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AMA Chevy Trucks MX Nationals: Round 1


“Mother’s Day at the Glen”

Glen Helen Raceway
AMA Chevy Trucks MX Nationals: Round 1
By Eddie Graveline
motopress.net
SAN BERNARDINO, CA, MAY 11


The 2003 Supercross series lost a lot of its intrigue when riders started dropping out early with injuries. Were it not for Chad Reed’s incredible late season performance, there wouldn’t have been much reason to watch. With so many heroes on the sidelines, the beginning of the Nationals, where most of the fallen warriors were slated to return, loomed in the distance like a desert oasis. As it drew nearer, the anticipation grew. Names like Pastrana, Tortelli, Langston, Ramsey, Vuillemin and even Windham would be back in the program. James Stewart was out, but Ryan Hughes was back in the 125 class. Glen Helen is always a big event, but this year’s edition seemed to hold extra significance to the true fans of motocross.

Rain fell during the week prior to the race, but things shaped up nicely for the weekend. Once again, the track designers came up with a truly sadistic layout that consisted of the monstrous hills we’ve come to love and some very nasty infield sections including a treacherous sand straight. Might as well throw everything at the boys on the first weekend, right?

125cc

With Branden Jesseman and Danny Smith on the DL, Team Suzuki’s Roger DeCoster tried to pull another Hamblin out of his hat by hiring Casey Johnson to a five-round 125 contract. Initially, it looked like he might have done it again. CJ assumed the point on the first lap of the first national moto of the year and set a blistering pace. Craig Anderson and Brock Sellards rode their Yamaha of Troy YZs right behind him. On the third lap, though, Johnson crashed and sustained a neck injury that brought his comeback to an abrupt halt. The lead went to Sellards, who had passed his teammate and was looking very strong. The problem for Brock was that the 2001 champion, Mike Brown was looking strong right behind him in second place. As the #3 bike moved toward the leader, KTM’s Bret Metcalfe rode in third place. Ryan Hughes was behind him on another pumpkin colored bike and Grant Langston, Steve Boniface and Billy Laninovich were close by as well. There was more orange in the top fifteen than I could ever remember seeing. Metcalfe fell to his teammates—Hughes first, then Langston. Mike Brown made a pass on Sellards late for the win, while Langston muscled his way to third ahead of Hughes.

The second moto started with Grant Langston shoving his way to the front in the first turn. He was followed by Hughes, Craig Anderson and Brown. After the field passed my vantage point the first time, Brock Sellards came by in last place and several seconds behind everyone else. Mike Brown was up to second place a few laps in and would focus on reeling Langston in. Hughes looked strong in third, while Pro Circuit’s Eric Sorby moved up to fourth. Anderson went backward again, as did Stephane Roncada who moved down to the 125 class for Suzuki. In one of the race’s scarier moments, Moto XXX rider Troy Adams crashed while blitzing down one of the steep hills. It looked really bad when he was tumbling 50 yards past his bike, but he escaped with a broken collarbone. Back up front, Mike Brown had closed the Langston’s gap. In the final two laps, the two rode side by side and traded paint more than once. Fans that remember the 2001 series, were well aware of the “history” between the two riders and the entire facility seemed to tense up in anticipation of a takeout. They kept it pretty clean, though, and both riders crossed the finish line in one piece. Langston won the moto, but the overall went to Brown with his 1-2 showing. Langston was second and Hughes third. For KTM, it was one of their best days yet in AMA competition and served notice that the Austrian marque is going to be a force this year.

They say that, ‘While the cat’s away, the mice will play’. With James Stewart out for at least the first two rounds, the 125 class is up for grabs. Travis Preston and Branden Jesseman would normally figure to be the next in line, but they’re out too. But Brown, Langston, Hughes and Sellards showed that the talent is deep and there’s no reason at all to think that this won’t be one of the best series yet.

250 Class

For more than a month before Glen Helen, Kevin Windham was the source of much speculation. Reports came in from Dunlop day and even Jeremy McGrath’s private track that K-dub was flying. I personally heard reports that his lap times were more than a second faster than Ricky Carmichael’s in certain locations. Given Ricky’s domination of the past three seasons, it seemed far fetched, but it was good to have some hope for a better series than last year. It was cool to see RC go undefeated once, but it was time for some good racing. Windham didn’t disappoint.

David Vuillemin got the best drive through the first turn, but Windham passed him in the sand whoops on that first lap. Ricky Carmichael started fourth, but was up to second in as many laps. At that point, the Yamahas of Vuillemin, Tim Ferry and Chad Reed occupied third through fifth place. Windham was on fire. Had he gone any faster in those first laps, he would have needed Nomex. It was short-lived, though as he bobbled over a little jump and tipped his CRF over. The ten second lead that he had developed would have been enough cushion, but he couldn’t get the 4-stroke started until half of the pack had gone by. Carmichael cruised to the moto win with Reed and Ferry in tow.
No one really knew what was going on at the time, but Travis Pastrana pulled out of the first moto with severe knee pain. It seems that he did more damage to his weak side just by landing sideways off of a jump. He didn’t even crash! He wasn’t on the line for the second moto, though. Instead, he was off to the hospital to have it checked out.

Kevin Windham got off to another great start in the second moto. He was passed briefly by Ezra Lusk, who got a great drive going up the big hill, but #14 got him back shortly after. Ricky Carmichael started a few positions back, but held the throttle open longer than anyone else coming down the hill and moved up to second. Again, Windham stretched out a lead of several seconds, while RC chased. Lusk was looking solid, holding third place down for a time. He would eventually relinquish to Chad Reed, but held on for a solid fourth, especially considering the fact that it was his first race in quite some time. Carmichael chipped away at Windham’s lead and made a pass in the later stages. Maybe Kevin was tired from that first moto crash and subsequent kick starting debacle. Maybe he decided to back it down a notch and just score some points. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough to beat Ricky Carmichael. Windham proved that he has the speed to run with RC, but has yet to display the consistency and maturity to beat him. Round 1 went to the champ, but the challenger left plenty of interesting questions hanging in the air.

Leaving Glen Helen, it was nice to have a lot of excitement about the remaining rounds. As expected, the 125 class seemed to be wide open with a lot of potential winners. Up in the premier division, Ricky Carmichael was on his game, as everyone knew he would be. But Kevin Windham looked happy and extremely fast as everyone hoped he would be. Get ready for a great summer.

OVERALL RESULTS:

125cc:
1. Mike Brown (Kaw); 2. Grant Langston (KTM); 3. Ryan Hughes (KTM); 4. Eric Sorby (Kaw); 5. Michael Brandes (Yam); 6. Brett Metcalfe (KTM); 7. Brock Sellards (Yam); 8. Stephane Roncada (Suz); 9. Chris Gosselaar (Hon); 10. Steve Boniface (KTM); 11. Billy Laninovich (KTM); 12. Michael Byrne (Hon); 13. Andrew Short (Suz); 14. Troy Adams (Yam); 15. Ivan Tedesco (Yam); 16. Steve Mertens (Yam); 17. Daryl Hurley (Suz); 18. Matthieu Lalloz (Suz); 19. Kevin W. Johnson (Yam); 20. Turbo Reif (Yam); 21. Tim Weigand (Hon); 22. Jeremy Chaussee (Yam); 23. Kelly Smith (Yam); 24. Richie Owens (Kaw); 25. Bobby Kiniry (Suz).

250cc:
1. Ricky Carmichael (Hon); 2. Chad Reed (Yam); 3. Tim Ferry (Yam); 4. Ezra Lusk (Kaw); 5. Kevin Windham (Hon); 6. Larry Ward (Hon); 7. Mike LaRocco (Hon); 8. Greg Albertyn (Suz); 9. John Dowd (KTM); 10. David Vuillemin (Yam); 11. Ernesto Fonseca (Hon); 12. Sebastien Tortelli (Suz); 13. Nick Wey (Yam); 14. Kyle Lewis (Hon); 15. Joaquim Rodrigues (KTM); 16. Craig Decker (Yam); 17. Sean Hamblin (Suz); 18. Keith S. Johnson (KTM); 19. Robbie Reynard (Kaw); 20. Evan Laughridge (Suz); 21. Chris Wheeler (Suz); 22. Bobby Bonds (Kaw); 23. James Povolny (Hon); 24. Heath Voss (Yam).

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