Main Image courtesy of JGRMX
Welcome to Racerhead. Tomorrow and Sunday mark the 37th running of the Bercy Supercross in Paris, and we are teaming up with our friends at Moto Verte and MX Magazine to show you the livestream on the Racer X Facebook page of both Saturday night’s and Sunday’s racing. Keep an eye out for times!
If you ever wanted to pick a week to illustrate the great divide between AMA and MXGP, this may be it. The Bercy Supercross will go off in Paris with a handful of good AMA riders—Justin Barcia, Chad Reed, Dylan Ferrandis, Jeremy Martin, Joey Savatgy, Malcolm Stewart, and more. Unfortunately, there really aren’t any of the top MXGP riders. Why not? They just don't do supercross much in Europe, and this is more or less their off-season. Jeffrey Herlings and Antonio Cairoli and most of the rest of Europe's elite know that SX just isn't in their wheelhouse, so why bother with a one-off race, even with a decent payday? It just isn't worth the risk—or the chance of being shown up on a style of track they never compete on.
At the same time, some familiar names are on the move. Thomas Covington is headed back to Europe for a Yamaha ride in MXGP, his AMA season pretty much a wash after dealing with injuries, Epstein-Barr, and the inability to get his head wrapped around supercross. Covington went straight to Europe when he turned pro, missing supercross during his formative early years, and paying the price when he tried to get back to it. Covington had high hopes for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship this past summer, but after struggling so much in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, he never really got going outdoors either. Now he's back to Europe, and I imagine his results will be much better in 2020.
When I bumped into Tommy Searle at the Motocross of Nations in the Netherlands, the British rider told me he wanted to come back to America for a couple of rounds of the outdoors. He was in America for three years early in his career, but he just couldn't get going in supercross. And when he comes back, he's not coming for supercross—not his cup of tea. Same goes for the Russian veteran Evgeny Bobryshev, who has also mentioned wanting to do a few outdoor nationals next summer. Those guys are both still very fast, but the window to learn supercross closed for them long ago, so they won't go near a U.S. stadium in 2020 unless it’s to watch.
This not a knock on Europe, it's just the reality of the situation. Supercross is not easy, and if you don't learn it young and practice it often, it can come up and bite you badly. (See Jordi Tixier's crash at the Monster Energy Cup, which isn't even a full-blown AMA Supercross track.) The time and effort and emphasis placed on SX by riders on the AMA circuit shows in how good they are at supercross, as well as how different racing is in America versus Europe, where it's pretty much all motocross, almost all the time.
We should all give current MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser credit for coming over for the Monster Cup and doing much better this time than he did in his first visit a few years back. Gajser is the one truly elite MXGP rider who has made the attempt to participate in the Monster Cup. Despite being a three-time world champion, he would struggle if he were to sign up for Anaheim right now.
What's expected of top riders in America and what's expected of top riders in Europe are different. While Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, Marvin Musquin, and the rest are expected to compete for wins in a 17-round supercross series, then quickly transition back to motocross for four months, top riders in Europe like Jeffrey Herlings, Antonio Cairoli, Romain Febvre, Jorge Prado, and the rest never have to race inside stadiums, so they focus almost entirely on outdoor motocross. Anyone who can't see the difference between the approach, strategy, and setup for supercross and motocross probably wouldn’t know the difference between, say, MMA and boxing. Or maybe football and rugby.
Not so long ago, top European riders like multi-time FIM World Champions Stefan Everts, Sebastien Tortelli, Alessio Chiodi, and Frederic Bolley would come to the U.S. and race AMA Supercross in the winter months to warm up. That's no longer the case. Supercross has evolved into a much more technical and difficult form of racing in this age of four-stroke motorcycles, and the Grand Prix schedule has expanded from 12 rounds to 20, starting on March 1 now compared to April 4 in 1992, and ending on September 20 now compared to August 23 in '92. The MXGP schedule is a seven-month grind now, just as AMA SX/MX is eight months. You can't blame legends like Cairoli and Herlings for choosing not to participate in supercross racing, and their 100 percent focus on motocross has made them more formidable than Europe's best were when they were trying to do both. Now doing a supercross race is more risk than it’s worth.
Of course it's different with the French, who have long embraced supercross with a passion. The Bercy Supercross inspired an entire brigade of very competitive Frenchmen, in both SX and MX. Jean-Michel Bayle, Michael Pichon, Tortelli, David Vuillemin, Christophe Pourcel, and Marvin Musquin all learned to ride SX at young ages and stayed with it to the point where they were able to cross the ocean and land factory rides and win races here. That's not the case with guys like Searle and Bobryshev, who can't get factory rides here because they don't race supercross. Even Max Anstie, who pretty much grew up racing here in America, didn't land a factory ride for his return here because he's not very experienced in supercross. Anstie, who just two years ago dominated the Motocross of Nations with 1-1 finishes for Great Britain, will apparently line up with HEP Suzuki here in 2020.
Old-schoolers may remember days when top U.S. riders like Donnie Hansen, Johnny O'Mara, and Micky Dymond would use off-weekends to go race a Grand Prix somewhere, or when those European guys like I mentioned above would come and do the early SX races. The schedules are longer now for both AMA and FIM riders, so we just don't see them pop up on opposite sides of the world very often, and rarely at all now in Monster Energy AMA Supercross. The idea of a true "world" supercross championship like they tried to have in the late nineties is mostly gone now (though the FIM still has a co-sanction for the U.S.-based Monster Energy AMA Supercross tour), and even races abroad like this weekend's Bercy SX don't get the star power from either side of the ocean anymore. Things have changed in many ways on both sides of the Atlantic divide, for better or worse. We truly race in different worlds now, and they don’t mesh like they used to.
We're in Paris this weekend for the annual supercross. We're no longer in Bercy, which is a Paris suburb, nor Lille, a city to the north, but we're in a newer arena in the heart of Paris. It's always a great race, and although you can't stamp 2020 SX predictions off this race, it does give you a bit of an indicator of how things may go. Last year it was Zach Osborne who really showed some good speed, and a few years ago James Stewart looked a little rusty here. Both things carried over into the following SX season, although Osborne got hurt before A1.
Osborne was supposed to be here but pulled out after getting some kidney stones (ouch!) so, to me anyways, I think this leaves Yamaha's Dylan Ferrandis as the favorite to take home the King of Bercy title. The last time a hometown rider was looked at like that was probably David Vuillemin (now Ferrandis' coach) in the early 2000s. Of course the great Jean-Michel Bayle also defeated the American riders here in the early nineties and became the first Frenchman to win a night. The 2019 250SX West Champion (riding a 450) might become the third this weekend.
I saw Jeremy Martin earlier leaving the gym and spoke briefly to him about his race. We've got Malcolm Stewart and Justin Barcia here as well, and Stewart's two MCR Honda teammates, Justin Hill and Vince Friese, will be here also. Hill's going to be interesting to watch, and we saw Friese show great speed at the MEC.
Chad Reed's here on a Honda for what may be his farewell ride for these fans. Reedy's got this race, a couple of Aussie SXs, and then, as we all know, nothing else lined up to race. Ben LaMay's here also and is a solid veteran at these things.
Maybe the most interesting rider here, and the one with the best 2019 SX results overall (outside of Barcia's A1 win), is Joey Savatgy. Joey's going to be debuting his new JGR Suzuki ride here (just announced this afternoon), and he's coming off the ECMIA show in Italy earlier this week. Savatgy was very fast this past year, and it'll be interesting to see how he's doing on the new bike. With his late start, perhaps he'll learn some things about the RM Army here in Paris that he can take back to the USA but if you're looking for a sleeper rider for this weekend, pick the #17.
And on the JGR thing, the team announced Savatgy on the 450 and Alex Martin as their 250 rider for 2020. We also got word today that the absent Osborne has signed an extension with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna.
Checking in with Cooper Webb (Jason Weigandt)
I called Cooper Webb this weekend for a future Racer X magazine feature I’m working on, and I also had the chance to check in on his prep for 2019. In general, bootcamp for riders starts at the beginning of November, so Cooper admitted this has been a tough stretch over the last week or so, and he’s definitely feeling tired from all the work. Just part of the process, though, when you’re the reigning AMA Supercross Champion.
In some ways Cooper’s off-season will be easier this year because he gets to pick up where he left off, instead of changing teams/bikes/trainers/homes and everything like he did last season. However, he also reminded me that the pressure of defending a championship will be much different than coming in under the radar like he did in January of 2019.
“I’ve had to sit down with the team and Aldon and everyone just to get a new game plan [for 2020],” Cooper told me. “This wasn’t expected this soon. My lifelong dream was to get a 450 championship. To do it in year three in the 450s, at 23 years old, it’s like, ‘So now what?’ That’s the biggest challenge, in my eyes, to have that same fire. I have to have different goals and approach it differently. I’m not the guy coming in under the radar, and I know everyone else is stepping up their game. I think it is different this year, but I have to have the same approach. I know I will be as prepared as I can, physically. I should come in a bit more ahead of the game with the experience I gained last year, the confidence, the knowledge of doing 17 rounds. I have all that in my arsenal. I know it’s going to be tough but I like that pressure of having to defend.”
You won’t get a preseason look at Cooper during any of the upcoming international races. He’s not on the list for Paris this weekend, nor New Zealand nor Australia nor Geneva, Switzerland. The goal is to be ready by Anaheim. We’ll see how he handles the huge jump going from number 2 to number 1.
Speaking of those off-season races, on Monday I board the long flight to Auckland, New Zealand, so I can do TV announcing for the Monster Energy SX Open in Auckland next Saturday, November 16th, and then the AUS-X Open in Melbourne, Australia, on November 30. Quite an honor to get hired as a play-by-play TV announcer in New Zealand and Australia. For the first time, I get to be the one with the cool accent! Keep in mind my fellow Lucas Oil Pro Motocross announcers hail from South Africa (Grant Langston) and England (Will Cristien). Also, there will be a packed house of great riders at these events, like Jason Anderson, Chad Reed, Joey Savatgy and Jett Lawrence (bringing the house down in Australia, I’m sure) as well as Australian Supercross regulars like Justin Brayton and Jacob Hayes, who I checked in with earlier this week. Gonna be super fun…except the 14-hour plane flight with my wife and two kids on Monday afternoon. If I screw up the broadcast next Saturday it’s no doubt due to heavy sedation that hasn’t worn off yet!
Ping in the News (DC)
Our former columnist and longtime friend David Pingree started his new gig this week with Vital MX, and he even made national news—not for his part-time moto job, but his real job. Ping works with the San Bernardino Fire Department, and yesterday he was called to the scene of a fatal airplane crash in which a pilot crashed into a house. Ping made first local news and then national news with ABC's World News Tonight.
A tip of the visor to David Pingree and his fellow firemen and first responders out in California who have had their hands full recently with wildfires and now a plane crash. Stay safe, Ping, and good luck with both jobs.
Top Trophies (DC)
For the past few years, Racer X magazine has been conducting a contest for the 12 rounds of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross to see which promoter comes up with the best trophy. The winner and runner-up receive free advertising in Racer X for their track. The reason we started this contest was to inspire everyone to come up with cooler, better trophies for the riders who end up on the podium. The contest has worked out well, as each weekend of summer we see some pretty cool awards for the riders, though we've always seen some really over-the-top hardware handed out as well.
Earlier this week the promoters all got together at the AMA's Pickerington, Ohio, offices for their annual planning meeting, and we were able to announce the winners for 2019. Taking the grand prize in his very first entry was WW Ranch's Junior Scarborough, who came up with some really cool longhorn cattle skulls, representing the cattle that share the property with the Jacksonville track. The trophies were beautiful, and they came with a very interesting backstory: Junior went all-out in hopes of making a strong first impression with his trophies, but the finished products arrived with the horns broken off all six awards in shipping! Fortunately, Junior is good friends with GP, who is a boat and surfboard shaper. He went to work the night day before the race and spent 12 hours rebuilding and replacing the damaged horns.
Runner-up this year went to Unadilla, which was celebrating its 50th year of professional motocross and came up with a commemorative steel design that featured the iconic moment when Bob "Hurricane" Hannah nearly fell off his bike in the late '70s while cresting Gravity Cavity, captured in a photo by then-MXA editor Dick Miller.
Some of the other highlights included Washougal's trophy, which was hand-carved from a large tree that grew next to the track before falling on it, as well as RedBud's beautiful woodcarving. Hangtown went back to the classy gold pans that are an homage to the Sacramento area's gold rush days, and Budds Creek once again went with a tribute to the seal of the U.S. President, while Spring Creek, the annual favorite, went with another take of the event's Viking theme.
Thanks to all of the promoters for trying to outdo one another and providing the winners with some worthy hardware!
02_Podium_JK_MX19_Pala_2779 Jeff Kardas 01_Podium_JK_MX19_Hangtown_2789 Jeff Kardas 03_Podium_JK_MX19_Lakewood_1339 Jeff Kardas 04_Podium_JK_MX19_HighPoint_1548 Jeff Kardas 05_Podium_RS_MX19_Florida_003 Rich Shepherd 06_Podium_JK_MX19_Southwick_1161s Jeff Kardas 07_Podium_JK_MX19_RedBud_1493 Jeff Kardas 08_Podium_JK_MX19_Spring_Creek_1461 Jeff Kardas 09_Podium_JK_MX19_Washougal_1501 Jeff Kardas 10_Podium_RS_MX19_Unadilla_004 Rich Shepherd 11_Podium_JK_MX19_BuddsCreek_1376 Jeff Kardas 12_Podium_RS_MX19_Ironman_009 Rich Shepherd
Kelly Smith (DC)
Michigan's Kelly Smith has a couple of cool places in motocross history. He is the first KTM rider in AMA Pro Motocross history to win an outdoor national (High Point 2000) as well as the first KTM rider to ever win an Arenacross main event, and he came within half a lap of being the first KTM rider to win an AMA Supercross, only to collide with Yamaha of Troy's Ernesto Fonseca (St. Louis '99). Now the journeyman pro has found his way into the water. Smith posted on Facebook: "Finished off 2019 with a ProWatercross World Championship in the Pro Sport GP class on Team Faiths all new Huracán-R 1500 4-stroke. Stoked to get this thing on the top step of the podium and give God the glory!!"
Once a racer, always a racer!
In the Woods (Ken Hill)
The racing may be over for Amsoil AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, but for some of the guys there were still some events to chase after the final round. Josh Strang and Andrew Delong headed to Japan to compete in the final round of the JNCC Series, the sister series of GNCC. For DeLong, flight delays and travel issues kept him from arriving in time to get acclimated to being on the other side of the world—he basically arrived just in time to race his Phoenix Racing Honda. When the checkered flag flew, it was Strang taking the JNCC win with Delong in second.
Meanwhile in Alabama, XC1 Pro Steward Baylor Jr. had a narrow points lead heading into the final round of the AMA National Enduro Championship Series as he set to battle it out again with his brother Grant. The racing was intense, and over the 60 miles of racing, the two brothers gave the fans an incredible show as mere seconds separated them throughout the entire event. Stu’s win marks title number four for him, an outstanding accomplishment seeing the high caliber of racers this series attracts. Baylor's season may have had its ups and downs and even a few sideways races, but the accomplishments of speak volumes about his dedication and abilities behind the bars. He started his 2019 season out with a win at the Wild Boar GNCC opener in Florida and ended it with a National Enduro win in Alabama. The third spot overall in GNCC points and another NEPG championship proves there is a ton of potential left to unleash in 2020.
OTHER RACES AND OTHER NEWS (DC)
While we’re talking mostly about the race in Paris this weekend and the ones coming up Down Under, there are some smaller races going on over in Europe. Our friend Justin Starling was crowned King Of Zuidroek in the Netherlands in the SX1 class last weekend, after battling with Tyler Bowers.
View this post on Instagram
?KING OF ZUIDBROEK? | 1st in heat, 1st in semi final, and 2nd in the main event. Lost the lead with two corners to go till white flag to @borismaillard727.. I settled a bit too much knowing I had the win for the overall of the weekend wrapped up and let the main event win slip away. All in all, great weekend with my worst finish being a second place. And first rider to ever be Prince, and King of Zuidbroek! Big thanks to @castrolsuzukimbc for the hard work. Now we focus on @sx_stuttgart this upcoming weekend ? #Team56
Bowers won the overall:
View this post on Instagram
I want to extend a huge thank you to @alpinestarsmx for the unwavering support through the last two years, and I am looking forward to continuing our relationship in the future. Lately, I have been working hard to get everything in line to be back at the Tampa Supercross, race ready. Things are falling into place and I’m ready for the challenge! Lots of great things in the works. News coming soon #TICKLEBACK #TICKLETIME
And our Scott Wallenberg is over at the big EICMA Show, and he posted a bunch of shots of interesting things he saw that you can check out here.
EICMA2 Scott Wallenberg EICMA1 Scott Wallenberg EICMA5 Scott Wallenberg EICMA3 Scott Wallenberg ICMA11 Scott Wallenberg ICMA15 Scott Wallenberg EICMA7 Scott Wallenberg EICMA4 Scott Wallenberg EICMA14 Scott Wallenberg EICMA6_(1) Scott Wallenberg EICMA6 Scott Wallenberg EICMA12 Scott Wallenberg EICMA10 Scott Wallenberg EICMA8 Scott Wallenberg EICMA9 Scott Wallenberg EICMA13 Scott Wallenberg
Bercy Records (Andras Hegyi)
This weekend the main attraction is the 37th Bercy-Paris Supercross. In existence since 1984, Bercy is the most important and prestigious European supercross event. While few MXGP riders participate, the American contingent is usually pretty strong.
This year's event will include Justin Barcia, Jeremy Martin, Justin Hill, Malcolm Stewart, Joey Savatgy, Vince Friese, and Ben LaMay. The host nation, France, will be represented by Dylan Ferrandis, Jordi Tixier, Nicolas Aubin, Gregory Aranda, Fabien Izoird, Florent Richier, Cedric Soubeyras, and more. And then there is two-time AMA Supercross Champion Chad Reed, the eternal Australian star, who is including Bercy on his fall international tour as he prepares to make a run at the Anaheim SX opener at the age of 37.
So far in the history of the Bercy SX there have been 25 different winners, but only nine were able to get at least two wins, and that includes Monster Energy Yamaha's Barcia, who was King of Bercy in 2010 and 2013. If Barcia wins this time he will be the most successful American ever at the Bercy SX. Besides Barcia, the other U.S. riders to get two wins here are David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Ricky Johnson, Jeremy McGrath, and Andrew Short. If Barcia can get his third Bercy trophy, he will become the second most successful Bercy winner ever, as only the French legend David Vuillemin has more successes than him. Le Cobra had four victories at the Bercy Supercross.
Two-time Bercy SX winner Marvin Musquin is absent because of a knee injury. If a new French winner emerges from the field it would be the tenth victory for the host nation at Bercy. Besides Vuillemin and Musquin, Jean-Michel Bayle earned two wins and Christophe Pourcel took one as well.
Reed is the only Australian to ever win Bercy, and if he can pull off the upset this year, he would become the oldest winner ever. Reed won here way back in 2007. The current oldest winner is Larry Ward, who was 28 years old when he won in 1998. And we know Larry reads Racerhead and is smiling right now at the mention!
And we should mention that there is also the ADAC German Supercross Championship, where Mike Alessi, who won last weekend's Dubya USA World Vet Championship in the +30 Pro class, will be part of the field that challenges two-time winner Tyler Bowers.
Here a couple of shots of the prep in Stuttgart that we snagged from David Kimmey's Facebook page!
The january 2020 ISSUE OF RACER X MAGAZINE IS NOW AVAILABLE
The January 2020 issue of Racer X magazine is coming to newsstands and mailboxes soon. Sign up now for the print and/or award-winning digital edition. And if you're already a digital subscriber head to digital.racerxonline.com to login and read now.
Inside the JANUARY issue of Racer X magazine
- Red Bull Straight Rhythm looked like all fun and games, but the players were in it to win.
- Privateer Marshal Weltin tries to make some cash in the East Coast off-season motocross races including the Racer X Maine Event.
- Our newest staffer got on his first-ever solo flight—straight to Vegas for an old-school weekend of racing and parties.
- Our minicycle buyer’s guide helps you pick exactly the right first bike for your youngster.
All these features and much more inside the January issue.
Poster Info (Print Edition Only)
Hey, Watch It!
Sunny Garcia's 2001 Kawasaki KX500 Garage Build
Note: This video was shot in April of 2019.
LISTEN TO THIS
The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast comes in with a conversation with WPS’s Chris Cooksey turning the mic around and interviewing me about my path from Canada to being a mechanic and then a MX media guy. Check it out.
After a frank conversation last week about riders branding themselves via unfiltered interviews and out-of-the-box thinking, Jason Weigandt and Lucas Mirtl hook up for part two of a long chat. This time out, Mirtl explains his wild pathway from Australian freestyle motocross mechanic to accidental agent to today's role as a growing power broker in the racing world. The guy even lived on the beach at one point because he didn't have a place to live!
This week on the Main Event Moto Podcast, Daniel Blair and Producer Joe take your listener questions. Hang out with them as Daniel focuses on the headlines in the sport. Oh yeah, sometimes it goes off the rails. Give a listen to episode #140 of Main Event Moto Podcast now.
Listen to the radio play-by-play call from Kevin Harlan as a black cat ran about the field during the Monday Night Football game as the Giants hosted the Cowboys.
After his own motos were over Donn "Swap" Maeda sat down with Dubya USA Vet World Champion Mike Alessi to talk about life and racing—it's a good listen!
Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week
“Black cat briefly halts New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game”—CNN
“The (Extremely True) Story of the Cat That Streaked the Field at MetLife Stadium”—Sports Illustrated
As the premier electric motorcycle brand, Southern California-based SUPER73® is excited to announce a new collaboration with BoxLunch that coincides with the eagerly-awaited fourth season of Rick and Morty, which airs on Sunday, November 10 on Adult Swim.
“Baker Mayfield shaved because 'didn't deserve' handlebar”—ESPN
“Man climbs traffic light above busy Midtown intersection”—New York Post
“James Cameron Is At It Again, This Time Wearing Fox”—Exhaust
“Watch: Team USA’s ISDE "Breaking" In the Rental”—Exhaust
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