Things are heating up this summer both on the track and in the rumor department. We set up Chase Stallo, Steve Matthes, and Jason Thomas with three key questions. Be sure to share your thoughts below.
1. Has Weston Peick done enough to secure a factory ride for 2015?
Chase Stallo: I’ll say this: I sure hope he has. When RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki brought on Peick for the summer, I don’t think anyone on the team was expecting him to win. They wanted consistency and someone who would be close enough to the leaders to garner TV time. And that’s what Peick has brought. Through eighteen motos, he has fifteen top-tens and four top-fives, and only two finishes outside the top fifteen (which includes a DNS at RedBud). Peick would be a great second rider on any team. He’s consistent, rarely misses races, and is a tough competitor. Some teams may see him as a marketing liability, but if you spin it right, I think he could be a marketers dream. He’s tough, fierce, and edgy. Isn’t that what motocross is about?
Steve Matthes: I definitely think he has. Peick's been very good this year indoors and out, and we've now seen his ability to adapt to a new bike and team, and still produce some solid results. He has had some ups and downs and can't seem to get great starts, but the guy's shown to be a fifth to tenth-place guy (or better), whether it's a supercross or motocross race.
He seems to be able to stay away from injury; he's someone that other people root for because he escaped Privateer Island and his presence on the RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki team gives hope to all those other riders stranded on the island. I have heard he's in the running for a spot on Toyota/JGR Yamaha, and maybe he goes back to RCH, but either way, I would bet he'll have a good ride for 2015. And if the inconceivable happens and he finds himself without a salaried ride, well, he can just get back on his program he had for supercross and continue to impress.
Jason Thomas: I think he absolutely has. He has shown the ability to be a top-five guy both indoors and out. That should be, in any universe, enough to land a deal. The real question, though, is will he? I have a feeling he will, but it sure hasn't been as sure of a thing as I would have guessed. If he doesn't land a deal, it will be a real disappointment for privateers because he has set the bar for what is possible.
2. Biggest surprise: Tommy Hahn or Tommy Weeck?
Stallo: I don’t think Tommy Weeck’s success at Washougal should surprise anyone by now. He’s done it too many times. Since 2010 (Weeck missed 2012), his results at Washougal read: 15-14-6-19-15-18. Maybe it’s a little surprising since he hasn’t raced since Thunder Valley, but not enough to sway my opinion.
I know Tommy Hahn has all the talent in the world, but did anyone think he would be this good this early into his comeback? Hahn hadn’t raced all year, until Spring Creek—where he went 20-35—and his last race before that was RedBud a year ago. In fact, Hahn had raced a total of nine races since 2012 before this weekend. Not exactly battle tested. His fifteenth first moto wasn’t a total shocker—the 450 Class is made up of a lot of part-timers and privateers. But his tenth in the second moto left me in awe.
Matthes: I know Weeck was great at Washougal, but that was to be expected a little bit. But I was impressed with his speed and finishes at the first few rounds of the series this year. He also had an easy fourteenth in the bag at Hangtown until he fell and couldn't start his bike on the last lap of the moto. He scored a fourteenth in one moto at Glen Helen, had that finish at Hangtown taken away from him, and had a solid day at Lakewood as well. And then you have the top-ten in the second moto at Washougal (I don't care if you live in the woods at Washougal and ride there every day; a top ten is still great), and I'll go with Weeck.
JT: I say Tommy Hahn by a long shot. He has basically been in retirement for a year or two, and even at Millville, was nowhere near this good. He was a solid top-ten guy on Saturday, and for someone that most had written off, it had to feel good. I don't know how much money there is left in the sport for Tommy, but he certainly earned some respect with that ride.
3. Who will win the Horizon Award at Loretta's?
Stallo: I think it will boil down to a battle between Star Racing prospect Aaron Plessinger, Team Green’s Chris Alldredge, and the GEICO Honda duo of RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith. I got to see Plessinger up-close-and-personal at Ricky Carmichael’s Amateur Supercross event at Daytona, and came away very impressed. Smith and Alldredge dueled at Mammoth—trading moto wins—while Hampshire has been on fire the last two years. It’s really a toss-up between these four, but if you’re twisting my arm, I’ll go with Smith.
Matthes: I have no idea, really. I just don't follow the amateur scene nearly as close as others. I know I've heard nothing but great things about Plessinger, people have told me that Smith is by far the next big thing if he stays healthy, and Hampshire, well, he's trained by Tim Ferry, and that's ALL you need to know right there. I do know this: GEICO Honda appears to be reloading with Hampshire and Smith, and one or both of these guys should be the next Canard, Barcia, or Tomac.
JT: I'm going to go with the Florida boy, RJ Hampshire. He has come out of nowhere the past couple of years to land a full GEICO Honda ride. He grew up riding the same tracks I did, so I am certainly pulling for him this week.