Ricky Carmichael showed tonight that Jeremy McGrath shouldn’t put Supercross title number eight in the bank just yet, hunting the Mazda Yamaha rider down and passing him for the win at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. It was the first non-Daytona Supercross victory for the Chevy Trucks Kawasaki rider, and the relief he felt was evident.
Carmichael and McGrath went at it hard for much of the main event, passing each other several times and giving the fans a real race that had some mentioning the David Bailey/Ricky Johnson Anaheim battle of 1986. Granted, it wasn’t quite that good, but the fact that people were even comparing them is good news for EA Sports Supercross, as the chances for more good racing this year are very promising. As it stands now, McGrath and Carmichael are tied in points for the championship lead.
"That was really fun," Carmichael said. "The crowd was really into this race, and that makes it sweet. I am working on being consistent this year and keep my composure out there. I started to make up a lot of time on McGrath and just rode smart."
"I had a good time out there," said McGrath. "I started to get tight out there, but I will be back next week. Luckily, when I spun out, Carmichael saw me and moved over. The Vans Triple Crown of Supercross is next weekend, so I will be ready."
McGrath tightened up during his battle with Carmichael, and was overtaken toward the end of the main event by hard-charging Mike LaRocco, who had started well but lost several positions in the first couple of turns. The Amsoil/Dr. Martens/Journeys/Competition Accessories rider even set out after the leading Carmichael, but ran out of time and had to settle for second place. McGrath held on for third ahead of Team Honda’s Ezra Lusk, second last week at Anaheim. Team Suzuki’s Kevin Windham was fifth, with a struggling David Vuillemin taking sixth. Taking seventh and eighth were Yamaha of Troy’s Nathan Ramsey and Yamaha’s Timmy Ferry on a pair of big YZ426Fs, and Thousand Oaks Yamaha/Pete’s RV/Reynard Modification’s Robbie Reynard and Yamaha of Troy’s Nicholas Wey completed the top 10.
In the 125cc Western Regional Supercross Series, Yamaha of Troy’s Ernesto Fonseca and his YZ250F proved mortal, as the Costa Rican stalled the bike while pressing for the lead and restarted dead last. He started working his way through the pack, but went down again and finished back in the pack. Picking up the slack was teammate Justin Buckelew on a YZ125, grabbing the holeshot and leading to the checkers. Behind him was Team Suzuki’s Danny Smith, second for the second week in a row, with teammate Rodrig Thain rounding out the podium. In fourth was defending champion Shae Bentley of Pro Circuit/Kawasaki/SplitFire.
"I was so focused on winning this event and just wanted to ride a good race," Buckelew said. "I heard Ernesto [Fonseca] right behind me, and when he went for the inside line, he stalled his bike. This isn't good for the team, but right now I am really excited."