What’s better than one installment of Kickstart? How about two! Here’s another look at what we saw during the 2021 Fox Raceway Two Motocross, the next-to-last race of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.
A handful of riders filed entries at Fox Raceway, including SML friends Jeff Crutcher and Jae Min. Both riders signed up for the 250 Class and were sent out in the very first practice session of the morning when the track was wet, heavy, and hard to navigate. Crutcher will give it another go this weekend at Hangtown while Jae Min heads back to Korea, where he is the National champion.
Race of states. The 250 Class is always competitive, but one thing that we're starting to notice is that fast riders are coming from more places than just California. For example, Kaeden Amerine is from Kansas, Preston Kilroy is from Wyoming, Austin Forkner is from Missouri, Tyson Johnson is from California (there's always going to be one), and Christopher Prebula and Noah Willbrandt are from Michigan.
Joshua Varize is making the most of his two-race term with Husqvarna. A longtime KTM-supported rider, Varize put in a few practice laps to get a feel for the white bike at Perris Raceway, but given the limited time, Husqvarna decided it would be easier to bolt his Factory Connection-tuned forks and shocks on instead. Another top-10 finish at Hangtown seems possible (last week's 9-9 results were his first of the summer) and certainly would put Varize on the radar of many 250 teams for 2022.
What would you rather have: the Grave Digger-inspired custom-painted Moto 10 Spherical from Bell Helmets/apdesigns or the '98 360 gear by Fox Racing?
Jett Lawrence has a hell of a record at Fox Raceway. The venue has held three Nationals in the last 11 months, an unusual number due to the current times, of which the teenager has claimed five Motos, three overall wins, and led 47 laps.
Up-close with Hunter Lawrence's SM10 helmet, finished by Tagger Designs. The helmet and gear was something that Lawrence and close friend Jeremy Seewer came up with together, which was inspired by the mountains of Switzerland and handled by Alpinestars. Although Lawrence is a native Australian, a Swiss significant other/fluency in French/love for watches practically make him a Euro.
15-5. Austin Forkner went through lows (off-track excursion into a tree during Moto One) and highs (uneventful laps through Moto Two) at Fox Raceway. Forkner's progress has been noticeable over the last few weeks, and with 39-6-4-5-5-5-15-5 finishes in the back half of the season, he's ranked seventh in the championship with one race to go.
Good to see you back on the track, CC. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider is fully committed to the Florida program: he headed back to the panhandle state on Sunday morning to put in practice laps at the team facility and so his kids could be back in school.
Father & Son with Justin and Larry Rodbell.
Real recognize real. It was very cool to see the dynamic between Dylan Ferrandis and Ken Roczen this summer. The two were highly respectful of each other throughout the chase for the championship and never once got into an overly aggressive battle, heated post-race exchange, or even a social media spat, and Roczen was one of the first to congratulate Ferrandis on his success after the checkered flag.
Hunter Lawrence is coming back around after a couple of "rough weeks." The Team Honda HRC rider was still a little under the weather at Pala, ran consistently quick laps in Moto One, and then backed it down midway through Moto Two for 6-6 finishes and fifth overall. This was Lawrence's first full season of SX and MX in the US, and although he's managed to stay in one piece, it's taken a toll on him physically. Lawrence recently told us that he will take a considerable amount of time off after Hangtown to rest and sort out some lingering health/energy issues.
You have probably have heard all about Coty Schock's roller-coaster week by now. On Tuesday morning, Schock was ready to finish the season strong with FXR/Chaparral/Honda, head to the Motocross of Nations as part of Team Puerto Rico, and get ready for 2022. Unfortunately, all of that was out of the question by Friday afternoon when the team informed its staff that it would cease operations after Hangtown. Finding a new spot in the pits shouldn't be an issue for Schock, especially after 6-5 finishes put him sixth overall in the 450 Class.
Back home in the 951. Ryan Surratt's scores through the last four Motos are 14-13-13-14, and his results at Fox Raceway put him 13th overall. We've said it all summer, but shout out to Surry for what he did in the 450 Class while traveling the country in a van.
Congrats to Alex Campbell for his first-ever 450 Class championship and third title as a wrench. This summer has required Campbell's total dedication and included a move to Florida (he lives in the GOAT Farms famed cabin), work to renovate the property, practice bike duties, and extensive time away from his wife. The last few weeks were the most nerve-racking of all due to strange issues like a rock in the brake on the sighting lap, a master link malfunction of the chain, and a starting gate that didn't fall flush. Check back for an SML Show episode with Peanut in the next few weeks.
Dylan Ferrandis started his championship celebration as soon as the front wheel crossed the finish line. How good was the first-year 450 Class rider? Ferrandis won his first overall at the opening round, took control of the red plate at round four, and established himself as "the guy" at round six, a show of dominance that very few expected. Two big questions are surrounding Ferrandis going into 2022: will he pick a single-digit number, and can he carry this confidence into Supercross?
Ferrandis is also the first recipient of a Bell Moto 10 trophy. Done by Korsace, the lid featured bright red and metallic gold paint, had every round of the summer listed, and showed plenty of the carbon fiber base.
Four Motos to go.
Joshua Varize, up front and in the mix.
This shot, taken moments after riders clicked up a gear at the start of 450 Moto Two, shows the power difference between the factory and privateer equipment. The front wave includes Justin Bogle, Max Anstie, Christian Craig, Cooper Webb, Ken Roczen, Coty Schock, Eli Tomac, and Dylan Ferrandis. Re-watch the gate drop to see how this played out in real-time.
Hunter Lawrence and Justin Cooper's back and forth in 250 Moto One was fun to watch. The two stayed near each other for the whole race, traded moves, and crossed the finish line less than two seconds apart, a close margin after 16-laps, in fifth (Cooper) and sixth (Lawrence).
Shoutout to Rick Elzinga. Normally an EMX racer, the Dutch rider was 14th fastest in Timed Qualifying and ran as high as 13th in 250 Moto One.
Unfortunately, the high temperatures caused the fuel in Elzinga's bike to boil and spray out of the vent tube and all over him late in the race, which prompted a DNF. Elzinga will get a second chance this weekend at Hangtown.
See the roost? That's what people mean when they say "power to the ground." Max Vohland got on the gas and wheelied his Red Bull KTM down this small set of rollers during 250 Moto One on his way to a seventh-place finish
Tyson Johnson was one of the fast locals on the line at Fox Raceway, and 19th place finish in 250 Moto Two earned "Chicken Little" two championship points. Johnson had Seven MX include the badges of the US military and names of the 13 service members of the recent Afghanistan incident on his jersey.
Fox Raceway Two was Austin Black's debut National. A recent amateur graduate and pupil of Broc Tickle's coaching program, the Oregon racer scored 20-18 finishes for 19th overall in the 250 Class.
Another race where RJ Hampshire gave it his all. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider ran in the top-five for all of 250 Moto One and, despite throwing up in his helmet, still posted a third-place result. A wild crash at the start of 250 Moto Two put Hampshire on the ground (see swap's Kickstart for a shot of it) and twisted the bike up badly, but he remounted and raced back to 14th place. Hampshire is one of the riders who has a reason to put up a fight at Hangtown; he's ranked fourth in the championship, down 22-points of third-place Hunter Lawrence and 27-points ahead of sixth-place Jo Shimoda.
Here's a note that'll give you an idea of Levi Kitchen's recent efforts. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was scored in 31st place on the opening lap in 250 Moto One and finished the final lap in 12th place; he was 16th on the opening lap of 250 Moto Two and ended the race in seventh.
Here are the must-haves for an AMA official's pit bike. Hammer? Check. Wheels on the ground flag? Check. Remote control for the new wheels on the ground notification lights? Check.
Father & Son with Dennis and Dennis Stapleton. Congrats again to Stapo on straight-up qualifying for the 40-man field at Fox Raceway, a feat that he's accomplished in three different decades.
Kevin Moranz has fully embraced Patreon and for as little as five dollars, you too can sponsor a pro rider. The Kansas rider has come up with a number of creative efforts to get more money into his program, including a special-access social media page that shows what he experiences every race day and product giveaways to supporters (his most recent was an OGIO goggle bag).
Is it safe to say that this has been the best year of Christian Craig's career? The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider won two 250 SX Main Events and was in contention for the 250 East Coast title until big get-off resulted in a broken leg (he was ultimately ranked fourth in the championship). A speedy recovery got him back on the starting line for a summer in the 450 Class, 16 top-10 Moto finishes (he went 5-4 for 5th at Fox Raceway Two), and a sixth-place rank in the point standings.
Three shots of Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac’s long duel for a podium finish in 450 Moto One. Webb held the third place for most of the race and was pushed back to fourth when Tomac got by him. Anyone else already looking forward to these two in SX 2022?
Shade is a luxury at Fox Raceway, and with no time to hoof it back to the media tent in middle of the day, we took a few minutes in the tunnel near the first turn.
We weren’t the only hiding from the sun before the second gate drops.
Over the last few weeks we’ve learned that a lot of our friends at the races are switching jobs and moving on for a life away from MX, including longtime PC wrench Colter Ahrens. (congrats again, bud). Expect to hear about lots of staffing changes at race teams this offseason.
It was great to Kai Aiello and his mom-mechanic Jen back on the starting line at Fox Raceway. We’ve gotten to know the entire Aiello family over the last ten years, thanks to their participation in the TWMX/Swapmoto Race Series, and the unexpected passing of father-husband Rocky was a shock to the industry (Rocky was a longtime employee at Yamaha and KTM). Kai ran both both Motos in the 250 Class and went 26-21 for 24th overall.
The last few weeks should give Mitch Payton something to look forward to in 2022. Jo Shimoda and Austin Forkner have both made improvements in the results while figuring out the latest generation KX250, Cameron McAdoo has continued his recovery from a blown out knee, Seth Hammaker has put in practice laps around SoCal, and Jett Reynolds has taken time off with a broken collarbone to regroup before his first pro season.
Carson Mumford is another rider that will be aboard new equipment next year, as he’s expected to be part of BARX/Chaparral/ECSTAR/Suzuki’s four-rider lineup. If this comes through, it'll be the first time since 2015 that Mumford has raced something other than a red bike. A pair of 13th place results put him 14th overall in the 250 Class.
Lap after lap of riders landing on the throttle wore down the backside of this jump and allowed rocks to rise to the surface (remember the hillside section of Fox Raceway is literally part of a mountain). How big were the boulders?
For comparison, here’s a shot of RJ Hampshire’s rear wheel going through. Zoom in to see how the tire flexed around the rocks.
We were very impressed to see how riders adjusted their lines and avoided the traps. Here you can see that Justin Cooper was able to pick his path while in the air, land at the top of the jump, and charge through without much worry of the rocks that were inches away from the front wheel of his YZ250F.
Something new from TLD. Look closely and you’ll notice that the mouthpiece and speed fin on this lid aren’t common on the current SE4. Troy also told us that this will be a production design in the upcoming catalog.
You can’t question Cooper Webb’s patriotism. The Red Bull KTM rider had Alpinestars hand write the names of the service members lost in the Afghan bombing with the phrase “Some Gave All, All Gave Some” on his Tech 10 boots.
Joey Savatgy’s efforts in recent weeks are paying off. The Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider went 9-9 at Fox Raceway and with 240 total points, is now tied in the series standings with Marvin Musquin for seventh overall. It sounds like another year with the KTM team could be in the cards for Savatgy, as the operation is now under new management and will move to Florida entirely in 2022.
Eli Tomac’s second Moto ride was something. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider came from way back in the early laps to the top spot and put in a race-long charge while others faded in the heat. This recent run of wins and a new beginning on a blue bike seems to have boosted Tomac’s motivation. Expect the PR to drop on October 1.
Dylan Ferrandis became the first French rider since Jean Michel Bayle to win a US MX championship, a feat that wouldn’t have been possible without input from David Vuillemin. DV’s methods might seem unorthodox to some, as they requires a rider who will dedicate their entire lives to the next race and nothing else, but DF’s latest success proves that the two know what they’re doing. Could this become the new rider-coach super team? We’ll see over the next three years.
Max Anstie has made it known that he will not be with the Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports/Suzuki team next year, but that didn’t stop him from putting in a season-best 6-5 for sixth overall effort at Fox Raceway or praising the group for their recent improvements to the RM-Z450 (HEP recently acquired setup information from JGR and are getting more support from Suzuki). During the post-race press conference, Anstie stated that he will move to Florida during the offseason and will ride at the 83 Compound, which is now owned by a British friend, but did not openly confirm that it comes with a spot on the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM.
Mike Pelletier is learning a lot in his new position as the Director of Racing for the AMA. Now involved in everything from MX to flat track to road racing, Pelletier recently told us that he aims to improve communication between the organization and the riders/teams, as well as helping the group avoid past mistakes like the Oldenburg Indianapolis SX debacle or inconsistent rules.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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