Supercross Insider Phoenix

January 12, 2009
Coverage provided by Vital MX

What were a couple of the news items heading into Phoenix? Let’s dig through our notes and see what we can find…
Following Broc Hepler’s broken collarbone during his first practice session at A1, Yamaha Factory Racing returned to their favorite substitute-in-waiting, Sean Hamblin. Besides the fact that he was coming off the bench (though he had been scheduled to go to Germany for a race the same weekend), were a couple minor details. He hadn’t ridden Supercross since ’06, he’d never raced a 450, and the last time out, 2-strokes were still in vogue! With only a few days to prepare, he kept his expectations in check, and while he did ride a bit tight, he did almost reel in Moto XXX’s Daniel Blair for the final transfer spot in the LCQ.

Ryan Dungey - Phoenix
Ryan Dungey showed up in new Fox gear and promptly put his replacement sponsors for One Industries in the winner’s circle.

Another item that seemed to generate plenty of drama was Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey, who parted company with One Industries and the gear contract that he’d signed…whoa, just a couple months ago. There wasn’t much chance that he’d show up in a t-shirt and Levis, though. Fox quickly snapped him up. Dungey was more interested in focusing on the racing side, “Coming into this week, the goal was to win it. Tonight we had a good night and right from the start, the bike felt awesome.”

Ryan took the Lites main event, scoring his first win of the season. From the start of the main event, he was dueling with last week’s Lites class winner, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer. Dungey seemed to be closing the gap on Weimer when Jake crashed in a twisty sand section. Fortunately, he was able to remount and continue, but Dungey was long gone at that point. If he’d been able to continue? It would have been a repeat for Weimer, since he’d taken the Lites main there the year prior.

Following the main, Dungey talked about the opening round, where he rode to a hard-fought third place finish. “Last week we know what we did wrong, and where we went wrong, and this week was the week to get back in control.” In control he is, taking over the points lead. He also noted that both Trey Canard and Jason Lawrence were on the sidelines, due to crashes. “Both of the champions from last year, they didn’t make the main event. That’s unfortunate, but it was a time for me to make up points. We’ve seen a lot of strange stuff in the championship series, so anything can happen. But we’re going to do our best to keep our heads down and keep moving forward.”

Starting line - Phoenix
Due to track conditions, the starting gate saw a mix-up of riders that forced many top guys to the outside for better traction.

Looking back at Anaheim 1, we probably couldn’t have had a better setup to the season in the 450 class. Just when we were all focused on James Stewart (San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE) and Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) running out front? Blam. They had their big yard sale after James missed a shift and collected both Chad, and later, Geico Powersports Honda’s Kevin Windham. At that point, pretty much any expectations you’d had of business as usual you could toss out the window. And we’d bet ticket sales for Phoenix immediately went up accordingly.

A good finish in the heat races along with a good gate pick was pretty crucial this week. Many of the gates had a blue-groove portion right where the riders would dump the clutch, followed by a hole where the tires would finally catch traction and start digging in. Chad Reed mentioned, “The whole starting line was tough. Right where the rear wheels stood, it was really, really slick. It was crucial for everybody to pick and choose. You probably noticed that a lot of the good guys were actually on the outside, which is normally where you don’t want to be, but it was so hard, we had to go where the dirt was good.”

Josh Grant - Phoenix
Josh Grant snagged the holeshot, again.

Josh Grant (JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha) actually started on the outside of Reed, and scored the holeshot. From there, Josh led only a portion of the first lap, before being passed by James Stewart. Chad Reed did keep James honest, getting close enough to show him a wheel before the halfway point, but then making a mistake in the sand that allowed James to build a small safety cushion. Chad whittled away at it throughout the rest of the main, however, and at the finish, Stewart had just over a half-second lead.

It probably wasn’t the prettiest ride of James’ career, but it was effective, scoring a full 25 points to go along with the mere two points that he’d taken home the first week. Chad Reed finished second, with Josh Grant grabbing the third spot. Following the race James said, “I knew I had to be smart and get it done. If it was going to come it would come, but I wasn’t going to override the track.”

James did go back to basics during the week, though, in an effort to minimize mistakes like the one at Anaheim. “The biggest thing I was working on was shifting the motorcycle. I had to go all the way back to the basics…learn how to shift a motorcycle and learn how to start the thing. We worked on that this week. But I knew I just had to ride. I didn’t ride that good last week, and I rode a little better this week. But it definitely feels good to get the monkey off my back a little bit and we’ve just got to go for it.”

James Stewart - Phoenix
Stewart enjoyed good, clean racing which he took to the checkers.

When asked if his recent switch from Fox to Alpinestars boots might have had any affect on his shifting, he said, “No, I’ll tell you one thing, these boots are the best boots I’ve ever had on. It was me trying to block my line and short shifting. It didn’t go into gear. It’s always easy to look at an excuse, and there’s a lot of things I could have blamed it on. But I won’t blame it on anybody but myself.”

James also enjoyed the racing with Chad. “That’s the cleanest we’ve ever raced. Except for the last lap, I was never worried about him coming in on me. That’s the way we should race. That’s the way Ricky (Carmichael) and I raced. I like that.”

Supercross Results:
1. James Stewart, YAM
2. Chad Reed, SUZ
3. Josh Grant, YAM
4. Ivan Tedesco, HON
5. Andrew Short, HON
6. Kevin Windham, HON
7. Ryan Villopoto, KAW
8. Josh Hill, YAM
9. Tim Ferry, KAW

Chad Reed - Phoenix
Chad Reed took a solid second place and trails Josh Grant by three points in the title chase.

10. Davi Millsaps, HON

Supercross Overall Standings:
1. Josh Grant, 45
2. Chad Reed, 42
3. Andrew Short, 38
4. Ivan Tedesco, 33
5. Tim Ferry, 30

Supercross Lites Results
1. Ryan Dungey, SUZ
2. Justin Brayton, KTM
3. Ryan Morais, KAW
4. Jake Weimer, KAW
5. Chris Blose, HON
6. Larsen, KAW
7. Ryan Sipes, KTM
8. Soubeyras, C. YAM
9. Evans, B. HON
10. Dan Reardon, HON

Supercross Lites Overall Standings:
1. Ryan Dungey, 45
2. Jake Weimer, 43
3. Ryan Morais, 42
4. Justin Brayton, 36
5. Chris Blose, 34

Facebook comments