Steve Matthes with the latest from the US, presented by Fox Head Australia.
We have just three rounds left over here in the 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships and things have settled down in one class – Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin has a nice lead in the 250MX class – while in the other, things are becoming a bit tense.
Red Bull KTM’s Kenny Roczen hasn’t been the same guy the last three races that he was earlier in the season and his teammate Ryan Dungey, after a 1-1 sweep last Saturday, has closed the gap up to just 14 points with six motos left.
At times Roczen’s looked unbeatable ripping through the pack and many times passing Dungey to go on to win. And those are the motos that he doesn’t just grab the start and check out for the win. But there’s also no denying that Kenny Roczen has had a history of second half drop-offs in his performances in every American series he’s ever done. But then again, he’s never been as serious as he is this year in terms of working hard and having trainer Aldon Baker by his side.
Dungey was certainly impressive this past weekend, but I think Roczen’s going to do enough to take this title home. I spoke with Baker the other day and he reminded me that the tracks coming up are good for Roczen and that he really thinks the week off will help Roczen out. It’s going to be close and wildcard rider GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac will certainly keep it tight, but I think the German rider can hold off Dungey.
What if you’re KTM manager Roger DeCoster and you know that Roczen is leaving your team at the end of the year and taking the potential number one plate over to the RCH Suzuki team? I would never suggest that Roger would do anything to hurt Roczen’s chances of beating Dungey, but there’s got to be a part of him that might go that little extra mile with Dungey to try and help him out.
Again, I’m not suggesting anything underhanded by DeCoster here but I’ve been on plenty of teams as a mechanic where there is one part to go around and a choice has to be made. Or maybe the KTM team decides to test a bit more with Dungey as the series winds down. Or maybe they do nothing and it doesn’t matter anyways – I’m just saying that DeCoster is there to win titles for KTM and if Roczen wins and heads out the door, it’s not a great look.
Things are going from bad to worse for Chad Reed right now. A back injury has left him unable to practice during the week and in the second moto at Washougal it tightened up on him again and forced him out of the race. This comes on the heels of a poor Millville showing. Reed’s got a big team that is very expensive and if he’s not on the track, he’s not collecting team sponsorship money.
This is the ultimate catch-22 for Reed (get it?) as he needs to be racing to be getting paid but racing is the worst thing for him in terms of his injury. So if you’re Reed, this definitely isn’t an ideal thing right now.
The Australian MXDN team will be Reed, Brett Metcalfe and Dean Ferris or so says people I talk to in the pits, which if Reed can get back to 100 percent, should be a formidable squad. Remember what Ferris did last year in Germany?
In more Reed news, people I talk to have Josh Grant heading over to be Chad’s teammate in 2015. Apparently Grant’s got an outside sponsor that is promising to pay up and Chad can finally get a teammate that’s a top 10 guy. Nothing is done as of yet, but stay tuned.
I spoke with Metcalfe for a while after Washougal and he said the Kawasaki guys haven’t given him any indication that they want to sign him full time for 2015. A lot of decision for the green guys rests on whether or not Ryan Villopoto comes back or not.
People I speak to say that supercross 2015 is virtually a no-go for RV due to his knee surgery he had, but he could make the motocross series in 2015, the last year of his contract. Or he could just pull the plug altogether and retire. Or there has been talks of Villopoto racing the GPs, but I hear that’s off the table now.
Either way, with Davi Millsaps signed to Kawasaki for next year, it leaves one spot if Villopoto doesn’t come back and wouldn’t a solid and steady rider like Metcalfe look good there? When Anaheim 2015 rolls around Millsaps will not have raced for a year and half and has been injury-prone, so you can count on him missing some time at some point. Metcalfe’s return to America this summer has been a success as he sits fifth in the standings in the 450MX class.
The Pro Circuit team is practically cleaning house next year with only Adam Cianciarulo staying there (perhaps Blake Baggett also, we don’t know his status as of yet) and arenacross champion Tyler Bowers, GP rider Arnaud Tonus and amateur Chris Alldredge all signing up to try and get Pro Circuit back on top.
The Rockstar Husky team will have Jason Anderson back, but on a 450 full time next year. He’ll be joined by Martin Davalos, Zach Osborne and one more 250 rider for next year. And I’d bet that the other 250 rider will be current rider Joey Savatgy, but we should know soon.
The GEICO Honda team should have Justin Bogle and Matt Bisceglia coming back next year and they’ll be joined by RJ Hampshire and Jordan Smith who are a couple of the countries hottest amateur riders right now.