For the third time this year, the top Supercross riders on the planet took to a new track at Edison International Field in Anaheim, California, to practice on a Friday, and for the third time this year, Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael head into the venue tied in points. We ducked out of the office early to check out the practice session, and if the absolutely mid-80s temperatures and clear skies we experienced hold out this weekend, Anaheim III should enjoy the best of California weather (not to mention the best of scanty pit-tootsie fashion!). This is a stark contrast to yesterday’s howling winds in San Bernardino, where we were testing yesterday.
The track appears to be quite unique, with a strangely positioned start straight (it runs diagonally through the middle of the field), a sky-shot double (not that long, but it sends riders so high that it appears they’ll land in the stands), a punishing rhythm section and a long finish-line double with almost no approach. The whoops will be cut in before tomorrow’s riding.
Several riders looked strong, including Team Yamaha’s Tim Ferry, who rode in practice despite a sprained neck, and who says he will try to race tomorrow. We were also happy to see Ferry’s teammate David Vuillemin showing off and playing around over the jumps (see, Cobra, we DO write about you on our website). The Frenchman looked like his old, confident self in today’s practice session, though he says his fractured ribs are still sore. Here’s hoping he’ll ride well tomorrow as well, so we can get another rider up there battling with Mazda Yamaha’s Jeremy McGrath and Chevy Trucks Kawasaki’s Ricky Carmichael.
Speaking of which, this weekend promises a real showdown between MC & RC. After coming so close at the last Anaheim stop, Carmichael has got to be thinking he can take McGrath on his home turf, while McGrath is sure to be more focused and motivated than ever after last week’s defeat in Phoenix. Cross your fingers…
One cool thing we got to check out today was EA Sports cyber-scanning some of the top riders’ heads in the pits. The video-game producer (which, as you know, is the title sponsor of the Supercross Series) invited us into a fairly nondescript motorhome, which, it turns out, actually houses some very high-tech equipment. Techicians use that equipment to get an extremely accurate map of the riders’ heads, to insure that the rider renderings in an upcoming version of the EA Sports game are as life-like as possible. We got to watch as Greg Albertyn did three flawless takes (one serious, one half-smiling, one grinning), not blinking or flinching once as a lazer-wielding techno-box made 360-degree passes around his noggin. Check out next week’s print edition of Cycle News for more information on the equipment.