GEICO Honda motocross team expects things to heat up in Texas

With temperatures expected to soar to more than 90 degrees and humidity peaking this Saturday in north central Texas, the Freestone National should live up to its reputation as the most grueling stop of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship season.

“In every year I’ve been there it’s been 100 degrees or more,” said GEICO Honda pro Eli Tomac, who is racing in his third Freestone event. “It’s a tough one, so you’ve really got to be able to pace yourself there. You just have to be prepared for it to be that hot.”

Wil Hahn, who as a Texas native grew up riding in these conditions, said the way a rider prepares in the days before for a hot weather race is crucial to being able to hang in there for two 35-minute motos.

“You go into it knowing you are going to lose a lot of liquids during the day,” Hahn said. “We’re going to have an hour and 10 minutes of racing on the track plus all the practice sessions. It’s a long day, but as long as you go in hydrated and keep up your liquid intake, you can give it all you’ve got and recover the next day.”

Justin Barcia, who finished second overall at the season opener in Sacramento, has been getting used the sticky conditions by training at his home track in Florida.

“The best way to cope with heat and humidity is to train in it,” Barcia said. “I’ve been doing it that way for a while and it works for me. No matter what, it’s definitely a test of your fitness. If you don’t go there a 100 percent, the conditions are going to drag you down hard.”

A Colorado native, Tomac said conditions are so extreme at Freestone that there’s really no way to completely acclimate your body to them.

“When it gets that hot, there’s really no way to get used to it,” Tomac said. “I’d rather show up at the race completely fresh and use all your energy that day then to try and get used to the heat. I do all my moto work early in the week and really take it easy on Thursday and Friday so I don’t burn myself out before I get there.”

Tomac is fifth in the points after the first race. He had to recover from an early spill in the second moto of the outdoor season opener and pass a lot of bikes to salvage that finish.

“I fell in the first corner during the second moto, which jacked me up,” Tomac said. “I was able to get back to 10th and fifth overall. I really just lost a few points here and there. Considering where I was at the start of the second moto, I’ll take a finish like that every time.”

Hahn, who suffered a similar fate as Tomac in the second Hangtown moto and had a similar recovery, said keeping the bike on two wheels is always an important first step to success.

“I set myself up with a top-five gate pick in Hangtown, then I crash in the first turn and suddenly I’m 40th,” Hahn said. “I just need to stay in that Top 10 and not work from behind, and I’ll be ready to go.”

GEICO Honda’s rookie Justin Bogle is going to miss the next few races following minor knee surgery. Bogle was injured at the Toronto Supercross, but soldiered on through the rest of the SX season. He realized he wasn’t riding the same so he’s elected to go under the knife this week to repair his meniscus and be healthy for the rest of the motocross season.

Practice for the Freestone National gets under way at 8:30 a.m. CDT on Saturday with opening ceremonies slated for 12:40 p.m. FUEL TV will air the first moto live starting at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday with the NBC Sports network showing the second moto starting a 11 p.m.


2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone

2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone

Last weekend, the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships kicked off the 2012 series at Hangtown near Sacramento, CA and the racing delivered in a big way. James Stewart made his triumphant return to outdoor racing, winning both of the 450 Class motos in his debut ride aboard the factory Yoshimura/Suzuki RM-Z450. In the 250 Class, the action was virtually non-stop, as Blake Baggett, Ken Roczen, and Justin Barcia vied for every inch of racetrack, with Baggett taking the win in both motos for the overall.

 :: Results, points and more from the Wortham / Freestone Texas race will be here

 :: Results, points and more from last weekend’s race in Sacramento are here

 :: Revist the 2011 Freestone MX race!

 :: And the 2010 motocross event as well!

2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone - Photo 1 of 4

With Stewart back in his element for the first time in four years, predictions were up in the air as to how he would fair in the natural terrain. Judging from his past performances, along with photos and images that appeared with Stewart aboard the Suzuki in the weeks leading up to Hangtown, it was a safe bet that the number seven would be running at or near the front. A holeshot in the first moto that saw James lead the entire race for the win, followed by a second moto third place start and eventual win and overall cemented that notion that Stewart is more than ready to take on the Nationals.

I’ll admit that I was calling upon some history and looked at Stewart’s new teammate, Brett Metcalfe, to take the win. “Why?” you ask. Back in 1997, Jeremy McGrath made a similar last minute switch from Honda, due to strife with the company itself along with displeasure with their new aluminum-framed CR250, to Suzuki, which hadn’t even won a main event in a number of years. But McGrath was already the King of Supercross and was expected to go right on winning. Instead, his quasi-teammate, Greg Albertyn (McGrath was technically on the Chaparral Suzuki team, while Greg was on the factory Suzuki squad but Showtime arguably had better support than Suzuki’s own team riders) took the opening round win in Los Angeles, even though he was never considered an indoor specialist.

So why not call Metcalfe for the W? Stewart’s move mimics McGrath’s in a lot of ways: displeasure with a motorcycle; top rider of his era; move to Suzuki; two weeks to prepare for the first round; etc. But it didn’t happen. Metty got fifth overall, while Stewart ran off with the win. So much for history repeating itself.  

Back to the Hangtown, Ryan Dungey rode to a very solid second place finish, in his first outdoor ride aboard the new KTM 450SX-F. In the first moto, Dungey had to overcome a less than favorable start to work his way into third. For the second time around, Ryan tailed Stewart almost all the way to the end of the moto until getting caught up in some lapped traffic and eventually settled for second and second overall for the day.

2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone - Photo 2 of 4

While both Stewart and Dungey rode well and were consistently faster than the rest of the pack, we still have not seen the best out of either rider. Stewart’s multitude of crashes (and related minor injuries) and last minute deal with Suzuki mean that he is still getting into better shape along with figuring out how the yellow machine functions in race conditions. Add to that James’ long absence from outdoor competition and his unprecedented ability to push beyond even his own limits whilst remaining aboard the motorcycle and we have only seen an inkling of what Stewart will be capable of on the RM-Z.

Dungey is also returning from a broken collarbone that he suffered before Daytona and adjusting to a new machine. Yes, the break was several months ago, but a break is never a good thing, and at the top level of the sport, 98 percent mobility versus 100 mobility can be the difference between first and second place. In addition, Ryan also just had his first race on unfamiliar equipment. Not only is the latest orange 450 machine new to Dungey in an outdoor setting, so too is it new to the Red Bull/KTM. The Suzuki has been in development since 2008. This is year one for this version of the KTM 450SX-F. Every race will be a learning experience. Even though the Austrian manufacturer had a very successful Supercross season, outdoor motocross is a completely different ballgame.

In the 250 Class, Blake Baggett showed that he will be a very tough competitor this summer. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider came back from starting just within the top ten to take the lead, passing Ken Roczen on the last lap for the Moto 1 win. In the second moto, Baggett made things much easier on himself by starting near the front. Blake had to deal with Justin Barcia for the first half of the race before breaking away for another win and the overall.

2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone - Photo 3 of 4

Although Baggett broke away towards the end in both motos, the trio of he, Barcia, and Roczen seemed very evenly matched for much of the day. While defending 2011 250 Class National Champion, Dean Wilson, dropped out of first moto and potentially the rest of the year with shoulder issues, this year’s small-bore title could very well come down to the final moto at Lake Elsinore if Hangtown was any indication.

For now the series moves on to the heat and humidity of Texas for the Freestone National. Last year, Dungey had the win in the bag until his Suzuki either boiled gas or ran out of gas, handing the win over to Chad Reed. Hopefully Suzuki learned from last year’s incident and fuel will not be an issue for Stewart, who already has a win in the Lone Star State.    

Baggett is coming into a similar situation as he did last season, with a first round win. In 2011, he had the momentum for Texas, but crashes in both motos dropped him out of the points lead. Here’s betting that Baggett learned his lessons from last year. As with most of the tracks, this will be Roczen’s first visit to the Freestone facility, but the current FIM World Motocross MX2 Champion will be a threat at every race. With a seemingly revamped Justin Barcia (who is now training with legendary fitness nut and six-time AMA champ, Jeff Stanton), the top finishers could go in any order. Add 2005 250 Class National Champion, Ivan Tedesco to the mix (he scored a fourth overall at Hangtown, which was his first 250 Class race in since 2005), plus Eli Tomac and you have a championship that is anything but decided.

2012 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Series Preview: Freestone - Photo 4 of 4

 :: 2012 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Champion schedule

 :: 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series schedule




Langston-Witt Racing Joins Forces with Merge Racing Technologies

Langston-Witt Racing (LWR) has entered into an agreement with Merge Racing Technologies out of Marietta, OK for suspension tuning, bike and motor development.

“The foundation of our team is our equipment. Grant and I have been looking for a long-term bike and motor development solution since the day Grant was hired,” said LWR team owner Scott Witt. “The key to our success and our ability to develop a high quality program is with the bikes and the people we have tuning them. Jim Lewis of Merge Racing Technologies has extensive experience in motocross and a reputation that fits perfectly with our vision and strategy,” said Witt.


 

Merge Racing Technologies has a full service rider and bike development facility located on the Texas/Oklahoma Border near Dallas/Ft. Worth. The facility known as “Compound 77” is complete with national caliber test tracks, state of the art workshop, gym, RV hookups, and all of the tools needed for success.

 “Being part of a race team has always been in our business plan and we could not be happier to be working with a guy like Grant Langston,” said Lewis. “We have been working with Grant and the team’s riders the last few weeks developing the motors and preparing for the outdoor season. The environment at LWR is conducive to success and we at Merge look forward to helping the team progress throughout the Nationals” he said.

For more information, go to www.mergeracing.com 


GEICO Honda team adds Zach Osborne to its 2013 roster

GEICO Honda’s 2013 AMA Supercross and Motocross roster is starting to take shape with the addition of Zach Osborne to its Lites lineup.

Osborne, a Virginia native, made a splash in Supercross during the 2012 season when he finished on the podium twice racing while in the first four rounds of the Lites West series. He then left for Europe to race in the FIM MX World Championship.

“I get to join the team in October and start preparing for 2013,” Osborne said. “I’m super-excited about it. It’s an awesome opportunity for me to be a part of such a great team like GEICO Honda. I got a decent taste of Supercross this year, but it’s good to know I’m going home to race full time and make a real run at a championship.”

Osborne’s speed and maturity on the big stage of Supercross originally got the attention of team manager Mike La Rocco.

“This year he really stood out on a couple of those early West Coast rounds,” La Rocco said. “After that, we met with him and he’s a great kid. He’s got some good experience and the maturity is already there. We’re looking forward to getting this thing started.”

While racing in Europe this season, Osborne suffered a shoulder injury that did limit the number of rounds he raced. However, Osborne said his recovery is on schedule and he should be able to run wide open once he joins the team later this year.

“I think the extra testing time we’ll have is really going to help me a lot,” Osborne said. “My shoulder is nearly back to 100 percent. I go back to the doctor this week and hopefully get released to start riding again. I’ve been trying to stay as fit as I can. I’ve been doing a lot of long road bike trips. I’ve got a lot of cool things going on in my life right now, and it all stems from being able to ride my motorcycle. If all goes according to plan, I’ll get back on the bike, finish the last seven Grand Prix events in Europe and then start getting ready for 2013 with my new team.”

Osborne will join a stacked team that includes Supercross legend Kevin Windham, Lites West Supercross champion Eli Tomac, Justin Bogle, Wil Hahn and newly-signed rising star Zach Bell.

 

 


New Official Supercross.com Hat and T-shirt

New Official Supercross.com Hat and T-shirt

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