A glance at the thermometer under the Suzuki awning today revealed the temperature at Washougal MX Park to be 102 degrees, but with the beautiful mountain scenery and easy-on-the-eyes track, it didn’t seem so bad. The amateurs finished up in the morning, and the pros squeezed in a couple of practice sessions before the pre-qualifiers were run. Tomorrow will see more qualifiers, along with pro practice sessions and the ninth round of the 12-round AMA/Chevy Trucks National MX Series.
Ricky Carmichael tastes blood now that he’s got the title-chase lead, and judging from the way he was negotiating the track today, he’s going to be tough to beat. Title-rival Sebastien Tortelli is still hurting from the stretched tendon he incurred last week at Troy, Ohio, and he tried running a foam pad on his frame as a cushion today, but didn’t like it. “It hurts when I put it down in right-hand turns,” said Tortelli, and unfortunately, there are plenty such corners here at Washougal. Still, the Team Honda rider wants the title bad after having his chances last year thwarted by injury, and his toughness was revealed in his understated assessment today of the ankle: “It could be better.”
Last year’s Washougal winner was Jimmy Button, and the injured Team Yamaha decided to make the trip up to spectate. Button has made serious progress, walking much more easily than he did at the AMA Supercross banquet in Las Vegas, and he says Yamaha has given him the go-ahead to race the Yamaha four-stroke at next year’s outdoor opener at Glen Helen. Jeff Emig is also on hand, cheering on Strategic 3 cohort Phil Lawrence, who is back this weekend following a long layoff for a shoulder injury.
One rider who is not back is Ezra Lusk, who many expected to make his return at Washougal. The Team Honda member is riding, but is still not ready, though he hopes to contest the next national, which will be held in two weeks at Millville, Minnesota.