Mike Alessi and Josh Grant posted the fastest lap times in their respective classes as the AMA Toyota Motocross Series went under the lights tonight at Thunder Valley Raceway in Lakewood, Colorado.
For the first time in series history, tomorrow’s race will be held in part under the lights. The opening motos will be run under fading light while the final races will take place after the sun has dropped behind the Rocky Mountains.
In today’s practice sessions, Alessi put his Rockstar/Makita Suzuki at the top of the lap charts in the Motocross class, with Red Bull Honda’s Andrew Short turning the second fastest time ahead of teammate Davi Millsaps.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s James Stewart was curiously absent from the session, however, team representatives fully expect him to race in tomorrow’s finale.
In the Lites division, Geico Powersports Honda’s Josh Grant posted fastest lap times ahead of teammate Trey Canard and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto.
After missing the first four races of the season with an injury, Grant returned to the series and quickly made his presence felt with his flying lap.
“It was good,” explained Grant. “But it wasn’t a goal to come out and set the world on fire. I did my own thing today and that’s all I really wanted to do. I’m just going to go out there and do the same thing tomorrow. I have no pressure on myself, there’s four rounds already gone. Just go out and do the best for my team.”
In an effort to address the 100-degree temperatures which hammered this event last year, the Denver race was moved to Saturday evening, marking the first time ever that an AMA outdoor national had taken place under the lights. Musco Sports Lighting, who also provided the lighting for the Daytona race, was brought in to illuminate the track and eight large boom trucks which each supported a large bank of flood lights were positioned around the track in strategic locations. However, even with the massive lighting, some portions of the track were relatively dark and the riders had mixed emotions about the whole deal. “It’s fun to ride at night and it’s all good, but they could do with a couple more lights, I believe,” said Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Michael Byrne. “A couple of sections are pretty dark and it gets worse as the track gets rougher. You can’t knock them for trying something new. It’s good for everybody, and the bikes run better, they just need more lights.”
Motocross Class Friday Practice
1. Mike Alessi, Victorville, Calif., Suzuki, 2:15.345
2. Andrew Short, Smithville, Tex., Honda, 2:17.839
3. Davi Millsaps, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 2:18.912
4. Josh Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Yamaha, 2:18.946
5. Timmy Ferry, Largo, Fla., Kawasaki, 2:19.158
6. Ivan Tedesco, Tallahassee, Fla., Honda, 2:19.622
7. Michael Byrne, Newnan, Ga., Suzuki, 2:19.967
8. Shaun Skinner, Stuart, Fla., Honda, 2:20.178
9. Sean Collier, Santa Clarita, Calif., Kawasaki, 2:20.721
10. Kevin Rookstool, Klamath Falls, Ore., Honda, 2:20.921
Motocross Lites Saturday Practice
1. Josh Grant, Riverside, Calif., Honda, 2:16.531
2. Trey Canard, Elk City, Okla., Honda, 2:17.691
3. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 2:19.212
4. Jason Lawrence, Carlsbad, Calif., Yamaha, 2:19.320
5. Kyle Cunningham, Fort Worth, Tex., Honda, 2:19.552
6. Martin Davalos, Cairo, Ga., KTM, 2:19.703
7. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., Suzuki 2:19.791
8. Austin Stroupe, Lincolnton, N.C., Kawasaki, 2:19.814
9. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Honda, 2:20.292
10. Matt Goerke, Lake Helen, Fla., KTM, 2:20.321