Welcome to Racerhead, and Friday the 13th. There’s racing going on over in France this weekend as the annual Bercy Supercross—now held in Lille, France—taking place. James Stewart, Cooper Webb, Weston Peick, Christophe Pourcel, and Malcolm Stewart will all line up with newly crowned MXGP champ Romain Febvre in the always-fun event, which marks the height of the international SX season. You can watch both Saturday and Sunday’s action races live stream right here.
It will be live Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time (10:30 a.m. Pacific) and the Sunday afternoon races will be live at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time (6:30 a.m. out west). Thanks to TMV on the VitalMX Forum for the times and link. Steve Matthes and Austin White are on hand for Racer X Online, so look for updates and race reports here and on our social media @racerxonline, as well as @pulpmx and @awhiteimx all weekend long.
If there is an off-season race that doesn’t need a lot of explanation, it’s the Bercy SX. Held since 1984, first at the Bercy Palais Omnisport on the outskirts of Paris, and more recently in Lille, a city with a bigger stadium north of Paris, it’s the cradle of French supercross. The people at Larviere, which publishes Moto Revue, Moto Verte, and MX Magazine in France, brought the best Americans of the day—David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Jeff Ward, Broc Glover, Ricky Johnson—to show the fans what U.S. supercross really looked like. More than thirty years later, it’s still going strong, and it’s a driving force in helping make the French a world-class power in supercross. From Jacky Vimond to Jean-Michel Bayle, Mickael Pichon to David Vuillemin, from Sebastien Tortelli to Christophe Pourcel, and all of the guys in between, their path to success has come through the Bercy SX. And every top American, from those first legends of 1984 to Cooper Webb, has also ridden through Bercy during their career. It’s a great event and it should be interesting to see this weekend’s results.
Back here on the home front we’re just going through the brand new issue of Racer X Illustrated, which features our 2015 Racer X Rider of the Year, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. RD5 (or RD1 next year) swept the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and he threw in an ESPY Award to boot. We let Ryan know that he won the award, which really should not have been a surprise, and he responded with a very cool note and a shot of him holding up his Cover T that we will be giving away to every new (or renewed) paid subscription.(More on that promotional offer below.)
Dungey is one of the title contenders here in the States who are staying put in the off-season. Having served on Team USA for six straight years, he decided to take some time off this fall, other than racing at Red Bull Straight Rhythm and the Monster Energy Cup. The season here—seventeen straight SX races followed by twelve outdoor nationals, all squeezed into the first nine months of the year—is one of the longest professional tours of all. Our sport’s unfortunate injury rate, not to mention burnout, always comes into a rider’s calculations when he’s trying to figure out whether to go make some good start money on the international SX circuit or stay home and rest and prepare for the coming season. RCH Racing’s Ken Roczen, winner of the Monster Energy Cup, also took the off-season off (besides the same two events Dungey did), while Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac is just getting back on the bike. Honda’s Trey Canard raced and won the All-Japan Finals but is otherwise taking it easy, and two-time AMA Supercross Champion Chad Reed is still sorting his ride out for 2016, focusing his testing on a Yamaha—he was out riding in California this week—but details on where he will set up shop have yet to be nailed down.
As for Stewart, he won Red Bull Straight Rhythm, crashed at the Monster Cup, pulled out of the Australian SX Finals while staying in the Bercy SX lineup, then turned around and decided to go to Australia after all. He’s trying to get as much seat time in as possible, having not raced at all during the AMA season, yet he also wants to make sure he’s healthy and ready going into Anaheim. Like I said, it’s a big calculation that doesn’t always add up the same one for one rider as compared to another—and it can flip from year to year.
There’s also a smaller supercross in Stuttgart, Germany, and it will also feature a handful of Americans: Jace Owen, Ben LaMay, Tevin Tapia, Austin Politelli, Kyle Chisholm, Jeff Alessi, and more. It’s tonight and tomorrow, and it’s on live here, courtesy of Germany’s CROSS Magazine.
Let’s start Racerhead with the Silly Season, cont’d:
Silly Season (Chase Stallo)
The final pieces of silly season are starting to fall into place, here and abroad. We released our second (of many) update this week, which you can check out here. The big news this week was the decision of Ben Townley, the oft-injured former MX2 World Champion and 250SX Champion, to return to racing at the age of 30 after announcing his retirement in 2013. Ping and JT will have more on his decision below.
In other MXGP news, Thomas Covington is leaving Monster Energy Kawasaki and heading to Husqvarna, where he will join Max Anstie, who left a different Monster Energy Kawasaki team (Steve Dixon’s), to solidify his future in MXGP, where he will move after this season. Anstie’s deal will run through the 2018 season. Max Nagl will return to the team and will be joined by Christophe Charlier in MXGP. Nagl was the points leader this past season before snapping his ankle in a qualifier at the German GP.
As we reported last week, former Team Green rider Darian Sanayei will contest the first seven rounds of the 250SX West Region with Bud Racing/Monster Energy Kawasaki before heading to Europe to contest the European Motocross Championship in the EMX250 class. In the team’s official announcement this week, it was unveiled that former world champion David Vuillemin will “be in charge of the technical riding training and to be sure that the kids will be physically prepared.”
Stateside, 51FIFTY Yamaha made the biggest splash in the team’s five-year history, inking a deal with 2012 AMA Horizon Award winner Zach Bell. Bell spent his first three-plus professional seasons with GEICO Honda and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. Bell missed all but one round of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross due to a head injury in 2015. When we last checked in with him over the summer, Bell pegged his recovery at seven months to a year.
In gear news, Thor announced its second big signing in as many weeks, bringing back Marvin Musquin. Musquin initially signed with Thor for the 2013 season and spent the next two years with the brand. In 2015, Red Bull KTM signed a deal with Fox, putting Musquin in Fox gear. With his full-time move to the 450 Class in 2016, Musquin was able to put together his own apparel endorsement deals and will return to Thor for 2016 and beyond.
Before we move on, Aaron Hansel has some news on Crossland Racing:
Some news from the Crossland Racing camp broke this week too. After hearing several rumors the operation was shutting down, we gave owner Chris Crossland a call to find out what was really going on. They're still working on a few sponsors and tying up loose ends so he couldn't tell us everything, but he was able to confirm that they will indeed be racing in 2016. They'll contest 250SX West Region in Monster Energy Supercross on Hondas with Kyle Peters and rookie Chase Marquier, and possibly a third rider. There's also plans to race the first three rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship in the 450 Class.
PRO PERSPECTIVE (PING AND JT)
Following a downright brilliant comeback performance at the Motocross of Nations in France back in September, former Lites Supercross Champion and MX2 World Champion Ben Townley decided to make a comeback by signing with Suzuki to make another run at MXGP. Our resident pros David Pingree and Jason Thomas weigh in on BT101 returning after more than two years back home in New Zealand.
Ping: Retirement is tough. And really, if we’re being honest, most of us use the word retire incorrectly. There are only a small number of guys who made enough money racing to truly retire. The rest of us just quit racing and found another line of work. Besides, even those who have a fortune in the bank (RC, KW, RV, etc.) find something that interests them and get involved. For Ben Townley, who may or may not have made enough money to live out the rest of his days without working, the decision to quit racing was forced upon him. BT’s injuries had taken a toll on him and on his family and he made that decision based on those circumstances. After a couple years of healing and some serious introspection (I would imagine), he is making the choice to come back. I’m sure Ben feels like he has unfinished business in the sport and he has an opportunity to join a team capable of winning a world title. It has been a long time since Ben finished a series without an injury, but everybody, including Ben, knows that he can win races if he can just stay healthy; his ride in France was proof of that. Ben’s motivation is personal. He doesn’t need the money and he isn’t looking for spotlight. Townley truly believes he can be world champion and I, for one, believe him. Good luck, BT.
JT: I think it's pretty simple in this case for Townley: Ben never got to go out on his own terms. Injuries have been the recurring theme for the Kiwi, forcing him to stop racing before he would have ideally liked. Now that he's fully healthy, I think he sees the opportunity to give it one more go. The real key here was his performance in Ernee, though. Had that not happened, I don't think he or Stefan Everts' Suzuki Europe team would have pulled the trigger on a full-scale comeback. He had been off the world radar for a bit and aging is not kind to anyone in this sport. Talent has never been the issue for Townley. Being healthy enough to consistently display that talent has. Will 2016 be the year he puts the puzzle together? Time will tell.
UH-OH, CANADA (DC)
We have long kept on an eye on the Canadian National scene, and not just because Steve Matthes keeps mentioning his days as a young Canuck/80cc Intermediate threat. They have some very good tracks and great MX people up there, and they have long offered a place of refuge for American riders who are either trying to work their way up the ladder or back down while still getting paid to compete. But recently some of the changes up north have us scratching our heads, wondering what's melted off the glaciers into the Crown and Cokes of the powers that be.
It started with the decision to clip the Walton event—the traditional finale and Canada's version of Loretta Lynn's—from the CMRC's Rockstar Nationals schedule. Walton is a big end-of-summer happening, and the Lee family and Mark Perrin, who produce the event, are exceptional hosts and race promoters. The weather didn't always work out, but that's life in August anywhere in North America. The Walton TransCan event is popular with the riders and fans alike, and it was set to celebrate its 25th anniversary this August, having been held on the third week of that month since 1991. Then Mark Stallybrass, who owns the series, decided that Walton no longer benefitted sponsors enough to merit staying on the schedule, despite the fact that it's the single biggest race in the series. I know firsthand how complicated some track/series promoter relationships can be, but this one really doesn't make sense, given the timing and success of Walton over the years. I hope they can work it out, though it sounds like Walton may not be the only existing race on the chopping block.
Now comes a new rule change: like last year, 250cc two-strokes can race in the MX2 class with 250cc four-strokes, but only if you haven't finished in the top five in the series over the last three years—and you have to be Canadian. That's right: no Americans or any other competitor from any other country can race a 250cc two-stroke in that class, regardless of your skill or experience. Here's how they explained it:
"The intention of allowing 250 two-strokes to compete in the MX2 class was to allow Canadian privateers an affordable way to compete in regional, provincial and national level events. That has been achieved in all regions of the country, apparent by the growing number of 250 two-strokes that line up every weekend to race. However, at the Pro Nationals where a substantial investment is made by all manufacturers to compete at the front of the pack, which is where all of the attention and publicity is gained, the set rules and eligibility guidelines have created concern among the manufacturers that do not produce and retail a 250 two-stroke.
"Rather than jeopardize having 250 two-strokes eliminated completely from the MX2 class, there have been additional eligibility rules established that limit certain riders that will be competing for a championship. The new limitations insure that the original intention of the rule is maintained and the overwhelming majority of riders that compete on a 250 two-stroke will not be affected. Therefore, beginning at the 2016 Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Nationals, 250 two-strokes can be used for competition by Canadians only. Additionally, riders that had an overall finish in the top five at the National series in the MX2 class within the last three years will not be eligible to compete on a 250 two-stroke."
Believe me, I get the hot-button issue that is allowing two-strokes 250s in the 250cc four-stroke class, and how divided people get on the issue, whether it's here or in Europe, Australia, wherever. But if you’re going to allow them in the class, give everyone a chance to compete on one, not just the home team. Tailoring a rule that discriminates against foreign riders is just so, well, un-Canadian. Americans riders have been heading north since the seventies, and they bring a lot to the series (and also bring a lot of trophies and titles home with them).
I should add, it's complicated because the OEMs want their professional teams to race against bike models they also manufacture and sell, and obviously right now not all manufacturers make or sell 250cc two-strokes. And while it's easy to say "that's what they get for not making two-strokes anymore," it gets a little more intense when they actually quit competing altogether as a result of those uneven and inconsistent rules (see what was AMA Superbike). Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, and MXGP all face this conundrum, too, and rather than split the baby and allow, say, only Americans outside the top five to race 250cc two-strokes against 250 four-strokes, we all have even class structure for all six brands, and all six prefer it that way.
Like the FIM erasing that ill-conceived starting-gate-pick points rule for the GPs, hopefully the CMRC rethinks this “no Americans” restriction and either goes all-in or all-out on their displacement regulations.
Matthes, care to weigh in?
Live from Lille! (Matthes)
This Racerhead contribution is coming to you from the Lille, France, a city about an hour and a half north of France and on the Belgium border. This race is the new location for the famed Bercy, which was under construction last year and is hosting a U2 concert tomorrow night (live on HBO). Although it’s a different local crowd, they are no less rowdy than the ones at Bercy always were, and with a bigger venue, they are seeing better racing. This year it’s two nights of racing, and James Stewart, Malcolm Stewart, Weston Peick, Cooper Webb, Christophe Pourcel, Shaun Simpson, and Romain Febvre are just some of the riders here. There was press day today, but this intrepid reporter had jetlag get the better of him and I missed it. My bad.
Even though no longer in the heart of Paris, this race is still the premier European Supercross, and I think the rider lineup bears that out. Last year GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac made it a bit of a bore as he dominated everything, but I don't think we'll see that tomorrow night. JS7 is probably the favorite, but he had a rough MEC, and you have to wonder if he's just trying to get through this weekend. A few trying days for James with his announcement that he's out for the upcoming Aussie SX and then back in, apparently after some wicked backlash from fans and event organizers.
Track looks great, the lineup is awesome, and stay tuned to Racer X and PulpMX on Twitter as well as Racer X Instagram for the reports. Oh, and on that no-American-smokers rule in Canada, I am just getting my head wrapped around that one, so I will weigh in with more on that next week.
COOPER WEBB (Andras Hegyi)
Of all the young 250cc riders on the planet, Cooper Webb has achieved the most outstanding results while in the saddle of a 450. The Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha-backed Webb, who turned professional in 2013, moved up to a 450 at the USGP at Glen Helen in order to prepare himself for his role as Team USA's Open-class rider at the Motocross of Nations in France. In both races he was very impressive, earning podiums and giving MXGP World Champion Romain Febvre unexpected challenges. At Glen Helen, Webb finished third overall. In France, Webb finished second twice to fellow Yamaha rider Febvre (who only started racing 450s in February). Then Webb went to Japan for the All-Japan Grand Prix and went 1-3 finish second overall to fellow American Trey Canard, with Febvre third.
Finally, last Saturday, Webb was able to get his first supercross win in the saddle of 450. (Webb raced a 450 last year, and won, at the All-Japan race, but without much in the way of world-class competition like he had this year with Canard and Febvre.) Webb won last weekend at the 36th Genova Supercross, his first time visiting that event. With the win the teenager from North Carolina became the 18th American winner of the Genova SX. Before Webb, Danny "Magoo" Chandler (1982), Donnie Cantaloupi ('83), Broc Glover ('84, '85), Jeff Ward (also '85, as there were two nights), Ricky Johnson ('87-'89), Shaun Kalos ('89), Larry Ward ('91, '97), Jeremy McGrath ('94, '95), Michael Craig ('96), Robbie Reynard ('98), Ezra Lusk ('02), Mike Alessi ('05), Joshua Grant ('06), Justin Brayton ('09, '12, '15), Kevin Windham ('10), Justin Barcia ('13) and Eli Tomac ('14) all managed to win in Genova.
Webb has proven unambiguously this season that he will be very fast on the 450 when he moves up full-time, likely in 2017. Now he gets to prove that point even more with a strong showing this weekend at the Bercy-Lille SX in France, where he will be going up again James Stewart, not to mention Romain Febvre, though Romain himself will say that he's not nearly as seasoned in supercross as he is outdoors.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LARRY HUFFMAN (DC)
Since Steve Matthes is over in France doing actual event coverage rather than ranting and blogging and bench-racing here on the internet, I will take this announcement off his plate, but do it in his voice, because if there's anyone who appreciates Larry Huffman, it's Matthes.
“Oh, yeah, big day for Larry Huffman. It's his birthday, but it should be a National Holiday for Supercross. Larry was (and still is) the Mouth That Roared, the Super-Mouth of Supercross' salad days of yesteryear. As the announcer who came up with more catch phrases for SX than Yogi Berra did as a baseball player (or whatever he did). Larry used to lord over the stadium floors of places like the Los Angeles Coliseum, wearing a light-blue leisure suit and shouting out the action like the track was made of gunpowder and if anyone slowed down, they would catch on fire and blow up. He described the whoop-de-dos as being ‘so deep I can see German helmets peeking out!’ (Try that World War One metaphor today and no one would get it but someone would certainly complain to the PC police.) He could shout above the sounds of twenty or thirty motorcycles, though admittedly that was a bit easier when they were all riding smokers. And when it came to opening ceremonies, he basically WAS the opening ceremony, introducing riders like ‘Rocket!’ Rex Staten and Broc ‘Golden Boy!’ Glover and Bob ‘Hurricane!’ Hannah at a level decibels that even modern announcers like Lurch and ‘Hot’ Rob Buydos couldn't touch if they were screaming into the same microphone. (And I can only imagine how sweet it would have been to hear ‘Timmy “Red Dog!” Ferry’ and may ask Larry to leave that on my voicemail for Christmas.) Larry was as much a part of supercross back in the day as over-under bridges were—heck, they probably had those bridges just so Larry could get closer to the heavens as possible during opening ceremonies—and he will forever be the narrator of the sport's early days, just like that guy who used to do NFL Films and talk about ‘the frozen tundra’ as if the Minnesota Vikings were the actual Vikings. We miss hearing you out there, Larry, H A P P Y Birrrrrrthdayyyyyyyyy!”
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
'Pawn Stars' Toy Expert Arrested for Fight with Drunk GF - TMZ.com
Hey, WATCH IT!
Here’s the Moto Verte press day clip from the Bercy SX.
Kings of Xtreme German Supercross Higlights
RacerTV is releasing individual remastered motos in high definition (HD) on RacerTV.com of the 34th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship, presented by Amsoil, allowing for everyone to recall the memories of the 2015 national in full HD. The first thirty of fifty total motos are now available, with five more being released every week over the next five weeks. Check out the latest below.
51 (4- 6) Limited - Moto 3 - Loretta Lynn's Remastered 2015
51 (4-6) Special Limited & 51 (4-6) Shaft Drive Limited - Moto 3 - Loretta Lynn's Remastered 2015
Senior 45+ & Masters 50+ - Moto 3 - Loretta Lynn's Remastered 2015
Schoolboy 1 (12-16) B/C - Moto 3 - Loretta Lynn's Remastered 2015
65 (10-11) Limited - Moto 3 - Loretta Lynn's Remastered 2015
And check out FMXer Bruce Hudson making his entrance in order to sell his idea for an all-natural industrial hand soap to the sharks on Shark Tank.
It’s not often that we run multiple subscription offers at once, but with Ryan Dungey winning two major titles this season, we couldn’t let a Rider of the Year cover shirt fall wayside for our traditional calendar offer.
Last week we announced the search for a West Coast Editor here for Racer X Online. Well, jobs we keep a-giving, because we're also looking for help in our Morgantown, West Virginia, office. We have an entry-level position open for proofreading and posting on this site. It's a lot of work but a great way to break into the industry and learn the ropes from us (if you consider us to be a group that knows the ropes. Whatever those ropes are). Here are the details:
Company: Racer X Illustrated
Location: Morgantown, West Virginia
Industry: Magazine Production
Job Type: Full-time Employee
Benefits: A host of benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans, are available under varying terms and conditions.
Online Content Publisher/Copy Editor
About the Job The online content publisher/copy editor is responsible for the grammar, spelling, and overall technical quality of all writing on Racer X Online. He or she is responsible for posting clean, complete content on the site and managing online ad campaigns.
- Live in or be willing to move to Morgantown, West Virginia, to be a part of our creative team.
- Understand journalism and possess clear editing skills. The applicant will proofread stories for online publication.
- Understand social media. The position will require a strong understanding of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever’s next.
- Understand media. The candidate will need to keep current with emerging media trends.
- Be technically proficient. The candidate will be required to maintain a consistent look and feel throughout our web properties. Experience with website maintenance and posting is a plus.
- Communicate well. The applicant will be working with a variety of staff writers and outside contributors each day.
- Be organized. You will have deadlines all day, every day. You must be able to keep track of what’s next.
- Be reliable. You’ve got to come through, whether simply showing up for work on time or nurturing a project successfully from beginning to end.
- Be willing to put in the time. A job in this sport is not 9-to-5. If you want a 9-5 job, this isn’t the position for you. You will also be required to work multiple weekends throughout the year.
- Be cool. Seriously, this is a tough job, but it’s pretty amazing at the same time. We all work hard, but we’re making something we absolutely love and are proud to be a part of. This position is integral to our business; you will have the opportunity to be creative and be a part of the team, and work directly with Racer X staffers including Davey Coombs, Jason Weigandt, Steve Matthes, David Pingree, and Jason Thomas. The position provides plenty of opportunity, but that opportunity comes with a responsibility to embrace it all. Negativity isn’t a plus.
- College B.A. Degree in Journalism, Public Relations, or Communications
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
- Experience with Adobe Suite and working in the admin panel and CMS of websites is preferred
To apply, please submit the following to: email@example.com
- Cover letter explaining why you’re the right person for this job
- Portfolio, writing examples, links to published work, etc.
We’ll be accepting résumés through November 27. Hiring will begin as soon as possible after the submission deadline, and then we get to work.
The annual World Vet Championship went off at Glen Helen Raceway and it looked like a whole bunch of fun, as always. Chuck Sun, the former AMA 500cc National Champion and Team USA legend, is a regular at events like this, be it the Farleigh Castle race in England, or really anywhere here in the States. He penned this piece for the World Vet Championship program.
The 3rd annual Kurt Caselli Foundation Ride Day at Glen Helen Raceway will take place on December 4, 2015. Gates will open at 8 a.m. with a $20 donation fee collected from participants. Riding will start at 9 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. The Kurt Caselli Foundation will have the main track available for open riding as well as the kids track and an off-road loop.
A raffle ticket will be handed to each participant at the gate and the raffle will take place at 11:30am. A silent auction will be held at 1:30pm with all proceeds going to The Kurt Caselli Foundation.
NEW for this year is the Caselli Team Challenge where two riders will per up and participant in an 8-lap race. The riders will need to use only one bike and switch off each lap. There can only be one pro rider on each team. The start will take place Lemans style with one boot from each of the starting riders in a pile in front of the start line. Riders will run to their boot first and then back to their bike before taking off on the first lap. An entry fee of $20.00 will be mandatory for all teams that goes toward The Kurt Caselli Foundation. The race is limited to 30 teams with a grand prize and custom-made trophy awarded to the winning pair.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid'Eh Update #45.
Troy Boy profiled privateer hero Alex Ray, who's trying to overcome an injury and get back to where he knows he can be here.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. See you at the races.