Whereas yesterday’s press day for the Anaheim Supercross enjoyed balmy temperatures and sunny skies, today’s first practice session was marked by overcast skies and even a few sprinkles. Hopefully, the perfect conditions will return for tomorrow’s AMA/EA Sports Supercross opener (though readers from the snow-buried east are probably ridiculing our concern over a couple of rain drops).
The track has come a long way since 24 hours ago, when the course appeared to be less than half done. Today, the only major chore awaiting the Dirt Wurx crew seems to be the cutting in of the whoops. The track includes a couple of triples (including one over which Blackfoot Motorsports/Honda Canada’s Doug DeHaan took a scary-looking tumble) and a long, wide double with turns immediately before and after it. There’s also a cool, option-filled rhythm section with literally no run before it, though YZ426F-mounted Tim Ferry and YZ250-mounted Nick Wey still managed to triple over its first three jumps.
Also riding a YZ426F is Nathan Ramsey, at least until the series heads to the Eastern Region, and his YZ250F-mounted teammate Ernesto Fonseca appeared super-comfortable on the smaller thumper.
As for the champ, Jeremy McGrath was riding confidently and conservatively, not accepting the juvenile challenges attempted by so many of the other riders. Instead, the Mazda Yamaha team owner would simply pull off the track when the freight-train of pretenders behind him got too large, then re-enter it elsewhere to concentrate on the real task at hand, learning the new course as quickly as possible in order to be completely prepared come tomorrow evening.
Of course not everyone was on a Yamaha. A recovered Ezra Lusk looked like he had never been off of his CR250, lofting the woodpecker-adorned Honda over the triples with casual ease, and his teammate Sebastien Tortelli was also on the gas (new coach Jean-Michel Bayle was spotted in the pits). Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Ricky Carmichael threw out a few of his textbook whips, and Suzuki’s Travis Pastrana appeared more at east on a 250 than the last time we saw him on one at the 1999 U.S. Open. Even Husqvarna-mounted Steve Lamson had the Italian bike looking like it belonged on a stadium track.
Of course early practice sessions rarely mean much, and this one is no different, but when it’s the first practice of the first Supercross of the New Year (and real new millennium), we figure it warrants a couple of paragraphs. Besides, it gave us an excuse to show you a photo of the track.