Features 1 Feb 2012

Moto Insider: 4

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One month has officially gone by in 2012 and so far, it has certainly been a huge one in the U.S. for AMA Supercross. We expected this year to be the best in history and already it’s delivering, with four different winners in four rounds to date.

In fact, with Ryan Villopoto winning Anaheim 1, Ryan Dungey winning Phoenix, Chad Reed winning LA and James Stewart most recently winning Oakland, we have four former champions in stellar form at the front. The question is, who can do it the most consistently?

After A1 we all thought that RV would run away with the title. At Phoenix and LA he was forced to race through the pack after early crashes, but in Oakland, he simply didn’t produce the speed that we expected from him as he gave chase to Stewart and Reed.

While sheer speed is a necessity, consistency will be just as important throughout the 17 rounds. Week in, week out, these guys and their respective teams need to bring their A games. Biggest surprise in my eyes so far? Dungey and Red Bull KTM – maintaining that red plate through three of the first five rounds is mega.

Monster Energy AMA Supercross has been red hot so far in 2012. Image: Simon Cudby.

Dungey and Reed will share the red plate this weekend at Anaheim II. Feld’s decision to follow in the footsteps of motocross and have the series leader sport the red plate (rather than the defending champion) has no doubt been a positive one.

The thing is, between the big four riders, we have four different manufacturers setting the pace with KTM, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha. South Australian Brett Metcalfe had a tough round last weekend with a crash in the main, but Suzuki is going to have to deal with that when they have all their eggs in one basket.

Apart from Reed, the best performing Aussie at Oakland was Matt Moss with a breakthrough ride to fifth in the West Coast Lites. I spoke to Mossy on the phone this morning and he was happy with his result, but isn’t getting too far ahead of himself just yet. He’s chipping away at it and has his sights set on the podium, which seems very realistic considering his Oakland result.

Ryan Marmont returned over the weekend, finishing 19th in the main, but made the most of it with little seat time in recent weeks. After this weekend at Anaheim 2, Doggy is heading straight to Fiji and will get married to his long time partner, Chelsea. That said, this weekend will be the last we see of Marmont in the AMA for 2012 (we think!).

The big news story for Australian last week however was the revelation that Cody Mackie would be picked up by Jeff Ward Racing for Oakland. With Josh Grant out injured, Mackie was contacted by Aussie Lucas Mirtl (who is a partner in the JWR operation) and given a golden opportunity.

Mackie stepped up and made his first main event of the year after a few days out at the factory Kawasaki test track in Corona, finishing a solid 16th. The team were stoked with Mackie’s performance (a position in the main is a huge achievement for teams and sponsors considering the competition this year), so he’ll be back at Anaheim II while Grant continues to recover.

On the home front, a quick call to Troy Carroll this morning confirmed that the Monster Energy Kawasaki team will be officially launched early next month. The good news is that we have confirmation that the team has in fact switched to Dunlop tyres for 2012, as well as Renthal Handlebars (more on those changes later).

The bad news is that we are going to have to wait before we have official images of Marmont on the team’s KX450F. Sponsors are currently being finalised and the graphics are getting completed as we speak, but I can say to expect the bikes to look very similar to what Ryan Villopoto and Jake Weimer are running in the U.S.

This morning I was also communicating with Monster Energy Australia athlete manager David Ellis via email and he confirmed that the beverage company’s rider line-up will include Ben Townley, Brad Anderson, Ford Dale, Erroll Willis and Megan Rutledge alongside the official Monster Energy Kawasaki team riders.

Speaking of Anderson, check out this film that Honda Australia put together of his debut aboard the Carlton Dry Honda CRF450R. It’s a first look at the British champ in action, and it has to be said that he’s flying into the MX Nationals somewhat under the radar while all eyes are on Townley. He could surprise…

Motul Pirelli Suzuki is expected to announce its team this week and each week it’s looking more and more like Cody Cooper will be back alongside the already confirmed Todd Waters and Steven Clarke. Stay tuned for more from these guys when we get it!

One team that has been very quiet of late is JDR Motorex KTM, most likely because the JDR Motorsports team is focused on their U.S. program at the moment. An interesting rumour that we heard lately is that Simmonds’ deal includes and option to return to the AMA next year – this time on a 450. Needless to say, the 42 will be a dark horse for the MX Nationals title.

That’s it here for another week, thank you as always for stopping by and we hope that you’re enjoying the new-look site with even more features than ever before. Remember to show your support via Facebook (www.facebook.com/motoonline) and/or Twitter (www.twitter.com/motoonline).