Undoubtedly the most used phrase at the 2013 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross season opener at Hangtown on Saturday was “this is the deepest field in the history of the sport.” Honestly, I would not argue with this statement, as there were seven potential winners on the line this past weekend. It is difficult for a rider on the cusp of the top ten to breakthrough and steal a few headlines, because the field is so stacked. However, whilst browsing through the overall results from Hangtown I was pleasantly surprised to see Ryan Sipes finish sixth overall; Sipes really did fly under the radar.
Originally, Ryan Sipes was not scheduled to contest the 450 division in the Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross series. Ryan piloted the 250f for the Rockstar Energy Racing team during Monster Energy AMA Supercross series with mixed results. Ryan had a season best finish of fifth place at the series finale in Las Vegas. But that is far from what he expected from the campaign. At twenty-eight years of age, Sipes is considered a veteran of the 250f class. However he hasn’t stayed in the class out of choice; he can simply make more money in that division. When the opportunity arose to step onto the 450f vacated by Davi Millsaps for the AMA Motocross, he jumped at the chance.
Maybe Ryan Sipes’ performance at round one should not come as too much of a surprise? In 2010, Ryan was actually in a similar position to what he is in now. Sipes had a shot at the 450 class with the Moto Concepts squad; he contested the whole of the outdoor series (aboard a the 450) with some success, as he ended the year eighth in the series standings. Although he still did not garner a full-time 450 ride with that performance, since then he has been on the 250 for various teams. You have to feel for him; he clearly wants to breakout of the “feeder” class but the right opportunity has never presented itself.
Currently Ryan Sipes has another shot at proving himself on a 450f, as he will remain in that class for the remainder of the summer for the Rockstar Energy Racing team. Ryan began the season with a very impressive sixth overall (as alluded to previously) following an eighth and a seventh in the two motos. Some would argue that finishing in sixth overall after those two results was a bit of a gift; but he earned it after his competitors were slightly inconsistent on the challenging circuit.
Ryan Sipes started the first moto in twelfth behind guys like Chad Reed and Mike Alessi. But despite the fierce competition, Ryan moved forward to eighth on the twelfth lap and stayed there until the conclusion of the moto. In doing so he leapfrogged guys like Stewart, Wilson, Reed and Alessi. Admittedly, all of these had to deal with either bike issues or crashes. Ryan may have finished behind them if these problems had not occurred; but pounding out some consistent laps is all a part of having a good race – Sipes succeeded in doing that. In the first moto his lap times indicate that he should have finished right around eighth, so clearly Ryan finished where the statistics indicate that he should.
Although Ryan Sipes only bettered his finish in the first moto by one in moto two, he actually rode a lot better, as he found himself locked in a battle with Weston Peick. Ryan began moto two in eighth; he ran as high as sixth at one point before finishing in seventh. During the race Sipes and Peick swapped positions multiple times, eventually Ryan won the battle in another great ride. Again, his lap times backed up his finish as he had the ninth fastest lap time at the conclusion of the race. Ryan Sipes is sixth in the series standings heading into Thunder Valley on Saturday, where he will be hoping to impress once again.
On paper, Ryan Sipes’ ride at Hangtown was impressive. However, you have to consider that he did not have a lot of time to test and prepare on the 450. It was only decided in Las Vegas at the AMA Supercross finale that Davi Millsaps would be going under the knife. So, Sipes did not really know he was lining up in the class until a couple of weeks before the series opener (Hangtown). What I am getting at here is that he should be even better in a few weeks time, with more preparation and testing under his belt. Perhaps Ryan could edge closer to the top five, and finally garner a full-time 450 ride?
Words by Lewis Phillips