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AMA Supermoto: Jeff Ward Wins in Fontana after Coaxed out of Retirement

Jeff Ward Wins in Fontana
Jeff Ward Wins in Fontana

The opening round of the 2009 season marked a new era for supermoto with XTRM Sports Network promoting AMA Pro Supermoto. This year’s pro series will make six stops on the calendar at venues all over the Western states, including a round at the Summer X Games and a grand finale in the majestic mountain community of Mammoth Mountain, Calif.

In addition to the XTRM AMA Pro Series, there will also be five rounds of the XTRM AMA Amateur Supermoto National Championship the day before the big boys hit the track. The amateur series will make three more stand-alone stops on their calendar before heading to Mammoth for the final event of the year.

The start of the season saw the return of 2006 450/Premier champion Jeff Ward to Team Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Honda/Seaspan/PPG and the 2007 450 number-one plate rider Mark Burkhart made the switch from Graves Factory Yamaha to Monster Energy/HMC/Burkhart Racing/KTM. Two-time 250/Lites champion Brandon Currie made the jump to the 450 class aboard a BC Racing Monster Energy/Graves Yamaha YZ450F.

The opening round took place at Auto Club Speedway during the AMA Superbike weekend in Fontana, Calif. A special track was built for the supermoto race inside the stadium. After dodgy weather kept the track wet during the morning practice sessions and qualifying, the sun broke through and dried the track out just in time for the main events.

450/Premier Main
It was no surprise to see Burkhart on the pole for the main event but when the light turned green, Jeff Ward, a seasoned veteran and motorcycle legend, took the early lead. Burkhart was right there from the get-go while CHM Exhaust/Honda/Pro Oils rider Sylvain Bidart held down the third position. It didn’t take long for Burkhart to make the pass on Ward and the idea was to check out. Ward held steadfast and wasn’t about to allow Burkhart to spoil his full-time return to the series and was hot on Burkhart’s tail.

Last year’s 450 series champion, Troy Herfoss, landed a Factory Suzuki ride to road race in Australia this season. He will be missed and he was bummed he couldn’t run his well-deserved number-one plate but the opportunity to go road racing aboard a Factory bike was too good to pass up.

Meanwhile, Currie was mounting his attack and made a bold move on Bidart in the dirt through the whoops and made a block pass to take the position and advance into third place. Up front, Burkhart may have been a tad overzealous and that got the best of the former champ and he ended up tucking the front wheel and going down. This mistake opened the door for Wardy to take over where he had started the race but the battle was far from done. Currie was all over Ward’s tire like a three-year-old on his mother’s skirt.

At one point, it looked like Currie had the upper hand and it was only a matter of time before he made his move. But while Currie looked ahead, he had to keep an eye on Bidart who had reeled the leaders back in and was mounting his own charge.
Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water, Currie got chopped down at the knees. Hot on Ward’s tail, the young Currie clipped his foot peg on a inner corner marker one turn before the dirt and down he went. He sprung back up in a flash only to go down several more times while trying to make up for lost ground.

The charge to the front was all Burkhart. Recapturing his composure after sliding out, Burkhart piloted his Monster Energy/HMC/KTM through the field and ended up passing his way all the way back to third place at the finish. Ward crossed the line with his first AMA victory in well over a year while the European rider Bidart put himself on the podium in second place and his CHM teammate, Micky Dymond, finished fourth.

With Currie exiting the class, the championship is up for grabs this season. As expected, Matt Burton would be a likely contender after running right with Currie several times in 2008. The class also welcomed the newest member of the TLD/Red Bull/Honda squad, Joey Pascarella. When the Red Bull Rookies Cup was cancelled for 2009 in America, the young phenom was seeking a ride and he found a home at TLD. The boy is fast and he proved that riding the final round of the season in ’08 aboard a 450. Despite several crashes, including one during the main event, Pascarella showed he has what it takes to possibly take the title.

The start of the race saw Mach 1 Motorsports-backed Danny Casey yank the holeshot and take the early lead. Burton was hot on his tail and in no time applied the pressure. The two riders locked bikes exiting the dirt and Casey received the short end of the stick. Casey would recover and end up finishing third.

With Burton out front, the race was on as Pascarella was on the gas and starting to close in slightly. Pascarella pushed just a little too hard and slid out in a low-speed corner. He was able to remount in a flash and retain his position. In the end, Burton claimed his first career Supermoto National win while the rookie Pascarella flew the TLD colors with pride with a solid runner-up position.

In a Cinderella story that fell in Steve Drew’s direction in ’08, he is the only rider back to defend his title from last season. With support from Mach 1 Motorsports and the Rockstar Hart & Huntington team, Drew earned the right to fly the big single digit.

Drew leapt out into the early lead in the main but it was Josh Chisum hot on his tail early. Chiz went down and gave up his prime position to KTM’s Kurt Nicoll. Nicoll pushed and pushed to close the gap on Drew and make a go for the lead. Drew over pushed his limits in the whoops a bit too much and blew through the berm giving up the spot. By the time Drew got back on the track, Nicoll had yarded him. He made a valiant effort to close the gap back up and at one point did make up some real estate but it was too little, too late and the champ had to settle for second.

Monte Frank showed up to the event with one of the unique 2009 Husaberg 570 enduro bikes. With supermoto forks, wheels and a slip-on exhaust, Frank made the ‘Berg look like it was born as a supermoto machine. Frank put in a career-best finish in the class with his first podium.

The next XTRM AMA Pro Supermoto Championship event is set for May 16-17 in Sonoma, Calif., at Infineon Raceway. This is a combined event and will feature round two of the Amateur National Championship as well as the Pro National. For more information about either series visit xtrm.com/supermoto.

1 Jeff Ward HON
2 Sylvain Bidart HON
3 Mark Burkhart KTM
4 Micky Dymond HON
5 Brandon Currie YAM
6 Derek Costella HON
7 Kiyoshi Saai HON
8 Martin Lind HIG
9 Jason Conlon HON
10 Travis Marks HON

1 Matt Burton KTM
2 Joey Pascarella HON
3 Dan Casey HON
4 Jacob Lehmann HON
5 Dustin Hoffman HON
6 Steve Marty KTM
7 Dillon Van Way KTM
8 Sean Butterman YAM
9 Mike Ingle KTM
10 Brandon Ward HON

1 Kurt Nicoll KTM
2 Steve Drew KTM
3 Monte Frank BERG
4 Justin Ross KTM
5 Josh Chisum KTM
6 Craig Peyron KTM
7 Doni Wanat KTM
8 Matt Stewart HUS
9 Dustin Sullivan KTM
10 Chris Kemp KTM
10 Chris Kemp KTM

AMA Superbike: Mladin and Hayden Sweep Fontana Again for Race 2


Mat Mladin
Mat Mladin

Following their victory in Saturday’s AMA Superbike Championship race at Fontana in California, Rockstar Makita Suzuki team mates Mat Mladin and Tommy Hayden dominated Sunday’s race with another one-two victory.


A Red Flag stopped the race early on and in the restart Hayden was able to take the holeshot ahead of Mladin. They exchanged the lead once more during the race before Mladin capitalised on a nearly-flawless race to the chequered flag. Hayden was not able to keep pace with Mladin in the final laps but he succeeded in holding off the rest of the field and earning another second-place finish for the Suzuki Superbike Challenge weekend.

Newly signed Blake Young had a rough day, jumping the start and then working his way up from last place. The young rider made the best of a bad situation, however, and brought home a top-10 finish.

Mat Mladin:

“I had a good race today. We learned a little bit from Tommy Hayden yesterday and we changed a couple things today. We made some improvements and it allowed me to stay close to him and make the move when I needed to. We ran a little bit hotter pace today and it was a very good race overall for Rockstar Makita Suzuki. It’s great to have Suzuki up here on top again with first and second-placed finishes. The Rockstar Makita Suzuki crew can take most of the credit for that. I show up for the weekend and have a great motorbike to race in the Suzuki GSX-R1000. ”

Tommy Hayden:

“It was shaping up to be a pretty good race battling with Mat. I got on the front straightaway and missed a couple gears. Overall, the Suzuki GSX-R1000 was very good. I had some issues with grip today so it was a little harder for me to run with Mat. He had his head down today. It was a good weekend with two second-placed finishes. I’ve got a little momentum going into Road Atlanta and we’ll try to keep up what we’ve been doing. ”

Blake Young:

“My race started out good. I got a good start and then we had the red flag and had to re-grid. I just jumped the start so I had to come into the pits and do a ride-through and that’s basically where my race ended. But I did my best and worked my way through to ninth place. I think as far as looking at the positives from today, we learned a lot from race one on Saturday and applied it to race two on Sunday. And because of that, I think we have a better bike going into Road Atlanta because of it.”

1. Mat Mladin (Rockstar Makita Suzuki)
2. Tommy Hayden (Rockstar Makita Suzuki)
3. Larry Pegram (Ducati)
4. Geoff May (National Guard Jordan Suzuki)
5. Ben Bostrom (Yamaha)
6. Josh Hayes (Yamaha)
7. Taylor Knapp (Suzuki)
8. David Anthony (Suzuki)
9. Blake Young (Rockstar Makita Suzuki)
10. Aaron Yates (Jordan Suzuki)

Championship points (after 3 races): 1 Mladin 94, 2 Hayden 72, 3 May 50, 4 Young 46, 5 Bostrom 45, 6 Hayes 43, 7 Pegram 39, 8 Yates 31, 9 Gobert 30, 10 Knapp 26.

AMA Daytona Sportbike: Eslick and Buell Win Double Header in Fontana

Danny Eslick Double Header Victory in Fontana
Danny Eslick Double Header Victory in Fontana

Danny Eslick rode his Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing/RMR Buell to a doubleheader victory at the Auto Club Speedway Fontana, California.  Rain covered the track in the morning but, by race time the track was dry and ready for racing.  Jamie Hacking and Eslick battled tough for the entire race with Eslick finally taking the checkered flag with .099 of a second gap to Hacking.

Buell’s second race win in premiere class racing shows that Buell is no fluke and is going to remain a strong competitor for the remainder of the season.  As the American manufacture is extremly happy with the performance this weekend.

“We are so honored to have this great Bruce Rossmeyer/RMR/GEICO team and a rider like Danny Eslick,” said Erik Buell, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of Buell Motorcycle Company. “Danny is exploring all the differences of the Buell, like ZTL brakes and fuel in the frame, and he likes what he’s finding. AMA Pro Racing’s new Daytona SportBike class is great competition, with six brands finishing in the top ten. It’s going to be an incredible season to watch motorcycle racing in America, and best of all to watch an American sportbike finally battling for wins.”

Daytona SportBike
1. Danny Eslick (Buell)
2. Jamie Hacking (Kawasaki)
3. Jason DiSalvo (Suzuki)
4. Martin Cardenas (Suzuki)
5. Josh Herrin (Yamaha)
6. Jake Zemke (Honda)
7. Chaz Davies (Aprilia)
8. Tommy Aquino (Yamaha)
9. Steve Rapp (Yamaha)
10. Chris Peris (Honda)

AMA Daytona Sportbike: Buell Wins First Major Victory in Road Racing in Fontana

Danny Eslick and Buell win first victory
Danny Eslick and Buell win first victory

Danny Eslick turned in a dominating performance in the AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL race on the No. 9 Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Racing/RMR Buell 1125R and gave the American-made manufacturer its first major victory in international motorcycle racing competition.

Eslick qualified second behind polesitter Jamie Hacking (No. 88 Monster Energy Attack Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R) but quickly took control of the race at the start and never looked back. He led all 21 laps and his winning margin of victory of 2.510 seconds was one of the smallest gaps of the race, but only because Eslick road a wheelie across the start/finish line.

“I was all by myself,” Eslick said. “I kept waiting for Jamie and these guys to come up and move me out of the way but fortunately the Bruce Rossmeyer’s/RMR Racing Buell 1125R just kept us up there. To celebrate I just did a big wheelie all the way down the front straightaway. It was awesome, the Dunlop tires were working great the whole race. It was just unbelievable.”

Eslick joined the Rossmeyer/RMR team just weeks before the start of the season.

“Three weeks before Daytona I got a phone call asking if I wanted to ride it and I said ‘Hell yeah, I want to ride it,'” Eslick said. “From here on out it’s been good and it’s the first win for Buell and Bruce Rossmeyer’s/RMR Buell team and everybody involved. All we can do is go forward from here.”

Hacking fell as low as sixth but battled with eventual third-place finisher Martin Cardenas (No. 36 Team M4 Suzuki GSX-R600) and several other top riders to finish second.

“I had a blast, it was unbelievable,” Hacking said. “My race was pretty much uneventful, just battling back there with everybody and trying to finish as high as possible as we could. Toward the end, the guys ahead of me got in there and bumped each other around and I just snuck up the inside, managed to put in some good laps and finished second.”

Cardenas was in second with three laps to go and held on to the final podium spot despite getting passed by Hacking.

“It was a good race, very tough,” said Cardenas.  “I started in 10th and began working my way up and it was tough passing all those guys, then they would pass me back again. I thought that I could finish second but two laps from the end Hacking passed me again and I couldn’t do anything from then on. I tried my hardest, but it wasn’t possible today so we’ll see tomorrow.”

The historic win for Eslick and Buell was part of a strong run of parity in Saturday’s Daytona SportBike race. The three different motorcycles in the top three were part of an overall run of six different bikes in the top eight finishers. The top trio of Buell, Kawasaki and Suzuki were joined by the Honda CBR600RR, Yamaha YZF-R1 and Aprilia RSV1000R.

Auto Club Speedway race two for AMA Pro Daytona SportBike presented by AMSOIL is Sunday at 2:30 p.m. local time.

Neil Hodgson Hospitalized After Motorcross Training Accident

Neil Hodgson
Neil Hodgson

Neil Hodgson has sustained a collapsed lung, dislocated shoulder and injured ribs in a motorcross training accident.

The 35 year old Brit hit a fallen riders bike, crashing heavily and was taken to the Loma Linda Hospital in California with breathing difficulties where he remains under observation.

The former BSB and WSB champion is expected to make a full recovery, but will miss the next round of the AMA Superbike Championship at Fontana this weekend.

The Corona Extra Honda rider claimed an impressive second position at the opening round of the championship at Daytona.

American Jake Holden will replace Hodgson, with the Brit expected to be fit in time for round three of the Championship at Barber on 1st to 3rd May.