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Centurylink Field Seattle, WA Seattle Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship

Welcome to Racerhead and what’s been a fairly busy week. The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship heads back to the West Region with the Seattle round, and since it’s the Northwest, there’s also a chance that some rain can come along and throw a big wrench into the works. As you know, Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb continues to roll toward the title, and even though he did not win last weekend in Indianapolis, he reached the podium after a somewhat wild ride. More on that in a second.

On more distant shores we heard through a very reliable source that Broc Tickle finally got his hearing started with the three judges who will decide his fate on his positive test from the 2018 San Diego Supercross for methylhexaneamine. Tickle’s case got a boost after AMA President Rob Dingman began serious push on the matter when after a new president of the FIM was elected and Dingman, who has not been on the FIM board since 2014, was named to the executive board and also Chair of the Finance Committee. Within the next ten days Tickle will meet with the three CDI (Court of International Discipline) panelists for a final decision. It is hoped that he will be able to return to racing sometime this year. There was also some movement on Cade Clason’s case—it was said to have been granted a retroactive TUE for Adderall, similar to what happened with James Stewart—and he will hopefully soon have his day in court as well. We are keeping a close eye on both cases and hope to have some news to report by the end of the month.

Next, Honda nearly broke Instagram when they rolled out their electric prototype motocrosser at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show. We’ve seen everyone from Justin Brayton to Cole Seely to even Brian Deegan share the pictures of the bike from the show, along with some very positive comments. It’s definitely getting a different reception than the initial Alta postings and comments, which is kind of strange—the Alta was a really cool and fun bike and every person who has ridden one of ours immediately had a smile on their face, just not so much on their social media! Regardless, it’s a great development for the motorcycle industry. As Deegan wrote when someone asked him if he would really ride electric bikes, “If I had a to choose between riding a dirtbike that was silent or not riding at all I think we would all choose the same thing…” 

And then I got this letter from my friend Robert Woods: 

Just wondering if Cooper Webb got penalized for cutting the track when he passed Tomac at Indy? That was a pretty clear violation.

And I’m not really sure how to answer that. Of course he’s talking about that spectacular and insane moment in last weekend’s main event where Webb cross-rutted while trying to catch Eli Tomac, landed on the Tuff Blox on the inside of the left-handed hairpin, somehow saved it, then passed Tomac when Eli seemed to lay up on the outside, probably thinking Webb was going to hit him. Afterward Webb of course described it as “an RC move” in reference (and deference) to the GOAT himself, and he was right—and he would have been right if he called it “the full Bob Hannah!”  I’m not sure it was “cutting the track” as much as landing off the side of it, nor am I sure what else he could have done—turning around certainly wasn’t an option, though waiting to pass Tomac might have been, but Eli went up high on his own, so that just adds another layer of uncertainty on just what this really was, a cut or a near-crash, or both. 

MX-Vice

My longtime friend Pete Fox posted of the move, "A true RC…. I’ve read some comments from people who feel Cooper should have been penalized for this. The AMA rule is that if a rider goes off track, they must re-enter as soon as safely possible without gaining an advantage. The moment Cooper clears the last tuff block he has ‘re-entered the track.’ From the freeze frame you can see that he is still behind Eli after he has ‘re-entered the track.’ He also did not gain an advantage for the split second he was off the track. Once he is clear of the tuff block he is back on the track and can continue to race for position. That’s how I see it. I don’t sponsor either of these athletes, but I have total respect and appreciation for both of them and every one that lines up every weekend.”

I think Pete threaded the needle well there. I also think that if there is a moment we can point back to where Webb “won this title,” sort of like RC passing Jeremy McGrath at Anaheim 3 in 2001, or Jeff Emig winning Dallas in 1997, Cooper Webb’s near-crash-and-pass of Eli Tomac in Indianapolis will be it for me.

EIGHT STRAIGHT (Andras Hegyi)

With Austin Forkner’s fifth straight victory in the 250SX East Region in Indianapolis, it’s safe to say that Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki is firmly back at the top of the 250cc hierarchy. Thanks to Forkner’s triumph, Mitch Payton’s team took its eighth consecutive win, including both East and West. Add in Adam Cianciarulo’s West Region successes and Kawasaki has been unbeaten since January 26, almost two full months. First, Cianciarulo had won both the fifth and the sixth rounds of the West Region, then Forkner got the first three East races when the series crossed the country. Afterward Cianciarulo became East/West Showdown winner in Atlanta, where Forkner finished third for his only defeat of the season. Then Austin conquered both Daytona and Indianapolis, the fifth and the sixth rounds of 250 East. This is the very first time that Kawasaki has put together eight straight victories in the small-bore supercross, between East and West regions.

Before this 2019 Kawasaki’s record winning run of luck was composed of seven consecutive wins in the history of the 125/250 supercross, in existence since 1985. There were two Kawi runs of seven straight victories. In 2007, between January 6 and February 17, Kawasaki won the first seven races of the West Region with Ryan Villopoto getting six wins and the Frenchman Christophe Pourcel getting one victory. Then in 2014, between February 1 and March 15 Kawasaki again had seven wins in a row. The green brand was winning across the two regions, East and West. First, Dean Wilson and Justin Hill had a pair of wins in the West, then Adam Cianciarulo, Blake Baggett, and Martin Davalos won the first five rounds in the East. Cianciarulo got three wins; Baggett and Davalos one each.

One thing of note: In 1998 Ricky Carmichael single-handedly won nine straight AMA 125 Supercross races while riding for Mitch Payton’s Pro Circuit team on a KX125, sweeping the East Region and then adding the East-West Shootout in Las Vegas for good measure. It remains the only perfect 125/250 season in AMA Supercross history.

And check this very cool shirt that can be purchased on Forkner’s new website, www.austinforkner.com

38 YEARS (STEVE Matthes)

Big weekend over at the Monster Energy Factory Yamaha pits. They're welcoming Josh Grant to the team as a replacement for Aaron Plessinger, who's healing up from a broken heel suffered at Daytona. JG33 will add some pizzazz to the squad, and his plan of turning down some lower-level rides to get a factory fill-in job worked perfectly.

Also going on over there is longtime Yamaha mechanic/motor guy Bob Oliver's last race with the team. Oliver's going to be retiring after 38 years with the Blu Cru. Hired in 1981 to be Erik Kehoe's mechanic, Bob's one of those guys who’s the last of a generation. Rick Asch, Cliff White, Ron Heben, and those guys who drove the box vans, did all the work on a bike, and stayed with an OEM for a long time are fading away from the sport as more specialized techs come in to work on a specific part of the motorcycle.

I worked with Oliver for three years at Yamaha, and he taught me a lot. I couldn't get enough of the stories, either. He was there when Yamaha introduced the YZ400, he won a race as Chad Reed's fill-in mechanic, he won a race as Bradshaw's fill-in mechanic, and he worked for Rick Johnson in that 1982 season when RJ broke a wheel on the verge of winning a title. He doesn’t talk much, but he's seen and done it all in the industry. I spoke to Bob this week for something I'm working on but just wanted to say congrats to him on the remarkable career. The pits won't be the same without him there.

Photo Courtesy of Yamaha

No, Val is not running anything different than his trademark #46 aboard his Yamaha MotoGP bike. But in ESPN the Magazine's annual Fame issue, Rossi ranks #67 on their list of the 100 most famous athletes in the world today. The list is calculated by a variety of measures, from name recognition to Google searches to endorsements to social media following. Rossi is just one of two motorsports athletes on the whole list, the other being #21 Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 champion. No one from NASCAR, the AMA circuit, or MXGP made the list. 

Now here are a couple of strange numbers to chew on. Of the 100 athletes listed, 35 are soccer players, including three of the top four: #1 Cristiano Ronaldo, #3 Lionel Messi, and #4 Neymar. The second most represented sport is basketball, with #2 LeBron James leading the way. And get this: there is only one baseball player in the whole top 100, and that's #99 Bryce Harper (though he may be moving up after signing a $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies), another sign of baseball's demise for this new generation. The highest-ranking NFL player? #31 Tom Brady, the Greatest of All Time in that sport.

But the real surprise on the list are these ten guys: #7 Virst Kohli, #13 MS Dhoni, #18 Vuvraj Singh, #22 Suresh Raina, #42 Ravichandran Ashwin, #46 Rohit Sharma, #74 Harbajan Singh, #90 Shakib Al-Hasan, #92 Mushfigur Rahim, #94 Shikhar Dhawan, and #98 Mashrafe Mortaza. “Who?” you may be asking, just as I did. Turns out they’re all cricket players in India and Bangladesh with HUGE social media followings.

COVINGTON (DC) 

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Thomas Covington is finding the supercross learning curve even steeper than he thought. Here’s the corporate-speak on another really, really bad night for the struggling MXGP transfer: 

“In his 250SX heat, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Thomas Covington didn’t get the best start as he rounded the opening lap in 15th. He ultimately worked his way up to 12th, missing the final transfer position by only three spots. As a result, Covington lined up in the last chance qualifier (LCQ). Covington got a second-place start in the LCQ but an early mistake dropped him back a few positions on the opening lap. Covington gave it his all for the remainder of the race but unfortunately didn’t earn a transfer position into the 250SX Main Event.”

Rich Shepherd

Before the 2019 season started, Marvin Musquin already had some notable French records. In MXGP's 125/MX2 class, Musquin is the most successful French motocrosser ever. He earned 14 GP wins and two MX2 world titles before moving to the States. Musquin’s name is also linked with some French records in America. Among all French riders, Musquin has the most wins in the U.S. Last Saturday in Indianapolis, Musquin took his 33rd victory in AMA racing across both classes. In 450 Pro Motocross, Musquin has seven wins and 25 podiums. He’s the most successful French rider in AMA 250 MX, too, with eight wins. Musquin is also a KTM record-holder in 125/250 SX, with 11 wins and 21 podiums for the brand. And by getting his maiden 2019 win in 450 supercross last Saturday, Musquin moved up higher in the French hierarchy.

Musquin caught up with two French legends, Jean-Michel Bayle and David Vuillemin, who happens to be Marvin's current riding coach. Besides Bayle, Musquin became only the second French supercrosser to win in three different seasons in the premier class. Bayle won in 1990, '91, and '92, while Musquin has won each year since 2017. Musquin got his seventh win in Indianapolis, which equals Vuillemin’s career total. Among the French, Bayle has the most wins in supercross’ premier class. JMB, who will turn 50 on April 1, has 16 wins. But Musquin can overtake both Bayle and Vuillemin in podiums before this season ends: Bayle has 38, Vuillemin 37, while Musquin now has 35 with six rounds to go.

Rich Shepherd

The long-shot wish of Jeffrey Herlings coming to America this summer has been staunched out by KTM management in Europe, and for good reason. It now appears that the MXGP World Champion won't be ready to go 100 percent in mid-May when the Hangtown Motocross Classic kicks off the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Herlings, who badly broke his foot while training in Spain over the winter, teased the idea at first, then even went to KTM in Austria this week for meetings. It was decided then that he would stay in Europe, despite the fact that he will have no chance of successfully defending his title. Herlings, who won the 2017 season-ending Ironman National in Indiana, will likely jump in with his teammate Antonio Cairoli, now the heavy favorite for the title, and continue his duel with Cairoli to reach Stefan Everts' record of 101 Grand Prix wins. Both are in the 80s right now.

KTM sports director Joel Smets said that Herlings will likely be racing MXGP when he's ready, which should be May or June by the latest.

KTM Images/Ray Archer

“In Jeffrey's contract, only the World Championship is included in the MXGP,” Smets said in an interview with Dutch media. “Participating in the motocross circuit in America was a wish, an idea. However, KTM already has two riders there, the American Cooper Webb and the Frenchman Marvin Musquin. Another rider would cause unnecessary rivalry. We prefer to see him alongside Tony Cairoli in the MXGP. We expect him back on the bike at the end of April, but we will not put a date on his return. That will also be a return in which he has to drive with less ambitious goals." 

Coincidentally, Herlings isn’t the only world champ that’s missing in action. MX2 World Champion Jorge Prado will reportedly miss this weekend’s second round of the series in Matterley-Basin, Great Britain. Prado was injured while practicing, which means the reigning champs in either MXGP division will not race this weekend. And you can watch the races live on www.MXGP-TV.com with qualifying tomorrow and the Grand Prix on Sunday.

MICKY DYMOND ON THE WHISKEY THROTTLE SHOW (DAVID PINGREE)

Two-time AMA 125 National Motocross Champion Micky Dymond was on TheWhiskey Throttle Show this week and we had plenty to talk about. Of course we covered his time at Honda, the time he almost got invited to be on the Motocross des Nations team in 1987, his YZ250 at Yamaha, partying with Tommy Lee and the Motley Crue guys, Race Across America, and his life in general, which was very interesting. One of my favorite parts was him talking about riding and hanging out with Danny "Magoo" Chandler.

"If you can just go back and imagine the Trophee des Nations where they had the two weekends—they had 250s one weekend and 500s on the other,” he said. “Magoo dominated every race against everybody. Nobody in the world could beat him those two weeks. So he was capable of putting things together. It's almost impossible to get your head around the way some riders have risen to those moments." 

He talks about what made Magoo so fun to watch and to be around. It's an interesting chat, so check it out on YouTube or listen on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

GoPro Footage from Dean Wilson's heat race win:

The 3rd installment of Terrafirma continued to build on the formula of great footage and iconic riders with the perfect soundtrack. The T3 opening scene features helicopter footage of desert racing legend Johnny Campbell pinned wide open on a Honda XR 650 on a dry lake bed. This dynamic footage set the stage for the balance of the T3 video which includes 1996 Supercross footage of McGrath’s near perfect season a road trip that captures an initial look at Mike Metzger free riding Jeff Emig’s outdoor title and the 1996 MXON event in Spain.

Shift MX and Jimmy Hill are back at it for another cool video promoting the second destination-inspired collection of 2019, the Mexico LE WHIT3 Label collection. This time Hill shows us around Guadalajara, Mexico—check it out:

Monster Energy’s Kyle Demelo Lands the World’s First-Ever Front Flip on a Snow Bike at Camp H:

The Fly Racing Racer X Podcast talks about Marvin Musquin’s first win of 2019, Austin Forkner’s perfect showing in the main event, and more. 

Steve Matthes was joined by Doug Dubach earlier this week on the Fly Racing Racer X Podcast. Listen to Dr.D chat with Matthes on different motocross what ifs.

Jason Weigandt caught up Blake Savage to talk about his recovery from an injury suffering in January. The trainer broke the C5, C6, and C7 vertebrae in his neck but is fighting hard to improve his own health, while he continues to provide training advice to his riders. To help Savage during his recovery, head to Road 2 Recovery.

Micky Dymond visited the TLD Saloon for the newest TheWhiskey Throttle Show. The two-time 125 national motocross champion talked about his time with factory Honda, Race Across Amercia, and much more. Find it on YouTube here.

Head-Scratching Headline/s of the Week

“ATV driver drags police officer down busy street” —CNN 

“MySpace reportedly deleted years of music by accident—and it took people months to notice” —Gizmodo

“Michael Jackson's ex-bodyguard: “I know MJ was into women ...we talked chicks all the time” —TMZ

“Antonio Cairoli Will Now Be Cruising Around In A Lamborghini” —Exhaust

“Capturing the Beauty of Motocross in Tehran” —OZY.com

“A Texas homeowner saw a 'few' rattlesnakes and called for help. The removal company found 45 of them.” —USA Today

Random Notes

Want to win a brand-new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F? Here is your chance.

If you are attending the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross this weekend in Seattle, all you need to do is stop by the Racer X booth—located in the Party in the Pits—and enter into the drawing to win a new 2019 Yamaha YZ450F. 

The winner will be picked at the end of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season and announced on Racer X Online.

Road 2 Recovery is hosting "Cycle For Savage," an event to support Blake Savage’s recovery efforts.

Although there might be disagreements about Cooper Webb's Tuff Blox-assisted pass on Eli Tomac in Indianapolis, we can all agree on one thing: @lego.mx's 'Lego Blox' version of the incident is pretty spot on!

KLOS Presents Gnarlytown: Bikes, Boards & Bands kicks off this summer in Southern California with the ultimate mashup of action sports, punk rock, and craft beer tasting. Coming to scenic LA Waterfront Berth 46 at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, CA on Saturday, June 22, this new, fun, one-of-a-kind event unites the vital energy and DIY spirit of action sports and punk rock: a dynamic mix that has infused SoCal youth culture for decades. Throughout the festival the daredevils of Nitro Circus, featuring Travis Pastrana and the Nitro Circus crew, will get pulses racing with their thrilling live show, while a collection of the world’s top skate athletes will show their skills in a free jam format during Chris Cole’s Rail Jam Invitational. On the concert stage, a lineup of legendary punk rock bands and other top music acts including Pennywise, Rancid, Action Bronson, Off!, and Madball will deliver amped up performances. For thirsty fans 21 and over, the event will also feature craft beer tastings (with purchase of a tasting pass) from some of the finest breweries in Southern California and beyond, including Rancid’s own collaboration with Ska Brewing, Brewstomper.

Nitro Circus is bringing high adrenaline action to Gnarlytown. Featuring a star-studded cast of top tier athletes from FMX, BMX, Skate, and more who hold over 30 X Games medals combined, Nitro Circus’ athletes will put on four separate shows during the festival. Good music and loud fans are fuel for these talented riders. These shows will feature Nitro’s notorious Giganta ramp that towers more than 45 feet high, giving the crew the speed they need to send it off of the newly debuted Next Level take off ramp that stands 15 feet high. The Nitro Circus FMX riders will also be in full effect throwing down choreographed tricks over a 75-foot gap. Need a taste? Click here.

For the lastest from Canada, check out DMX Frid'EH Update #12.

Thanks for reading Racerhead. See you at the races!