MINNEAPOLIS REPORT: ROUND #7–FEB 15
By John Basher
While the 250 class remained the same heading into the east coast swing, it was as if Harry Houdini came to town and performed a disappearing act on James Stewart, Travis Preston, and the rest of the 125 West field. Instead, Branden Jesseman, Michael Byrne, and a field full of young talent was ready to battle in a regional series full of question marks. How would Grant Langston do now that he has dropped down from the 250 class? Could Branden Jesseman add another win to his resume after stealing a win away last year from Chad Reed? How would Michael Byrne and Brock Sellards do, both of whom honed their supercross skills by racing the west portion of the 250 series. How would the rookies do? All good questions, now it?s time for the answers.
Poor Grant Langston, with the heart of a lion and speed to match, Grant cannot catch a break thus far this supercross season. Gracefully stepping down to the 125 East after not being in the top twenty in points, Langston decided that the tiddler class was where he could rejuvenate his 2003 season. Unfortunately, Langston pummeled himself into the backside of a triple after missing a shift at practice on Friday. Luckily, he was able to mend himself together for the race on Saturday. Then in the main, Langston crashed in the first turn and remounted to finish 16th.
As for Branden Jesseman, this kid hauls and has shown since the middle of last season that he can be a champion. Trying to keep James Stewart honest throughout the 125 Nationals is a tough task, but Branden found that if James isn?t around, he doesn?t have to worry. Branden got a great start on Saturday and lead all 15 laps en route to his second ever supercross win. It was yet another shining moment for the quiet Pennsylvanian, and you can expect him to win again in the near future.
Michael Byrne has been having a season that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Byrne finished the west portion of the 250 class with two top five finishes, two top ten finishes, and was planted firmly sixth place in points. It has to be hard for Factory Connection/Honda and for Mike himself to walk away from such a great opportunity at mixing it up with the best 250 riders in the world. Then again, put Byrne on a 125 and he flat out hauls. In the main, he hit the deck on the holeshot and charged from 20th place up to third by race end.
The second place rider at Minneapolis was none other than Brock Sellards. The new Yamaha of Troy rider nailed a great start behind Kelly Smith and Jesseman, passing Smith a third of the way through the race. It was a great start to the new season for Sellards, but he?ll have to contend with Jesseman and Byrne for the championship.
HOW ABOUT THOSE ROOKIES
Considering 2003 his first real rookie season, Ryan Mills found himself just out of the top ten in eleventh place. Not too bad for the Factory Connection/Honda rider, as with more racing comes more experience. Bobby Kiniry also qualified for the main and finished 17th. I keep hearing the name Tiger Lacey, whether it?s at Washougal and this kid nails the holeshot in a National, out racing the 125 West, and now running the 125 East! Talk about a core racer, the name Lacey will be appearing further up the results board as the season progresses.
WHAT ABOUT THE 250 CLASS
If you haven?t seen or heard of what?s been going on this year in the supercross series, I?ll clue you in. Ricky Carmichael is beatable! Then again, not everyone in the 250 class can beat him, but Chad Reed and Ezra Lusk have thrown down in weeks past, showing the world that RC is mortal. On Saturday night, the Minneapolis crowd got a special treat, as Carmichael, Lusk, and Reed got great starts. Lusk was leading with Ricky and Reed in tow, until Reed made a clean pass on Carmichael and set his sights on Lusk. It was on lap six that Reed passed Lusk and took the lead!
Then a lap later, Chad takes a digger in the whoops and drops back to third. Meanwhile, Carmichael passes Lusk for the lead, and then Reed hits the ground again! Slowly, Ricky is putting some time between his Honda and Lusk, with Reed charging through the pack to eventually finish sixth place. Carmichael takes a much needed win, with Lusk finishing second and Tim Ferry third. With RC winning and Reed finishing sixth, Ricky gained ten valuable points on Chad in the point race. Get ready for Atlanta, because the 250 class is going to go down to the wire!
250 POINT STANDINGS
125 EAST RESULTS
125 EAST POINT STANDINGS