AMA Motocross Steel City Insider

September 8, 2009
Coverage Provided by VitalMX

Ryan Dungey - 2009 AMA Motocross - Steel City
Ashley Fiolek - 2009 AMA Motocross - Steel City
After a tough battle with Pourcel, Ryan Dungey takes the 250cc Championship title, while Fiolek continues to dominate the WMA with another championship title.

That’s it. Call it a wrap for the 2009 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships. Honda Red Bull Racings Ashley Fiolek took the women’s title in a runaway turned cliffhanger, and Ryan Dungey (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) scored the 250 crown after a season-long battle with Christophe Pourcel.

Coming into Steel City, Fiolek had a lead that was over 40 points, and looked like she could just go through the motions to easily wrap up the title, even if Jessica Patterson (Geico Powersports Honda) won both races. But that was before Fiolek crashed in the first moto. She remounted, but clearly wasn’t riding her normal pace. She kept dropping spots, all the way to seventh place at the checkers, but it was enough to wrap up her second straight title.

As she pulled up to the podium, it was clear that she was in a lot of pain. The crash had broken her right collarbone, she’d finished the moto that way. Later in the afternoon we saw her in a sling, and using a couple index fingers, she overlapped them about a knuckle-and-a-half each, showing what kind of condition x-rays had shown her collarbone to be in. She’ll undergo surgery this week to have it fixed.

After the DNF that Christophe Pourcel suffered at Southwick, which completely changed the complexion of the 250 title chase, Ryan Dungey had a whole lot easier time in clinching his title…though there was the matter of two trouble-free motos to get through at Steel City. When the gate dropped in moto one, Muscle Milk MDK KTM’s Ryan Sipes took the lead, though he was quickly displaced by Geico Powersports Honda rookie (and Southwick winner) Justin Barcia. A little further back in the pack, both Pourcel and Dungey were on the move to the front.

Christophe Pourcel - 2009 AMA Motocross - Steel City
Pourcel dominates the 250 class motos but with Dungey right on his heels it just wasn’t enough to take the championship.

By lap three, Pourcel had taken over the lead, and looked to be putting as many riders between himself and Dungey as possible. But when Dungey moved into second on lap five, it was apparent that Pourcel was slowing…and was interested in some close-contact racing with his series rival. The two traded the lead back-and-forth a couple times, but Dungey wisely found it more appealing to run in second where he could keep his eyes on Pourcel, rather than to run out front, where the Frenchman could put pressure on him.

Pourcel took the first moto win, but was clearly frustrated that the control of the championship chase was out of his hands, and there was little that he could do to change that.

In moto two, Pourcel jumped out front and motored away, which was about all he could do. He went 1-1 for the overall win, but with a safe 2-2, Dungey took the championship title by 11 points.

So where will those two riders be in ’10? That was Dungey’s last 250 race, and he has a verbal agreement to return to the Suzuki factory squad, though they’ve yet to formally ink a deal. Christophe Pourcel said it’s unclear which team he’ll be on for next season. But we did hear one good bit of news after that weekend…that Kawasaki had extended the agreement with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki for another three years. Yes, it’s a no-brainer from a performance and results standpoint, but with tighter budgets and flat new bike sales, just about everything is being questioned at a corporate level these days.

Breast Cancer charity auction - 2009 AMA Motocross - Steel City
The breast cancer awareness charity auction with items from the G.O.A.T. and other AMA Motocross Riders.

If you check out the photos and notice a lot of pink, it was all part of a theme. The Steel City race is always dubbed the American Motocross Classic, and has a festival theme all weekend, but within that, there was also a sub-theme of the Race to Cure Breast Cancer. Riders, crews, track personnel, the Asterisk Mobile Medical crew, and even the track itself was decked out in pink. Over $17,500 was raised for the cause, from raffles, an auction, and donations. Shasta Johnson, a cancer survivor herself, was the driving force behind this one, and deserves huge kudos, along with everyone who helped make it a success.

How about 450 class action? Well, with the championship safely tucked away for Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed, it seemed like a day for everyone else to try and put in a good ride as a way to show potential and polish up a resume for next year. That was good for Reed, who suffered from the same stomach ailment that had troubled him earlier in the season…so much so that he dropped out of the second moto.

Thomas Hahn - 2009 AMA Motocross - Steel City
Tommy Hahn took his first overall 450 class win at Steel City.

In the first moto, the win belonged to Canidae Motosport Kawasaki’s Tommy Hahn, who had battled past the Honda Red Bull Racing duo of Andrew Short and Ivan Tedesco, and pulled away to take the win…his first on a 450. He backed that up with a fourth in moto two, which gave him the overall win, and he also became the seventh different winner this season. Michael Byrne (Rockstar Makita Suzuki) was third in the moto.

In moto two, we had another first-time winner, when Jägermeister MDK KTM’s Justin Brayton grabbed the holeshot and never looked back. He was followed home by Monster Energy Kawasaki substitute Jake Moss, who’d laid down the fastest practice times in the morning. The podium was topped by Hahn, along with Ivan Tedesco, who was riding with a broken rib suffered during one of his crashes at Southwick. It will still be good to go for the upcoming MXoN in Italy. The final podium spot went to Justin Brayton.

So where will all the 450 guys mentioned go? Chad Reed’s unsure of his new home yet. He joked (at least we hope it was a joke) that retirement was an option, though it’s not clear if the Rockstar Makita Suzuki squad has enough budget for both him and Dungey. Tommy Hahn could end up back with Canidae Motosport Kawasaki, though nothing’s agreed to or signed for next year. 

Andrew Short has a contract in place for 2010, though we heard one rumor over the weekend that the Honda Red Bull Racing squad wasn’t entirely committed to racing in ’10, and we’ve already seen Honda pull the plug on their factory road race effort in 2009. That one remains to be seen.

Michael Byrne - AMA Motocross  Glen Helen
Byrne is out and looking for a new ride for 2010 but with team cutting back their budget will anyone pick up Byrne?

Ivan Tedesco? We’ve heard his name mentioned in connection with a couple different teams, but there’s no firm word on any of them.

Byrne? He ran a Free Agent butt patch during the day (and also one that read, “Thanks Mum & Dad,” a nod to his parents, who were spectating their first U.S. National event). Byrner is still shopping for a new gig.

Everyone’s mostly tight-lipped about where Justin Brayton will land in 2010, though it’s pretty clear that the intent is to be with JGRMX Toyota/Yamaha. It also looks like Muscle Milk will be migrating along with Justin Brayton over to the black ‘n blue rig.

It sounds like Jake Moss is on a short list of riders with potential to end up at Monster Energy Kawasaki, but they’re one of the companies looking for a glimmer of recovery in the economy…and the accompanying boost in budget dollars.
We can say one thing for sure…there are a lot of nervous mechanics and technicians out there. That’s the secondary silly season.

Bridgestone wrapped up their involvement in pro-level motocross here in the U.S. when the checkers flew at Steel City. You’ll now see the remaining teams divided up between Dunlop and Pirelli. Bridgestone had supplied the tires for Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki for the last few years, and while they’ll still be making OE and replacement tires, their factory rubber will be MIA from the teams.

Kyle Regal - 2009 AMA Motocross Budds Creek
Bad luck for Regal as he takes a mean spill leading to a lacerated liver. Could be a long road to a full recovery.

What else happened out there? You had to feel for Kyle Regal. He’d been having an awesome rookie season…partly in the 250 class with Honda of Houston, and the latter half on a 450 with Valli Motorsports, and just missed making the podium a time or two. He went down on Saturday, and ended up with a lacerated liver after catching a stake on the edge of the track.

Like they’d done at a couple other tracks this year, MX Sports brought in Marc Peters to do some fine-tuning on the track. He added in a few new jumps, some creative off-camber sections, and did an overall tuneup. Some of the riders we talked to said that it flowed better than before, and it definitely spread out the riders, opening up additional lines in several sections of the track.

On Sunday, MX Sports threw a bash in downtown Pittsburgh at the Grand Concourse Restaurant at Station Square for the MX and ATV riders. In addition to handing out the top ten awards for the men and women, MX Sports’ Davey Coombs mentioned that there’s a strong possibility that we’ll see two hours of TV coverage next season, instead of the current one-hour show.

What remains to be seen is where everyone lands after the sponsor musical chairs, and how many teams return (or new ones created) before 2010. One thing’s for sure, it’ll be interesting to watch.

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Results
Steel City Raceway; Delmont, PA

250 Overall
1. Christophe Pourcel (Kawasaki) 1-1
2. Ryan Dungey (Suzuki) 2-2
3. Blake Wharton (Honda) 8-3
4. Ryan Sipes (KTM) 6-5
5. Jake Weimer (Kawasaki) 4-8
6. Justin Barcia (Honda) 3-13
7. Austin Stroupe (Kawasaki) 5-10
8. Brett Metcalfe (Honda) 9-7
9. Tommy Searle (KTM) 13-6
10. Blake Baggett (Kawasaki) 17-4
11. Broc Tickle (Yamaha) 11-9
12. Steven Clarke (Suzuki) 10-14
13. Matt Lemoine (Yamaha) 16-11
14. Taylor Futrell (Honda) 12-15
15. Ryan Morais (Kawasaki) 7-22
16. Kyle Cunningham (Kawasaki) 18-12
17. P. J. Larsen (Kawasaki) 14-30
18. Alex Martin (Honda) 14-38
19. Matiss Karro (Suzuki) 25-16
20. Phil Nicoletti (Honda) 19-18

250 Final Point Standings
1. Ryan Dungey 503
2. Christophe Pourcel 492
3. Brett Metcalfe 378
4. Jake Weimer 353
5. Justin Barcia 340
6. Tommy Searle 332
7. Broc Tickle 285
8. Blake Wharton 273
9. Tyla Rattray 236
10. Matt Lemoine 189
11. Kyle Cunningham 186
12. Darryn Durham 150
13. Trey Canard 139
14. Steven Clarke 126
15. Ben Evans 126
16. P. J. Larsen 121
17. Austin Stroupe 120
18. Max Anstie 107
19. Wil Hahn 104

450 Overall
1. Tommy Hahn (Kawasaki) 1-4
2. Ivan Tedesco (Honda) 4-3
3. Justin Brayton (KTM) 11-1
4. Jake Moss (Kawasaki) 10-2
5. Andrew Short (Honda) 5-5
6. Michael Byrne (Suzuki) 3-9
7. Davi Millsaps (Honda) 6-10
8. Timmy Ferry (Kawasaki) 12-7
9. Matt Goerke (Yamaha) 7-12
10. Chad Reed (Suzuki) 2-34
11. Jimmy Albertson (Yamaha) 15-6
12. Robert Kiniry (Kawasaki) 9-13
13. Nick Wey (Yamaha) 13-11
14. Antonio Balbi (Honda) 31-8
15. Christian Craig (Yamaha) 8-21
16. Carl Nunn (Suzuki) 16-16
17. Adam Chatfield (Kawasaki) 17-17
18. Weston Peick (Honda) 37-14
19. Cody Cooper (Yamaha) 20-15
20. Tyler Bowers (Honda) 14-22

450 Final Point Standings
1. Chad Reed 481
2. Andrew Short 388
3. Ivan Tedesco 376
4. Michael Byrne 348
5. Tommy Hahn 302
6. Josh Grant 280
7. Justin Brayton 249
8. Nick Wey 200
9. Cody Cooper 191
10. Jimmy Albertson 185
11. Davi Millsaps 175
12. Matt Goerke 154
13. Mike Alessi 142
14. Ricky Dietrich 136
15. Jake Moss 127
16. Kyle Regal 107
17. Tyler Bowers 102
18. Antonio Balbi 94
19. Jeff Alessi 88
20. Timmy Ferry 87

Women’s Overall
1. Jessica Patterson (Honda) 1-1
2. Mariana Balbi (Honda) 2-2
3. Sara Whitmore (KTM) 5-3
4. Tarah Gieger (Yamaha) 4-4
5. Jacqueline Strong (Honda) 5-3
6. Elizabeth Bash (Kawasaki) 6-6
7. Sara Price (Kawasaki) 7-8
8. Allison Vrba (Yamaha) 8-10
9. Penni Cyrus (Kawasaki) 9-9
10. Alyssa Fitch (Honda) 10-12