RRound 8 of 16
Atlanta, Georgia
By John Basher

Already half over, the U.S. Supercross series has had it?s share of ups and downs thus far. If a highlight reel were to be played of the top ten happenings so far this series, it?d be tough to pick what should be shown. Obviously the Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed duels would be at the top of the list, as well as Ezra Lusk?s win and James Stewart?s near complete domination of the 125 West, but what else should be shown? The ever-tight 125 racing on both West and East coasts? Jeremy McGrath?s last hot laps as a pro racer? Some terrible crashes that have taken out the world?s best supercross riders? Whatever the case may be, the first half of the 2003 supercross series has been filled with spectacular racing, close finishes, and bone-crushing crashes.

In all hopefulness for supercross spectators and the Atlanta crowd, everyone was once again looking forward to a racing spectacle that saw Ricky Carmichael and Chad Reed going head to head. However, it wasn?t the case, as Reed looked somewhat sluggish and off his game on the Georgia clay. Atlanta had Carmichael fans swooning in their seats, Reed fans being livid, and Ezra Lusk fans being heartbroken. Lusk, who just so happens to be a native Georgian, hit the deck in the main event and finished a dismal 19th. It was Lusk?s only shot of the year to get in the record books as the first Georgian to win a supercross in his home state. But when there are downfalls, there are sure to be great happenings in the stadium settings of supercross. Suzuki, thought to be down and out of the 250 class, sprayed the premier class with their 125 West stars (Sean Hamblin, Danny Smith, Andrew Short, and Tyler Evans) at ?Hot-Lanta? in hopes of saving face. The four riders came out with results of 7th, 9th, 10th, and 14th. Not too bad, considering last week at Minneapolis Suzuki had one rider in the main event (Andrew Short, who finished 17th). Also, if you haven?t paged down to take a sneak peak at the final results, Ernesto Fonseca finally found his way into the top five. Considered a long time coming by critics as well as Fonseca himself, the Costa Rican looked like he deserved to be right up front and battled with the best. How about Mike LaRocco, who made his return to supercross after a few weeks off with a bum shoulder? LaRocco held on for eighth, which is surprisingly good considering he had little strength in his shoulder to even hang on through the whoops.

What really happened in the 250 class on Saturday night? Quite a bit actually, considering that Ricky Carmichael jumped out to a great start and polished the field in an excellent display of speed and confidence. Ricky gained more valuable points over Chad Reed, now controlling his own destiny as the series progresses towards the culmination in Las Vegas. 17 is the magic number, meaning 17 points separate RC and Reed from one of the most recognizable and important championships in the world of sports.

It was too little too late for Reed in Atlanta, and while finishing second isn?t anything to slouch at, Chad has to beat #4 consistently if he plans on taking his first 250 supercross championship here in the states.

Third place once again went to David Vuillemin, who is turning into quite a regular on the podium. While Vuillemin isn?t having quite the same year as he was in 2002, Le Cobra is well within striking distance should RC and Reed encounter bike failure or injuries.

As I mentioned before, Ernesto Fonseca garnered fourth place by nabbing a great start and passing the Honda of Larry Ward. It?s about time another Honda was up front with Carmichael, as LaRocco is coming off injury and Ramsey won?t return until the outdoors.

Tim Ferry has been hovering in the top five for several rounds now, but can?t seem to gain the edge on his teammates Vuillemin and Reed. Never-the-less, Yamaha couldn?t be happier (except with Reed, Vuillemin, and Ferry in the top three every weekend) and this team might just start shaping up like Team Honda in the late 1980?s.

Now I turn to the 125 class, full of fresh young professionals who are exciting to watch not only for close finishes, but also because how some of these racers pitch their bikes away for no apparent reason! With each race comes experience, but sometimes you just have to wonder. There was really only one large pileup in the main event, with Ivan Tedesco, Steve Boniface, and Matt Lalloz being involved. Tedesco got the short end of the stick (finishing 22nd) while Boniface eventually finished 7th and Lalloz grabbing 6th. Meanwhile, Brock Sellards was the epitome of an elder statesman of the class. He grabbed the lead early, stepped out to a marginal lead, and took his first win of the season. Mike Brown showed that he is back in the saddle, just barely taking second place after a hard charging Branden Jesseman was ready to give him fits. How about Erick Vallejo, who took the first top five of his career, which could be a sign of great things to come. Then there is Michael Byrne, who just can?t seem to catch a good break (nor a good start). Given the circumstances, Byrne has made the best he could of a bad situation by charging hard and placing fifth.

250 RESULTS   
1. Ricky Carmicahel…Hon   
2. Chad Reed…Yam   
3. David Vuillemin…Yam   
4. Ernesto Fonseca…Hon   
5. Tim Ferry…Yam   
6. Nick Wey…Yam   
7. Sean Hamblin…Suz   
8. Mike LaRocco…Hon   
9. Andrew Short…Suz   
10. Danny Smith…Suz

1. Ricky Carmichael…185
2. Chad Reed…168
3. David Vuillemin…147
4. Tim Ferry…130
5. Ezra Lusk…122
6. Nick Wey…83
7. Ernesto Fonseca…77
8. Michael Byrne…75
9. Heath Voss…75
10. Mike LaRocco…73

1. Brock Sellards…Yam   
2. Mike Brown…Kaw   
3. Branden Jesseman…Suz   
4. Erick Vallejo…Yam   
5. Michael Byrne…Hon   
6. Matt Lalloz…Suz   
7. Steve Boniface…KTM   
8. Kelly Smith…Yam   
9. Troy Adams…Yam   
10. Ryan Mills…Hon

1. Brock Sellards…47
2. Branden Jesseman…45
3. Mike Brown…40
4. Michael Byrne…36
5. Kelly Smith…29
6. Erick Vallejo…26
7. Steve Boniface…25
8. Matt Lalloz…22
9. Ryan Mills…21
10. Jeff Gibson…18


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