The question at hand: how well can a stock 450 machine do at the pro level? Kawasaki gave us a 2013 KX450F to attempt qualifying at the last National of the year, Lake Elsinore, with VitalMX test rider, Bryan Wallace.
Friday before the race is when machines need to go through tech inspection. There wasn't much to worry about here especially since there was no sound check.
Bryan Wallace not only planned to race the Lake Elsinore National, he also helped build the new track as a part of Marc Peters' regular crew.
Chuck Warren has been working behind the scenes in moto for a long time. His son, Cody Warren, is a nationally ranked downhill mountain biker and grew up doing motocross as well.
An FMF pipe, Pro Taper grips, Works Connection Pro Launch start device and clutch perch were the only mods to the KX450F. The motor and suspension were left stock aside from setting sag, PSI on the forks, and some clicker adjustments.
Throw in some race fuel and fresh tires and that's the extent of additions to the Project Stock 2013 KX450F. Time to go racing!
Cody and Bryan get set for the first 450 Class practice. This was the first, and and last, pro race of the year for Wallace...nothing like Anaheim I nerves in 110 degree heat.
The 450 Class "B" group were the second bikes out on the track for the day following the first WMX practice. To say it was a little sloppy would be an understatement.
After getting through the first few laps, it was time for Wallace to start clicking off some solid times. If you're not getting over all the jumps after the first few laps, you might as well call it a day.
Chuck helped Bryan get the KX450F race ready. While the bike was almost entirely stock, setup is still key.
Even though the KX450F was stock, that doesn't mean you just let it sit between practices. There is plenty of prep work to be done for each time a rider goes out during a National. With the high temps, keeping an eye on the radiator levels was key.
First practice allows riders to get some nerves out and figure out some lines. By second practice, it's serious game time.
The track was better by the time the second practices came around.
Jumps like this seatbouncer in the middle of the truck track area were big separators.
While the track did start improving for the second practice, mud was still an issue.
The setup that the Project Stock crew pitted out of was very professional. Since Cody is a pro DH rider, they just used his racing rig that he would normally take to the mountains.
Getting to the point of racing an AMA Pro National is a big deal. Add to that having excellent support through sponsors and technicians, and there's reason to be excited. Bryan's mom flew out from New Jersey to help in any way she could.
Chuck getting everything set for the last chance to make it into the motos: the 450 Class Consolation race.
Lining up for the 450 Consolation race is a the last thing any racer wants.
The magical numbers are 4, 4, and 40. Meaning 4 laps, 4 available qualifying spots, and 40 riders.
In the LCQ, the start is everything.
Bryan got an excellent jump out of the gate. Wallace is an admittedly poor starter, but the Launch Control on the KX450F and the WC Pro Launch made a world of a difference.
Wallace rounded the first turn in about third place.
From there, all he needed to do was ride smart and not make too many mistakes.
Unfortunately, mistakes happen. Slip-ups like this ground-nac, cost Wallace some valuable time and positions.
As you can see from the stands, this was definitely not the main event. Try as he might, Wallace just missed out on qualifying, finishing in sixth spot.
Finishing in fifth or sixth in the LCQ means those riders don't technically qualify, but instead become the first and second alternates. Bryan was the second alternate
Chuck Warren sums up the day and thinks that both Bryan and the stock KX450F have the potential to make it into the main.
The crew contemplates what it will take to make the mains next year.
Even though seven riders from the first 450 Class moto didn't even lineup for the second moto, Bryan was not allowed to race. Alternates must be chosen before the start of the motos, not halfway through.
As second alternate, Bryan still had to be ready in case one of the top 40 qualified riders couldn't make it to the gate, or had bike issues before the gate dropped. The stock KX450F almost made the program, but it wasn't for a lack of performance on the bike's part.
A big thanks goes out to Kawasaki, Pro Taper, Bel Ray, MSR, Fox Racing, PODMX, FMF, One Industries, 100%, Works Connection, Dunlop, and Chuck and Cody Warren for all of the help with Project Stock.