Chad Reed is back in action.
The wheels of the 2014 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship officially got rolling today at Glen Helen Raceway, where the prerace press conference was held. Many of the top riders of the series were invited to participate and take a few laps around the track.
No real secrets were revealed in the conference, but it did give some of the riders a chance to talk about their thoughts on the upcoming series and where they are in their preparation.
One of those riders was Discount Tires/TwoTwo Motorsport’s Chad Reed who will get back on the track for the first time since his big crash early in the Supercross Series. Reed said the he feels good health-wise and is anxious to get back to some racing again.
“I’ve been riding three weeks now and things are going well,” he said. “There’s a fine line between waiting [to get healthy] and anxious to get racing. I push when I can but I don’t want to get too anxious.”
He said that he feels that his Kawasaki KX450F is competitive but said that he has to be realistic about where he’s at coming into the outdoor series, but has a definite plan of attack.
“I have to be patient at the beginning of the season, but I’m going to try and put myself in this thing.”
Ryan Dungey says that consistency is the key.
Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey has to be considered the favorite to win the championship. After all, he finished second to Ryan Villopoto last year and has two titles to his name already. Dungey says that being consistent is the key to the title.
“You can’t win it here [Glen Helen], you’ve got to be consistent,” he said. “ There are 24 motos and that’s a lot [of racing]. You have to make our game strategy as you move forward. Don’t take it too fast; one [race] at a time.”
Dungey has never raced a 450 at Glen Helen.
“The last time I was here was 2009 on a 250, but I’ve been doing a lot of testing [on the 450 at Glen Helen]. This track takes a little bit of everything; it will be good for racing, it’s a man’s race. I’m glad [Glen Helen] is back on the schedule.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart is another favorite to win the championship, and he also believes being consistent will be a big part of winning the title and he’s happy with his outdoor preparation.
“Everything is kind of coming along, we’re healthy,” he said. “It’s a long season and you have to be consistent.”
Stewart has been doing a lot of testing and training at Glen Helen lately, but admitted that come race day, everything could be different.
“It will be completely different on race day than practice,” he said. “It’ll be softer and just different, but every time I’ve raced here, it’s been good. It’s a little shorter this year. Last year, it [lap times] was about 2:40, now it’s closer to 2:10. This race is hard to prepare for, but it’s better [to start the season at Glen Helen] than Hangtown, [where you] get more arm pump on the hard-packed track, here it’s a little softer. Our plan is just to get through these first few races, get good finishes. It’ll [the race for the title] really kicks in about round five, when it gets hot and humid.”
James Stewart looks as fast as usual.
Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia said, “The last time I was here was my rookie season in 2009 on a 250 and I enjoyed it, you can hang it out a little bit here. I’m looking forward to the race. I’ve felt pretty good lately, I’ve done a lot of testing and have been out here a lot since Vegas [Supercross]. I think I have a good shot [at the title] this year.”
Australian Brett Metcalfe is filling in for Ryan Villopoto on the Monster Energy Kawasaki Team. He was all set to return to Canada to defend his number-one plate there when he got the call from Kawasaki asking if he would step in for the 2013 champ, Villopoto, who decided to forego the championship to have his injured knee repaired.
“I’m happy to be back in the U.S.; I’m excited about it,” he said. “I’ll be back on the circuit for the first time since ’09, I’m more excited about that than anything. It’s been a short notice, and I have to get used to a completely different bike, and it’s still a learning process. It’s a new team, but I’m coming in here with a plenty of riding under my belt. I feel I’m ready.”
Toyota/JGRMX/Yamaha’s Josh Grant is expected to do well at Glen Helen. After all, it’s his home track and he’s has done more laps at Glen Helen than probably anyone else through out his career.
“I’m definitely familiar with this track,” he said. “It’s great to be back here, always good to be at your home track. I expect to be up there, my name deserves to be in that hat. I’ve been working my butt off.”
Grant’s Supercross season didn’t go well and said that when things went sour, he started thinking about the Nationals.
“At that point, I wanted to stay healthy and get ready for the outdoors,” he said.
Jason Anderson looks like he wants an outdoor title as well.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen has to be considered a title hopeful, as well. He’s a former MX2 World Champion and made his name racing outdoors, despite becoming a star Supercross racer. He race outdoors on a 450 only once in his career.
When asked which one he’s more comfortable, outdoors or indoors, he said, “Might be outdoors, mainly because I’ve been riding it a few more years. I think I can control more what’s happening. I think its motocross where I feel a little more comfortable.”
Justin Bogle airs it out at Glen Helen.
After the conference, the riders were able to take to the track for two 20-minute sessions and a lot of riders looked quite fast on the track, which features many elevation changes, jumps and a variety of obstacles. Many riders stood out on the track, including Trey Canard, Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey, who took full advantage of the two 20-minute sessions. Stewart looked fast as well but chose to wait until Saturday to put in maximum laps, as did Valli Motorsports Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel. Zach Osborne, Jason Anderson, Dean Wilson and Jeremy Martin also looked particularly good on the Glen Helen track.