Rockstar Energy Drink Motocross Manager James Hanson gives his insider view of the 11th round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship at Tooele, Utah at the weekend.
The promoters of the inaugural Lucas Oil Pro Motocross National located in the salt flats of Tooele, Utah had a lot to overcome in the penultimate round of 2013. From massive wildfires in the neighbouring mountains dropping ash and blowing smoke onto the track and into the pits; to lightning and what could also be considered a small haboob completely engulfing the track in dust in 250 moto 2.
All in all, however, the facility experienced much larger attendance numbers than expected and the majority of the reaction from riders was that the track was really fun, boasting some of the biggest jumps and obstacles of the year. Rockstar Energy Racing did not have a good day however, struggling with adversity that they were unable to overcome.
It was a bit of a surprise that Ryan Sipes was even able to attend the Utah national and attempt to race. After his get-off in Minnesota, he tried to race X Games the following weekend while struggling with pain in his back and hand. After further evaluation post-race, it was discovered that there was indeed a broken bone in his hand. After sitting out just one round, having his hand surgically repaired and attending therapy for his back, he suited-up and hit the track for practice. His times in practice were not far-off putting him in a good place going into moto 1. In the first moto, Sipes didn’t have a great start and was forced to come through the pack. Considering just how rough the track was, it was very impressive to watch him push all the way until the end and finish in a commendable seventh place. After the moto however, the cramps in his back were severe. Sipes was trying to stretch-it-out any way possible but the spasms just continued.
The second moto was certainly going to be tough. Then suddenly rounding the first turn, it was Sipes in the lead. He was holding his ground, riding strong and keeping pace with the top three for several minutes until you could visibly see something change. It was evident from the side of the track that had become very uncomfortable. His style changed and his form in the corners suffered. The spasms had returned during the moto and were much worse. Sipes could not hold on and was forced to retire in disappointment. Ryan Sipes does not like pulling off early. Amazingly though, the tough track forced so many riders to DNF that he still scored 13th overall.
Ryan Sipes: The new track was cool. The weekend started out pretty good, I came into this one just hoping I could make it through the weekend. I’ve been hurting real bad from my crash at Millville and it’s been 11 days since getting surgery on my hand. I was just hoping I could hang on. I qualified good and in the first moto I worked my way up from pretty far back for seventh so that was cool. In the second moto I was pumped I finally pulled the holeshot. I’ve been wanting one of those all year. I felt good for the first four-or-five laps but my back just started locking up. On Monday I could barely move around so I’m lucky I got through one moto. Still, it’s a bummer to get the holeshot and not finish the race, so I’ll keep getting therapy on my back and hopefully come back next weekend and do better.”
Jason Anderson had a woeful day. After a huge crash the week prior in New York, he had hoped to rebound and have a much better result. Unfortunately Anderson would not get his wish. After leaving the gate in moto 1, he got back on the bike quick to get traction on the uphill start. He actually ended up hooking-up a bit too much, pulling the front wheel off the ground and losing momentum. He began his trek through the pack trying to move forward as much as possible but was only able to muster a sub-par 13th; not where Anderson expects to be. One of the problems he has experienced at both Colorado and again here was altitude sickness. He has found that he is very susceptible to elevation when pushing his body as hard as a top motocross rider must. It proved to be too much for him to conquer, and the ailment coerced him to exit the track before moto’s end.
Jason Anderson: “Bad weekend; didn’t end up doing too good. Hopefully we’ll do better next week”
Due to multiple injuries to the team this year, Manager Dave Gowland decided to enlist Michael Lieb as a fill-in rider for the last two nationals. Although Lieb is from the United States, he has been a staple rider in the MXGP series for a few years now after a successful amateur career in the ‘States. Michael was available and there were spots to fill so it was the right decision. This weekend would mark the first ever US Motocross National of his career. As seen when Clement Desalle and Kevin Strijbos came over for a couple rounds, the pace here is a lot different. Lieb had very little time to adapt to the bike, format and the track. One thing that could be noted in the first moto was that he gave it his all and charged through the last lap. He did his best and left it all on the track.
Michael Lieb: “Day started off a little rough. Just battling getting used to the bike as well as the track. I guess it was a wake-up call today and I’m just going to keep moving forward. I sprained my hand a bit in the first moto and made it a bit worse in the second moto. Just ‘gonna have to tape it up and go. I really appreciate Rockstar Energy Racing and everyone helping me out. Hopefully we’ll have a lot better Elsinore. Definitely have a lot to look forward to next week, put some work in and come out in a much better situation.”
The team undoubtedly can expect a way-better outcome next weekend for the final race of the year in Lake Elsinore, California. Sipes should experience improvement with both of his injuries and finish out the year strong. After Anderson’s best career finish, he has had his two worst races of the year and he will try to get back to where he was. Lieb’s preparation time will be doubled and will surely make a better showing.
450 Class Top 20 Overall Results:
1. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki (1-1)
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (2-2)
3. Trey Canard, Shawnee, Okla., Honda (3-3)
4. Weston Peick, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki (5-5)
5. Justin Brayton, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Yamaha (6-7)
6. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Honda (11-4)
7. Jake Weimer, Twin Falls, Idaho, Kawasaki (8-6)
8. Phil Nicoletti, Cohocton, N.Y., Yamaha (12-8)
9. Matt Goerke, Sun City, Calif., KTM (9-11)
10. Ben LaMay, Wasilla, Ala., Yamaha (13-10)
11. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., KTM (15-9)
12. Tyla Rattray, South Africa, Kawasaki (4-25)
13. Ryan Sipes, Vine Grove, Ky., Suzuki (7-26)
14. Evgeny Mikhaylov, Russia, KTM (18-12)
15. Nick Wey, DeWitt, Mich., Kawasaki (17-13)
16. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda (10-29)
17. Akira Narita, Japan, Honda (23-14)
18. Derek Anderson, Arvada, Colo., Kawasaki (19-16)
19. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki (14-32)
20. Michael Byrne, Australia, KTM (21-15)
250 Class Top 20 Overall Results:
1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Honda (1-1)
2. Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (2-2)
3. Ken Roczen, Apolda, Germany, KTM (4-3)
4. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (3-9)
5. Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., Honda (9-4)
6. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Kawasaki (8-5)
7. Marvin Musquin, La Reole, France, KTM (5-8)
8. Cooper Webb, Morehead City, N.C., Yamaha (7-7)
9. Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Honda (6-10)
10. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki (10-14)
11. Wil Hahn, Decatur, Texas, Honda (12-13)
12. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (37-6)
13. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda (14-15)
14. Cole Seely, Newbury Park, Calif., Honda (19-12)
15. Kyle Cunningham, Aledo, Texas, Yamaha (36-11)
16. Martin Davalos, Ecuador, Kawasaki (11-37)
17. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Honda (17-16)
18. Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (15-19)
19. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Suzuki (13-28)
20. Matt Bisceglia, Weatherford, Texas, Honda (20-17)