Round four of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship took place at REDBUUUDDDDDD for America’s birthday and as usual, it was a great day of racing. The weather was fantastic, the track was great, and we saw some more great racing in both classes. Look, seeing Ricky Carmichael or Eli Tomac just walk away from everyone in a bunch of motos isn’t that fun. Seeing four to five guys go at it for moto wins is. So far in 2021, motocross has been fun!
Let’s take a look at some ups and downs from RedBud yeah?
DOWN - THE LEAP
I understand the teams generally just look out for themselves and can’t look around for the betterment of the sport, but the fact that we had barely any 250s jumping Larocco’s Leap this year was because of them. I heard a few were grumbling about how the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha guys were the only 250’s consistently able to jump it last year. Not sure if that’s why Redbud decided to build up the landing or not, but I saw Joshua Varize do it, and Austin Forkner cased it badly and go flipping over the bars. After that, I never saw a 250 guy do it. I’m sure there were a few here or there but to me, that obstacle needs to be something that the elite 250 guys can do. It makes it exciting! And to those teams that were grumbling, Alex Martin jumped it on a RM-Z last year so give me a break. Other than my gripes about the Leap prep, the track was fantastic as usual.
UP - DYLAN
Three out of the four nationals run this year have been won by Dylan Ferrandis, which is remarkable, really. He’s shown no weaknesses outside of his starts, but speed and fitness are there big-time. He went 1-2 for the overall win and in both motos he worked up and passed everyone but the leader. In both motos he also put in huge charges. Late in moto two, even the super-strong Eli Tomac was probably lucky the checkers flew when they did. A 14-point lead for The Frenchman, who now has 15 career wins here in the USA. He actually just passed his coach, David Vuillemin, who won 14 times in the U.S. Really cool development here for the series.
UP - THE TWO-FOUR
RJ Hampshire’s a good dude, he tries really, really, really hard out there and unfortunately for him, sometimes he crashes. Well, not sometimes, but a lot of times. He and I are good, but I don’t think he’s stoked that I sometimes say, “RJ went RJ”. Well, this weekend he went RJ, but he was still so damn good he still won the overall! Hampshire was a man on a mission in the first moto. He crashed twice and still got second! In the second moto he tipped over again while leading! What a ride by him, and if he can just work on not crashing, he can be a title contender. I had a top rider tell me that RJ’s issue is that he comes into corners so fast and just hopes he gets traction. Most times he does, but sometimes he doesn’t. Thanks to @3lapsdown we know that Hampshire has won more overalls (three) than he’s won motos (two). What a weird stat that is, right?
UP - TOMAC
Okay, I wasn’t sold after that second moto at High Point because his previous five motos were so un-Tomac like. But this weekend he went 4-1 and looked pretty good even in that first moto when the leaders were right there, and he couldn’t get them. Is he as dominant as the three-titles-in-a-row Eli Tomac? No, but he’s back in the lead group now and as we’ve seen, he can win motos when everything falls into place. That’s a hell of a lot better than whatever was going on with those first five motos of the year.
UP - BLUCRU
We talked about Ferrandis and his great season. Well, Aaron Plessinger (who was going after Tomac for the second-moto win, something I thought I would never see) just went 3-3, pulled starts and led laps, and Christian Craig had a great day in the top five. That’s three Yamaha 450 riders in the top five after years of people wondering about the bike at the pro level. The production bike won a ton of shootouts, but it seemed whether it was Justin Barcia, AP, Cooper Webb or whomever, people watching the top level wondered what was up with the bike. Well, the Star guys are doing a great job running the factory program and it’s showing out there on the track. Tomac is going there next year, Ferrandis is already there, Craig will ride 450MX for them again in 2022, and word is that Plessinger may stay BLU. That’s a powerhouse team, kind of like what Honda had for so many years.
DOWN - A-RAY
Hey, I was warned not to pick Alex Ray in PulpMX Fantasy, but I did it anyway. I just thought his luck was going to turn around and because of his results, he had the highest possible handicap one could have in the game. I ignored the broken wheel in practice from jumping The Leap and rolled the dice. And it bit me. I deserve it, I can’t even get mad at Alex.
DOWN - William Clason
Ol’ William Clason showed up at RedBud as a privateer looking to do some damage and told me to not pick him in PulpMX Fantasy. Then he went out and scored the most points out of any rider thanks to a great first moto. He sucks. Down with Cade! At least he didn’t pick himself either.
UP - J-MART
Jeremy Martin came back from his crash at Lakewood to jump back into the series. I’m sure he wasn’t quite 100 percent, so his 5-3 score was pretty good. Can you say championship spoiler? We all know J-Mart doesn’t like anyone he’s racing against so as things get tighter and tighter with the Lawrence brothers and Justin Cooper down the stretch, it’ll be wonderful to watch Jeremy fight his teammate as hard as anyone. That’s what Jeremy does.
DOWN - FILTHY PHIL
Everyone’s favorite Canadian SX champion, Phil Nicoletti, hasn’t been having very much fun in his return to the USA for the nationals. He crashed in one moto at Pala, crashed out of both motos at Lakewood, had a decent day at High Point, but twisted his knee in practice at Redbud and had to pull out of both motos. It’s not been going well for everyone’s favorite grouch and that’s too bad. It’s a better series with Phil in it. Let’s hope he’s okay!
DOWN - FORKNER
Austin Forkner had an okay day at High Point and we’re all waiting for him to get back to his usual form in MX. In practice at RedBud, he cased LaRocco’s Leap as hard as anyone can case it and crashed pretty good. I heard he hurt his thumb as well. The first moto started out well, but a couple crashes put him way back and the second moto wasn’t much better. Full props to him for showing up to the new “media corral” (we need to make this a lot better BTW, but it was the inaugural edition) after the race and talking to us media jerkies about his day. A lot of dudes on his level wouldn’t hang around.
UP - THE JETT
The fact the Jett won the first moto wasn’t that big of a deal—we know he’s good. It was very humorous how he told me and everyone on the podium about how bad his bike was working when RJ Hampshire was pushing him for the lead. What was really great about his day was the second moto comeback from basically last to sixth. That’s the kind of ride that wins championships. He still ended up third overall on the day and only lost four points when it looked like it could be a bad one for him. Great ride!
DOWN - RED BULL KTM
Things are bleak over there on the powerhouse KTM team. I don’t know what’s going on. Marvin Musquin broke a wheel in the first moto while Cooper Webb went backward. The second moto was more of the same for Webb. Musquin, although he did catch and pass Webb, wasn’t much better in the second moto either. They’re ninth and tenth in the points and no one over there can be very happy these days. But hey, you can still look at SX and be happy!
UP - HEARTTHROB
I don’t know if the Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki guys are factory riders or not. I mean they are the only 450 team that gets bikes, parts, and money from Suzuki so that, by definition, is a factory team. But they have zero factory parts from Suzuki and no technical help from Suzuki Japan so where’s the traditional “factory” advantage, right? Anyways, Brandon Hartranft hasn’t had the best year in his first 450 season but at RedBud he broke through with a good qualifying time and two good motos. Top ten overall was a good showing for him.
DOWN - AC9
“I can’t even explain to you how frustrating that has been and how much that has affected me. I woke up one morning in September when I first got on 450s, right after Monster Cup, and it has been really trying. But it is what it is. I’m confident it will be fixed when I get this surgery to move the nerve, but just until then, it’s been brutal. So that was the story of my first moto.” That was Adam Cianciarulo to me after his not-very-good RedBud. Just one week after he won the first moto, things have turned south for Adam. He’s got a nerve issue that’s giving him arm pump and it looks like after the season he’ll have to undergo another surgery to try to fix it. He got a different surgery to fix the nerve before this season and it didn’t work. He’s still trying hard, but things aren’t working right now for the nine.
UP - SCHOCK THE MONKEY
Man, privateer hero Coty Schock was good again, maybe even great. It was at RedBud two years ago when he first caught my eye, and he continues to do well at this track. Cody was right in the mix outside the top ten in both motos and gets up into the mix with the factory guys. In the long history of Gavin Gracyk, Jimmy Albertson, Cody Cooper, and Fredrik Noren, Schock is giving the factory guys fits in the 450MX series.
UP – AMERICAN LOOKS
This being Independence Day weekend, lots of teams do their graphics and gear up with red, white and blue. It’s a cool to see what everyone can do. The guys at Fox absolutely crushed it with their 1987/1988 Rick Johnson throwback gear. I love retro stuff and I love Rick Johnson, so this was a home run for me. Some of these companies take old logos and put it on modern gear and kind of half-ass it, but the Fox guys go all the way with the stretch panels, etc. Loved it! Head nod to the Troy Lee Designs guys for the Evil Knievel inspired gear also.
UP - HELLS KITCHEN
Look, I don’t like this “amateurs can race pros” rule that came in last year. It reeks of self-interest from team managers that suck at picking and developing riders but hey, it’s here and what can you do? Levi Kitchen is using this rule for the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha guys to try out some nationals and did pretty well with a ninth in moto one. In the second moto he crashed but whatever, that first moto was solid. Now he’ll go beat up on some amateurs at Loretta’s I guess after getting a top ten. By the way, his teammates Nate Thrasher got 11th in his first ever national moto while Jarrett Frye got 14th.
That’s it folks. RedBud was great and this weekend we’re going back to The ‘Wick, which is also going to be epic. Sand is always the great equalizer and the race between Ferrandis and Tomac should be amazing. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else.