Toronto Supercross Insider

March 30, 2009
Coverage Provided by Vital MX

Chad Reed - New Orleans
Reed takes another second place finish in Toronto; his lead shrinks to eight points with four races left.

So when you take a batch of frozen dirt inside the Rogers Centre, have it thaw, and try to build a track out of it, you pretty much know you’re in Toronto for the annual “international” race on the circuit.

Actually, as international trips go, this one’s pretty easy. Same language, not far outside the U.S. borders, but with stronger beer.

Oh, wait … back to the topic at hand …

The formerly frozen material always makes things particularly interesting, both for the riders, and the Dirt Wurx crew, who no doubt had to put in some overtime on the racing surface Saturday night. Even though Chad Reed (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) finished in second spot on Saturday night, he was still complimentary on the track. “Tonight the track was awesome. Actually, it was a lot of fun, really challenging. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it was last year. Hats off to the guys. They had their work cut out for them, and the track got better and better all night long. You can’t ask for anything more.”

As mentioned previously, Chad’s second-place finish, combined with James Stewart’s win on Saturday night, trimmed Chad’s points lead back to eight again. When quizzed about whether he’d be leading the points, or being the pursuer, Reed said, “Hell yeah, I’ll take eight points up, rather than being eight points down. We’ve got four races to go now, and each race is pretty much a championship race for this title. None of us can make mistakes, and the one that makes mistakes is going to throw it away.”

So how did his race go on Saturday night? “I felt good on the track. I just made way too many mistakes in the main … like mistakes where I had to roll sections. So that was a little disappointing. I just had to ride smart at the end because I was frustrated and making too many mistakes.” He also added, “I’ve been around a while and I know you’ve got to be second or you’ve got to win. Take the win when you can. Tonight he rode real good, and I didn’t think I was good enough to win tonight. I made too many mistakes and didn’t deserve it.”

James Stewart puts another win under his belt - AMA Supercross Toronto
Stewart ran a pretty relaxed race, found his lines and picked up his ninth win of the season.

After the conclusion of the Toronto Supercross, we’re now down to four races left in the title chase, and we’re headed to an entirely different venue next weekend in Jacksonville, FL. When we asked Reed what we can expect, he quipped, “It’s Supercross. I mean it’s going to be the same. Probably the biggest thing is the dirt. You never know what the dirt’s going to be like, and living in Florida I’d expect that it’s going to be some red clay and some sand in it. You know, we’ll see. It’ll probably get rutty, and I know it’s been really dry in Florida, so I don’t know … I haven’t seen the weather, but I’m predicting bad weather next week. I’ll take mud over frozen dirt for sure. It’s a little more predictable. But everybody’s got to ride the same thing.”

So how about James Stewart? With his win on Saturday night, the San Manuel / Yamaha / JSE rider took his ninth win of the season, and it’s the races where he crashed in Anaheim 1 and Daytona that have him in a points deficit. When we suggested to James that the win on Saturday night constituted one check mark on his to do list, he chuckled and said, “I guess. It’s a long list to go, but I’m having fun doing it. Tonight I was pretty relaxed all night. I didn’t really feel any pressure, I was just kind of going out and doing my own deal. I was focused on my lines, and I think the track was so tough that it made you do that. I was able to do that. I had a couple bobbles, but the track was just rough.”

When we asked for his opinion on the racing surface in Toronto, he said, “It was the gnarliest track all year for sure. The ruts just kept getting softer and softer. But honestly, the Dirt Wurx guys did a really good job. It could have been dangerous. They kept it going, and they kept it nice. I wouldn’t say smooth, but nice enough to where it wasn’t dangerous.”

Josh Hill  75  followed by Josh Grant  33  - AMA Supercross Toronto
Josh Hill (75) suprised everyone with his first podium appearance of the season.

Josh Hill (Yamaha Factory Racing) turned in an excellent ride through the pack on Saturday night. He came from outside the top ten to score his first podium of the season, and has had a rough time with injuries. When asked for a list of what he’d dinged this season, Josh should have brought his notebook. “I tore my whole labrum, front to back, had that repaired, then two days before Houston I separated my AC and SC. I also had a concussion not even a week before Anaheim 1. I shouldn’t have even raced Anaheim 1. But I didn’t really tell anybody that I hit my head. I didn’t even tell my team. I tried to be a tough guy. I guess that’s really all my major injuries. I think my finger might be broken from last weekend when I crashed. But that’s about it.”

So how did he account for his ride on Saturday night? “I don’t know, dude, really I just didn’t get a good start. I haven’t gotten any good starts all year, but this track was easier to pass than most. It wasn’t like slot car racing where everyone was in the same line. There were lines everywhere. I started way back, and I remember the last few guys … this isn’t in order, but it was (Andrew) Short, (Ivan) Tedesco, (Broc) Hepler, Josh Grant, and Nick Wey, too.”

When asked for a comparison between the level of competition in ’08 and ’09, Josh said, “Dude, it’s way gnarlier. A heat race is like a main last year. If you have a heat race with Chad Reed and Windham … it was tough last year, but it wasn’t like this. It was tough to win last year, because you had Chad and Kevin was really on his game last year.
But the field’s so much deeper. Back then you could get a tenth place start and it seemed like I could go through people. I don’t know if that’s cause I was better then or if it’s just tougher.”

One of Josh’s buddies, the enigmatic Jason Lawrence, was also on hand, but he had an on again/off again program on Saturday night. At first it appeared that he wouldn’t race his heat race, and then he would, so we got Jason to explain what was going on. “In the second practice, I came across the finish line and it was a long straight with a tons of rocks right there. My teammate was right in front of me, and he was throwing out a mean roost. I tried to do a quick zig through it, I wouldn’t get it too bad, but it was inevitable. I just got pelted. I got a few across my knuckles, all in my chest, and one big one must have gotten the top of my hand and made it nearly impossible to make a fist.”

He continued, “I was set on not racing right after the practice, just because if you can’t make a fist, you can’t ride Supercross. I wasn’t racing, I was up in the suite watching the first Lites heat races and it seemed like I was fine. I was like, ‘Whoa, what am I doing? I’m fine.’ I ran down there, got my gear on, and made it no problem. Once I got out there, I could make a fist, but I couldn’t hold on strong enough to hold on and use the clutch at the same time. So it was pretty much pointless.”

Supercross Lites East Podium - AMA Supercross Toronto
Kawasaki grabs the top two spots on the podium in Toronto.

There’s no doubt that he’s fast, and definitely fun to watch. Here’s hoping that he heals up and we see some more good rides from him this season.

Last week when we talked to Lites East points leader, Christophe Pourcel (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki), he knew that he could wrap up the title in Toronto, and he wanted to make it happen on Saturday night. The previous couple weeks he’d settled for consistent finishes, rather than podium spots, but had built such a big points lead that he could afford to play it safe. But in true championship style, he went out with a win. Afterwards, he said, “It was all my plan tonight. We worked a lot on the bike again, to get the holeshot. That was the most important thing that we worked on. When I got the holeshot, the race was good for me. You know that you’re the fastest rider on the track, and you just know that you’ve got one man (Stroupe) that can catch you. But he was five or six seconds behind me. I was really smooth on the track and everything goes my way, so that was the good deal.”

Christophe continued, “This (the championship) was my goal after the first few races and I had a many point lead. It’s never easy to get a championship, so the last few weeks I finished fourth and fifth, but if you want to be champion sometimes you have to be consistent and you can’t go every time on the podium or win the race. So that was my goal this year, and we got the title one race before. I think that was a good decision for me.”

Christophe Pourcel captures the 2009 Supercross Lites East championship - AMA Supercross Toronto
Pourcel adds his name to the many other Kawsaki championship winners.

Of course, you probably know the tale of Christophe’s serious spinal injury a couple years ago that left him with the very real possibility of permanent paralysis. So to come back and win a championship title is particularly amazing. When we asked Christophe about his thoughts on it, he said, “When I got my injury I wasn’t thinking about being able to get back on the bike, and I didn’t think I’d be able to ride again. Bicycle, motorcycle, everything like that. That’s kind of a dream come true, but that wasn’t my dream any more.”

Christophe’s mom was in attendance to see him win the race and the title, and Christophe explained, “My father came over for Daytona and I got the win, and my mother came tonight and I got the win and the championship. So that was crazy. My family supported me when I got my big injury, and there was a year when the doctor said, ‘Okay, you’re going to be paralyzed. You’ve got a 70 percent chance to stay paralyzed, so that wasn’t easy for them to hear something like that. So I think that’s awesome for them to see that.”

When quizzed about how the transition to the U.S. scene has been for the transplanted Frenchman, he said, “You know, I’ve got some friends here. All my team are really good, and they support me. All the staff are really close to me. They have to try to speak French, too, so that’s really funny. I love to be in America, I love the language, too, so it was kind of an easy way for me. I love to be here, I love to race, I love to have fun. My mechanics and everybody comes over to play poker every Tuesday at my house. That’s just fun, and I like it. I like to be a normal person and not a big star, and not the man that I don’t want to be.”

Christophe Pourcel takes the chequered flag - AMA Supercross Toronto
Pourcel gets his final win to seal the championship.

2009 Monster Energy Supercross Results
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Supercross Lites Heat 1
1. Christophe Pourcel
2. Branden Jesseman
3. Darryn Durham
4. Wil Hahn
5. Kyle Keylon
6. Vince Friese
7. Broc Tickle
8. Freddy Karrle
9. Daniel Blair

Supercross Lites Heat 2
1. Matt Lemoine
2. Austin Stroupe
3. Nico Izzi
4. Blake Wharton
5. Matt Goerke
6. Steven Clarke
7. Jason Thomas
8. Brady Sheren
9. Tyler Wharton

Supercross Heat 1
1. Chad Reed
2. Kevin Windham
3. Ivan Tedesco
4. Josh Grant
5. Mike Alessi
6. Benjamin Coisy
7. Matt Boni
8. Tommy Hahn
9. Kyle Chisholm

Supercross Heat 2
1. James Stewart
2. Davi Millsaps
3. Andrew Short
4. Josh Hill
5. Broc Hepler
6. Jason Lawrence
7. Tyler Bowers
8. Paul Carpenter
9. Nate Ramsey

Supercross Lites LCQ
1. Jacob Saylor
2. Kevin Johnson

Supercross LCQ
1. Jake Marsack
2. Nick Wey

Supercross Lites Main Event
1. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki)
2. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki)
3. Broc Tickle (Yamaha)
4. Branden Jesseman (Kawasaki)
5. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha)
6. Wil Hahn (KTM)
7. Matt Goerke (Suzuki)
8. Vince Friese (Honda)
9. Daniel Blair (Honda)
10. Blake Wharton (Honda)
11. Nico Izzi (Suzuki)
12. Jason Thomas (Honda)
13. Kyle Keylon (Honda)
14. Kevin Johnson (Yamaha)
15. Steven Clarke (Suzuki)
16. Jacob Saylor (Yamaha)
17. Darryn Durham (Yamaha)
18. Freddy Karrle (Suzuki)
19. Tyler Wharton (Honda)
20. Brady Sheren (Suzuki)

Supercross Main Event
1. James Stewart (Yamaha)
2. Chad Reed (Suzuki)
3. Josh Hill (Yamaha)
4. Josh Grant (Yamaha)
5. Ivan Tedesco (Honda)
6. Kevin Windham (Honda)
7. Davi Millsaps (Honda)
8. Matt Boni (Honda)
9. Andrew Short (Honda)
10. Benjamin Coisy (Honda)
11. Mike Alessi (Suzuki)
12. Nate Ramsey (Yamaha)
13. Kyle Chisholm (Yamaha)
14. Paul Carpenter (Kawasaki)
15. Nick Wey (Yamaha)
16. Tyler Bowers (Honda)
17. Broc Hepler (Yamaha)
18. Jake Marsack (Honda)
19. Tommy Hahn (Kawasaki)
20. Jason Lawrence (Yamaha)

Supercross Lites East Point Standings
1. Christophe Pourcel 156
2. Austin Stroupe 128
3. Nico Izzi 112
4. Blake Wharton 102
5. Branden Jesseman 91
6. Wil Hahn 83
7. Matt Goerke 82
8. Matt Lemoine 82
9. Daniel Blair 75
10. Steven Clarke 71

Supercross Point Standings
1. Chad Reed 293
2. James Stewart 285
3. Andrew Short 209
4. Josh Grant 190
5. Ivan Tedesco 179
6. Kevin Windham 173
7. Mike Alessi 170
8. Davi Millsaps 166
9. Ryan Villopoto 165
10. Josh Hill 128

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