Steve Matthes checks in direct from the US, presented by Fox Head Australia.
Round one of the Pro Motocross Championship in the books and 11 to go here in America. Lots to talk about when it comes to what we saw from the two classes and 40 riders out at Glen Helen, but for the purposes of this column, let’s focus on the Aussies and what’s going on with them.
Some good news on the Dean Ferris front in that the Red Bull KTM rider looks to be back to racing within three to four rounds. When Dean broke his wrist a while back it was feared he’d be out for the year, but it’s worked out better than everyone thought and he should be back soon. And then it should get interesting to see if Ferris can adapt to the one-day format on tracks he’s never seen before to get some good results. From Tyla Rattray to Ken Roczen, generally speaking the GP riders have a tough time getting used to the tracks with the limited (compared to Europe) track time these guys get.
Okay, onto the results!
Jackson Richardson – 250 Class 18th overall (17-14)
A full privateer here in American, Richardson is toughing it out and living the dream. A pretty good showing in the 250MX class, Richardson was the second highest privateer (behind Matt Lemoine) in a class stacked with riders on great bikes and teams. It’s not fun to go up against these giants every week and eat their roost but this is Jackson’s second year roughing it in America and I’m sure right around the 30-minute mark of each moto when he’s covered in mud and slop he’s thinking about how nice supercross was.
Luke Reardon – 250 Class 36th overall (34-35)
Brother of Dan Reardon, Luke Reardon made his pro debut at Glen Helen on board a KTM in the 250MX class. He didn’t make it into the points first time out, but we’ll be sure to keep an eye on his progress as the season continues.
Brett Metcalfe – 450 Class fourth overall (4-5)
Fourth overall in the 450MX class was Metty on the brand new factory Monster Kawasaki 450. Metcalfe wasn’t able to get a ride in the States so his plan was to go back to Canada and defend his 450MX title up there until Ryan Villopoto got hurt. Kawasaki tabbed him for a fill-in spot and Metcalfe showed that his one year up north hadn’t hurt any of his speed.
“The first moto blew me,” Metty said afterwards. “I didn’t perform very well myself and I rode tight really early. Halfway through I was like, give me the flag please. So that was a struggle and I didn’t really recover from that all day for the moto two. But I rode much better. We made some changes. Got to thank the Monster Kawasaki team here. They made some really key moves for me for the second moto, freed the bike up and made me ride much more fluid. I was able to get in the zone a little bit better. I think the second moto I rode better, but just the start wasn’t very good in that second moto and I came through, made some moves and moved up, so that was cool.”
Metcalfe raced some USA nationals last year and never finished out of the top ten in any of the six motos on his privateer Kawasaki so I wondered how big of a change the factory Kawasaki was for him.
“Yeah, and you can also throw in the bike I rode in Canada as well! It’s a lot different,” he added while holding his son’s toy bike. “The bike’s a weapon. It’s good. I need to ride it the way it needs to be ridden, and then it’s really, really good. But if you don’t ride it right it’s not that great. You can really wear yourself down. You got to ride it fluid and relaxed. That first moto, being the first moto in a long time, I didn’t do that. So I got to really mentally just lock in and ride correctly from the start. But overall my lap times and splits were really good the second moto. I was strong the second moto after those changes.”
Chad Reed – 450 Class 10th overall (9-10)
This result looks a little out of place for the great 22, but that’s because he’s still coming back from his supercross shoulder surgery. Reed knew that he wasn’t going to be on point right at the first round, but he’s hoping to round into form in a few rounds. With limited testing, Reed’s race was rather uneventful in that some riders passed him and left him behind, he caught a few riders and he let mistakes by others help him out. Two solid motos and his fitness wasn’t too bad either. After the race I asked him about his result.
“Yeah, the goal was to try to come here and be inside the top 10,” he said while he was over talking to Mitch Payton at Pro Circuit. “It’s easy to say and then be happy with it once it actually happens and be on the backside of the top 10, not on the front side. But we just have to take it. Three weeks is just not enough. I’ve just been fighting myself and trying to be super patient on trying to get back and not blow out my hand. It’s just a matter of taking the steps. The positives are the bike felt good and I couldn’t tell you that I’ve ever been at Glen Helen and been happy with the bike. And we only spent two days of testing. I think we’re in the window, I just need to get stronger and get some bike fitness and I think we’ll be fine. I think we’ll be back in this thing pretty soon.”
If Reed is to get back to his old outdoor national title-winning form he’s got to get going soon because Ryan Dungey and Kenny Roczen look to be on point and ready to get after this 450MX title. Reed’s got his team behind him working hard to dial in the Kawasaki and it shouldn’t be too long before he’s up front. Put it this way, he’s already better than he was at any point last year.