Welcome to a special AMA Supercross edition of the Racing Insider feature.
Hello and welcome to a special American Supercross edition of the Racing Insider column, part of our ‘MotoOnline.com.au U.S. Tour 2011’ that kicked off last week.
Last Saturday night saw the Los Angeles round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, take place at Dodger Stadium, and what a race it was.
It was one of the greatest races I can remember ever seeing, and definitely the best one I’ve actually witnessed live at the stadium. The 450 main event was epic.
To see Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart, Ryan Dungey and Trey Canard do battle in the fashion they did was a big treat, although I can’t help but feel as though Aussie Chad Reed could have been right there in the mix if he hadn’t of crashed on the first lap.
The pace of Villopoto this year is remarkable, a real challenger to Stewart, and defending champion Dungey is gaining momentum as the rounds roll over.
Canard was a unique story himself, recovering from a scary heat race crash to win his LCQ and then go on the battle with the leaders come the 20-lap final. His style on the 450 is something to see, a real entertainer for the crown with some goon riding too.
From Australia you don’t really realise the massive project that Reed has undertaken by launching his own team for this year – it’s a huge pond full of massive fish in the AMA. Team TwoTwo has done things first class and the entire effort can be proud so far.
Perhaps the most promising thing for Reed was that despite his fall that saw him have to work his way back through the entire field, he was still able to set lap times that were pretty much on par with the leaders.
The lone factory 450 rider for Australia this year is Brett Metcalfe and he put in a solid performance to lead the opening lap, crash on lap two while still leading, and then battle on to score his third eighth place in a row.
In case you missed it, check out our Post Race interview with Metty by clicking here.
The weekend also marked the first time that Tye Simmonds has qualified for a main event in the States, the JDR/J-Star/KTM young gun transferring directly from his heat race before impressing in the main.
Simmonds ran inside the top 10 at the halfway mark before a crash and a mechanical problem slowed his progress, but 15th is definitely a confidence builder for him and he’ll start to realise he belongs in the U.S. following that ride.
On television you can’t really see, but when you see Simmonds in person it’s clear that his pace is quite good over here. In fact, if you compare his pace to the factory Red Bull KTM riders – Andrew Short and Mike Alessi – then you realise just how solid he rode in LA.
Short’s best was a 53.787, Simmonds’ best was 54.346 and Alessi’s best was 55.744. Quite a few people asked us in the press box on the night who exactly Simmonds is and where he comes from.
In the Lites the standout for us as Australians was definitely Ryan Marmont, picking up a very credible seventh after circulating in fifth for a number of laps comfortable despite having Josh Hansen and Ken Roczen both ever so slowly chasing him down.
The Australian-owned JDR/J-Star/KTM team is absolutely stoked with Doggy’s performance and no doubt want to retain him for the rest of the season. But, there’s also the importance of the MX Nationals back home that he has already committed to riding the 350 SX-F in alongside Dan Reardon.
Either way, the team gives Aussie fans plenty to cheer about and rumour has it that this year is very much for testing the waters before they hope to sign a top level 450 rider come 2012.
Apart from the on-track action, the actual show was insane. The opening ceremonies send shivers up your spine in an incredibly patriotic way, plus the top riders are immediately given identities to the fans with a host of sweet intro videos away from the track.
The race program goes for a little while longer than those in Australasian Super X, making you feel as though you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck if your purchased tickets, etc. It’s just done right, obviously with a lot of trial and error in the past, and you can really appreciate why AMA Supercross is the best on the planet.
Plus, I didn’t find myself bored (or confused at all) one time during either the Lites or 450 main events that spanned the traditional 15 and 20 laps respectively.
To check out a variety of behind the scenes images from the LA round in a bid to showcase the sport over here, make sure you check out our image gallery that we posted yesterday afternoon.
One thing that we did on Saturday night was post updates on all the Aussies via our Twitter account (@motoonline) during the round, giving fans the opportunity to track the progress of our guys with more detail than the live timing.
It’s something that would be ideal year-round, however unfortunately it’ll only be done for the LA and A2 rounds that we’re attending.
That’s all for today, make sure you continue to stop by to check out a heap of unique features that we’ve been putting together and are currently working on while Stateside.