BTOSports.com Observations: High Point

BTOSports.com Observations High Point

June 17, 2015 4:15pm

High Point, Mount Morris—whatever you want to call the race this weekend—hosted round five of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Wow, we’re almost halfway through this thing! Where did the time go? 

The High Point track saw some major renovations this year. The infield section was pretty much all-new, and there was a section in the back that was also changed. It was all pretty good according to the riders I spoke to. Some thought the new back section was a bit one-lined, but all in all, some good changes. And, par for the course this year, a massive sky-shot-type of jump was added in. Not sure why we have to have these huge jumps on national tracks (the one at High Point was pretty safe), but whatever.

I still really want to see all of the jumps put back in on Bradshaw Boulevard because nothing but a flat straightaway is an insult to The Beast from the East (I understand space is needed for mechanic’s area, but put it somewhere else!). I also want the plywood wall turn they used back when the riders crossed the start straight. They would bounce off a left-hand wood-wall berm—that was epic. That was High Point in my mind. Sigh... I hate getting old and seeing my childhood traditions go by the wayside in the name of “safety.”

Back to now.

Remember last week when I told you a good national track needs to be a bit muddy in the morning? Well, that’s what High Point was, and it turned out to be a pretty epic day. Track was rough and rutty, weather held out and was pretty good, and it was, to me, a tough motocross track. 

Ryan Dungey dominated the first moto.
Ryan Dungey dominated the first moto. Photographer: Cudby

The opening laps of the first 450 Class moto saw an amazing effort by Ryan Dungey. It’s something we don’t see much from The Dunge; he’s usually pretty stoic, machine-like, and at times pretty cautious out there. And, hey, he’s got a nice lead in this series, so why should any of us expect anything different at this point?

Cheering for Ryan Dungey is like going to Denny’s for a Grand Slam breakfast—you know what you’re getting, it’s quality, and it’s delivered pretty fast, but not at High Point in the first moto. This was like ordering a Grand Slam and getting French toast with whipped cream and strawberries—much different! 

Dungey started off in sixth, passed Broc Tickle with a sweet inside move, used incredible downhill speed to catch and pass Roczen (helped by Ken Roczen coming in too hot to a corner and having to hit the outside berm about three miles away), jumped a downhill double that hadn’t been done all day (Dungey, bro!) to get by Weston Peick, and then disposed of Christophe Pourcel. From the moment he passed Tickle for fifth until he got by Pourcel into second, 3:11 had elapsed. From there, he used his super-secret downhill-double move to put time on leader Justin Barcia and set himself up for a gorgeous pass to take the lead. From the time he moved into fifth until he took the lead, 4:41 has passed. He took down five world-class riders in 4:41. The moto was 34:30, but Ryan Dungey shown brightest during that 4:41.

Christophe Pourcel is back to doing Christophe Pourcel things out there. He got a late start with the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna team and moved up into the 450 Class. The #377 was very fast last year on the Valli Yamaha but lacked some endurance, and to me, the will to hang it out, but he acquainted himself well and got a win. People love to talk about Pourcel both good and bad. He’s made more than a few enemies with people who have worked with him, and he’s not really a fan of the media, so it’s hard for people to get to know him. And he’s from another country, so sometimes guys like him have to work a bit harder when it comes to PR. He doesn’t like me for some of the things I have said about him, but since he’s never given me the time of day going way back to his Pro Circuit days, what can I do but go off what others have told me about the dude? And not all of it has been good in case you’re wondering.

Pourcel got the holeshot in the second 450 Class moto.
Pourcel got the holeshot in the second 450 Class moto. Photographer: Cudby

He’s basically a giant question mark for many people. But eight motos in, he was perhaps in danger of the worst kind of talk as a rider, which is when no one is talking about you, good or bad. His first eight motos featured some good, some bad, and some ehhhhh. 

But, as I said, like a frog to water, the #377 is back to being weird. And maybe good. As the announcers were interviewing Kenny Roczen for getting the Bud Light Fastest Qualifier award, the Frenchman on the Swedish/Austrian bike was hammering out his fastest lap. At the checkers, it was Pourcel with the fastest qualifying time, which was five seconds better than any other lap he did. This is Pourcel at his most Pourcel, people! He got good starts, ran up in the top five all day long, and put in his best performance of the year after his worst performance of the year—just Christophe being Christophe. Welcome back to the land of confusion, everyone!

In the 250 Class, Marvin Musquin won with a couple of great rides. We knew he would be great at this track; it suits him well and he’d won there before. He put on a clinic at High Point. He got two great starts, he led every lap but one, and opened up a nice lead in the points. Marvin’s got such great technique for a track like High Point. Off-cambers, body positioning, throttle control—all his style. 

Alex Martin needed some good finishes. The surprise of the series early on, Alex had basically been dead last in five out of the last six motos coming into High Point due to mechanicals or crashes. Last week, I told you how he had passed about eighty-eight riders in four motos, and I left out another thirty-eight or so from the first moto at Glen Helen. So, yeah, A-Mart’s been fast, but due to these bad motos he just plummeted down outside of the top ten in points. 

Martin found redemption at High Point.
Martin found redemption at High Point. Photographer: Cudby

At High Point he showed that should still be taken seriously with a couple of nice rides. He tied for third overall with his brother, but Jeremy got it on the tie-breaker. Alex got great starts (I heard he’s got Pourcel’s YZ250F package from last year in his bike), and although his baby bro caught him at the end of the second moto, his 3-5 day was great. Yup, Alex Martin just scoring podiums in outdoor motos. Think about that for a second and think back to his black box-van days. Pretty incredible, really. I heard from some good sources that he’s going to Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha next year to join his brother, and good for him. The CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha team has done a good job, but they don’t have the resources to keep a guy who’s getting on the box like A-Mart is. The challenge for the Cycle Trader dudes is to find another A-Mart out there and rebuild his career, kind of like what Moto XXX did for so many guys for so many years.

Let’s take a look at the results, shall we? 

250 Class Results 

1. 25 Marvin Musquin; France; KTM 250 SX-F 1-1 

2. 16 Zachary Osborne; Abingdon, VA; Husqvarna FC250; 5-2 – Osborne was great again at High Point. He was also great last week at Muddy Creek but didn’t get the starts to prove it. In the second moto he kept Musquin honest most of the way and landed as the runner-up on the day. He was probably pissed in the first moto when A-Mart passed him and dropped him, but that’s what A-Mart does in 2015. I’d love to see Wacko Zacho keep this up all summer and get into the mix. I saw John Tomac at the race supporting Zach, who trains with the Tomacs. It was cool to see him there even though Eli is injured.

3. 1 Jeremy Martin; Millville, MN; Yamaha YZ250F; 4-4 – Jeremy got poop starts (partly due to his brother in one moto locking bars with him), and that’s not good, but he has plenty of time to make up for it with the length of the motos. From the halfway point to the end of the motos, Martin had fast lap times, but the problem was that he took way too long to get going. The first ten minutes of both motos were very un-Jeremy-like. Cannot let these points go—they’ll get you at the end.

4. 31 Alex Martin; Millville, MN; Yamaha YZ250F; 3-5 – Alex told me after the motos that he wants his brother to win the title, so he doesn’t want to cost him points, yet he’s also trying to set new career highs. Oh, the inner conflict the Ewok Warrior must be going through.

5. 37 Joseph Savatgy; Thomasville, GA; Kawasaki KX 250F; 6-3 – I think Savatgy has been quietly doing pretty well this series. Getting two podiums in ten motos is fine. It’s not “OMG, you’re awesome,” but it’s solid.

6. 50 Adam Cianciarulo; Port Orange, FL; Kawasaki KX 250F; 2-12 – High Point was a mixture of good and bad for Cianciarulo. He scored a career-best finish in the first moto and got a bad start and crashed in the second moto. I was surprised he couldn’t move up higher because he was really good in the first moto.

7. 68 Christian Craig; Plymouth, MN; Honda CRF250R; 8-7 – Big weekend for Craig to show that his results in Lakewood weren’t just a fluke. Well, he didn’t quite do it again, but he was pretty clos—nothing wrong with this finish. By the way, it looks like Craig will be on the team for the rest of the year even when Justin Bogle comes back.

8. 28 Jessy Nelson; Paso Robles, CA; KTM 250 SX-F; 10-8 – I really thought that with an uphill start, Nelson’s starting prowess, and his bike, he’d be yanking starts. Guess what? He didn’t yank starts at all. As I told Nelson after the race, if 10-8 scores are your “bad day,” that means you’re pretty good, right? 

9. 157 Aaron Plessinger; Hamilton, OH; Yamaha YZ250F; 9-10 – I was predicting big things for Plessinger this week on a track I assume he’s spent some time on. But we didn’t see it. 

10. 40 Shane McElrath; Canton, NC; KTM 250 SX-F; 11-9 

11. 126 Jordon Smith; Belmont, NC; Honda CRF250R; 16-6 – Smith continues the trend of one solid moto and one bad moto. 

12. 38 Matthew Bisceglia; Tualatin, OR; Honda CRF250R; 12-11 – Matt came around first moto in seventh after a good start and finished twelfth. Second moto, he came around in third and finished eleventh. And I don’t think he crashed either. The GEICO team PR says he was battling a “physical” issue. Not a good day for Biscuit. 

13. 55 Kyle Peters; Greensboro, NC; Honda CRF250R; 14-13

14. 52 Mitchell Oldenburg; Alvord, TX; KTM 250 SX-F; 13-14 – Mitchell needed three top-twelve overall finishes to guarantee his spot on the Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs KTM team for the rest of the year, and although he only got one top-twelve, the guys at TLD like him and enjoy working with him, so he’s on for the rest of the year.

15. 80 RJ Hampshire; Hudson, FL; Honda CRF250R; 7-37 – Hampshire’s been riding with a bad wrist and hurt it again in a nasty crash in the second moto. But he ran up front for a while in the first moto. 

16. 66 Christopher Alldredge; Powell Butte, OR; Kawasaki KX 250F; 15-15 – Not a great day for Alldredge, but he’s pretty consistent week to week, and that’s a surprise.

17. 343 Luke Renzland; Hewitt, NJ; Yamaha YZ250F; 17-16 – Seventeenth to fourteenth, man, that’s what Luke does. That’s not bad, by the way; the kids still a rookie. The force is with him. 

18. 88 Dakota Alix; Jay, VT; KTM 250 SX-F; 19-17 – Eight straight motos in the points for Alix, and I can’t remember him getting a great start in any of those motos. 

19. 57 Jackson Richardson; Australia; Honda CRF250R; 18-18 – Richardson was probably all “What’s with the Mellross hype, bros?” when Hayden rode so great last weekend at Muddy Creek and got Racer X and Pulpmx Show interviews. Meanwhile, Richardson rode himself into the top twenty in points with nice High Point rides.

20. 74 Zack Williams; Elko, MN; Honda CRF250R; 21-19 – Nice day for the Zacks at High Point, as “Zach 1” got on the box and “Zack 2” came from way back in both motos for nice finishes.

Get used to seeing Oldenburg on orange.
Get used to seeing Oldenburg on orange. Photographer: Cudby

450 Class Results

1. 1 Ken Roczen; Germany; Suzuki RMZ-450; 2-1 – We didn’t talk much above about the Roczen because of Dungey’s first moto, but Roczen won his first race since Anaheim II, which is great. And RCH Suzuki gets their first-ever national win, which is also great. However, Roczen splitting moto wins with Dungey isn’t great. He’s got to get busy and crank out a 1-1 here real soon. Nice to see Roczen back though.

2. 5 Ryan Dungey; Waconia, MN; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 1-2 – All hail the new Dunge!

3. 21 Jason Anderson; Rio Rancho, NM; Husqvarna FC450; 4-3 – That’s three podiums in five races for Anderson, and that’s a surprise, right? He’s emerging as a guy that can maybe win a moto if the two big dogs have something happen to them or are not 100 percent.

4. 377 Christophe Pourcel; Groveland, FL; Husqvarna FC450; 3-5 – Rockstar Husqvarna had the fastest qualifier in the 450 Class, two podiums, and a fourth out of their three riders.

5. 51 Justin Barcia; Madison, FL; Yamaha YZ450F; 5-4 – Barcia rode well and led some laps, but he doesn’t have the speed to win right now. Or he crashes, which also happened. He’s a third- to sixth-place guy in the Nationals right now, which is fine, but I think he’s got to be wishing that he was closer to the front and not having a rookie like Jason Anderson beat him. Justin’s got a lot of desire to be great, and he’s working with Buddy Antunez now. These recent finishes have to be bugging him.

6. 20 Broc Tickle; Holly, MI; Suzuki RMZ-450; 6-8 – Tickle continued with another strong ride at High Point. He came from way back in the second moto, and he even got a decent start in the first moto. It was unbelievable! Seeing the #20 up there was weird, but he did it. Of course, he settled into his “home” around the top five, but it was still great to see.

7. 23 Weston Peick; Wildomar, CA; Yamaha YZ450F; 11-6 – Peick went from challenging for second in the first moto to fading pretty badly to eleventh. Second moto was fine; he rode to a strong sixth. Afterward, he told me that he’s not sure what’s going on, but it’s been a couple of races now where he starts his first moto, feels fine, and, for some reason, feels like he has no energy. Then, in the second moto he’s fine. Weird, right? I predict some blood tests for Weston during the off week.

8. 14 Cole Seely; Laguna Beach, CA; Honda CRF450R; 7-10 – Seely and his teammate, Fredrik Noren, were pretty close in both motos all day. They even fell over around the same time in the second moto.

9. 48 William Hahn; Decatur, TX; Kawasaki KX 450F; 10-9 – Wilbur’s first top-ten overall on the season, and he showed a lot of fight out there with different riders. In the second moto he charged from the back to get that top-ten. 

10. 39 Fredrik Noren; Sweden; Honda CRF450R; 8-12 – Fast Freddie is on a week-to-week thing with Honda, and with Trey Canard just back riding, I think Noren will only get a couple of more races with the factory bike. Nice job by Noren out there. Too bad he tipped over in the second moto.

11. 10 Justin Brayton; Fort Dodge, IA; KTM 450 SX-F FE; 9-14 – Brayton’s just starting to heat up. Redbud, Millville—these are his tracks. You watch.

12. 54 Ryan Sipes; Flaherty, KY; Husqvarna FC450; 13-13 – Sipes wasn’t in the top ten like last week, but a couple of consistent motos are fine. And I’m sure he was pumped that he didn’t have to wake up and ride three hours on Sunday morning. If Sipes quit the GNCC thing, would he be able to get a ride? I think so.

13. 46 Phillip Nicoletti; Cohocton, NY; Yamaha YZ450F; 40-7 – Filthy had an eventful High Point. Falling in the first turn, getting up in last, and, due to no front brake, jumping over a berm and into Garth Milan, a photographer. It was ugly by all accounts. In the second moto he had fortieth gate pick on the outside and railed the start to come out around fifth. That might have been one of the more impressive things I saw on the weekend. Oh, and he went to watch a 250 moto and he got kicked out of the mechanic’s area for having bare feet. Seriously, who walks around a motocross track with bare feet?

14. 11 Kyle Chisholm; Valrico, FL; Kawasaki KX 450F; 14-15 – Quiet day for Chiz. He didn’t get any starts, and he kind of did his thing. He started sixteenth in moto one and got fourteenth. In moto two he started fourteenth and got fifteenth. Ho hum.

15. 35 Kyle Cunningham; Willow Park, TX; Suzuki RMZ-450; 12-17 – Cunningham’s twelfth in the first moto was strong. He’s getting used to the new Suzuki.

16. 4 Blake Baggett; Grand Terrace, CA; Suzuki RMZ-450; 34-11 – Terrible day for Baggett. He broke a front fork in moto one and then got a bad start and fell in moto two.

17. 43 Matthew Lemoine; Collinsville, TX; Kawasaki KX 450F; 17-16

18. 84 Jesse Wentland; Elk River, MN; Honda CRF450R; 15-19 – Wentland is gaining confidence. He rode himself into that spot in the first moto, which is encouraging to see. 

19. 73 Gannon Audette; Tallahassee, FL; Kawasaki KX 450F; 16-20 – Audette is solid man. He’s not going to wow you with flash and dash, and he’s pretty much a total privateer, but all he does is rack up good finishes. 

20. 253 John Short; Pilot Point, TX; Yamaha YZ450F; 21-18 – Nice to see a Short out there who hails from Texas. The sport’s better for it.

Tickle put in two more solid motos at High Point.
Tickle put in two more solid motos at High Point. Photographer: Cudby

Some other news and notes: 

-Have you seen that little black box on top of Dungey’s, Roczen’s, Cianciarulo’s and many others helmets? I, at first, thought it was a GPS sensor for the data on the bikes—maybe it was a better reading up there? Turns out it is a GPS, but for the individual riders. First brought into the sport by RCH Suzuki and used by Aldon Baker’s clients, LITPro allows riders to track their lap times, segments, jumping height and distance, heart rate, find the fast lines, and much more. It’s sort of a Strava for dirt-bike racers, and a really cool deal. It’s also another new thing that’s going to help our sport get more boring as racers pour over this thing, see the fast lines and then never deviate off of that. Check it out at Litproapp.com

Thanks for reading. Email me at matthes@racerxonline.com if you want to chat about the wood-wall berm at High Point (or Mount Morris).