Sign of the (Lap) Times: Hangtown

Sign of the (Lap) Times Hangtown

May 19, 2015 11:00am

By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

Christophe Pourcel’s foray in the 450 Class was identical to his last, way back in 2011, finishing eighth on both days—albeit separated by four years. In his debut with Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna, after limited testing, Pourcel followed a moto one fifth with a twelfth in moto two, good enough for eighth overall. “Today was okay,” Pourcel said in a team release. “It’s my first race back in twelve months, so it was tough. The speed is there. The goal is to be in the top ten in the first five races, so we got that. We’re still trying to get me more comfortable with the team and the bike, and I think we’ll have a good setup. I have the speed to be in the top five, and the goal is to fight for that every weekend. I got a bad start and rode a little tight in the second moto. I have to fix a few things, but I’ll rebound next weekend. I got eighth overall, so I’m happy with that as my first race back.” 

Another highly anticipated debut was that of Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett. After five months running the lower gears in Monster Energy Supercross, the 2012 250MX champion was unleashed outdoors, battling to fifth overall. He was narrowly edged by Jason Anderson in a battle for third in the first moto, and that came back to haunt him in moto two. He got Anderson that time but needed to pass an ailing Ken Roczen to finish fifth in order to get third overall. Roczen held Baggett off. After the race, Baggett said in a team release that Hangtown was a day to learn. “It was gnarly. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I learned a lot today, and I’m just going to go back to work and keep plugging away and try to work my way towards the podium.” 

It had been 404 days between gates drops for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Wil Hahn when he lined up for his first expedition in the 450 Class outdoors on Saturday. Hahn has overcome a multitude of injuries the past two years, each becoming more and more demoralizing. Hahn said he felt good on the bike but told us in an ideal world he’d have a few more weeks to get ready—although he also feels racing is one of the best ways to get back in shape. “Today definitely could have gone better,” said Hahn in a team release. “I feel like we have a good bike and I just need get back into the flow of racing. I know everyone on the team is working hard and they all have my back. We are going to build on today and keep working to keep earning better finishes.” Hahn went 17-26 for twentieth overall.

Fast Freddy is back! He logged his first top-ten of the season in Hangtown. 
Fast Freddy is back! He logged his first top-ten of the season in Hangtown.  Photo: Cudby

Wil’s brother Tommy is back as a full-time 450 motocross rider, racing for the same Motosport.com/GPI Honda team he raced 250s for in supercross. “We’ll see how it goes,” Tommy told us. “I’m in way better shape and more serious and structured with my training than when I was younger. But we’ll see what happens in the races. My main goal is to do some battling with Wil this year—the only other time we’ve raced each other was 2008, and he was a rookie.” Tommy got the better of Wil this time, going 13-16 for sixteenth overall.

Also a good ride for Tommy’s teammate Fredrik Noren, who is just back after tearing his meniscus while testing. The likeable Swedish rider went 10-10 for ninth overall in the 450 Class.

Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Josh Grant missed the race after taking a huge crash a few days earlier. He lacerated his tongue and was generally beat up and sore all over, but he does plan on returning for his home race this weekend at Glen Helen, where he won a moto last year. 

Cole Seely’s first 450 Class race outdoors lasted all of one turn before he would retire with a knee injury. According to a Honda HRC team release, Seely is expected back this weekend for the second round at Glen Helen. “Today started pretty good. I got sixth in qualifying and got off to a pretty decent start in the first moto,” he said in a team statement. “I think I was running about fourth or fifth coming around the first turn, but in the second turn I got pushed out a little wide and couldn’t really see where I was going, so I hit a bump and high-sided, hitting the ground pretty hard. I got a bad charley horse on my leg and hit my head pretty good, so the team and I decided it was better to sit the second race out and not risk it so I can come back strong at Glen Helen. Definitely not the way I wanted to start the series—only making it a couple hundred yards—but I’m confident because I had good practice times and the bike felt good. I’ll just bounce back next weekend.”

Let's take a look at the lap times, shall we?

450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:05.197  2:08.654  Eli Tomac
2 2:06.667 2:09.896  Ryan Dungey 
3 2:11.452  10  2:13.037  Blake Baggett 
4 2:11.532  11  2:12.932  Jason Anderson 
5 2:11.851  2:16.272  Weston Peick 
6 2:12.149  2:14.831  Christophe Pourcel 
7 19  2:12.265  2:22.593  Ken Roczen 
8 2:12.882  2:15.726  Brett Metcalfe 
9 2:13.468  2:14.848  Broc Tickle 
10 35  2:13:503  2:14.500  Justin Barcia 

Uh, do you see a gap between Tomac, Dungey, and the rest of the field? Wow. Also, check out how late Baggett and Anderson laid down their fast laps. Late in the moto, they were pushing each other in a race for third, so they both upped the tempo. Finally, have a look at Ken Roczen's time. He was hurting for sure, but he still had a speed burst in him.

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:05.571  2:09.621  Eli Tomac 
2 2:10.921  2:15.380  Ryan Dungey 
3 2:13.022  2:15.385  Weston Peick 
4 2:13.360  2:16.680  Ken Roczen 
5 2:13.468  2:16.017  Justin Barcia 
6 2:13.578  2:16.353  Blake Baggett 
7 2:13.782  2:17.252  Jason Anderson 
8 2:15.075  10  2:17.147  Broc Tickle
9 2:15.312 5 2:17.963  Brett Metcalfe 
10 14  2:15.589  15  2:19.278  Phil Nicoletti 

Dungey wasn't as happy with his bike in the second moto and ended up way off of Tomac. The track was also much rougher and everyone seemed to lose a good two seconds compared to moto one—except Eli, who was only four-tenths off. Dude's on it!

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 9 2:09.260  2:13.466  Adam Cianciarulo
2 2:09.476  2:12.817  Cooper Webb 
3 2:09.522  2:11.938  Marvin Musquin 
4 2:09.632  2:11.722  Jeremy Martin 
5 2:10.314  2:12.942  Joey Savatgy 
6 2:10.564  2:14.938  Justin Bogle 
7 2:11.062  2:13.111  Chris Alldredge 
8 2:11.638  2:13.468  Alex Martin 
9 14  2:12.191 3 2:12.638  Jessy Nelson 
10 2:12.196  2:13.814  Anthony Rodriguez 

Adam Cianciarulo definitely has his speed back, but a crash while leading knocked him way back. Most of these times reflect the final results, but note Jessy Nelson, who went down early, logging a flyer while buried in traffic.

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 2:10.575  2:13.661  Jeremy Martin
2 2:12.627  2:14.885  Marvin Musquin 
3 2:12.655  2:15.249  Chris Alldredge 
4 18  2:12.689  2:20.895  Jessy Nelson 
5 11  2:13.397  2:18.879  Adam Cianciarulo 
6 2:13.700  2:15.073  Zach Osborne 
7 2:14.079  2:15.267  Alex Martin 
8 2:14.196  2:17.009  Aaron Plessinger 
9 2:14.218  2:16.454  Anthony Rodriguez 
10 15  2:14.704  2:18.117  Joey Savatgy 

More bad news for Nelson, who crashed while toward the front and barely scored any points. He was fast again though.

More News and Notes

Prior to Hangtown, we mentioned in 10 Things to Watch how strange it was mentioning Star Racing and best team in the same sentence. After years of futility, Star turned its fortunes around last year, and now it’s arguably the deepest team outdoors. Check out the results: Jeremy Martin won the overall with 2-1 scores, Anthony Rodriguez was consistent with 7-6 finishes for fifth overall, and rookie Aaron Plessinger was solid in his first career national, finishing sixth overall. Cooper Webb was on the podium in the first moto, before aggravating an ankle injury in the second and pulling off. Star could have filled four of the top seven spots in the 250 Class if not for Webb’s injury! 

So, what of Webb? We talked to team owner Bobby Reagan after the race, and he said Webb had indeed hurt the same ankle he injured at the Las Vegas Supercross two weeks ago. Webb had taken a week off and then got back to riding and everything seemed like it would be okay, but now he’s headed for MRIs this week to determine the damage. We’ll update his status when we know more. 

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Chris Alldredge definitely didn’t look comfortable this year in Monster Energy Supercross, but he found some comfort at Hangtown. The Oregon native told us he’s logged a lot of laps at the track due to annual appearances at the Dodge National amateur race there. He then delivered a podium with third overall. “It feels amazing,” said Alldredge in a team statement. “We have all worked so hard here at the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team, and to get on the podium is something really special. Hangtown is like a second home track for me, and I have been racing here for a long time. To get on the podium with a lot of my family here was great and emotional.”

Rodriguez's fifth overall is a career best.
Rodriguez's fifth overall is a career best. Photo: Cudby

The team also received a boost from the return of Adam Cianciarulo, who was in action for the first time since Toronto Supercross in 2014. Cianciarulo and Cooper Webb rekindled their amateur rivalry in the first moto, with Adam leading the way before he crashed. He fought back to ninth. An eleventh in the second moto gave him eighth overall. “For this being my first race after more than a year off, I feel pretty good,” said Cianciarulo in a team statement. “You can’t replicate racing conditions when you’re training, and I have only been back on my bike for six weeks so I feel pretty good with where I am. This is a long season and I want to improve every week, and if I can do that I think I can be there in the title hunt.” 

Joey Savatgy also provided hope of a future Pro Circuit win—which would be their first of 2015—following a hard-fought fourth in the first moto. A crash in moto two erased any chances of an overall podium, but the outlook is a positive one going forward. “I can take a lot of positives out of today, but this isn’t the finish I wanted,” said Savatgy in a statement. “I know I have the speed to race up front, and I just need to put everything together.” Cianciarulo and Savatgy went 1-2 in 250 qualifying, further proving that the team has some speed outdoors. 

While Star and Pro Circuit were enjoying banner days, GEICO Honda was limping home after a forgettable weekend. Justin Bogle holeshot moto one but slid back uncharacteristically to eighth. He was up front in the second moto when Jessy Nelson got sideways and slammed him, sending Bogle to the ground hard. Racer X’s Aaron Hansel reported on Saturday that Bogle was “spitting up some blood, and the team says he’ll get an MRI on his shoulder to determine whether he has a tear or deep tissue bruising.” Justin released an update on Twitter yesterday. Check it out here. We will have more on his status for Glen Helen later in the week. 

With Bogle sidelined, Matt Bisceglia was the only GEICO rider on the track with any experience at Hangtown. Bisceliga fell back to tenth in the second moto after getting the holeshot and hung on for ninth overall. "I got a good start in the second moto but fell back for awhile," Bisceglia said. "I just need to loosen up a little bit and find my groove quicker and I'll be able to capitalize on these good starts. I just need to work on learning from my mistakes and getting better for next weekend. Then we'll come out swinging."

Meanwhile, rookie Jordon Smith was having problems of his own. Smith, in his first pro race national, came unglued from his handlebars in the first moto and could only work back to nineteenth. He finished seventeenth overall. "We made a lot of bike improvements today, and I had a great start in the second moto, which it set me up for a good finish," Smith said. "Overall it felt like a good day. I wanted to do a lot better than 19-13, but it's good to build on." 

RJ Hampshire, who raced the last three nationals a season ago, finished just outside the top ten—eleventh—in his first visit to Hangtown. "It was a pretty decent way to start," Hampshire said. "It's a good start to the season, but we're learning a lot and my bike was great. I just need to make improvements each weekend." 

All four of the GEICO Honda riders finished inside the top twenty.
All four of the GEICO Honda riders finished inside the top twenty. Photo: Cudby

Justin Hill’s outdoor campaign got off to a rocky start at Hangtown. The Red Bull KTM rider told us before the race he was hoping for a nice rebound outdoors after a rough season in supercross. “I probably should have raced east,” he told us, since he came into Anaheim 1 only a few weeks out of a big crash and a concussion. “I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t.” Hill had more troubles in this opener, crashing on the first lap in moto one and pulling into the mechanic’s area with bike problems. He returned a lap down but was able to work back to twenty-fifth. He rebounded in the second moto for seventh to salvage thirteenth overall. “I’m bummed about the crash [in the] first moto,” Hill said in a team press release. “But I’m happy I’m okay and can come back and charge hard for moto two.” 

It was a tale of two motos for veteran Zach Osborne as well. Limited to a twentieth in moto one, the Rockstar Energy Racing rider made a drastic turnaround in moto two, claiming fifth to recover for twelfth overall. “The first moto wasn’t good, but I turned it around in the second moto,” said Osborne in a team statement. “In moto two I got off to a decent start, worked my way up to fifth, and was right there for third and fourth. I have a lot of positive things to take away from the second moto. I got my bike set up a lot better in the second moto, and now I can carry a little momentum from that to Glen Helen.” 

A pair of crashes was the demise of Osborne’s teammate, Zach Bell. “I got a horrible start in the first moto and worked my way up to thirteenth but had a bad crash on the last lap,” he said in a team statement. “I got a decent start in the second moto, but I got cleaned out and ran over in the second turn and was dead last. I came back to nineteenth. It was a rough day, but I'm still healthy so we will move on to the next [round].”