One area where the NPG has stepped up this year is the addition of a media tent that’s separate from the AMA trailer. We know for the average fan, Media tents don’t mean a thing, but it’s definitely cool having a place for the media to work…especially local media who aren’t used to roughing it in the dirt. For the first two rounds we’ve also seen what seems like a larger than usual contingent of local press, which is very cool to see.

The NPG has also worked up a better setup for satellite web connections, so we should be able to bring you news and photos faster than ever, even at some of the more remote tracks that have trouble with cell service.

Another item is assigned seats in the Media tent for the regulars who follow along on the circuit. GuyB was surprised to find this one at his spot in the tent on Saturday morning…


Huh?

 Ivan Tedesco made his first podium appearance since joining up with the Honda Red Bull Racing squad, and also his first of the season, finishing third overall on Sunday. “It has been a rough couple years for me, and I can’t remember the last time I was on the podium. It sucks when you put so much effort in, and the results don’t show. You get injured and fall behind the eight ball, and have to keep working hard. I worked hard the last couple months down in Florida, and it feels good to be up here.”

Ivan Tedesco
Ivan Tedesco. (You can click nearly every image in this article for a larger version.)
 

I’ve been working hard,” Ivan continued. “I moved down to Florida, down to Ricky’s place, and I’ve been working with him a lot. I’m finally starting to come around. I felt good that second moto, and just need to keep building on it.”

“That first moto, I caught up to Millsaps at the end, and we had a really good battle. I didn’t end up getting around him, but in that second moto, I got out there and battled with Millsaps for a little bit. Then he kind of fell off and Timmy started catching up to me. He just pressured me and pressured me and finally got around me. I’m happy with my finish, I think it’s better than last weekend, and I just need to keep building on it and moving forward.”

Timmy Ferry Vital Motocross
Timmy Ferry.

We’d be the last ones to call Tim Ferry old, particularly after he put in two great motos for second overall in the tough conditions at Hangtown. But while the 33-year-old has coming to Hangtown since ’92, and he’d won a 125cc race there in ’95, the 33-year-old just seems to be getting better.

Timmy was charging forward in both motos, and when asked why he seems to do well here, he replied, “I think it’s that it gets really rough. I think some of those guys definitely got tired towards the end of the second moto…even the first moto. I’m not sure what happened to Davi, if he was pumping up or what. It wasn’t as hot as it could have been, but it was gnarly with the rocks. I think that after racing here for so many years I’ve got a good feel for the dirt, and I think that helps.”

“In the first moto I passed almost everybody in the exact same spot. Jeff Alessi and Mike Alessi. Then of course Jeff went back and told his brother about it, and everybody used that line in the second moto so I had to find something new."

When someone else mentioned Mike Alessi’s results from the previous weekend, Timmy said, “After Glen Helen I was like, “Man, this kid’s stepping it up. I’ve got to find some speed. I came here this weekend and I was happy with last weekend, it was decent with a 4-4, and nothing to shake your head at. But I wanted to do better, and when he beat me with that Camelbak on, that didn’t sit very well with me.”

“Today was one of those days. I felt like I was ahead of the rest of the human riders, other than Superman over here.” [Pointing to his teammate, James Stewart.]

Speaking of Alessi’s mid-moto water source, it’s not really a Camelbak that he’s wearing, but a custom unit built by his trainer, and it only holds a total of 12 ounces of water. But they do claim that it’s rigged for almost effortless use.

Mike Alessi Vital Motocross
Mike Alessi.

A crash in the first moto didn’t help Mike’s overall results at Hangtown. “I got kind of a bad start and was about sixth or seventh, making passes. In the back section on one of the downhills it had some bumps, and as I was turning in I lost the front end and landed on my back. I don’t even really remember because it happened so fast. I got up and the handlebars and wheel were totally misaligned, so I had to pull into the mechanic’s area and get that straightened out. It still wasn’t that good. I charged from about 30th back to 16th.”

Mike said that his second moto start was even worse, but they’d made some changes to the bike between motos, and that while he got close to Tedesco, but couldn’t quite make the pass.

After returning to the Media center later in the weekend, GuyB found this sign…

 

Sunday’s MX1 winner, James Stewart, earned a hearty round of applause for his reply to one of the questions asked in the post-race press conference. When responding to a question about how he stays motivated without Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed around, he said, “See, that’s one thing you guys don’t understand. These guys are good. I’d like to see any of you guys sitting out here racing these guys. These guys are good. For you guys to say, ‘Ah yeah, there’s no competition,’ that’s just a letdown to even myself. We put a lot of hard work into it, and these guys do the same thing. It’s no cakewalk out there. I don’t know where you guys are getting that. I train really hard, I bust my behind, and Sunday’s are my easiest days. But for you guys to say there’s no competition, and these guys are not on it, that’s just disrespectful. Like I said, these guys try hard, just as hard as I do, and that’s not fair.”

James might as well have been using the same response for a bunch of the motocross message boards out there (including Vital’s), where smack-talking on some of the riders runs rampant each race weekend. How about some respect for the riders?

James Stewart
Mike Williamson (left) and James Stewart.

As far as his race went, James explained, “In the first moto I just got a really good jump. The start was kind of short, so I got around the first corner clean, and I felt really good today. It’s just kind of keeping marks on the lap times, and race the pit board and doing my thing. We practice that so much during the week, that it just kind of carries over into the weekend.”

So has James surprised himself so far this season? “A little bit. I was a little shocked after Glen Helen. I felt like I was riding good, but it’s hard to come back. Normally you know where you’re at, and it just takes a couple races. I was lucky enough to have good starts and figure it out pretty quick. Like I said, I feel better and better every week, just getting some races under my belt, and to be honest, I am a little shocked. But it feels good.”

“I really enjoy coming to the races, and this has been fun. Like I said, sitting on the couch, you really have a different perspective towards everything, coming to the races and stuff. Everybody goes through it. You start taking it for granted.”

“I’m looking forward to Texas. I haven’t raced there, and for me, going to new tracks, I really like that. I think it’s fun.”

Sean Hamblin
Sean Hamblin's bike gets one last fix before heading out for moto two.

Glen Helen’s privateer hero, Sean Hamblin, had a few problems this weekend, including a crash in the first moto while running eighth, and a couple problems in moto two. On the line he discovered an errant wire jammed in the adjuster on his clutch perch, and after some help from his mechanic, along with an assist from Yamaha’s Dan Rambert and JGR’s Alex Ewing, he was good to go. A stuck holeshot device did require a pit stop, though.

Steve Boniface
Steve Boniface wedged between Ivan Tedesco and Andrew Short.

There were a couple different privateers that caught everyone’s attention this week, however. Steve Boniface was overshadowed by Hamblin a bit at Glen Helen, but after posting solid results for a second week in a row, Boniface was definitely turning heads. We hear that he’s got a new physique, and the training time is definitely showing with results on the track, as was close to the top ten at Glen Helen, and scored a sixth in each moto on the much rougher track at Hangtown.

Sean Collier
Sean Collier.

Sean Collier was also impressive in the first MX1 moto at Hangtown, scoring a fifth-place finish. In the second moto, a tangle with Jeff Alessi resulted in a crash. He was in an area where he was blind to oncoming riders, and it took him a while to get remounted. He’s worked his way back into the high 20s, but took a rock to the face and he reportedly had some trouble seeing. He also had to get some stitches over his left eye after the race in the Asterisk Mobile Medical unit.

Jason Lawrence
Jason Lawrence.

After spending a year on probation after last year’s ruckus with Ryan Villopoto at Hangtown, Jason Lawrence had a much better starting spot for this year’s race. But as he explained afterwards, he definitely had trouble with his start in the first moto. “I kind of tried to read the gate and anticipate it, and once I realized I was going to run into it, as soon as I hit the front brake, the gate dropped. I was kind of sitting there alone without anybody else. I came through the first turn about midpack, That’s not the kind of competition you’re going to come through and find yourself on the podium if you don’t get good starts. That’s what happened. I feel like I rode my best and got fifth, which is a pretty good amount of points. I’ll take that.” Jason also scored a second in the second moto, for third overall in the MX2 class.

When asked what it was like to have a little win streak going, this week’s MX2 winner, Ryan Villopoto, answered, “It’s definitely little. Three races in a row, it’s good, and I’d like to keep it going and try to get my points gap bigger. Last year I had 20 points and I went to five down, so I’d like to get the points gap where it’s pretty good, so I have a little cushion.”

“I definitely want to finish my last season in the Lites class and try to get this title and make it three in a row. I obviously wanted to get the East Coast Supercross championship, and that didn’t work out, so we’ll move on to this one and try and make it three in a row.”

Ryan Villopoto
Ryan Villopoto. We can't put our finger on it, but there's something cool about this section of the track...

Regarding the conditions over the first two weeks in the 2008 series, Ryan explained, “Glen Helen didn’t get rough at all. It was pretty much a smooth racetrack, and the weather was only like 65 degrees. So it was a really easy weekend to race. Anybody could have done well. The track was smooth and it wasn’t hot out. Then we come here, and at least the track was pretty rough. I don’t know how warm it was, but it was definitely warmer. So that’s what I think separates us.”

Press conference emcee, Rob Buydos asked Villopoto if he the power of his Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki was ‘enough,’ as he finishes his last Lites season and looks forward to jumping to the MX1 class next year. Ryan’s reply? “It’s definitely a lot easier to ride. That’s probably the biggest thing. The 450 has all the power in the world, but it’s still going to one back wheel. That makes it really hard to hang onto and predict what it’s going to do. The 250F is definitely a lot mellower than a 450 and definitely a lot easier to ride. Like sometimes I’ll think I can go faster on a 450, but a lot of the times like right now we’re not riding it a whole lot and I can definitely be just as fast (on the 250F).”

Over the last two weeks, we’ve heard nearly every rider on the podium say that they’re looking forward to heat at the upcoming races, where they can take advantage of their conditioning to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. With temps in the 90s in the forecast for next weekend at the Freestone facility in Wortham, Texas, they should get what they’re asking for.

Quick Bits

 

We’re not sure which Ryan she meant (since there were two Ryans on the Lites podium).

 

Attendance was good in Hangtown (and seemed much better than the previous weekend in Glen Helen). It was reported in the 25,000 range.

Gavin Gracyk 

Though the ligaments in his ankle are still tender, it was cool to see Gavin Gracyk back on the track aboard his JGR MX Yamaha.

Matt Lemoine 

Matt Lemoine had a hard crash on Sunday, and we’re not sure if he’ll be back in time for next weekend for his home race in Texas.

Colton Udall 

What happens when you lose your front number plate and don’t have any replacement numbers? Improvise like Colton Udall.

Simon Cudby 

Steve Matthes is learning to shoot photos, but we’re not sure how many he actually shoots. He keeps handing it off to various pro photographers, so they can show him some settings. (At least that’s what he’s claiming.) Here, Simon Cudby takes a crack at the Matthes-cam.

Ben Townley Vital Motocross 

Here’s hoping that Ben Townley can get healthy and show off his true speed.

Juss Laansoo 

After injuring a wrist a while back, Juss Laansoo was reportedly given a couple options by his orthopedic surgeon…have it fused with no motion and no pain, or retain limited motion with some pain. We hear the speedy Estonian opted for the latter. We’re not sure we’ve seen all the speed he has to offer yet this season.

 

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