Welcome to Racerhead, coming to you from the Mile High City of Denver. We're here for the second round of the 2021 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and if this race is anything like the opener, we're in for a great weekend. Last Saturday the Dirt Bike Kidz National at Fox Raceway in Pala, California, opened the series with some excellent racing in both classes. Team Honda HRC's Jett Lawrence put on a masterclass of passing in the first 250 moto, coming from way, way back to finish a close second, and then he straight-up beat preseason favorite Jeremy Martin of the Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing team in the second moto for the win. Both Lawrence and Martin will wear red plates tomorrow, as they are tied at 47 points apiece.
And speaking of Jett, he posted on Instagram last week ahead of the opening round that the first 100 guests to the Red Bull hospitality tent would receive a free donut...except the 17-year-old underestimated just how much of a following he has and how much of a hassle that became for the hospitality crew as hundreds of people flocked to the tent! And we remember this because today is national donut day here in the U.S.! If you're going to the Thunder Valley National tomorrow and want to get a donut courtesy of Jett, make sure to be the first one there or you'll miss out!
The 450 Class was much different, at least in how the results played out. The overall 450 podium was made up of three riders who weren't even in 450 Pro Motocross last year: winner Dylan Ferrandis was last year's 250 Class Pro Motocross Champion, runner-up Ken Roczen sat out MX due to health concerns and the arrival of his first child, and third-place Aaron Plessinger was hurt. And left further back battling to even be in the top ten were a semi hauler full of superstars: Eli Tomac, Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, Adam Cianciarulo, and even defending champion Zach Osborne, who is still dealing with the effects of a back injury. It's not quite panic time for anyone, but if this weekend goes badly for any of the guys mentioned above … it’s panic time.
Unfortunately, former AMA Supercross #1 Jason Anderson has already had a bad week. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider posted that he suffered a practice crash and ended up breaking his hand. This is the second time that's happened to Anderson during the early going of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross—he collided with another rider at Glen Helen a few years back as the guy was trying to check on a downed friend, leaving El Hombre with a broken foot. He hopes to be back by the end of the series, which I hope happens, because he looked really good at times last Saturday, especially when he climbed up to fourth in the second 450 moto. But it will be tough going if he wants to get a first national win in 2021, because right now he remains the only AMA Supercross Champion in history to not have an outdoor national win. It's a weird stat, I know, but he's just been plain unlucky in several past summers.
Another crazy stat: when Ferrandis rolls out tomorrow with the red plates on his YZ450, it will mark the first time since the AMA started handing out the red place to series points leaders that a Yamaha rider has worn them in the 450 Class MX. Sure, Yamaha has been dominant force in the 250 Class for nearly a decade now, with champions like Jeremy Martin, Cooper Webb, Aaron Plessinger, and Ferrandis. But they haven't led—let alone won—a 450 title since Grant Langston in 2007. Even worse, due to being diagnosed with cancer in one of his eyes, Langston never got to race with the #1 red plate he would have had as champion in 2008. Fifteen years later, the YZ450 finally gets to have its day in red....
And of course there's that pesky stat about Honda that we've brought up a time or two each year since, well, 2004. The Red Riders still haven't been able to secure a 450 AMA title in SX/MX, though Tim Gajser has a few of them over in Europe in the MXGP class of the FIM Motocross World Championship. We've called it the "curse of the GOAT," since it's been since Ricky Carmichael went 24-0 in 2004 and then split for Suzuki that the CRF450R has claimed a title. Ken Roczen didn't look like a strong bet after a mediocre first moto, though his teammate Chase Sexton sure did after almost passing Ferrandis at the finish line, coming up just 0:099 seconds short on the clock. But then Chase crashed to start the second moto and went from last to tenth to salvage solid points. Meanwhile, Roczen was battling with Plessinger for the lead the whole moto, and the former world champion got the job done. His 6-1 for second overall had to be uplifting after that first moto.
Having a less-than-awesome outing in California was Kawasaki. Monster Energy Kawasaki teammates Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo both struggled uncharacteristically in the 450 Class. Tomac just didn't look like his usual self in a stacked field, and AC went from brilliant to blah after opening an 8-second lead in the first moto and then tumbling all on his own after clipping a rock coming off a hairpin and down a hill. He was never the same after that. As for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, it's down to Austin Forkner and Jo Shimoda this weekend, as both Cameron McAdoo and Seth Hammaker are hurt.
And one more person on the injured list is MX Sports' John Ayers Sr. He was mountain-biking yesterday here in Colorado when he went down hard over the bars, caught his legs, and apparently broke both ankles. Ouch! Ayers is the point man out on the infield and on the racetrack between the event promoters, the track builders, and track preparation. Ayers has maybe been to more motorcycle races than probably anyone else in the paddock—he was a professional himself throughout the 1970s and has been working in the motorcycle industry ever since. He's flying home to Pennsylvania today to have surgery. Fortunately, his son John Jr. is well trailed on the infield around the track, and former team manager Jimmy Perry has joined the MX Sports Pro Racing team and will be there to also assist Thunder Valley promoter David Clabaugh, and I will of course be out there too.
Before I turn my attentions to Thunder Valley, one more note about last week's opener. Despite the dry weather, the track set up nicely (after some admittedly heavy morning watering) and became incredibly rough and challenging—much to the chagrin of a few riders, much to the pleasure of most of the top guys. Four winners in four motos, a huge and enthusiastic crowd, and a great start to the post-2020 season and getting back to normal. BUT. What's with so many fans jumping the fence and running out to the side of the track to wave the riders on? It looks terrible on TV—the equivalent of a streaker at a football game (funny at first, then problematic, then just downright stupid)—and it's a good way to get yourself hurt. We saw it happening on several parts of the track, and at one point I grabbed a guy on the infield, only to find out he was apparently a soldier enjoying his Memorial Day weekend at the motocross races, drinking a few and having some fun. I helped him avoid the security that was coming our way, and he was cool enough to come over after the race and apologize and thank me for not pointing him out. But honestly, had he not been a soldier, I probably would have reacted differently. The riders are out there flying around on an extremely rough track and don't need the added obstacles of people up on the tunnel jumps waving or running out to the top of a berm. It's a good way to get hurt, and a better way to get arrested.
Now I know this has been a thing for some folks for a long time—the Simo brothers of No Fear fame were famously pictured as young men out on the Carlsbad track, waving their shirts atop a jump for their buddy Marty Moates as he raced into motocross history by winning the 500cc USGP of Motocross. It was a big part of No Fear's company lore, but it would really have sucked if they’d been hit or arrested or caused Moates to lose concentration and go down. That was 41 years ago, and believe me, I thought it was really cool back then. But the way the world has changed—especially with lawsuits from people who put themselves at risk, got hurt, and sued the property owners—and with the bikes so much faster, too, running out on the track as a fan is a really bad idea and a good way to give the sport a black eye. (Motocross, by the way, is not the only sport dealing with this newfound urge to be out on the playing field and in the players' faces, as the NBA is finding out right now.) Maybe it’s just everyone giddy about being back in public together, but it was definitely a problem at Fox Raceway that needs to be fixed.
So now we're on to Thunder Valley, where a lot of rain in recent weeks has this place very green and beautiful—much more so than when we were last here in October. There are some changes to the track that we will try to post about later, and it sounds like advance ticket sales have been fantastic for tomorrow's race. With all that's happened this week, I need to get out there on the track to help this afternoon, so let me turn it over here to the rest of the gang. I hope you enjoy the races tomorrow on TV and online, and I hope we have every bit as successful a second race as last week's opener.
FLIP FLOP (Matthes)
Before I hop on a flight here to head to Colorado, a couple of thoughts came into my head. One is how frickin’ deep that 450 Class field is where Adam Cianciarulo, Zach Osborne, and Eli Tomac are only able to hover around the top ten at the opener in Pala, and then also, thanks to Paul Perebijnos on our PulpMX Fantasy Podcast yesterday, how last year’s Thunder Valley results had Tomac winning, AC second, and Osborne third. If we saw those results tomorrow, we'd definitely have a mixed up series, right?
Of course, of those three, it was AC who could take the most from his average results, as he was checking out in moto one (8-second lead!) before crashing. Arm pump got the best of him in moto two, and in texting with him after the race, he truly was pretty bummed about his day. Tomac and Osborne, though, didn't have that much to write home about. At least Zacho's second moto showed some promise.
This week the guys at Kawasaki did some testing with their newest test rider, Broc Tickle. Yep, that's right, Tick's looking to transition into something more with the green guys, but for now he's helping to do some testing for the race team during the week. I asked someone if this could lead to a fill-in for the team in case there's an injury and it was unclear. The Kawasaki guys haven't always put a guy on the bike, but they have at times. Tick would be a very adequate fill-in if need be, and he's a good tester, so this is a good thing for the guys. Broc's getting older—he didn't have a great SX season, and decent-paying 450 rides are very hard to find—so I can understand Broc looking around to see what he can do post-racing. I do believe he's already helped AC and his bike setup, so we'll see this weekend.
Pro Perspective (Jason Thomas)
Round two of a series is much more indicative of what we should see. As a racer, there is far less nervousness and it's much more "business as usual." Many of the arm-pump issues that plagued the field last weekend will likely dissipate (AC9, Osborne, etc.). The anticipation and hype surrounding the opening round oftentimes translates into riding tight, which snowballs into arm pump. It doesn't matter if it's Anaheim, Houston, Pala, or Orlyonok, finding comfort at the first round of a series is difficult.
Now that we are in Colorado for round two, riders will want to right the wrongs of last weekend or validate the great result they tallied. Round two is very important in that aspect. It's a big opportunity for reversal but also carries risk of cementing a bad trend. I always tried to completely disregard the first round altogether, mostly because I didn't spend much time on the California tracks that the series often debuted at. I knew I was at a disadvantage to the local riders (or transplants who spent the bulk of their time in Cali) and didn't want to discourage myself with one off weekend. So look for riders like Cooper Webb, Osborne, Austin Forkner, Hunter Lawrence, the Martin brothers, etc. to bounce back this week. Points were awarded last week, but this round will be more important mentally moving forward. A good day tomorrow will allow those who suffered in Pala to say, "Okay, now we can really begin.” A bad tomorrow, though, and it may be time to rummage around for the panic button.
Team Green 22s (Keefer)
Kawasaki rolled out their complete motocross and off-road lineup for 2022, and although there are no significant changes to the KX250/450, but there is an all-new minibike added to the stable. COVID-19 has done a number on all manufacturers and their new-generation production timelines, so seeing a rollover for 2022 on the big bike side is not surprising. The new KX112 is a more race-oriented KX100 (which also stays in the lineup for 2022) with a transmission and engine that has been updated from the KX100. To me, Kawasaki Team Green sets the bar for amateur support in this day and age, so to have them come out with a 112cc bike that helps bridge the gap from 85cc to big bikes for our future generation is awesome. I like that it can help keep a younger rider on a trajectory that is safer as well as less intimidating. The KX112 as well as the KX85 get updated big bike styled bodywork, which is a huge step in the right direction to keep the race oriented KX lineup uniform. With an MSRP of $4,999.00 for the 2022 KX112 and $4,499.00 for the 2022 KX85 the cost is reasonable (in the realm of parents spending their hard-earned money on new dirt bikes for their kids). In this day and age of video games and cell phones, keeping kids on dirt bikes has never been more important. The new 2022 Kawasaki motocross and off-road models are arriving in dealerships this month!
2022 KX112 From Kawasaki:
Building on the strengths of its predecessor,the all-new KX112 offers more race-winning potential inahighly competitive class. The increased power makes the KX112 feel faster everywhere on the track, especially where riders can take advantage of its stronger low-end torque.
Theincreaseddisplacement on the2022two-stroke, single cylinder KX112comes by way of a 5.8 mm longer stroke andnowfeatures a bore and stroke of 52.5 x 51.6 mm. The new enginepairedwith the powervalve systemdeliversstrong low-end torque that translates to holeshot performanceout of the starting gateand a stronger drive when exiting corners. Power and torque are improved across the rev range with peak power significantly greater.Updated intake and exhaust port timing help contribute to the KX112’s stronger low rpm torque, while arevised piston profile improves durabilityaredesigned contact surface for the piston ring improves the initial bedding-in performance.
In order to reduce the lateral force placed on the piston,and generate more efficient power, the connecting rod was increased by 7 mm. A 4 mm greater crankshaft web offers increased strength to match the greater offset of the crank pin with thenewlonger stroke engine. The carburetor settings have been fine-tuned to match the all-new engineand contribute to sharp response across the rev range.Complementing the more powerful 112 cc engine is an all-new6-speedtransmissionand stronger bearing retainers for the small-end needle bearings, and big-end needle bearings with greaterload capacity to help harnessthe increased engine output.Larger gear dogsimprove durabilityandthrust washers have been added forto improvedurability and reduce friction.
A sturdyhigh-tensile steelperimeter frame was designed in order to harness the engine’s power, offering advantages of strength and torsional rigiditythat allowsriders to push hard on the track. The chassis is matched with 36 mminverted front forks that offerexcellent damping and bottoming resistance, enabling the all-new KX112 to be ridden hard while maintaining comfort. Riders can fine-tune their settings through20-wayadjustable compression damping. On the rear, Uni-Trak® rear suspension offers preload,24-waycompression and21-wayrebound damping adjustability in order to allow each rider to tailor their settingsbased on size andskill level.
Similar to the larger KX™models, petal disc front and rear brakes can be found and are used to achieve strong braking performance. A large-diameter 220 mm front brake is gripped by a dual-piston caliper, while the 184 mm rear disc is held by a single-piston caliper.The KX112’s large 19-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels nicely bridge the gap between minibikes and full-sized race bikes, accommodating larger youth riders and helping to navigateover thebumps and ruts commonly found on motocross tracks. The wheels are fitted with new Dunlop MX33 tiresthat offerenhanced gripandcontrol.
Kawasaki continues its unmatched commitment towards providing riders with unmatched comfort with class-leading ERGO-FIT® adjustable components like an adjustable handlebar mounting system that allows riders to tailor fit their riding style and size by selecting from among six possible handlebar positions. Collars offer a choice of three heights (STD, +5 mm, +10 mm), while reversible handlebar clamps allow two forward/rearward positions (STD, +10 mm FWD).
The bodywork of the KX112 follows along the lines of its bigger KX counterpartsbyforming a slim ergonomics package that facilitates rider movements andcontributesto strong factory looks. The top of the fuel tank design is flat in order to facilitate sitting farther forward toweighthe front wheel when cornering and a slim, flat seatdesignmakes it easier for riders to adjust their riding position.A new shroud designaccommodatesa wider range ofyoungriders andmakesit easier for taller riders to find a good fit on the bike. The minimalist side covers were made as small as possible and the seams between the shrouds, seat, and side covers are flush in order to allow the rider to move around on the bike with ease.
The new aggressive looks, paired with the ergonomic fit that facilitates control, moves the styling of the KX112 closer to Kawasaki’s full-sized motocrossers. In addition to the new aggressive shroud styling, the rims are coated in black alumite just like the vehicles used by Kawasaki’s factory racing team. A green alumite finish on the fork and shock adjusters strengthens the KX family resemblance, while the brushed aluminum swingarm completes the high-quality image.
"Tommy Tenders" Journet brings the heat with this Racer X Remastered video of the Dirt Bike Kids Fox Raceway National:
Jason Weigandt's Twisted Tea Best Post-Race Show Ever was epic this week, with special guests Aaron Plessinger, Max Anstie, Kevin "One and Done" Kelly, and a U.S. Marine hero who was attending his first Pro Motocross race. It's good stuff, and watching this, you have to wonder how anyone could not be a fan of Max and AP! (AP calling out Jason Thomas for his pre-race show predictions is pretty funny.)
Tales From Troy: Oven Baked
Head-Scratching Headline/s Of The Week
“Unofficial Celine Dion Biopic Trailer Uses Artist’s Songs But Changes Her Name – to God”—TheWrap.com
“Don't eat cicadas if you are allergic to shrimp, shellfish, FDA warns”—Fox News
“Fishermen found $1.5M worth of whale vomit in Yemen”—Fox News
Yamaha presents the Inaugural Motocross Revival
A celebration of everything that the makes this sport great—its past, its present, and its future. While this is the first year for this event, it will not be one and done. The plans for the next three years are huge. You will want to be one of the lucky ones who were there from the beginning! The Motocross Revival is more than a race, it’s an event by design. An immersion into the competition but only so the culture of motocross. Manufactures, aftermarket vendors, collectors and all the characters that go with moto in America, will be on hand. Legends like Jeremy McGrath, David Bailey, Rick Johnson, Grant Langston, Tommy Croft, and more are supporting The Revival.
The Max Matters Mental Health Initiative is a cause everyone can get behind. It is being organized and funded by the many charitable efforts of Rick Doughty, American Retrocross and Road 2 Recovery. There will be an on-site raffle, silent auction and other ways for everyone to participate in “Defeating Depression and its dire consequences.”
Whether you are into old bikes or new bikes or anything in between, there will be plenty to take in Sunday June 6 at Glen Helen Raceway. For more information go to AmericanRetrocross.org or check them out on Instagram or Facebook.
RENTHAL STARTS NEW CHAMPIONSHIP TRADITION
Renthal Limited, Manchester, England begins new tradition of honoring their athletes championship triumphs with custom made, Renthal Championship Trophy.
“Racing and winning is very important to us at Renthal as it puts our products to the ultimate performance and durability test. Being successful in racing ensures trust for our customers in the products they purchase for their motorcycles. To achieve the high level of product we demand at Renthal, it takes a tremendous amount of work & dedication, and winning World and National Championships is no different. We wanted to connect on a more personal level with our championship athletes and create something for them to commemorate their substantial career achievement.” says Renthal Off-road Manager Paul Perebijnos.
Renthal Commercial Director Rees Williams says “We work very closely with the staff at our sponsored race teams to help them with handlebar/grip/sprocket setup to get their riders as comfortable as possible so they can perform at their best. A rider’s handlebar setup is highly important and personal. This champ trophy allows us to connect and congratulate these riders, in a personal ‘Renthal way’ as well as honor iconic past Renthal Champions to show our appreciation for their commitment and success”.
Cooper’s champ trophy features his Fatbar® 821 bend handlebar that has been hand engraved, fitted with his G086 Diamond/Waffle Soft grips, his gold champ bar pad from the SLC2 SX, and displayed in a fully custom hand-made acrylic case. Each Renthal Championship Trophy will be fully custom and unique to that rider and their career achievements.
As part of the championship celebration Renthal will be giving away a Gold Championship Fatbar® Bar Pad signed by Cooper Webb. The contest will be announced on Renthal’s social media accounts, so make sure you’re following @renthal_moto on Instagram, Renthal.Racing on Facebook and @renthal_moto on Twitter to be kept up to date.
For the latest from Canada, check out DMX Frid’EH Update #22.
Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!