7/23/06
Rd 7 of 12

By Troy John

Warm weather and a completely re-worked track greeted riders and fans alike for the 2nd running of the Lakewood AMA National MX race, the 7th stop on the 12-round MX circuit. This being my first National of the year, I was a bit surprised by the amount of fans there on Saturday. I don’t know if it has been like this at every round, but the fans were definitely out in force to cheer on their favorites, most notably Andrew Short. The track boasted lots of new sand, some new and reworked obstacles, and a deep uphill start.

Lakewood MX National
Photo: Barney Phillips

Practice and Qualifiers

Lites:&

Hepler, Short, & Villopoto looked to be the most comfortable in the Lites class. Short & Villopoto did not have to qualify, but Hepler did, & made the best of it by dominating the first Lites Qualifier on Sunday. Martin Davalos did the same in the second, and continued to impress with a 6th overall on the weekend.

MX:

RC came out swinging & never let off. James looked very fast, and Windham looked his usual smooth self. Reed was a no-show on Saturday, but surprised everyone in the first practice on Sunday. Kyle Partridge looked noticeably quick on the BooKoo Hondas. Justin Buckelew won the first Sunday qualifier by a mile, with AZ privateer Michael Blose taking second. Michael Byrne won the second qualifier handily, followed by Kyle Lewis.

WMA (Rd 3 of 6):

Moto 1:

The first Moto of the weekend was run on Saturday, as the women of the WMA lined up to battle it out on the Colorado soil. Richardson RV’s Tarah Geiger and Moto XX rider Jessica Patterson were flying out front, until they unfortunately came together, with JP$ flying off the track and going down and Gieger coming close.  New Zealander Katherine Prumm took advantage of the situation, moving her Kawasaki KXF-250 into the lead, & never looking back. Gieger ran second for most of the race, but was relegated to third by Alisa Nix by the time the checkers flew. Former WMA Champion Tania Satchwell and Leah Cantrell rounded out the Top 5. Patterson rode hard to cross the line 7th from dead last. Team Green rider Elizabeth Bash was the only female rider to clear the huge Step-up double just before the finish line. Many Lites and MX riders had trouble clearing it consistently. 

Moto 2:

Tarah Gieger launched off the gate to take the early lead in Moto 2, but was no match for Jessica Patterson, who moved into the lead on lap 2, and rode error free to the checkers. Katherine Prumm would also get by Gieger, and her 1/2 Moto scores were good enough for the Overall win. Tarah took 3rd again, though her 3/3 garnered a second overall podium showing. Alisa Nix would cross the line 4th, earning the final podium spot, while Leah Cantrell was once again 5th. Tania Satchwell looked strong in the 2nd Moto until a mechanical failure caused her to DNF. Prumm now leads the series by 4 points over Patterson, 126-124. Nix sits in third with 112.

Lites Moto 1:

WBR Suzuki’s Ryan Sipes took the holeshot, but Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto took control by the end of the first lap. “RV” showed Team Honda’s Andrew Short, KTM young gun Mike Alessi, and Team Makita Suzuki’s Broc Hepler the fast way around the track for all 15 laps, at one point stretching out a 15+ second lead. After a bobble that sent him off the track down one of the gnarly, whooped-out downhills, Shorty put his head down and made a little time on RV, but never was much closer than 10 seconds. The same four would finish the race in that order, with Andrew McFarlane rounding out the top 5. SOBE/Samsung rider Josh Grant tangled with Short on the start, and rode from waaaay back in dead last to 19th by the end of the Moto. I’m sure he wasn’t happy with that result, but it was fun watching him knife his way through the pack.

Lites Moto 2:

Ryan Villopoto pulled no punches in Moto 2, as he launched out of the gate & up the start hill with a fury. A bobble soon thereafter allowed Broc Hepler to slide by, but a couple laps later, RV would regain the lead & hold it ‘til the end. Hep definitely kept him honest though, and looked great only 2 races into his comeback from injury. Short was right there to make it a three way battle until his bike gave up the ghost on lap 2, and he was forced to DNF. Mike Alessi slid into 3rd behind Hepler and rode a consistent race for his second 3rd of the day. Josh Grant came from mid-pack to redeem himself with a 4th place finish, and Andrew McFarlane once again rounded out the top 5.

Lites Overall:

Villopoto was untouchable today and went 1/1 for the obvious overall. Hepler’s 4/2 was good for 2nd, and Mike Alessi rounded out the podium with 3/3 finishes. Andrew McFarlane rode to 5/5 finishes for 4th overall, while Martin Davalos did the same with a pair of 6’s for 5th overall. A disappointed Short ended up 7th O/A with his 2/DNF. This puts RV solidly in 1st for the series with 290 pts over Mike Alessi’s 277. Andrew Short is a distant 3rd at 230, having lost a lot of ground due to his mechanical.

MX Moto 1:

Team Honda’s Davi Milsaps looked to have been fired out of a rocket on the start, as he flew up the start hill & rounded the right-hander in 1st. Sobe/Samsung’s Kevin Windham followed Davi around the first turn, and kept him honest for the first few laps. Ricky Carmichael got off the gate somewhere between 5th and 10th, but ran his typical hair-on-fire pace to work his way into third by the end of the first lap, then passed Windham on lap 4, with Davi succumbing shortly thereafter on lap 5. RC proceeded to lay waste to the rest of the field from that point on, finishing roughly 12 seconds ahead by the end of the 15 lap Moto. James Stewart got off to a poor start around 10th place, but rode a spirited, consistent race to cross the finish in 2nd. Milsaps and Windham held their respective positions to the checkers. Yamaha Factory rider Chad Reed fought from a mid-pack start up to 5th, until his bike evidently ran out of fuel on the last lap, handing the position over to Travis Preston. Fuel issues were abundant throughout the Moto, thanks to the heat and elevation.

MX Heat 2:

Moto 2 was all RC, as the Team Makita Suzuki rider put it to the entire field from start to finish. Milsaps continued to impress, though, keeping RC in sight the whole Moto, finishing 6+ second back by the checkers. Chad Reed overcame his 1st Moto heartbreak to run a strong Moto 2 and put himself on the final podium position. Windham battled with James Stewart, and came out on top, with JS settling for fifth place. Tim Ferry rode hard to 6th, and was right on James’ rear wheel when the checkers flew.

MX Overall:

RC ruled the day yet again, taking his 33rd Overall victory in 34 races. Davi Milsaps showed that it was no mistake to put him on a big bike with a solid 2nd. James Stewart’s 2/5 was good enough for 3rd overall, and showed a lot of heart, riding through obvious pain. Kevin Windham combined a pair of 4th place finishes for 4th overall, and Travis Preston completed the top 5 with 5/7 Moto scores. Tim Ferry continued to impress with 8/6 scores for 6th O/A, as did Josh Summey, who again cracked the Top 10 with 10/10 for 9th O/A.

Notes:

It was great to see Ernesto Fonseca back at the races. The Honda rider, who was injured in a practice crash back in March, was out all weekend long providing inspiration and a big smile to everyone in attendance.

As mentioned earlier, the temperature combined with the elevation had teams scrambling to get the bikes running correctly. Everyone from RC to Reed, privateers and factory riders alike, struggled with jetting and fuel mixtures in an attempt to perfect their respective set-ups. Bikes could be heard sputtering and mis-firing all the whole weekend.

Sometimes, a little light-hearted message is exactly what a rider needs to help him pull through a Moto. Ted Campbell’s mechanic Jumbo Jack (Jay Perkins) demonstrates:

Lakewood MX National

Photo: Brett Duncan

 

Subway Honda rider Jason Thomas’ bike caught our eye on Saturday, thanks to a trick new wheel set-up called “Alpina”. What caught our eye was the dual-color of the rim itself, but what is really trick, is the fact that the spokes have no nipples! On top of that, they have been running them without tubes for the entire National series! That’s right, kids…according to JT$’s mechanic Chris, these wheel sets, which are not yet available to the public, can be run either with tubes, or completely tubeless, and there is no more worry about rounding off spoke nipples trying to keep your wheels true. Check out the pics below:


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Photos: Brett Duncan

 

Chad Reed in Moto 2:

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Photo: Steve Siu*

 

Ryan Villopoto chasing down Broc Hepler in Moto 2:

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Photo: Steve Siu*

 

*Steve Siu

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