Two weeks off over here in America and two weeks for everyone in the series that has been basically racing since January to step back, take a breath and try to relax a bit. There won’t be much going on in American racing this coming weekend and all these riders and teams have earned that right. The American racing series is a grueling one without many breaks. Here are some random thoughts on a random Thursday about dirt bike stuff.
– After Washougal I was home for a day and then right back to Park City, Utah for the debut of the new Scott Prospect goggle. The folks at Scott have been around for a long time and this newest goggle is proof that they’re still developing cutting edge products. Aimed at going right up against Oakley’s Air-Brake goggle, Scott’s got something that seems to fit the mould for a flagship goggle. The goggle was the reason I was up there, but it also allowed me some time to hang with Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo who was flown there by Scott to promote the new product.
Adam’s ninth in the points in the 250MX class and, after a series of stops and starts in his career, has managed to string together the longest number of races of his pro career. His can’t-miss status long gone, AC’s trying to just get some experience racing and build himself back to a level that he used to be at. The speed hasn’t been the biggest issue as of right now. He’s qualified fastest a few times, he’s led some laps and he’s been able to log some fast laps. It’s just with so much time off the bike he’s not been able to build a base of fitness that he would’ve liked to.
With contemporaries like Cooper Webb excelling in the sport, it’s not easy for Cianciarulo to sit back and watch it all happen without him but he doesn’t have a choice as of right now. What he’s hoping to do is be one of those guys in 2017 and if he does manage to make it back all the way to the top, well that would be quite a story indeed.
– The factory Honda trucks were at Washougal and the rider's bikes were displayed, but there was, in fact, no riders there. It’s odd in this day and age to see a team show up with no one, but that’s just what ‘Big Red' were forced to do with Cole Seely out for the year with a finger injury (he was dragging it in a berm when his pinky hit a rock) and Justin Bogle and Trey Canard both out with concussions.
With the advent of big money outside sponsors in the sport, there are often injury clauses where a team has to have “X" number of riders on the track no matter what and if the main rider goes down, well, it’s time to work the phones. Back in the day, the teams wouldn’t even show up if they had no riders! Both Bogle and Canard are hoping to be back for Unadilla, so Honda should be back but, with no outside sponsor to satisfy, the truck sat empty in Washougal.
– Speaking of injuries, the TLD KTM team had Jessy Nelson and Justin Hill back at Washougal and what a welcome sight for manager Tyler Keefe. With Alex Frye and Shane McElrath out for the year with injuries, the team had been going with just Mitchell Oldenburg until this past weekend. Both Nelson and Hill were very good, with Nelson getting a podium in the second moto and Hill finishing fourth overall. Nelson in particular can be a title threat indoors and out if he can stay healthy in 2017. Word is that Hill is going to end up back at Pro Circuit Kawasaki next year.
-RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith are a couple of kids that the GEICO Honda team have bet big on the last few seasons. The results have been up and down, but there’s been enough potential there for the team to sign both Smith and Hampshire to contracts in 2017 and beyond. I even wrote about it on Racer X earlier this year here and everyone seemed happy with each other.
Well scratch that, as I’ve since found out that Smith and the team will be parting ways at the end of this year. Hangtown was great for Smith but, since then, he’s had some crashes, some injuries and I imagine frustrations were mounting on both sides. It turns out that Smith and the GEICO team won’t be renewing their deal for next year and Jordon is going to move on, perhaps to the TLD KTM if rumors are to be believed. Weird deal for sure but if the rider’s not happy then there’s little chance he or the team have success.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM/Simon Cudby