Sign of the (Lap) Times: Hangtown

Sign of the (Lap) Times Hangtown

June 3, 2014 3:30pm

By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

A ghost showed up riding a #43 Rockstar Energy KTM 250SX-F—it was Joey Savatgy! Versace Savatgy hasn’t raced since breaking his wrist a year ago, then getting injured again training for supercross, and then breaking his collarbone right before the Glen Helen National. Amazingly, he was back on the bike about a week after getting a plate installed on the collarbone, and even raced to decent 14-25 scores. Not bad for his first race in a year, and fresh out of surgery. That’s the good news for the Rockstar team, but on the other end, we still don’t know when we’ll see Davi Millsaps back out there.

Last year Savatgy raced for the Orange Brigade/FMF KTM team, which is designed to guide amateurs into the pros. This year’s rookie rider is Dakota Alix, but the Vermont native is coming off of a broken kneecap, and hasn’t been able to show his full form yet. Alix went 22-19 at Hangtown.

Last week we reported that privateer Dillan Epstein was going to try the first three Nationals in hopes of getting a ride to make the rest of them—and if he doesn’t, he might just have to step back from full-time racing. He stated a case to get more help at Hangtown with 17-10 scores and 12th overall, a career high. In addition, Jackson Richardson matched a career high with 16th overall—including 9th in moto two.

Joey Savatgy made his return to racing this past weekend. 
Joey Savatgy made his return to racing this past weekend.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Sticking out: There was a lone Suzuki RM-Z250 in the Hangtown field. Blake Savage rode it and finished 19th. Savage grew up racing the WORCS tour off-road.

After snagging a thrilling moto win at Glen Helen, the JGR Toyota Yamaha team didn’t have the same luck at Hangtown. Phil Nicoletti crashed with Andrew Short in moto one and bent a shifter, he got back into the race a lap down and shadowed the top-ten battle most of the way (he even unlapped himself from Chad Reed, who finished 11th). Then Phil actually finished 11th in moto two. Josh Grant was ninth in moto one but ran over his ankle in moto two, forcing a DNF.

We know Glen Helen’s huge hills and deep soil and sand (on National weekend) make for a rugged circuit, but quite a few riders felt that Hangtown was even rougher. “People say Glen Helen is rough and gnarly just because of those hills. But Hangtown has always, always been rough,” said Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer Racer X’s Steve Matthes. “The track was rougher than last weekend,” said Soaring Eagle Casino RCH Suzuki’s Ivan Tedesco.

Let's take a look at the lap charts!

 450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:01.950 7 2:04.354 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:02.435 4 2:04.801 Ryan Dungey
3 3 2:03.139 3 2:05.898 Trey Canard
4 4 2:03.377 4 2:05.945 Justin Barcia
5 5 2:03.601 4 2:06.518 James Stewart
6 6 2:03.780 2 2:07.669 Brett Metcalfe
7 10 2:05.289 2 2:08.846 Malcolm Stewart
8 8 2:05.934 4 2:07.544 Weston Peick
9 7 2:06.169 14 2:07.470 Jake Weimer
10 9 2:06.318 4 2:07.757 Josh Grant

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:03.838 7 2:06.290 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:04.880 7 2:06.934 Ryan Dungey
3 3 2:05.192 7 2:07.100 James Stewart
4 5 2:05.352 7 2:08.353 Justin Barcia
5 4 2:05.359 6 2:06.680 Trey Canard
6 9 2:05.572 4 2:09.460 Brett Metcalfe
7 7 2:06.660 4 2:08.745 Malcolm Stewart
8 6 2:06.798 8 2:08.232 Weston Peick
9 10 2:07.209 5 2:09.736 Andrew Short
10 8 2:07.551 3 2:09.026 Jake Weimer

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:03.601 3 2:06.427  Jeremy Martin
2 2 2:05.370 7 2:07.440  Cooper Webb
3 3 2:05.548 4 2:07.698  Justin Bogle
4 4 2:05.759 3 2:07.388  Justin Hill
5 5 2:06.619 4 2:09.207 Zach Bell
6 6 2:07.129 11 2:09.029  Blake Baggett
7 32 2:07.669 13 2:11.351  Cole Seely
8 7 2:08.126 7 2:09.459  Jessy Nelson
9 8 2:08.135 7 2:09.642  Christophe Pourcel
10 9 2:08.534 11 2:09.544  Marvin Musquin

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:05.465 3 2:08.763 Jeremy Martin
2 3 2:06.154 3 2:10.392 Christophe Pourcel
3 2 2:06.707 3 2:09.771 Cooper Webb
4 6 2:06.922 7 2:10.190 Justin Hill
5 5 2:08.123 5 2:10.053 Jessy Nelson
6 35 2:08.149 2 2:08.410 Justin Bogle
7 32 2:08.386 3 2:09.244 Cole Seely
8 4 2:08.599 5 2:10.146 Jason Anderson
9 8 2:08.739 2 2:12.477 Matt Bisceglia
10 34 2:08.900 6 2:10.433 Blake Baggett

More news and notes:

Through four motos, the 250 Class has ushered in a new wave of young riders. Returning to the forefront of the conversation is Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs’ Jessy Nelson. Since capturing 2012 MX Rookie of the Year honors, Nelson has been beset with injuries. Finally healthy, Nelson has been one of the early surprises. Helped by a fifth in the second moto at Hangtown, Nelson is currently fourth in points—ahead of pre-season title favorites Marvin Musquin, Jason Anderson, Justin Bogle, Cole Seely and Blake Baggett.

Justin Hill narrowly missed out on his first career podium on Saturday. 
Justin Hill narrowly missed out on his first career podium on Saturday.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Another young suitor garnering attention is Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Justin Hill. In his second season, Hill has filled a hole for the injury depleted Pro Circuit squad. “I felt really good today and was able to push all the way to the end of the motos, but came up just short. I had a pretty big get off as I was reeling in the top-three and it knocked the wind out of me,” said Hill in a team statement. The younger of the Hills, (older brother Josh in racing in Canada) narrowly missed out on his first career overall podium, but can take solace with a career-high fourth.

In the 250 Class, privateers have made an impact early in the season—in part because of the number of factory riders missing. Take this past weekend for example: GEICO Honda was missing Zach Osborne, Yamalube Star Racing was without Anthony Rodriguez, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Shane McElrath was a late scratch, Pro Circuit was trimmed to two due to the absence of Darryn Durham, Dean Wilson, Martin Davalos and Adam Cianciarulo, while Red Bull KTM is still a one-man crew with Dean Ferris on the sidelines. Furthermore, Rockstar Energy KTM just got back Joey Savatgy, who had been sidelined for nearly a year. It’s a ripe time for privateers to contend for top tens as we’ve already seen at the GoPro Hangtown National.

Did you know? The last time Valli Motorsports’ Christophe Pourcel had an overall podium in the 250 Class was September 4, 2010, at Steel City Raceway.

Flashback: Christophe Pourcel's last podium appearance before last Saturday at Hangtown. 
Flashback: Christophe Pourcel's last podium appearance before last Saturday at Hangtown.  Photo: Simon Cudby

From the outskirts of Lidkoping, a small town in southern Sweden, Fredrik Noren has carved a path in the privateer ranks. Entering his fourth professional season in the U.S., Noren has switched from Suzukis to KTMs for 2014. The change has paid dividends, as Noren finished a career-high twelfth overall at Hangtown.

Noren wasn’t the only privateer to shine on 450s at Hangtown. California’s own Sean Collier went 15-16 for fourteenth overall… Colorado’s Kellian Rusk (13-23) finished seventeenth overall… South Carolina’s PJ Larsen finished just inside the top twenty via 16-24 moto scores… Washington’s Tommy Weeck just missed out on the top twenty after a big get-off in the first moto while running inside the top fifteen. He was relegated to twenty-first overall following a 17th in the second moto.