Another installment where some riders might get a tad upset at me. Thanks to CStone for the shots.
Another installment where some riders might get a tad upset at me. Thanks to CStone for the shots.
|In 20th spot with 87 points is last year’s runner-up, Tim Ferry. Not a very good season for Red Dog as he broke his heel at Daytona and never really recovered. But he wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire before that as he struggled with the bike and going fast. One thing I know about Timmy is that he has to be completely (and I mean completely) comfortable with his bike before he hangs it out. I don’t know if he’s done or not but I think if he can’t get a really good ride, he’ll hang it up. Remember, lots of people have written this guy off before only to have him prove everyone wrong (including me) so I’m not going to go there yet. It’s not like he’s forgotten how to ride but at 34 years old, it just gets harder from here. He only scored points in 8 out of 24 motos so I suppose 20th isn’t that bad.
|19th spot with 88 points is Jeff Alessi. Jeff is a talented rider and a few years ago, I really thought he was better at sx than his brother but since then, he’s gone downhill. Last year he finished 8th in the points, which is awesome, but he raced every race and was way off that pace in ’09. Jeff, as told to me by his brother in a podcast, needs to work harder at racing and not just be happy to be there. The biggest flaw he has is fitness as he’s started out front more than a few times in ’09 but couldn’t keep the pace.
|94 points got Antonio Balbi 18th in the points. The Brazilian Bomber is a consistent top twenty guy and is the highest scoring dude with the least amount of support. Antonio is a REAL privateer and he got better as the year went on. He fights for his spot no matter who is behind him and seems to be a little calmer than years past when he was like a grenade with the pin pulled out on the track.
|17th with 102 points is Tyler Bowers. Tyler had a really rough first half but then figured some things out and scored well in the second half. He hasn’t reached the level that many of his amateur supporters thought he would but he’s been solid. His best race was Redbud where he went 8-9 for 8th overall. Weird how a guy can go SO good on one weekend and then never get a sniff of those results ever again.
|Amazingly 16th in the points was Kyle Regal. His total of 107 points was scored in only 7 motos and those results were 6-10-5-4-4-4-10. This is a shot of him at Mt Morris when he was racing 250’s and I first wrote about him. He then jumped to 2008 Honda’s at Redbud and ran 10th until running out of gas on the last lap. Another good race and he had himself a Valli Yamaha ride. Kyle is in shape and can ride the pace for the entire moto. A real surprise of the outdoors-I know some managers wonder about his supercross skills. I guess we’ll see.
|15th with 127 points was Australian Jake Moss. Moss, who I think has a bright future in the sport, was a fill-in on factory Kawi and did quite well. A guy that isn’t afraid to twist the throttle came into the three race spot on the green team at less than 100% and showed great speed in getting a couple of seconds. His earlier races on TLD were nothing to sneeze at either. He’ll be back at TLD next year or get the second spot at Kawasaki. Watch out if he races the 250 west series, he’ll be a factor.
|14th in the series and earning 136 points was another Kawi fill-in, Ricky Dietrich. The off-roader was a real surprise right from the start when he scored 5th OA at Texas. I was simply amazed that he could go so well. He didn’t have blistering speed but he, like Regal, could go the same speed all moto. he must of passed 2 million guys in the last five laps of the motos. A broken foot cost him his spot on the team as he had to focus on the WORCS and EX series but I loved the cross-over factor with RD. I don’t know what he’ll do next year, in an interview with me he stated that he’d love to do the whole sx/mx thing but with the rides drying up, I’m not sure he’ll get a chance.
|13th in the series with 142 points in only six motos was Mike Alessi. He certainly was looking pretty good for the title once Villopoto went out and was on a roll when he broke his kneecap. An ill-advised return at Colorado didn’t help things when he re-broke it in a crash. Mike will remain a favorite for a motocross title each and every year he lines up but I have to think this was probably his best shot. The family has made a choice to return to KTM for ’10 and needs to just stay healthy in supercross. I think he needs to listen to the Lusk podcast but what do I know?
|12th with 154 points is Matt Georke. Matt’s always been fast but either crashes or bike problems have held him back in the past. Georke was doing well on the Suzuki City team (when upright and not hurt) but his whole year got a hell of a lot better when promoted to the factory Yamaha team. The fastest qualifier at Unadilla was just a start for the 34. A Southwick win was the highlight for Matt and look for him on the Motoconcepts team on a Yamaha next year.
|11th with 175 points was Honda’s Davi Millsaps. A gnarly crash at Hangtown knocked him out of nine motos and when he came back, he should’ve went 3-3 at Millville if it wasn’t for a freak bike problem. Constantly sniffing around the podium was about where he should have been every moto with his talent but whispers in the pits say he wasn’t 100% healthy and he simply doesn’t like the 2009 CRF450. But then, to counter-act all that talk, he goes out and wins a moto at Budds Creek and podiums a moto at Unadilla. There were times that he really rode like poop and then there are times that he’s a world beater. I know this- other riders always talk about how much talent he has and at the same time, no one knows why he can’t be consistent. I really feel like he’s burnt out and is going through the motions and, judging by his Racer X interview earlier, I think I’m right.
|185 points got "Top" Jimmy Albertson tenth in the series. It’s weird, this year was much more inconsistent than last season. Jimmy’s total would’ve only placed him 12th last year and last year’s surprise rider (when not hurt) did pretty well this year. Jimmy was solid and got better as the year went on once he got used to his new bike and team. A few DNF’s while running high hurt him and he could’ve finished 8th as easily as tenth. He’ll be back on a Valli Yamaha next year running 250 sx and 450 mx. Oh yeah, this is actually my shot so suck it all you professional photographers.
|191 points got Cody Cooper 9th in the series. Cooper got on a better team and better bike than last year (when he was the guy who challenged Stewart the best all year) and did worse. It often happens in our sport. A guy gets the ride of his dreams and can’t seem to put it together like when he had no pressure and was just happy to be there. His supercross season was an absolute disaster and I have no doubt that hurt him going into the outdoors. He won’t be back in America next year as I heard he got a ride in Australia. His best moto was the third one of the season when he finished fourth at Hangtown.
|8th in the 450 series with 200 points was Nick Wey. Wey’s a buddy of mine and I worked for him one year (’02). I know this about the dude- he always tries his hardest, he’s professional and works at his craft to try and get better but he changes too many things on his bike. Sometimes he needs to just quit worrying and ride the damm thing. I’ve told him this but he tells me to shut up. Wey searched high and low for a bike set-up that worked for him all year until he just started leasing motors from JGR. That seemed to work and Wey went to work trying to get faster. A knee injury suffered in the first moto of the year held him back for a while and he’s struggled to get back to his 2005/2006 level. Everyone says that riding for that team can’t be easy either but I think he was probably able to block most things out as, like I said, he’s a pro. He still has that great looking riding style.
|7th place with 249 points was KTM’s Justin Brayton. Winning his first ever moto at Steel City was a nice capper to a season that, to be honest, I thought would be better. Starting slow and coming on strong was his M.O. in 2009 and Justin’s got a real chance to be the next Tim Ferry/Andrew Short kind of guy. A real solid rider that works hard on and off the track and is a benefit to any team. I don’t know that he has the raw speed that he needs to win titles but we’ll see.
|6th place with 280 points, this guy has the raw speed you need. No doubt about that. Josh Grant was the revelation of the 2009 450 class and won Redbud with an awesome display of riding. Don’t forget, he was in second place in the series points when he weeded at the X-Games. Josh has smoothed out a bit but probably still hits the ground too much to be there week in and week out. He’s got serious skill and has figured things out. He should share his secrets with another talented kid named Davi Millsaps.
|5th place with 302 points was another massive surprise, Tommy Hahn. The Texan got stronger once the series left California just as he told me he would at the first round. Hahn struggled with consistency and when he finally figured that out, he won! You would think that he’s a natural pick to slide into the spot on the factory team but from what I hear, they are looking at other guys. When he had a factory Honda ride years back, he struggled a bit. Maybe that’s what the green team is thinking, some guys do better with no pressure and on a smaller team, ala Cooper. I feel like I was one of the first to start talking about this guy when, in supercross, he had some great rides but maybe didn’t end up with a great result. Ouch, I just threw my shoulder out patting myself on the back.
|348 points got Michael Byrne 4th in the series. Just like last year, he was coming off an injury and started slow at Glen Helen. Byrner tied for the overall at Southwick and there was certainly many people hoping that he would’ve won just because he’s a good dude. Not that Georke isn’t but you know what I mean. The strange thing is I think Byrner’s a better supercross rider but he’s basically missed the last two years. Where is he going next year? I don’t know but I would think that he’d be a good fit for the second Suzuki spot with Dungey and Canard on the 250. Byrne was also the only guy to score points in every single moto.
|3rd place with 376 points was Ivan Tedesco. IT9 was strong this season and his Lakewood ride was epic for sure. The friendly New Mexican scored zero points at the first round and he was playing catch-up all season from that. He was one of three guys that was in second in the points and was a threat if Reed screwed up. Tedesco doesn’t have a ride next year and I’ve heard him connected with just about every team in the pits. Whomever gets him will get another guy that tries hard and acts right, on and off the track.
|Weird how 2nd place and 388 points for Andrew Short seems like a disappointment. I guess it was the lack of moto and race wins and the fading in the motos that made most insiders wonder what the hell was going on. The flip side is that he must be a hell of a rider to fade, be sick and STILL get 2nd in the points. Shorty had some sort of thyroid problem that sapped him of energy and he told me that since the third round, he wasn’t really able to practice during the week. Hence the fading. With all the first time winners, it’s a real shame that Short wasn’t one of them.
|The big winner this year was Chad Reed. He won the 450 series with a combination of speed, consistency and perseverance. Around Thunder Valley/Redbud he told me that he was just going to pull out because his stomach wouldn’t let him keep food down. I didn’t really believe him because he’s probably never been a quitter ever but that’s an idea of how frustrated he was. He started slow (which was to be expected) and to be honest I thought he’d be better, quicker. Then around Millville it all came together for and he was unstoppable from there on out. Southwick second moto and Steel City not withstanding. It’s simply amazing to me that he won a 450 motocross title as I never thought that he would ever race the series again. RV and Alessi may have been quicker but you have to be there at the end to win and as he has proven time and time again, he’ll always be there. Congratulations to Chad, Goose, Ellie, Joel, Victor and whomever else I forgot.