The following is from AMA Pro Racing…
Six-time and defending AMA Motocross Champion Ricky Carmichael comes to The Monster Energy/Kawasaki Red Bud National Presented by Concept Haulers National, in Buchanan, Mich., this Sunday, July 2, round five of the AMA Toyota Motocross Championship presented by FMF, seeking his sixth straight victory in the popular event. Carmichael leads the AMA Motocross Championship with three victories in the first four rounds.
Carmichael, who rides for Makita Suzuki, has opened a 20-point lead on Yamaha’s Chad Reed, of Australia. Even though Carmichael won the last round in Budds Creek, MD., on June 18, with convincing 1-1 moto finishes, he said he sees improvement in Reed.
“I have to hand it to Chad, he’s really stepping up his game,” Carmichael said after trailing Reed in the first three laps of the second moto in Maryland. “I’m going to have to stay sharp. I see us having some more good battles this season.”
Reed said his incentive to improve is trying to match the rider he considers the best of all time.
“I’m motivated by the challenge of trying to get closer each week to Ricky,” Reed said. “They don’t call him the GOAT [greatest of all time] for nothing. I’m working my hardest to be able to run with him. Sometimes I get frustrated because I’m riding my best and I still have a long way to go. For the first time in a long time I feel like I’m actually closing the gap a bit. If I can keep improving maybe I can challenge him sometime soon.”
Kawasaki’s James Stewart, winner of the opening round this year, is slated to return to action at Red Bud after missing the most recent round recovering from a knee injury. If healthy, Stewart could be a threat to end Carmichael’s winning streak. Stewart won Red Bud in the Lites class (then called 125 class) in 2002 and 2003.
Michigan’s own Nick Wey, from Dewitt, is having one of his best seasons ever. Wey is third in the standings coming into Red Bud, having ridden his MDK/Motosport Honda to a pair of top five finishes so far this year.
The championship chase is heating up in the Lites class. Red Bull KTM’s Mike Alessi leads the standings, but Ryan Villopoto, of Poulsbo, Wash., who rides for Monster Energy Drink/Pro Circuit Kawasaki, has closed to within seven points of the series lead after winning two of the last three rounds, including the most recent race in Maryland.
Alessi and Villopoto collided in the second moto at Budds Creek, resulting in Alessi crashing. Villopoto called the contact a “love tap” and claimed it was just a normal racing incident. Look for the love to continue between Alessi and Villopoto at Red Bud.
Broc Hepler proved he is fully healthy and ready to go for wins once again after returning to action for the first time in nearly 10 months and scoring a second overall at Budds Creek. The Makita Suzuki rider is hoping to run near the front at Red Bud.
Honda riders Andrew Short and Josh Grant are tied for third in the Motocross Lites class standings coming into Red Bud. Short lost second place in the series after suffering a crash in the last round. He’ll be looking to rally. As for Grant, he is training with former AMA Motocross standout Ryan Hughes and hoping his work with Hughes will pay dividends as the series enters the heart of the summer heat.
Last year’s Red Bud Lites winner Grant Langston aggravated an injured wrist in the last race and is questionable for this Sunday’s race.
Red Bud has been a fixture in AMA Motocross for over 30 years. The Red Bud National traditionally runs during the July 4th weekend and the track puts on a spectacular fireworks show on Saturday night, as well as hosting a popular Celebrity Minibike Race.
Major portions of the track have been redesigned for this year’s race giving fans better vantage points.
The race will be nationally televised on OLN on Sunday, July 9 at 5:00 pm eastern.
For additional info visit the website www.redbudmx.com.