Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi dominated Saturday in the MX1 class at Glen Helen with the all-new 2010 KTM 350 SX-F.
After an 11 year hiatus FIM sanctioned World Championship Motocross returned to America at Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California. And it’s come back in spectacular fashion offering a fantastic venue complete with European flair. Not only is the track perfectly manicured it’s got a flowing yet challenging layout with excellent viewing opportunities everywhere you look. The track maintenance crew has done a fantastic job prepping the course. In fact, I’ve never seen Glen Helen in better shape than it was today.
Workers tilled the terrain deep and sprayed thousands of gallons of water in order for it to stay near perfect consistency all-day. The track is faster and has much larger jumps than what many of the European riders are use to which made it harder for them to get comfortable in the ridiculously short 10-minute practice sessions.
In spite of pleasant weather fan turnout was actually quite low which is a shame considering how great of a job the promoters have done at getting the track ready to hold a world class dirt bike race such as this. Nonetheless, if you live in Southern California and are looking for something fun to do on Sunday, we highly recommend you make the drive to Glen Helen. You won’t be disappointed.
Leading the charge in the premier MX1 (450cc) class was California’s own Mike Alessi. The Red Bull KTM rider was atop the time sheets all-day and finished first in the 10-lap Qualifying Race today which allows him first gate pick come the start of tomorrows twin races.
“The tracks completely different than when we normally race here or even during a normal practice day,” commented Alessi. “The dirt is the same but the layout is different. I only live 20 minutes from here. It’s nice to be close to a GP that’s in my backyard [smiles]. The promoters and the track design have done a great job. I mean it’s fabulous. The track, the dirt, the grand stands, the pit area—everything is first class and top notch.”
Alessi is riding the all-new 2010 KTM 350 SX-F and dominated the race winning by a margin of 8-seconds over Honda/Troy Lee Design’s Ben Townley. He was the only rider to lap break into the 17s, and was at least a second faster than Townley each lap. When asked if he thinks he can win both races tomorrow he said: “I’m here to have fun and do the best I can. Whatever I get this weekend is what I get. I don’t have any expectations. I just want to come out and have a good time and race with the best riders in the world.”
Third and fourth today were the official European Red Bull KTM team riders of Max Nagl and reigning world champ and Italian rider Antonio Cairoli. Nagl who hails from Germany is riding the 450 SX-F against Cairoli, who like Alessi, is also piloting a 350 SX-F. Nagl ended up beating his teammate by over 10-seconds.
“He’s going pretty fast it’s going to be hard for tomorrow,” said Cairoli when asked if he could race for the win tomorrow. “We are not use to this kind of track it’s really fast and all the settings on the bike are totally changed. My start was okay. I was in back of Max Nagl and I was closing the gap and I couldn’t find a good place to pass. So I just gave up to save some energy for tomorrow. I know it’s going to be a hot race. Hopefully I can get a better start and follow some lines of Mike or Ben. They’re riding really good. I’m just trying to have a good race and earn as much points as possible.“
The American Honda Red Bull squad was in full-force complete with two tractor trailers filled with parts, and mechanics in order to help Townley, David Guarneri, and Jimmy Albertson (riding injured) get up to speed against the dominate KTM team. Guarneri managed a fifth place finish with Albertson retiring early from the race.
After coming out of retirement just for this race, American Ryan Hughes finished seventh some 30-seconds behind Alessi aboard a CRF450R. As opposed to the big factory teams, Hughes is keeping things simple by pitting out of an FMF box van with minimal support aside from a mechanic and some friends and family. Hughes rode solidly and mistake-free but is going to need to drop about 2-seconds a lap in order to be able to run with the front runners this weekend.
Other notable American finishers were Ryan Sipes who finished 13th just behind Joshua Coppins of the factory Aprilia team. Grant Langston finished in 17th and was some 5-seconds off the pace of Alessi. Off-road riding aces Ricky Dietrich and Bobby Garrison finished 22nd and 26th. Meanwhile Motocross Action magazine test rider, Dennis Stapleton finished in 27th.
In the MX2 (250cc) class Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin of France smoked the field easily winning the Qualifying Race by almost 8-seconds over Kawasaki’s Jeremy van Horebeek.
For sure it’s good to win here in American GP,” commented to Frenchman. “My feeling on the bike was good. I took the holeshot and my KTM bike was really really strong on the start. I just tried to focus on my lines. It’s good to win.”
Third was English transplant, Max Anstie who normally
competes in the AMA Supercross and Lucas Oils Motocross Championship aboard a Yamaha YZ250F. Anstie was ecstatic to be back on the podium after a dismal Supercross season. Other notable American finishers were Zach Osborne, Vince Friese, and Michael Leib who finished 6th, 13th, and 19th respectively.
In the VMX (veteran) racing class American Doug Dubach won handily over New Zealand’s Daryl King and Sweden’s Mats Nilsson. Former KTM racing boss Kurt Nicoll finished in fourth with Husqvarna off-road racer Ty Davis finishing fifth. Other notable finishers were Jet Ski ace Victor Sheldon in seventh with Jeff Matiasevich and Chuck Sun finishing ninth and 15th respectively.
MX1 Qualification Race Results
1. Mike Alessi, KTM
2. Ben Townley, Honda
3. Maximilian Nagl, KTM
4. Antonio Cairoli, KTM
5. Davide Guarneri, Honda
6. Steve Ramon, Suzuki
7. Ryan Hughes, Honda
8. Clement Desalle, Suzuki
9. Xavier Boog, Kawasaki
10. Anthony Boissiere, TM
MX2 Qualification Race Results
1. Marvin Musquin, KTM
2. Jeremy van Horebeek, Kawasaki
3. Max Anstie, Yamaha
4. Ken Roczen, Suzuki
5. Gautier Paulin, Yamaha
6. Zach Osborne, Yamaha
7. Shaun Simpson, KTM
8. Arnaud Tonus, Suzuki
9. Steven Frossard, Kawasaki
10. 10. Harri Kullas, Yamaha