Features 10 Oct 2013

The US Report: 40

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

Some thoughts and musings on some different topics with the upcoming Monster Energy Cup in my hometown of Las Vegas looming ahead like a giant neon ball with the words: “Excitement HERE!”…

As I was saying, the Monster Energy Cup is coming up and it’s a good chance to see the riders in their new gear, new teams, bikes, numbers and all that.

Coming from what was the US Open in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, the Cup has been a nice little jolt to the sport and reawakened the passion for a fall race after the Open had, in my opinion, run its course.

The promoters, Feld Entertainment, have re-jigged the traditional supercross format for this race with three 10 lap main events as well as a Joker Lane that a rider has to take once per race.

It’s a unique twist that adds some strategy to the event and last year, it directly gave Eli Tomac the win in the third moto as time was winding down and the leader, Justin Barcia, was forced to duck into it.

I’m all for this race and changing the format up and I hope some of the changes (Joker Lane, different main event formats) do eventually get phased into supercross. Supercross has been unchanged for way too long, 20-lap main events, 25 points for the winner, 22 for second, etc.

It seems that it’s absolutely crazy-talk to, you know, award a holeshot point, laps led point or anything at all to throw a twist into the series. So I appreciate the ME Cup for what it is and although I don’t take the results to mean much (momentum for Anaheim one is tough to get in October), but I do hope that one day the powers that be in our sport try to implement some changes in supercross and use this race to test the changes out. Would it help if I said please?

Chad Reed is all but confirmed to be racing Kawasaki in 2014. Image: Simon Cudby.

Chad Reed is all but confirmed to be racing Kawasaki in 2014. Image: Simon Cudby.

So, the secret is pretty much out, in fact it’s been out there for a while in this space. Team TwoTwo’s Chad Reed will be on a Kawasaki for the 2014 season. Although he’s yet to announce anything, Reed tried out a Yamaha, a KTM, and flirted with RCH for a Suzuki ride before settling on a Kawasaki as his bike of choice for next year.

Yes, he rode for Monster Kawasaki in 2010 and yes it didn’t work out so well but much has changed on the bike in the last four years. The bike’s gotten better and for those people Tweeting me “HE HATED THE BIKE BEFORE”, well, you have to understand that there are plenty of things different from before.

With lots of help from Pro Circuit, Reed’s bike should be just like Broc Tickle’s KX450F from a few years ago and I’ve heard from sources that he’s been approved to be able to purchase the same Showa suspension that Ryan Villopoto uses if he can’t get the Showa Pro Circuit kit forks working the way he likes them.

One thing we don’t know is whether or not Reed will have a teammate for next year. He’s indicated that he’s working on securing one and he very well may get a guy but don’t expect it to be someone like Weston Peick or Brett Metcalfe.

Reed’s gone on the record as saying he wants someone that he feels can win, it’s not a supporting role on the team – the boss (Reed) wants someone that can go as fast as him or faster. So with that knowledge in mind, there are rumors out there that Chad is trying to pry Davi Millsaps away from the Rockstar KTM team.

Now you may be thinking that how can that happen, Millsaps has already been announced as agreeing to stay with his 2013 team now that they switched to KTMs. And normally I would agree with your thinking on this, but a couple of things to remember are 1) contracts don’t always mean that much in this sport and 2) Millsaps’ agent is Steve Astephen of the powerful WMG agency and he’s also Reed’s agent.

So it’s really an agent-driven thing behind the scenes here to see if Millsaps (who recently broke his foot on the KTM) can either get out of his deal to join Reed or at line himself up for a raise and more perks to stay on the Rockstar team.

There are a thousand moving pieces going on behind the scenes with Rockstar Energy drink, Chad Reed, the agent, Fox gear and I can’t see it working out, but hey, stranger things have happened in this sport.

No matter what, Reed’s on green (or white, or whatever other color he wants to slap on the Kawasaki) for next year and as I’ve written before, I can’t see him winning a title next year, but podiums are a real possibility. You can’t write a happy and fit (something he admits he wasn’t last year) Chad Reed off and this is one of the more interesting storylines of 2014. Can Reed get the magic back?

Brett Metcalfe is poised to continue racing in Canada next year. Image: Simon Cudby.

Brett Metcalfe is poised to continue racing in Canada next year. Image: Simon Cudby.

So I don’t think Metcalfe is going over to TwoTwo next year, but there is the question of what he is going to do for 2014. Metcalfe sat out supercross last year and then when he couldn’t get a ride to do the AMA nationals that paid, well, anything at all, Metcalfe went north and raced the Canadian nationals where he did the predictable and won the series.

And he also made six figures for the nine races. So with that in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Metty head back north for the summer of 2014 and try to defend his title and at the same time make a nice living.

As far as supercross down here goes, he’s been busy riding it but there’s no word on if he plans of doing the privateer route in supercross. It’s amazing that a guy with the talent and professionalism of a Brett Metcalfe can’t get a decent paying ride but that’s the world we’re living in these days in our sport.

Austin Politelli opened some eyes last year as a privateer on the HRT team in the 250SX West Coast series. Politelli showed great speed and style despite being a bit big for the bike and having some poor races at the end that cost him top ten in the series.

Well, those rides last year caught the eye of KTM’s Roger De Coster and it appears that Austin is going to race the ME Cup on a KTM for a possible inclusion on the team in 2014 alongside Marvin Musquin. I’ve heard the deal for next year is done, but I’ve also heard that it’s still on a try-out basis.

Either way, Politelli is, to me anyways, someone with some serious talent and speed that hasn’t had a proper shot yet down here (he did race on the same team as Metcalfe up in Canada this past year and won the MX2 title) and I think that DeCoster knows what he’s doing in giving Politelli this shot.