Features 24 Jan 2013

The US Report: 3

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

Three rounds down in the 2013 American Supercross series and 14 to go. We’re just seeing things shaking down and some would say all was right with the world when defending champion and probable fastest-man-in-class Ryan Villopoto of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team absolutely smoked Anaheim II from the very first practice to the last lap of the main event. Villopoto had a disastrous opening round but he’s coming on, there’s nothing to be worried about with him.

However, after three rounds, there are some people that definitely do need to be worried. Let’s take a look at some riders and teams that would love to hit the reset button right about now:

James Stewart is facing a tough race in 2013 with a torn ACL. Image: Simon Cudby.

James Stewart is facing a tough race in 2013 with a torn ACL. Image: Simon Cudby.

James Stewart
What’s Happened – The Yoshimura Suzuki rider is certainly hoping that he’d be able to go back in time and not put his foot out in that one turn late in the third practice at Anaheim I. That little mistake by the number 7 tore his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in his knee and he’s been a shell of his former self since then. Stewart’s been trying to ride through an injury that he says needs surgery at some point and I’m not sure if it’s working out so well. 8-7-12 (with some crashes) and ninth in points isn’t what James, his sponsors, his fans or anyone wants to see. And it’s a real shame for everyone that this happened. Love him or hate him (and he’s got plenty of people on both sides) the sport of supercross is way more interesting with him out there.

What’s Next – Well I see this going one of two ways but before I get to that, let’s all acknowledge that there’s no chance Stewart races this summer’s nationals. He will go in for surgery before that to get ready for 2014 supercross. With that out the way, if James doesn’t see swelling go down with mobility and strength restored in the knee, he’ll pull out of the series. There is no sense in doing what he’s been doing so if you don’t see his results get better in the next two to three weeks (and by that I mean inside top five, get on the podium) then I think he’ll pull out of supercross.

Tyla Rattray and Pro Circuit
What’s Happened – The mighty Monster Pro Circuit Kawasaki squad is having a tough time so far through three rounds. The 250 Class motocross champion Blake Baggett was hoping to challenge for wins and championships in the 250SX West series but he quickly exited after round one with a broken wrist. That left it up to Tyla Rattray and Martin Davalos to try and get some wins against the powerhouses that are Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Cole Seely. But it hasn’t happened, Davalos has shown speed but only has one podium and two mediocre finishes which is pretty much what he’s done on a number of other teams- this isn’t a shock. But Rattray, well that is definitely a shock. The former world champion and 250SX race winner has been terrible so far this year as he sits sixth in the points and hasn’t gotten a sniff at a podium this year.

What’s Next – Wait for the east! Dean Wilson is the heavy favorite for that title and along with his teammates Darryn Durham and Justin Hill, Pro Circuit should be much better when that series kicks off in Dallas in three weeks. Rattray hasn’t been comfortable with his set-up and just this week, the team devoted two full days to reset everything so let’s see if we see a new Tyla Rattray this weekend at Oakland. One thing for sure, owner Mitch Payton is as frustrated as anyone at what’s been going on and he’s not going to just accept these finishes.

Kevin Windham made a surprise retirement announcement at A2. Image: Simon Cudby.

Kevin Windham made a surprise retirement announcement at A2. Image: Simon Cudby.

The Sport
What’s Happened – Duh, GEICO Honda’s Kevin Windham suddenly retires after one practice session at Anaheim II. Windham’s been contemplating this move for a while as he stacked it up huge at Houston last year and then in very next race a few months later, he crashed at the Monster Energy Cup and knocked himself out which caused headaches for three weeks for the veteran. After that he started looking in the mirror more and more and was hoping to come into the 2013 season and build from there. But the fire wasn’t there and there was no sense in going out there and not being into it 100 percent. That’s when you get hurt. So KW’s out and the sport is the one that is going to suffer.

What’s Next – Windham’s still going to be attending all the races, be introduced for the opening ceremonies and sign for his fans. Which is cool but off he goes into the sunset and the sport loses an icon. Thanks for the memories Kevin.

Mike Alessi
What’s Happened – The 800 has had a rough start to his year with a crash induced DNF at round one, a crash in the first turn that left him dead last at round two and this past weekend, a terrible start did him in. He charged back to 14th but he’s got only nine points after three races. That three-point per race average isn’t very good and leaves Mike frustrated with everything. I’ve spoken to him about his bike and he says he’s happy, says that everything with his riding and his training is fine and it’s just bad luck. And I tend to believe him but early on, it’s not good for Alessi.

What’s Next – Mike’s starts in the main events have gone missing and anyone that’s followed his career knows that’s his strength. One of his weaknesses is racing in traffic and that’s exactly where he’s been early on. What’s next for Mike is doing some starts and then once a new clutch is put in, do some more. That’s just a few guys that aren’t off to the best starts this season but it’s early, there are a lot of races to go and perhaps by the end of the series, we can look back at this column and laugh about the panic. For these guys sake, let’s hope so.