Team USA (left to right: Ryan Dungey, Eli Tomac, Justin Barcia and team manager Roger DeCoster) showed off its Motocross of Nations colors yesterday at Lake Elsinore. Photography by Kit Palmer
Despite getting off to a late start in prepping the track, the final round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship Series at Lake Elsinore is shaping up nicely.
Many of the racers, including the 2013 US Motocross of Nations Team, took part media yesterday at the facility, where they got a chance to take some laps around the track, which looks good and features some major changes over last year’s circuit. For one, the start area has been relocated from the northwest side of the track to the southwest side, and the overall length of the circuit has been shortened. Last year, lap times averaged over two minutes and 40 seconds. We expect tomorrow’s track to be closer to a more normal two-minute mark.
Heat, however, was again an issue yesterday. It was well over 100 degrees. If you remember, last year’s race was a scorcher and sapped the energy out of many of the riders, including Eli Tomac, who struggled in the heat while trying to beat Blake Baggett for the 250 title. It didn’t work for him, but he won’t have to worry about that this time having already clinched the 2013 250 title and is in obviously far better condition. Temperatures, however, will be a little bit cooler tomorrow, but it’ll still be hot with the thermometer expected to top out right at 99 degrees. Luckily there is little chance for rain.
With both the 2013 450 and 250 already clinched, there are a few significant questions left to be answered tomorrow. The race for third in the 250 championship has not yet been decided. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin currently holds down the spot and has a fairly comfortable 15-point lead over last year’s 250 winner, Baggett. Tomac and Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen have already secured first and second in the championship.
GEICO Honda’s Zach Osborne has a lock on fifth in the championship but his teammate, Justin Bogle, who is currently sixth, has only a four-point advantage over MyPlash/Metal Mulisha/Star Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin.
Troy Lee Designs/Honda’s Cole Seely would like to pull 11 points on MyPlash Yamaha’s Kyle Cunningham to break into the top 10.
The first three positions in the 450 Championship are sealed, with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto clinching the title last week, as did Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey in second and Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia in third. With fifth-place James Stewart announcing earlier this week that he won’t be racing Elsinore because of an injury, Muscle Milk Honda’s Trey Canard now has a lock on fourth in the title.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer is well behind Stewart in sixth but is only six points ahead of BTO Sports/KTM’s Andrew Short.
There is talk that this might be Tyla Rattray’s final race in the US before heading back to Europe full time. The former MX2 World Champion has been linked to KTM/Husqvarna next year. Husqvarna announced two months that the now KTM-owned company plans to get back into GP motocross in 2014.
Recently crowned Canadian National Motocross Champion Brett Metcalfe suited up on an ADR Motorsports Kawasaki. The Aussie hopes to land a full-time ride in the US next year, as does local favorite Weston Peick, who lives just a few miles from the Lake Elsinore track.
The privateer, Peick, had a strong top-five finish in the 450 class last week in Utah and hopes close out the Nationals with another solid performance.
The US Motocross of Nations Team, made up of Ryan Dungey, Justin Barcia and MXoN rookie Eli Tomac suited up in their team colors and played around on the track a bit on their bikes that were fitted with MXoN team graphics and numbers. The team, which finished third last year, will sport the numbers 7 (Dungey), 8 (Tomac) and 9 (Barcia).
Roger DeCoster, who will again act as the US team manager, said that he expects the team to do well in Germany next month. He feels that the German team that won last year won’t be quite as strong and will be under a lot of pressure to defend the MXoN title, especially in their home country. He does, however, expect Ken Roczen, who grew up close to the Teutschenthal track to be a strong performer. DeCoster predicted that the French and Belgian teams will be the toughest contenders for the Chamberlain Trophy but feels the US team has a very good chance of bringing the trophy back home again.