Though the fifth annual AMA Sports Awards Banquet hasn't happened yet (it's on November 16 at the Rio All-Suites Casino Resort in Las Vegas), the name of one winner has already been announced - in La Serena, Chile. That, of course, is where Team USA is for the 82nd Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro, which starts on Monday, November 12.
At a pre-race team meeting after dinner on Friday, November 9, the AMA's Chuck Weir called U.S. World Trophy team member Kurt Caselli forward as the 2007 AMA Sports Sportsman of the Year. Citing the Red Bull KTM star's leadership on last year's winning Junior World Trophy team as well as his commitment to the ISDE team this year and in the past, Weir's announcement seemed to stun Caselli, who noted Six Days is a team sport and gave props to his teammates.
"I couldn't believe it," Caselli said. "I didn't really expect that because I didn't feel like [last year's Junior World Trophy victory] was all my doing. I took a little more...I guess, control of the team or something, because I wanted to push those guys [last] year, and we ended up just doing what we were supposed to do in that we trained hard for that and we really stuck together as a team.
"For me to be called Sportsman of the Year, I wish it'd be Sports Team of the Year or something like that. But I'm honored and I feel great."
In addition, Chilly White - who is this year's assigned ISDE pre-rider for Team USA - reported on what competitors could expect for the first four days. "This is the best of desert racing," he said following a detailed description of the course, the tests, the pace and what to expect. Though parts of the course will deteriorate into silt, there's plenty of great single-track in the foothills of the Andes, plus some sections on the beach for variety.
This, of course, is great news to those used to dry and dusty conditions - like Caselli, who lives in the desert and is expected to be a top contender in the E3 class - but Six Days is not about individuals; it's about team results, and Finland as well as Italy are among the pre-race favorites for the World Trophy crown.
On Saturday in the press center, the organizers introduced the five three-rider teams comprising the participants inaugural Women's World Cup. As in the other, traditional ISDE categories, the teams represent their countries, but in a new twist, the women will be scored for medals only against each other and not against the men. Chile, France, Germany, Sweden and the U.S. (Nicole Bradford, Lacy Jones and Amanda Mastin) all have Women's World Cup teams competing. In addition, several women are entered on various Club teams (like Annell Allen who's on the Boise Ridge Riders with Bert Bradford and Steve Morefield)
Sunday was a day off from official activities, save for the evening presentation of the 2008 ISDE in Greece. Also, the FIM Jury held its final pre-race meeting and announced that 498 motorcycles are in impound ready to start the event beginning at 8:00 A.M. on Monday. They will spend seven hours and 29 minutes over the first day's 158 miles, run on B schedule.