Rick Johnson is a seven time AMA Motocross / Supercross Champion. 1984, ’86, ’88 AMA 250 National MX Champion. 1987, ’88 500cc National Motocross Champion. 1986, ’88 AMA Supercross Series Champion.
The first race of the 2012 season has come and gone. I’ll share with you my opinion on the top guys in the 450 class, the 250 West winner, and what I’d work on if I was racing in Phoenix Round 2.
Ryan Villopoto – I feel Ryan came ready to race. He picked up right where he left off last year. He looks better than I anticipated, as I thought he might come in a bit over confident. If you judge it by this first race, he’s in a class by himself.
Chad Reed – I love Chad Reed. I think he looked a little sluggish, lethargic and heavy on the bike. But my bet is he’s smart – as we all know, you can’t win the championship at the first race, but you can ‘lose’ it. Chad knows it’s a long season, and he’ll race himself into 100% shape. He’ll get better as the year goes.
Ryan Dungey – Ryan really surprised me with how smooth and consistent he was o his KTM. I didn’t see him make many mistakes. The one thing I think he’s doing is holding back a bit. Again, you can’t win the championship at the first race, but you can damage your chances for the season if you make a big mistake. To my understanding, he had the fastest lap of the entire main event. I think now that’s he’s got that first race under his belt, you’ll see a little more aggressiveness at the next race in Phoenix.
Justin Brayton – even though Justin got fourth, I thought he under performed. I think he’s going to do better as the year goes. He had a tough heat race earlier in the night, but I expect him to improve on this result.
Jake Weimer – Jake was almost invisible all night : ) He ran around mid pack, wasn’t real flashy, but stayed consistent and pushed hard all night long. Once he gets some confidence in the Supercross class, he should do better. He looked like just part of the scenery in the race, but the scoreboard doesn’t lie – fifth place.
James Stewart – I don’t fully understand the entire situation with James. I believe he has said previously that he was uncomfortable on Yamaha last year, and wanted to make a change. It seems to me that he’s having the same problems, just with a different team. He’s fast. He’s aggressive. Maybe he’s toned down the aggressiveness a bit, but he still made a small mistake in the main event and went down.
Andrew Short – Andrew is coming back from two broken elbows. I was happy to see him running strong, especially in his heat race. It surprised me how well he did first race on a new bike, and I think maybe he even surprised himself by running up front and running good lap times. When you have been away from racing as long as he has with the elbow injury, and in case you didn’t know – he cannot straighten his arms out 100% now, so he’s having to learn a new riding style for his own body. It’s very easy then to get pumped up, not breathe correctly, etc, and I think that’s what happened at the end of the main.
Cole Seely – 250 class – Cole Seely did a great job. He rode away from everyone. It was not a ‘gimme’. I want to congratulate him the entire Lucas Oil Troy Lee team – it looks like they’ve done a lot of work in the off-season, especially with motors and suspension, and it showed Saturday night in Anaheim. I think Cole has worked hard on his fitness, because he didn’t fade at all. Like I said – he literally rode away from everyone in the class.
As a former Supercross champion, and heading into the second round in Phoenix this coming Saturday night, here is what I would do:
I would do a real honest gut check. Where was I good? Where was I bad? Is my cardio where it should be? Did I run out of energy during a race? Did I overtrain? How effective was I on my bike set up?
A lot of times when you are practicing and testing before the start of a supercross season, you never test as hard as you would race. So once you get into race mode, you really want to get those things fine tuned … even your bike settings change from practice and testing mode to race mode.
If I was racing at Phoenix, I would address the problems I had the week before. And figure out how to beat Ryan Villopoto.
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