GP stars struggle with sand, heat, U.S. riders

Round Four of the Chevy Trucks AMA 125/250 Nationals had extra star-power, as current World Motocross Champions Joel Smets (500), Frederic Bolley (250) and Grant Langston (125), along with former 125 champ Alessio Chiodi, were all on hand to possibly take points from current U.S. champs Ricky Carmichael and Travis Pastrana. Former 250cc National Champ Doug Henry came out of retirement to race Southwick and the European stars, too.

For all the hoopla, though, the sandy MX338 track wasn’t impressive. It took a huge toll in Saturday’s practice, especially on 125cc riders. Points leader Langston crashed and separated his shoulder, Pastrana crashed and suffered another concussion, and Chiodi compressed a vertebrae in yet another big get-off. It looked like Langston wasn’t going to race, but he taped the sore shoulder and lined up for the first 125cc moto!

Mike Brown won his first moto of the year, while Pastrana worked through the pack to second and Langston salvaged some points with ninth. Pastrana moved over on Brown in the second-moto start, forcing Brown into Langston. Brown went down hard, while Travis took the moto win, overall and series points lead. Langston impressed a lot of people by swallowing the pain to get fourth in the moto, but he’s now eight points behind the champ.

Ricky Carmichael was the big story in the talent-rich 250s. Having been unable to put two motos together in the first three rounds, Carmichael trained extra-hard for Southwick. He chased down a holeshotting Smets to take control of the first moto, then he went on to take both heats and the points lead, as Sebastian Tortelli had a disappointing second outing. Americans dominated the podium, with local hero John Dowd second and Mike LaRocco third. Smets was sixth, Henry eighth and Bolley tenth.


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