Zach Osborne—but they did have a cool new toy in the form of a brand-new semi. From here on out, the team will roll out separate 450 and 250 rigs. The new truck is slick and will be the home of the 250 riders. In other news, Justin Bogle is back on a bike and will try riding supercross next week. He plans to make the Dallas 250SX East opener, and the rider who was supposed to fill in for him, Blake Wharton, will stay on board, as well.
It seemed surprising that one of the most stylish teams in the business, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda, didn’t go over the top for retro night (old-school jersey lettering was all). But don’t think Troy Lee himself didn’t get in on it—he actually painted Justin Barcia’s retro-look Muscle Milk Honda himself. The TLD guys say Barcia’s bike was primarily based on the 1989 team Honda look (colors and graphics) but some noted a blue seat, which reaches back a few years before that.
Honda also had the legendary 1986 CR125R on display, as outfitted for Johnny O’Mara’s incredible performance at the ’86 Motocross des Nations in Italy. Also on display was Donnie Hansen’s full-works bike from 1982, which claimed Honda’s first-ever SX title. Look for a more in depth feature on the Hansen bike later this week.
Surprisingly enough, at A2 Ken Roczen qualified through a heat race for the first time this year—he had to race the semi at the first two races.
California’s weather has been hotter, windier and drier than usual over the last few weeks. That led to a hard, dry, rocky track. Said JGR Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton: “The track was really breaking down by the main event—in the heat race I was able to turn with my front end, really turn down. By the main event, the tops of the berms were gone and you couldn’t do it. For some reason I really struggle in those conditions. I’m looking forward to some tracks with some ruts where you can really turn with the front end.”
With the rocks coming up, flat tires became an issue. Jimmy Albertson’s main event ended early with a flat, and Nick Wey had one too but managed to nurse it home for 15th. James Stewart also punctured a tire in practice.
Let’s get to the lap times:
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
Each week we delve into the lap charts, trying to find a hidden gem, something that sparks interest. With long-time rivals James Stewart and Chad Reed dipping into the fountain of youth and battling for the win, what could be a better comparison? Well, we actually found two that should spark some debate.
First, let’s take a side-by-side look at the final eight laps of Stewart and Reed.
|Lap||Chad Reed||James Stewart|
Reed, using an outside line through the whoops and a 90-degree turn to get a huge run at a series of on-offs, started upping his pace, reeled in Ken Roczen and Stewart—he was laying down 52s laps, compared to Stewart’s 53s. But if you want an all-time example of digging deep, on the lap Reed went for the lead on Stewart, he dipped all the way into the 51s with a 51.8. That was the fastest lap of the 450 main—on lap 18!
His charge came crashing down, literally, but Ryan Villopoto was also about to put on a similar run to get the lead, earlier in the race. Let’s have a look.
|Lap||Ryan Villopoto||James Stewart|
Stewart was outpacing RV early, but on lap nine, Villopoto found another gear and closed the gap. Ultimately, Villopoto’s chances ended after colliding with Stewart, but it would have been interesting to see how the two titans battled down the stretch—especially with a red-hot Reed in the shadows. Check out the times—they were pushing each other hard out front.
For the second consecutive week, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Cole Seely set the fastest lap of the night—450SX and 250SX combined. Jason Anderson’s 51.656 was second behind Seely—Reed’s 51.8 was third fastest of the night and tops in the 450s.
Another week, another close battle on the lap charts in 450SX. Seven of the top eight lap times were set in 52-second range.
It was a banner night for Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda in Anaheim. The team put two riders on the podium—Cole Seely and Malcolm Stewart—after Jason Anderson was docked two positions for jumping on the red cross flag. Anderson’s penalty gave Malcolm his first career supercross podium. Further, all four TLD riders—Seely, Stewart, Shane McElrath and Jessy Nelson—finished inside the top ten.
Vince Friese has come under heavy scrutiny for his on track antics. Off the track, though, Friese is viewed much differently. Need proof? Chris Blose was not going to be able to race Anaheim 2 due to bike problems. But Friese stepped in and loaned him a bike for the night. Blose finished 20th on the loaner bike—and actually ended up battling Friese on an identical bike in both the semi and LCQ.
While his main focus in 2014 is the 250SX East Region, Jimmy Decotis is getting some warm-up rides on the 450 out west. Decotis failed to make the main and later tweeted:
Soooooo off out there— Jimmy Decotis (@JDecotis613) January 18, 2014
CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha’s Les Smith suffered four dislocated ribs in a practice crash in Anaheim. Smith, in obvious pain, soldiered on to the second practice but failed to make the main event after finishing 11th in the LCQ.
Rough night, I've never rode in so much pain, gonna have to take a few days to heal up and be a man next week.— Les Smith (@LesSmith64) January 19, 2014
A week after a tremendous crash in Phoenix, which left him coughing up blood, Weston Peick tied a career-high at A2 with a seventh. Jason Weigandt will have more on Peick later this week in his weekly ReduX column.
With Jake Canada on the sideline, 51Fifty brought on Chris Plouffe—who had previously ridden for the team—for the weekend. The deal was only for one round, which leaves Plouffe looking for support the remainder of the West Region. He tweeted the following today:
Trying to make something happen so I can race the rest of the west coast rounds! Hopefully figure something out soon!
Not a good result for Justin Barcia with an 11th, but it appeared he was on his way to sixth after a bad start. He later crashed, which set him back. Said Barcia in a team statement: "Today didn't go anywhere near how I wanted. The track was pretty challenging and I ended up going down during both practice and the main event. Luckily I got third in my heat, but after the start of the main I was riding tight and making a lot of mistakes. My front end tucked in the turn at home plate and I lost a lot of time. I'm disappointed in how this season has gone so far but am determined to get on the podium."
SmarTop MotoConcept’s Mike Alessi was sick on race day, and just tried to tough it out—he ended up 18th.
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Darryn Durham had a scary moment in practice following a huge crash. Durham was reportedly unconscious for several minutes, before being taken to the emergency room. Durham was diagnosed with a concussion and may miss a few weeks. “I’m gutted I can’t be out there alongside my teammates, but I took a hard hit and my health is the most important thing,” said Durham in a team statement. “I hope I can get back out there next weekend, but I’ll have to take it day-by-day.”
After a big crash last week in Phoenix, JGR/Toyota Yamaha’s Josh Grant had to ride through a shoulder injury at A2. The team’s designated backup rider, Phil Nicoletti, was on hand in case JG couldn’t go, but the veteran put in his laps and scored 14th in the main event.
A big crash for Soaring Eagle Casino RCH’s Broc Tickle in his semi sent him out for the night—it’s the first 450 SX main Tickle had to scratch due to injury since he joined the class full time in 2012. He was battered and bruised, but expected to be back this weekend in Oakland.
We’re going to say this because it’s awesome: just five points separate the top five riders in the 450SX standings.