Vital Weekend Motocross Road Trip

Talk about berm surfing. Tiger Lacey demos how you need to get into and out of the corners ASAP in Arenacross.

Last weekend was just this side of crazed for us. With a wide variety of events to choose from, ample opportunity and some (thankfully) lower gas prices, we figured we'd go for an off-season trifecta. Three events over three days in quite a wide area of Central and Southern California…as well as a little journey into Mexico.

Here's how it all went down…

The first stop was Friday night was the start of the '06/'07 BooKoo Arenacross at Selland Arena in Fresno, CA, and it had one of the more interesting mixes of full-time Arenacross guys, and newcomers making their first pro start. Visiting Supercross rookies like Makita Suzuki's Ryan Dungey, Yamaha of Troy's Kyle Cunningham, and Wonder Warthog Racing intern Jimmy Albertson were there, along with new guys like 15-year-old Tyler Bowers who's part of the new MDK squad.

We liked the new BooKoo format, which trimmed LCQs out of the program, in favor of the new Pitbike Pro class, and Honda 150 class.

The results on the night were pretty wild, with Kyle Cunningham leading over half of the 250 main before finding a slick spot, losing the front end and going down. Then Fun Center Suzuki's Michael Blose took over the lead before doing the same thing…with only two turns to go. That handed the lead to Arenacross vet Darcy Lange, who brought home the win for Team Babbit's Kawasaki. One of the most impressive rides of the night came from Dungey, who quickly carved his way from outside the top five, to a second-place finish.

Lange took the win in the 450 main as well, after taking over the lead when Tyler Bowers lost some time after Tiger Lacey went down in the whoops.

On Saturday night (long after we'd sprinted back to the I-5 to So. Cal.), Lange took another win the 450s, and Dungey topped the 250s.

For a gallery of practice and pit photos from Friday night in Fresno, click here.

If you want to see a full gallery of images from Friday night's race, click here.

After a few hours of sleep following a 4:00 AM arrival at home, the trusty Vital MX Toyota was aimed south toward Tijuana, and the Calimax Stadium, home of the Tijuana Colts. The event was the Tijuana Open Supercross, and the usual baseball field had been covered with a sweet mix of sandy-yet-packable material that offered excellent traction for the assembled riders.

There were classes for minis through 450s, intermissions with Mexican celebrities and clowns riding (and crashing) a few minis, and some really cool freestyle demos.

Vital Weekend Motocross Road Trip

Dennis Jonon (436) and Eric Sorby, dueling for dollars.

The highlight of the night from a racing standpoint had to be All American KTM's Dennis Jonon and Team Tamer's Eric Sorby going at it in the 250 main. Jonon was the early leader, but a couple mistakes, combined with a relentless push from Sorby, put the pair together over several laps. The divebombing and brake checking was rather epic (if you're into that kind of thing), and came to a head two corners from the finish. Dennis dove for the inside in a 90-degree right-hander, pushing Sorby off the track. Yeah, it was weird seeing Eric getting what many would consider his usual treatment, and the crowd was loving it. The last corner (a 180-degree right-hander) was out of view, but the sound of clashing bikes and a roaring crowd left very little to the imagination. Eric remounted first, while Jonon was still kicking his SX-F. But the officials later awarded the win to Jonon, though the two split the prize money.

In the big-bore class, David Vuillemin had an easy time of it, looking fast, smooth and unchallenged while headed to the checkers. Eric Sorby made his way past one of the local riders for second, and both of them will be in Bercy next weekend aboard 250Fs.

For a photo gallery of motorcycle and quad freestyle, as well as racing from Tijuana, click here.

Jeff Ward took home his second Supermoto title at Long Beach.

The final stop of our trifecta was the Troy Lee Designs-promoted "Duel at the Docks"…the finale to the 2006 AMA Supermoto Championship series. For the event, Troy and crew worked out a prime location adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, had a 40-foot tall bridge/jump constructed, made use of a tunnel section, and put on one of the best Supermoto shows that we've seen to date. The series has matured, there's more depth to the fields than just a couple years ago, and it you can put on one of these events just about anywhere.

The Troy Lee Designs Honda team had a stellar weekend, as Jeff Ward clinched his second AMA Supermoto title, and his teammate in the Supermoto Lites class, Cassidy Anderson, wrapped up the Lites title.

In the races, David Pingree scored the win in the Supermoto Lites, his first in the series. Graves Yamaha's Mark Burkhart traded wins with Jeff Ward in the two Supermoto finals, and defending Supermoto Unlimited champ Micky Dymond took the race win in that class, though Red Bull KTM's Ben Carlson wrapped up the championship in that class.

For a 27-photo gallery from Sunday's race action, you can click here.

Troy Lee wearing one of the new Leatt neck braces. We can see a day in the not-to-distant future when a lot more riders are using these. Click for a larger version of the image.

Safety is always on our minds, and we were stoked to see Troy Lee wearing one of the new Leatt neck braces while racing in the Supermoto Lites class on Sunday. Troy believes strongly about the benefits of the brace, and has purchased a quantity for his teammates and friends. In addition, Troy Lee Designs has also signed up to distribute the braces. Troy mentioned, "It does take a little getting used to, but I think it's well worth it. This is our roll cage," making a comparison back to the days when many race cars used to run without roll cages, and the competitors thought it was perfectly acceptable. We'd expect that after a very tough year of spinal injuries, MX safety gear (particularly in the neck/back protection areas) will evolve quickly over the next year or two.

Speaking of safety…you may have heard about an incident at the AMA Supermoto Finals in Long Beach at the start of the Supermoto Unlimited class where the Husqvarnas of Frenchman David Baffeleuf and Australian Troy Herfoss tangled, which sent Herfoss hard to the inside of the first turn shortly after the start. His bike struck a flagger and photographer, as well as a fence lining the inside of the first turn. Obviously that race was red-flagged while the injured were attended to. The good news is that the Asterisk Mobile Medical crew was there, as well as the Long Beach Fire Department, and that the most seriously injured, flagger Dan Willenberg, is expected to make a full recovery. Though he suffered a concussion (and after you see the photos you'll understand why), he remembers nothing of the crash, and has a broken arm. He'll be in the hospital for a couple more days of observation, and is getting some first-class care.

If you click the link here, you can check out a full sequence incident. The decision to run these wasn't taken lightly, for several reasons. First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that Dan, David, Troy, and everyone else involved was okay. Secondly, from a photographer's point of view, we know that we're occasionally in the line of fire ourselves, and know and accept the risks involved every time we hit the track. Call it a karma thing.

But on the other hand, these are some of the wildest photos we've ever seen, and we feel they definitely deserve to be seen. While photos like this do make some people nervous, we know no one's ever going to accuse motocross, Supercross or Supermoto of being completely accident-free, and we're well aware of that.

Now, having said that, we're done for this week, and don't forget to ride safe out there.

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