The Debrief | March 8th 2019
Welcome to The Debrief, a quick recap of the happenings at Swapmoto Live…
After a few very hectic weeks, it feels like we are finally into a flow with Swapmoto Live. Starting a new business of this level from scratch is something all of us had no prior experience in, so going through some of the logistical and legal necessities forced us to skip two stops of the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series and took us away from the content creation for a short time. But now we are settled and will be back at the races for all remaining stops of what’s shaped up to be an incredible championship, plus at the usual California practice tracks and mountain bike trails for continuous testing time. Here’s a quick debrief of what we’ve had going on lately and what’s in the works for the next few weeks…
SML & PULPMX AT THE 2019 ATLANTA SUPERCROSS
Swap and I have longstanding friendships with Steve Matthes at PulpMX.com, so when things went sideways at TWMX, Matthes extended an offer to cover the Atlanta Supercross in his place while he went to a Bob Seger show in Las Vegas. It was nice to be back at the track after two weekends of watching from afar and the ninth stop of the SX series provided plenty of talking points. Cooper Webb and Adam Cianciarulo added more Main Event wins to their total for the year, while Austin Forkner “won” the East Coast region with a third-place finish in the 250 Showdown. With these results, all three riders put more points between themselves and the competition as the begin what could be a very exciting run to Las Vegas.
As Atlanta was the first of two 250 East-West Showdowns for the year, we got to catch up with some of the 250 West Coast guys that have been off the radar in recent weeks. I got an interview with Martin Castelo about his new deal with JMC Motorsports Husqvarna that will see the Ecuadorian racer through the remaining rounds of the Supercross season, talked with Colt Nichols about his plans to stay in California with the Star Racing squad for the entire summer, compared cross-country drives with RJ Hampshire, and had about a dozen other small side conversations.
The racing itself was solid and after the Heat Races I figured that five guys had a shot at the win in both classes, but really it came down to three riders in each class at the end of the night. Forkner led the early laps of the 250 Showdown until Cianciarulo caught and passed him for the lead, while Dylan Ferrandis clocked the quickest individual lap of the night and worked his way up to second place. Webb, meanwhile, aced the start in the 450 feature and stayed just far enough ahead of Blake Baggett and Marvin Musquin that the race stayed interesting, but no passes were exchanged for the top spot. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a battle, though, because Baggett and Musquin traded moves for the full duration of the 20-minute moto and it came down to the final laps.
After the race was over, I hit the post-race press conference for Matthes’ Pro Circuit-sponsored podcast interviews and SML’s How Was Your Weekend feature. You can hear both by clicking the links above and yeah, it’s almost a week after the race, but the Kyle Cunningham, Zach Osborne, and Webb interviews each have some deep information as to how the season is going.
In addition to the Matthes duties of drinking coffee in team trucks and talking on Twitter, I put up a gallery with captions on PulpMX.com and wrote Steve’s well-known Observations column that lives on racerxonline.com. In the matter of five weeks, I have contributed in some way or another to four separate publications. Maybe in March I’ll go international and try to get some edit to MX Vice, Moto Online, or Dirt Cool.
And just to top it off, I was a guest on Thursday’s Moto60 Show that provided some more discussion on the season so far. Give it a listen if you have time today.
Again, thank you to Steve and swap for letting me branch out and get back to the races. It was good to be back into the swing of things.
SML TO FINISH OUT SX SEASON
Like I said above, we’ve worked out a plan that will get Donn and I to all remaining rounds of the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series and the full 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Race coverage was a major, major part of our past publication and it will be the same at Swapmoto Live. Like Ricky Carmichael always said, “The season starts at Daytona,” and that’s true for us now. I will then attend Indianapolis and Seattle, while Swap has picked up Houston and likely East Rutherford.
I’ll be on a plane to Florida all day Friday, at the track Saturday, and back to California by Sunday, so stayed tuned to the site and our social media handles for spur of the moment content. Shameless plug here, but if you want to follow my Instagram or Twitter accounts, I’m going to show what a typical race weekend of travel and track time is like as a reporter, so maybe it can intensify or kill your dreams of being part of the industry.
We each have ideas for content that will be on the site, but if you have ideas or things that you’ve always wanted to see, shoot us a message and we’ll see what we can do.
LEATT VELOCITY 6.5 GOGGLE LAUNCH
On Thursday morning Leatt lifted the embargo on their latest product, the Velocity 6.5 goggle. We saw early iterations of the goggle at the Motocross of Nations last October and on riders at early rounds of the Supercross season, but now we have ten pairs in our possession and will do plenty of testing over the next few weeks. The Velocity 6.5 is a high-end product, as the multi-piece design features a thick optically correct lens that is stout and will avoid damage from flying roost, multi-layer face foam for comfort and sweat absorption, and Leatt’s attention-getting looks. But like we said, we have ten pairs and want to hear what you, the reader, thinks of them. Head to our Instagram account, find the Leatt post, and leave a comment on which color set you’d like us to send you. We’ll pick a few random comments and send the specs your way.
KTM 450 SX-F FACTORY EDITION VERSUS HUSQVARNA FC 450 ROCKSTAR EDITION VERSUS HONDA CRF450R WORKS EDITION SHOOTOUT
Swap always has a few good ideas in the works and next week will be the start of our first real shootout for SML. KTM launched the “Factory Edition” model as a way to make an all-new bike meet the AMA rulebook while in the middle a competition season when Ryan Dungey joined the brand in 2012, and Husqvarna followed suit with their own Rockstar Edition bike a few years ago to fulfill Jason Anderson’s requests. For KTM and Husqvarna, these bikes are an early glimpse at what will come in the next model year’s production bike with new engines or chassis while still featuring some special parts like slip-on mufflers, race-team issue graphics, redesigned triple clamps, and much more. Honda decided in 2019 to add a Works Edition bike to their offering but instead of new designs, the CRF WE is more about getting performance from the base model CRF with parts like a refined cylinder, updated suspension components, and a Yoshimura exhaust.
But what special edition bike really is the “best?” That’s what we are going to find out next week with test riders Rich Taylor, Pat Foster, and Donn Maeda. Check back for videos, written articles, and a podcast that will cover every attribute of each machine!
SWAPMOTO LIVE RACE SERIES STARTS THIS WEEKEND!
The TWMX Race Series was one of our favorite things at TWMX, but like the magazine and website, it went away in the sale to AMI. But Aaron Cooke and Craig Davis were determined not to let California lost a place to race on the weekends and we’ve all joined the CMXRS (California Motocross Race Series) for the formation of the Swapmoto Live Race Series! The first round will take place this Sunday, March 10th at Milestone MX Park in Riverside, California, and will offer a wide variety of classes to riders of all ages and skill levels. For full details, visit www.swapmotoraceseries.com!
NEWS & NOTES FROM THE PIT AREA
Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM has been hammered by injuries to their riders on the East Coast region this year and both Jordon Smith and Mitchell Falk will be out for the foreseeable future as a result. But the team can’t just sit out a race and they’ve come up with a creative plan for Daytona: put Shane McElrath in the 450 class. Now this isn’t the first time this has happened, as it was common back in the day for 125-250 teams to allow their established riders dip a toe into the premier class when the series was on the opposite coast, but McElrath’s situation is a little unique. The team didn’t anticipate the need to field a last-minute rider in the 450 class, so McElrath will line up in the 450 class aboard his usual 250 SX-F. How will this fare on the big, deep Daytona track? We’re excited to see.
Sounds like the CTR Motorsports team (that’s the joint effort of ClubMX/Traders Racing/Redemption Racing) have added another rider to their roster for the rest of the 250 East Coast swing and Bradley Taft will make his debut with them this week in Daytona, too.
It’s the time of year for gear brands to unleash their summer styles, so expect to see new threads from the major companies as the series continues. We saw new looks from O’Neal Racing, Fox Racing, SHIFT, and Troy Lee Designs at Atlanta, FLY Racing usually has something new around this time of year, and Alpinestars will have a limited-edition product line launch at Indianapolis. Start shaking out the couch cushions for spare change.
MOTOGP SEASON KICKS OFF THIS WEEKEND IN QATAR
We told you that Swapmoto Live is a site for all things two-wheels. This weekend marks the start of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar and by all accounts, it’s shaping up to be a great season of road racing. All of the OEMS were competitive in the preseason test and each company has a rider that can contend for a podium on any given weekend. We’ve already purchased the season Video On Demand pass to watch every practice, qualifying session, and race, as it’s the equivalent of the NBC Gold Pass. Can Marc Marquez claim another title or will Andrea Dovizioso, Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, or another surprise contender steal it away? If you want to read an excellent preseason write-up, check out David Emmett’s MotoMatters site and this in-depth preview.