LAS VEGAS REPORT–MAY 4
By John Basher
All the hype leading up to the final round of the 2003 supercross series was buzzing around the motocross world the entire week leading up to Las Vegas. Would Chad Reed sneak out another win and possibly the championship? Would Ricky Carmichael crack under the pressure? By how many seconds would James Stewart crush the competition in the 125 East/West shootout? By the time the dust cleared on Saturday night in Sam Boyd Stadium, all questions were answered.
SKIPPY GETS ?EM AGAIN
Chad Reed might be a rookie, but don?t let that fool you. Last year?s 125 East coast supercross champion, Reed is a rookie only in the 250 class (and not in America). After having a roller coaster first half the series, Chad set out to end the series with a bang by grinding out six wins and trying to catch Carmichael in the points chase. On Saturday, Reed accomplished perhaps one of his most difficult goals yet, going six for six to end the series and beat RC straight up nearly every time. He led from start to finish, and rode a flawless race. It showed the mark of a champion, only Reed did not win the championship. Instead, it was Ricky Carmichael?s night in the limelight. Only needing to finish fifth or better, Ricky only had to get a mediocre start and watch out for any riders on blue bikes. And, in an attempt to not be seen by his competition (and with help from Fox Racing and Troy Lee Designs), Carmichael wore a cool set of camouflage gear and a tricked out helmet. It must have worked, as Ricky grabbed a third place start and moved up into second place early on. The only real close moment was when Heath Voss took a rhythm section wide, giving RC minor breathing room. It was all for naught though, as there was clean racing the entire time. Carmichael protected his points lead and rode smart, taking second place and the 2003 250 supercross title once again. Ernesto Fonseca took a usual third place finish, with Tim Ferry and Nick Wey rounding out the top five.
The 125 class was where all the action occurred on Saturday night. Coming into the race, James Stewart had adamantly expressed how badly he wanted to win the East/West shootout, but the stars must have been miss-aligned. Considering the 125 East coast champ Branden Jesseman was out with a broken thumb and Travis Preston was also out, it should have been a walk in the park for Stewart. It looked to be so the first two laps when ?Bubba? grabbed the clean holeshot and started walking away from everyone else. But then, James turned from the newly crowned 125 West coast champion into James Stewart who rode Anaheim I last year. First, Stewart timed-timed a step-on tabletop section and buried his front wheel into the face of the tabletop. No big deal, he just slid off the track and had to re-enter several positions back. But then, things got ugly. Feeling pressured and frustrated, James started to ride ragged and panicked. Just after the finish line double, Stewart was almost side by side Brock Sellards, until he mis-timed the finish line section leading to a small double jump. With too much speed hitting the last double, his KX125 took a severe nose dive from 15 feet up, leaving James to eject from the bike. Landing on his feet, the force was so severe that he went straight to his right shoulder and head. The blow caused Stewart to receive a mild concussion and a broken collarbone. James will most likely miss the first outdoor National at Glen Helen, and could be out for up to six weeks.
With James Stewart out of action, the lead was inherited by Eric Sorby. Sorby, who has had a series he?d rather forget, looked poised and ready to win. However, it wasn?t to be, as Eric found himself bouncing around the whoop section like a rag doll, in effect crashing and ending up 19th. Who was behind Sorby that would take the lead? How about third year pro Andrew Short, who solidified third place in the 125 West point standings last week in Salt Lake. Andrew did exactly what he needed to do in order to win his first ever 125 supercross race, and he was more than ecstatic with the win. Ivan Tedesco finished second, with newly healed Michael Byrne taking third. Josh Hansen took his best finish of the year in fourth, and Chris Gosselaar took fifth.
THAT?S ALL SHE WROTE
After 16 rounds of racing, Ricky Carmichael is the 2003 250 supercross champion. Chad Reed was second, but made things interesting at the tail end of the series with six straight wins (a feat RC hadn?t even accomplished this year). Things will definitely be interesting come next weekend at perhaps the most rugged and difficult National of them all, Glen Helen. Congratulations are in order for Team Motoworld?s Andrew Short for winning the shootout, and we certainly hope that James Stewart will heal quickly and come out swinging as soon as possible.
250 FINAL POINT STANDINGS
125 EAST/WEST SHOOOTOUT