Six down, six to go. The 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship hit its halfway point at the 2021 Spring Creek Motocross, and once again, it was an excellent day of competition with new winners and shake-ups to the results in both the 250 and 450 Classes. We’ve repeatedly talked about how fast and talented the riders are over the last few years, but the on-track action in Minnesota was proof that anyone can put in a career-best day when given the chance.
Let’s go over a few bullet points before we get into the visual portion of Kickstart…
The rider turnout was solid once again, as 80 competitors signed up for the 450 Class and another 74 filed their entries for the 250 Class. Spring Creek is one of the rounds everyone from the Midwest makes the trip to and there were plenty of racers from Iowa/Minnesota/Missouri/Illinois/Wisconsin.
It’s a shame to see Kailub Russell’s MX career come to an end so early and the Red Bull KTM rider has announced he will not finish the series in the 250 Class. The eight-time GNCC champion had nothing to prove this summer, as this was more a victory lap/opportunity to live out a dream, and his post-race video message on Instagram was an appropriate way to explain his side of things.
We noticed a number of riders sounded a little hoarse or even said they were rundown feeling at Spring Creek. Was this a result of back-to-back-to-back races or a case of summertime colds circulating through the pits?
Now that most of the 450 Class deals are sorted out or close to complete, the Silly Season has started for those in the 250 Class. A handful of riders have signed extensions to stay where they are for 2022 while others are hoping strong results over the next few weeks will get the attention of team managers. We should find out a lot more this weekend at Washougal or when the series returns at Unadilla.
The AMA confirmed to us that BETA’s interest in pro racing is true and that the European OEM is working out the details to have a presence in the next few years, maybe as soon as 2022. It sounds like the biggest challenge BETA faces is getting the required number of motorcycles into dealerships; if they want to race Supercross, they must have at least 200 production units for sale in the US by March 1, 2022, and the full 400 ready by June 1, 2022.
Get'em sharp, Rango.
Filling the fire extinguisher with water was one of Dave Feeney's Saturday morning chores at Spring Creek. Teams keep the high-pressure sprayers on their pit cart should they need to hose out the radiators or cool a bike down suddenly mid-Moto.
Parked for the summer? Adam Cianciarulo's crash in Moto One and DNS in Moto Two looked like the breaking point in what's been a very tough summer for the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, and the decision-announcement to undergo surgery on a nerve in his right arm could occur this week. It's a bummer for AC9, as he's dealt with the issue for months, but the procedure is expected to fix the problem completely.
Spring Creek was a historic day for GASGAS, as the iconic Spanish brand scored their first Moto and Overall win in the 450 Class with Justin Barcia and first Overall podium in the 250 Class with Michael Mosiman. Be on the lookout later this week for the one-off gear/helmets/graphics that Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing will have at Washougal, a partnership with the team sponsor Sony Pictures for the upcoming "Venom" movie.
No steering stabilizer on Justin Barcia's GASGAS MC 450F...
Saturday's race was run on an altered and compressed schedule, a necessity to get 450 Moto Two into an afternoon broadcast slot on the national NBC network. As a result, the order for Timed Qualifying/LCQs/Motos was swapped, with the 450 Class going first, the elimination of practice starts in the second Timed Qualifying session, a tight turnaround from the checkered flag of the LCQs to the sighting lap for the first Motos, and an early finish time. It was a busy day, sure, and the entire race was over with by 4 PM.
Here's the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing pit cart, complete with a fabricated rack that holds spare wheels for each rider. Mechanics write their rider's number and sprocket size on the rear tire so there's no confusion in the work area.
MX Trivia: how many championships has Brian Kranz won?
Expect Jason Anderson to rejoin the 450 Class at Unadilla. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has recovered from the broken arm and busted teeth he suffered in a practice crash earlier in the summer and will get back on the bike in the coming weeks. Anderson will be at Tyla Rattray's practice track for the rest of the summer, which is much closer to his Clermont home than the 83 Compound in Dade City.
Scoop or knobs? That's an important decision that riders have to make at Spring Creek because of the mixed terrain that is sandy in some spots and hard-packed in others. Most opted for the paddle in the morning's first Timed Qualifying session, but once they learned the track had not been deeply ripped and heavily watered, they swapped to the standard intermediate knobs for the rest of the day (Eli Tomac was one of the few that stayed with the paddle all the way through Moto Two).
Spray-N-Wash. Have you upgraded your power washer wand with the short-tip mod option?
Another collection of apdesigns-Monster Energy motifs. We've noticed the "Earth textures" seem to be the latest trend in custom painted helmets, like the watery effect on these Bell Moto 10s or the hard rock look on Ken Roczen's Red Bull-Fox Racing V3 RS lids.
Privateer racers are relocating, too. California native Brent Rouse recently made the full-time move to Bentonville, Arkansas, and has become a part of the Midwest-Southern MX scene. If you need advice on how to secure sponsors, Rouse is the guy to talk to.
You know a color is popular when every riding gear brand offers it in their catalog. CC matched all of the neon pieces from 100%, Thor, and Alpinestars at Spring Creek.
We're starting to notice that the championship contenders seem to find each other on Saturday mornings. The Ferrandis-Roczen relationship seems to be a much more friendly than then Roczen-Webb SX rivalry, too.
How does Justin Barcia look in red, white, and blue gear? We're hearing that he's one of the top names on the AMA's list to race the MXON for Team USA in Italy, and his speed at Spring Creek would adapt well to Mantova's sandy track.
How important is track position in Timed Qualifying? "Very," apparently, because eight of the 11 riders funneling into the first turn were on factory-level bikes.
Always like it when we get riders with sequential numbers in the same frame...
Pat Thrall's pit board signal to RJ Hampshire...
Lots of similarities between Southwick and Spring Creek for Garrett Marchbanks, as the CLUB MX rider had mechanical DNF in 250 Moto One and saved his day's overall score with a fair finish (12th place) in 250 Moto Two. We talked with GM on Friday afternoon about his career as a whole, the CLUBMX team, and what he expects of himself in the next few years as a part of their roster. Marchbanks acknowledged that he injuries have held him back, that at 19 years old he's still learning the ropes of pro racing, and that although on-track incident in ATL with McAdoo was fueled by an lengthy rivalry between the two, it was a poor decision.
Rocks have ruined Grant Harlan's last two Pro Motocross rounds. The TiLube/Storm Lake Honda rider had an engine case busted by a big stone at RedBud, an issue that ended his day in Michigan, then had another flying rock pop a hole in his radiator during practice at Spring Creek. Harlan and his mechanic swapped engines in time for the Motos, only to have the back-up let go during the race, too. GH has spent the time between races working on houses and will be back for Unadilla.
Chris Canning's Pro Motocross tour continued. Thanks to support from sponsors Frost Beer Co and CSC Hood & Duct, the privateer was able to make the 2500-mile Connecticut-Minnesota-Connecticut trip, run to 19-17 Moto scores, finish 18th overall, and score six championship points.
The sand whoops are the place to be early in the morning at Spring Creek.
We thought Ken Roczen's summer was over at this point. The Team Honda HRC rider got collected in the first-turn pile, was very slow to get up, and eventually made his way to the Alpinestars Mobile Medical cart on his own before the pack of racers came back through. It's hard to see exactly how the crash started or what happened to Roczen in replays due to the dirt cloud it created, but KR definitely got run over by someone when he hit the ground.
Shoutout to Curren Thurman. The Texas racer has lined up for three Nationals so far and his 17th place finish in 450 Moto One netted him four points, his first of the summer, and a 21st place finish in 450 Moto Two put him 19th overall on the day.
All three Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha bikes finished 450 Moto One in the top-five at Spring Creek. We'd say the team's expansion into the 450 Class has been very successful, because Craig-Ferrandis-Plessinger did the same thing at RedBud a few weeks ago, too.
The more we think about it, the more important Adam Cianciarulo's surgery and recovery becomes. AC is set to become the "face" of Kawasaki in 2022, something that Team Green has anticipated for years and is sped up by Tomac's departure, and he'll be the one expected to contend for the Supercross championship.
Fredrik Noren was the highest-finishing 450 Class privateer at round six. 12-13 Moto scores put Fred 12th overall on the day and 16th in the championship points, the highest ranked non-OEM supported rider.
How great was 450 Moto One? Here's what we saw of the Justin Barcia-Dylan Ferrandis-Eli Tomac tustle...
Although Ferrandis and Barcia were the center of attention by the podium, we noticed how frustrated Eli Tomac was with a third-place finish. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had a poor start, put in a hard charge, caught the lead duo, and couldn't find a way around them. The all-out effort and constant roost took a toll on Tomac and he admitted in the team PR that it hindered his performance in the second Moto.
It's good to see Larry Brooks back in the pit area. The BARX/Chaparral/ECSTAR/Suzuki squad has made solid progress over the last two years thanks to an increase in funding from the team's ownership partners, additional sponsors, and a young roster of riders in the amatuer and pro ranks.
Every team has their own strategy when it comes to mid-day maintenance . Some opt for a full power wash and re-prep, while others prefer to scrape away the excess mud, check fluids, clean the drivetrain, and shine it up. The second method, though a bit time consuming, lessens the chance of the electronics getting wet and causing an issue.
Saturday at Spring Creek was ideal, and with temperatures in the mid to high 80s and plenty of sunshine, it felt like Summer. A few riders busted out the pre-race cooling kits, like this one from Alpinestars used by Hunter Lawrence.
How long until a race team scores a sponsorship deal from a leaf blower brand? We first saw MXGP teams with the battery-powered units when the came to the US a few years ago and now almost every rider on the line has a wind machine from Ryobi, Dewalt, or Makita. This sort of product placement would lead to an increase in sales, because we've already see a few mini kids and casual racers use them at the local tracks...
Another solid, steady day for Jo Shimoda. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider went 8-9 for seventh overall in the 250 Class and tightened up the three-way fight between himself, RJ Hampshire, and Colt Nichols for fifth place in the championship standings.
"Home Race" mention for Iowa racers Izaih Clark (Fort Dodge)...
And Wade Brommel (Indianola).
Dilan Schwartz and Jo Shimoda in 250 Moto One.
You can always count on Zack Williams to line up at Spring Creek. The Minnesota native has stayed sharp racing throughout the Midwest and has lined up for a handful of Nationals with support from Fusion Motorsports. A 19th place finish in 250 Moto Two got Williams his first points of the summer and put him 24th overall on the day. We've got an interview with Williams talking about his balance of being a full-time and part-time racer on a hard drive that we need to get posted on the site...
Boosted. Hunter and Jett Lawrence were very open about setup issues after Southwick and Spring Creek, two of the sandier races on the Pro Motocross calendar. We watched Team Honda HRC make a few tweaks on the CRF250R bikes Saturday morning (looked like something with the airbox-intake) before they hit the track for the first practice session. It's no secret that an all-new CRF250R is on the way, a bike that will share lots of traits with the CRF450R, and it should be debuted any day now. That said, we don't think Honda will put the brothers on the bike in the last half of the season for a few reasons; it could be detrimental to develop a different bike during a championship chase and Honda might not expect to have the required number of bikes on dealer floors in time.
Justin Cooper and Jeremy Martin's 250 Moto One exchange in five frames.
Spring Creek isn't just lush topsoil and flowing sand rollers; the track has a hard base in spots and can develop massive square-edged bumps like this curb on the ascent of Mount Martin.
Dean Wilson fought for his 10-10 finishes and 10th overall at Spring Creek. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has a habit of finding Max Anstie on the track and we found ourselves in the middle of their battle during 450 Moto One, literally, when Wilson missed the corner before the Chadapult, safely-slowly wove his way through the banners and those of us standing, and got back on the gas without missing a beat.
Chain issues in both 450 Class Motos kept Coty Schock from scoring points at Spring Creek, but we have to give the FXR/Chaparral/Honda rider some props for his riding recently. After going bar-to-bar with Barcia through the first turn, Schock stayed in the top-10 for a few laps and learned how fast the front-runners really are. Expect more progress from the young pro as we go through the back-half of the summer.
Who is Pierce Knight? A quick search revealed that he's Texas A Class racer who's finished in the top-five overall at Loretta's (250 B Limited in 2019) and will be back at the Ranch this summer in the Pro Sport class. Spring Creek was Knight's first-ever outdoor National (another example of the "limited experience" rule book amendment) and he put in 32-38 finishes for 36th in the 450 Class. His mom was very excited to hear the announcers talk about him on the PA system.
Aaron Plessinger avoided the ruts and used the "sideline" over this tricky speed-check single.
Cooper Webb took the brunt of a scrub gone wrong incident with Chase Sexton, but remounted his twisted Red Bull KTM bike, rejoined 450 Moto Two, and clawed his way back to a 22nd place finish. CW seemed very fired up at Spring Creek; he wasted no time getting on the track and was fifth-fastest in the first Timed Qualifying session, then ran with a fast pack in 450 Moto One and ended up sixth place. This summer hasn't been what he or KTM expected, but it doesn't seem to be from a lack of trying on the track or with the bike setup (correction to our RedBud Kickstart: apparently those triple clamps are an old part and something that they've used on a previous race setup).
Doesn't matter if a jump is big or small, Justin Barcia will scrub it. We were impressed by his efforts over this single...
And then we climbed to the top of Mount Martin and watched him do pretty much the same maneuver over the edge of the massive hill. Barcia's pace and wild riding style has always been impressive, but his fitness is earning him praise within the KTM-GASGAS-Husqvarna camp; Roger DeCoster seemed very impressed that his best time in 450 Moto One came on the very last lap, when Barcia was under pressure from Ferrandis and everyone else had tailed off.
Grip it and rip it. Eli opts for the full waffle grip on his bike and he twisted the rubber on the clutch side out of position during the day at Spring Creek.
Crossbar reminders for Justin Barcia. We don't think Billy Hartle is the first person to tell him to take it easy on the clutch.
Last piece of evidence that ET was pissed with third place: a half-empty bottle of bubbly on the podium.
USADA agents were on hand to conduct anti-doping tests at Spring Creek and selected a large group of riders to give urine samples after their second Moto, including the podium finishers and our boy Alex Ray. Yes, you have to "show it" to the agent when you fill the cup. Press play on the ProTaper Kickstart podcast to hear ARay's explanation of the procedure.
Jeremy Martin's ride in 250 Moto Two was solid from start to finish. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha was at the head of the field when they came through the first turn and from there, JMart clicked off 16 near-perfect laps to win by over nine-seconds.
Good to hear that Pierce Brown is okay after getting caught up in that 250 Moto Two pile-up. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider said that the initial pain in his knee had him fearing the worst, like another torn ACL, but he was checked out by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical staff and cleared of any serious damage.
How many times have these two raced each other, either for points in a Pro Moto or during a practice scrimmage at Robbie Reynard's track in Oklahoma? Austin Forkner told us 250 Moto Two was a test of his speed and patience, as he didn't want to ride over the limit and risk a mistake, and that he'll build off this fourth place finish. Nichols, meanwhile, said that his day didn't come easy and that he never felt in the zone during his 7-7 rides.
We'd hate to see the parts bill from that 250 Moto Two pile-up. Jett Lawrence was able to finish the race in sixth place despite a busted subframe and Yoshimura silencer, and the points scored are critical for his 250 title hopes.
Is there a Mrs. Whoop Monster? Or a young protege that hopes to carry the noise-making tradition in the future?
SML Super Fans of the week. If you see us, say something; we might have a sticker for you.
Can't get through Kickstart without a shoutout to Alex Martin, who made a triumphant return to action less than a month after breaking bones in his arm. The Manluk/Rock River Yamaha/Merge Racing rider has been on the bike for a limited amount of time, so expect the few rounds to be a chance to get up to speed, score points, and promote Troll Training.
Dilan Schwartz and Jo Shimoda in 250 Moto Two.
Michael Mosiman's runner-up result in 250 Moto Two was a long time coming, as the NorCal native has shown plenty of speed this summer, but small crashes and bike issues have prevented him from scoring the maximum amount of points on different occasions. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider caught and passed Justin Cooper, a rare sight in the 250 Class, and was one of four guys to click off 2:13 lap times. Could this be the start of something?
This was a big one for Jeremy Martin, as it was his first overall of the season (he's the sixth different winner in the 250 Class this summer), first 1-1 run in front of the Spring Creek fans, and confirmation that racing this summer is worth the pain. His dad, John, was one of the first to congratulate him after the podium and joked that some time using a weed wacker to help get ready for the race would toughened his hands up.
Justin Cooper's consistency over the last few weeks paid off and now the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider is in control of the 250 Class championship. Cooper's 2-3 finishes put him third overall at Spring Creek and he holds a six-point advantage over Jett Lawrence as we go into the back half of the series.
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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