Mike Alessi spent his Memorial Day Weekend racing the FIM Motocross USGP. Will the extra seat time help him or hurt him in Texas?
While most of the competitors in the series were enjoying Memorial Day Weekend off, KTM’s Mike Alessi was throwing down with the Euros at the FIM Motocross USGP. His overall result matched the weekend before in Hangtown, finishing second to Tony Cairoli. Spending the weekend racing rather than relaxing should help keep Number 800 focused and driven. Every moto on the new 350cc machine, Alessi get more comfortable and familiar with the midsized KTM. The second moto at Hangtown showed that holeshots, a cornerstone of Alessi’s success, are possible on the new 350 SX-F.
Reigning MX champ and points leader, Chad Reed, is back up to speed after his lackluster Supercross season. Two Two looks focused, fast and even relaxed. His first moto in Hangtown was a wire-to-wire win, while Moto 2 he had to battle through the pack for a third place finish. Coming through the pack in Texas will be much tougher on the body as the oppressive heat will sap the strength needed to make a charge at the lead. Reed will need have his starts dialed if he wants to keep the orange 800 behind him this season.
Lucas Oil’s Ben Townley’s return to racing went better than his results would suggest. In both motos he rode near the front until mistakes put him back to sixth and seventh. His sixth place overall finish is nothing to scoff at as he placed ahead of riders the likes of Ryan Dungey and Andrew Short. We could see Townley on the podium very soon once he clears the racing cobwebs. He crashed in Moto 1 and then slaughtered the field in Moto 2 at the USGP last weekend.
The big question in Hangtown was, “what is up with Ryan Dungey?” The 2010 AMA Supercross champ finished eighth overall in the first round and had many of his fans scratching their heads. A stall in the first moto knocked Dungey down to 10th, and a poor start had him working his way back to sixth in the second moto. Obviously the top Suzuki rider will be looking for a better finish this weekend, and he needs it. Dungey is already 19 points back from point’s leader, Reed.
New additions to the 450 class could shake things up in the Lone Star State. GEICO’s Bret Metcalfe rode to an impressive fourth-place finish on his first race on a big bike. Kyle Cunningham had some impressive finishes filling in for Ivan Tedesco in the Supercross series, look for him to make some waves running with the big dogs outdoors as well.
Eli Tomac’s first professional race was also his first professional win. Many wondered if the rookie could make the transition form the amateur scene to the pro ranks smoothly. Tomac lead the first moto until he went down on the last lap; he remounted and finished third. The second moto the newb grabbed the holeshot and took the first moto win of his career. The GEICO Powersports is tied for the points lead with Pro Circuit’s Christophe Pourcel with 45 points. Can Tomac keep the rookie mistakes to the minimum to keep the super-smooth Frenchman at bay in Texas?
Pourcel led the four-man Pro Circuit squad on their assault of the 250cc class in Hangtown. While leading the first moto the 377-rider bobbled letting the Hondas of Tomac and Trey Canard past. Tomac later returned the favor, and “Superman” took the opportunity to pass Canard on the last lap. The second moto he finished third for a second overall. Pourcel doesn’t like to finish second to anybody, so look for him to come back with a vengeance at Freestone. The weather should suit him as he lives and practices in Florida.
Honda’s Canard rode tight in Hangtown finishing third at the first round. He said he just couldn’t get comfortable on the bike in either moto. Will the time off last weekend help him get his mojo back allowing him to grab that elusive first moto win? With such a stacked field and his rookie teammate leading the points, Canard is going to have his work cut out for him this season.
Lucas Oil Troy Lee Design’s Wil Hahn has started well in the first two motos of the year, but has faded as the clock winds down. The Texas humidity and heat is going to make 30-minutes plus two laps feel like an eternity. Can Hahn get his conditioning up to speed in order to capitalize on his starts?
The other riders of the two mega-support teams of Monster Energy Pro Circuit and GEICO Powersports Factory Connection are always capable of taking down a win; so don’t be surprised to see Justin Barcia, Dean Wilson, Tyla Ratray or Jake Weimer on top of the box in Texas. All of them have the speed, and a good start is all that is needed to get them motivated to find that extra bit to finish out in front.