Features 21 Jun 2012

The Matthes Report: 24

Pulpmx's Steve Matthes checks in from the US every single Thursday, presented by Fox.

Another race is in the books here stateside and another demolition by Ryan Dungey in the 450 Class, plus another nail-biter in the 250 Class. It’s as if the two classes are a direct parallel of one another as what we’ve got in the present and what we’re going to see in the future.

The 450 Class has been hit hard with injuries and the 250 Class has got some racers that are in their prime of their small bike careers – and keep in mind that we don’t even have last years outdoor champion Dean Wilson in the mix as he’s out for the year with a shoulder injury. How sick would that class be if DW was in there?

There’s a lot going on behind the scene in American racing as riders and agents are scrambling into team lounges after the races to talk contract and figure out who they want on their team next year. We know that the all-powerful Pro Circuit team has signed Martin Davalos for next year to go along with Darryn Durham and Blake Baggett. There’s still one spot left over there.

The GEICO Honda team is set with Justin Bogle, Eli Tomac, Zach Osborne, Zach Bell (an amateur kid moving up) and Wil Hahn and this weekend the Rockstar Suzuki team resigned Jason Anderson and Blake Wharton for 2013, which leaves them with two spots left. Looks like Marvin Musquin is going back to KTM after talking to PC.

That’s the main players in the 250 Class, but what about the 450 class? Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer has re-signed with Kawasaki and injured Trey Canard has re-upped with Honda for another year or two. We know that Justin Barcia is going to be on the factory Honda 450 next year, but Justin Brayton’s status is up in the air, as is Suzuki’s Brett Metcalfe.

The 250 Class could belong to anybody outdoors in 2012. Image: Simon Cudby.

James Stewart and Chad Reed are set and Reed’s going after Dean Wilson, but then again, so is everyone else. Wilson is the hottest property right now with JGR Yamaha, KTM and Reed all chasing after him. Speaking of JGR, they want Millsaps back, but length of contract is what I hear could be a sticking point.

Mike Alessi is just going to stay the same privateer route as this year and go another year with MotoConcepts, who is also looking to get another 450 rider.
Andrew Short is going back to Chaparral next year, but they’re also going after the big fish, which would be the 2012 supercross champion Ryan Villopoto.

Most people in the pits think that RV will end up back at Kawasaki, but there is some talks and some interest from the Larry Brooks/Jeremy McGrath Honda team. It’s interesting that Ryan hasn’t signed his deal yet, because it seems like it would be pretty easy right?

A bit of a raise on his end (even though injuries have hurt him in the 450 Class, he’s won every series that he’s raced every race in) and there you go. Must be something going on behind the scenes to make this more difficult than one would think. Keep an eye on this situation.

Dean Wilson is on many team wish lists for next season on a 450. Image: Simon Cudby.

Budds Creek was interesting in that poor Musquin went 4-4 and still couldn’t break into the ‘big four’ at the end of the day. Due to the points and moto gods coming down on him, Musquin ended up fifth overall on the day! It’s pretty crazy when a 4-4 can’t get you on the box, never mind at least fourth, but that’s the way it’s going for the fast four. They’re just another level right now.

It’s still impossible to pick who is going to win the title, but Baggett’s got a 13-point lead and we’re almost halfway through the series.

When you look at the fact that these guys have had the ability to get a fifth even if they started backwards (Musquin is really only guy that can somewhat get in there) and the difference from first to fifth in the points is nine, then you can see that Baggett has, in effect, a moto lead. Unless a crash or bike problem happens, it’s going to be tough to make points on Blake.

Got to feel for the JGR Yamaha guys as their potential sleeper pick for the outdoors, Kyle Regal, hasn’t delivered what many thought he could or would. The team’s other rider Davi Millsaps scored a second in the first moto and then got hurt after that. It’s been a rough start to the season for the guys and oh yeah, have you heard about James Stewart leaving the team right before the outdoors?

The guys over there are all competent managers, technicians and people, but things just haven’t been great over there. The stigma about the Yamaha YZ450F hasn’t helped either as they’re going to have trouble getting guys to ride for them or are going to have to overpay to get someone they want. It’s been a rough season for the guys – sometimes-bad things happen to good people one supposes.