by John Basher

The 2003 U.S. Supercross Series, touted as the most prolific motorcycle series in the world, began with a two-time returning champion as the heavy favorite to not only win Anaheim 1, but possibly sweep the entire 16 rounds. Ricky Carmichael was without a doubt the prime target headed into round one, but plenty of young guns were tempting to play spoiler in their first full 250 supercross season. Chad Reed and Grant Langston had everything to prove and nothing to lose at Anaheim, and both made serious impacts on the racing, only with vastly different outcomes. Grant Langston proved relatively fast on the factory KTM bike, but a crash took the South African out of contention for a top five spot.

And then there was Chad Reed. After showing blazing speed at the World Cup of Motocross and again in the second round of the World Supercross Series with a win, Reed was somewhat of a dark horse contender for Saturday’s event (then again, everyone besides RC seemed to be considered a dark horse for the event win). Then, on the fateful January 4th night, Reed blew the doors off the competition! After only a few laps, he extended his lead to a quarter of a lap, and after 10 laps held a half a lap lead. Meanwhile, Ricky Carmichael was busy playing catch up after falling twice, only to come up short and end the race in second. Would have RC caught the Aussie, passed, and held the lead had he not fallen? Noone really knows, but I would say probably not, because Reed was in his own world, slicing off the fastest lap times while riding smooth and consistent.

Who was the only other rider capable of beating Ricky Carmichael at Anaheim? It was none other than one of the nicest people in motocross, Travis Pastrana. In their heat, Travis and Ricky banged bars on more than one occasion with Ricky taking the heat win and Travis taking a soil sample. From there, an orchestra of boos ensued from the contentious crowd throughout the post-race interview. Things were gearing up for epic duels in the main event, which is until a freight train of falls headed by Mike LaRocco occurred. With Sebastien Tortelli, Travis Pastrana and Michael Byrne in tow, Tortelli managed to get around the fallen LaRocco. Unfortunately for TP and Byrne, Travis clipped LaRocco and went down hard with Pastrana center-punching Iron Mike. Pastrana eventually pulled off and had a forgettable night just as he did last year at Anaheim. Michael Byrne also pulled off, thus ending any chance of nailing down a top five position at Anaheim 1 like he had done last season.

Other notable riders were Tim Ferry, David Vuillemin, and Sebastien Tortelli. Ferry rode consistent as he is well noted for, and held third place by the race end. Vuillemin, who was handed misfortune in the early stages of the race, charged back to fourth place. Tortelli had the podium in sight early on in the race, but faltered slightly just after the midway point in the race. He picked the pace back up to stay in the top five, which should be a big stepping-stone for Tortelli and trainer Ricky Johnson.

In the 125 West, James Stewart got a terrible start and had to work his way up from last place. Never to be doubted, Stewart put on a passing clinic in front of 45,000 rampant fans. In the end, last year’s champ Travis Preston took the win and gave yet another glamorous speech. With 15 laps in the history books, Stewart shot up to second and could not take down Preston. Chris Gosselaar showed style in the onset of the race, but couldn’t keep up with Preston, Stewart and Andrew Short. Give it up to Andrew Short, who seems to have been excelling since he straight up beat Sean Hamblin at Mammoth this past summer.

The question now is, what will happen next weekend at Phoenix? Will Ricky Carmichael regroup? Can Chad Reed make it three in a row (remember that Reed won in Arnhem, Holland)? Will Travis Pastrana once again bounce back to display his blazing speed? Or how about the James Stewart vs. Travis Preston saga? Stay tuned…

1. Chad Reed…YAM
2. Ricky Carmichael…HON
3. Tim Ferry…YAM
4. David Vuillemin…YAM
5. Sebastien Tortelli…SUZ
6. Ernesto Fonseca…HON
7. Ryan Clark…YAM
8. Ezra Lusk…KAW
9. Heath Voss…YAM
10. Stephane Roncada…SUZ

250 Point Standings
1. Chad Reed…25
2. Ricky Carmichael…22
3. Tim Ferry…20
4. David Vuillemin…18
5. Sebastien Tortelli…16
6. Ernesto Fonseca…15
7. Ryan Clark…14
8. Ezra Lusk…13
9. Heath Voss…12
10. Stephane Roncada…11

125 West RESULTS
1. Travis Preston…HON   
2. James Stewart…KAW   
3. Andrew Short…SUZ   
4. Chris Gosselaar…HON   
5. Danny Smith…SUZ   
6. Billy Laninovich…KTM   
7. Matt Walker…KAW   
8. David Pingree…SUZ   
9. Craig Anderson…YAM   
10. Kevin Johnson…YAM

125 West Standings
1. Travis Preston…25
2. James Stewart…22
3. Andrew Short…20
4. Chris Gosselaar…18
5. Danny Smith…16
6. Billy Laninovich…15
7. Matt Walker…14
8. David Pingree…13
9. Craig Anderson…12
10. Kevin Johnson…11


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