Practice for round seven of the AMA National Motocross Series at Thunder Valley Raceway in Lakewood, Colorado, has concluded and went rather smoothly.
The course itself, which is situated on a tall slope next to Highway 470 west of Denver, is rough and hilly, and considering the fact that it is located at an altitude of 5800 feet in the Rocky Mountains, posed some headaches for the mechanics. Most of the teams spent the day changing gearing and carburetor settings to compensate for the higher elevation. Colorado has not hosted a National since 1987, so the riders were busier than usual, as well, adjusting to the layout.
Saturday’s two practice sessions were dramatically different. The first was held under near 100 degree temperatures, and since the Denver area has been experiencing a heat wave, most of the spectators in attendance for Saturday’s practice were prepared for the worst. Just before the second session began, however, a front moved in to the area bringing strong winds that blew down banners around the track and dropped the temperature by nearly 20 degrees.
The temperature was not the only difference between the two sessions. In the first session, Team Makita Suzuki’s Ricky Carmichael took his normal position at the top of the time charts, posting a lap time that was a full second-and-a-half quicker than Team Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda’s Kevin Windham over the 1.3-mile course. Third fastest was Team Yamaha’s Chad Reed, with Team Honda's Ernesto Fonseca and Team Yamaha’s David Vuillemin rounding out the top five.
During the second session, however, Reed knocked four-and-a-half seconds off his first-session time and claimed the honor of fastest rider for the day. Carmichael was next quickest, nearly a second faster than his previous best, but still .7 second slower than Reed.
Unbound Energy/MDK Motorsports’ Nick Wey was the surprise of the second session, posting the third-fastest time, while Team Honda's Andrew Short and Team Monster/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Grant Langston were fourth and fifth.
As previously reported in an earlier post, Team Kawasaki’s James Stewart is not here. After last week’s crash where he hit his head at Unadilla, Stewart’s doctors advised him not to race this weekend, so Stewart stayed home in Florida.
As far as the “new” facility, most of the riders seem to like the course, described by many as being quite rough. Carmichael said that he’s happy with the track as well, but, like many, is still trying to find the perfect jetting/gearing combination for the new track.
Following practice the AMA officially announced the U.S. team for September’s MX des Nations. The three-rider squad will be made up of Ricky Carmichael, Kevin Windham and Mike Brown.
“I can’t guarantee a win, but I think we have the best chance to win it,” Carmichael said.
Roger DeCoster will again be the team manager.