SACRAMENTO REPORT–MAY 19
It has been nearly two years since Ricky Carmichael lost a moto on a 250 while racing the outdoor Nationals. After his amazing perfect season in 2002, where he swept every moto of the twelve round Nationals, Carmichael continued his domination into ?03 with a pair of moto wins at Glen Helen. In past years, Ricky has amenably showed his distaste for the first two rounds of the outdoor series, and found his true pace once the series headed east. However, after RC blitzkrieged the competition on the ever-tough Glen Helen circuit, he still had to make a stop at the Hangtown track before going home. Last year was a fairytale story for Ricky, as he breezed through Hangtown with little competition (except for the rainy weather and Stephane Roncada), but this year was designed to be different. In place of Roncada was a more suiting competitor by the name of Kevin Windham. After a little over a year off from professional racing, Windham has made his way back, and is faster than ever. His presence became known immediately at round one when he and his monstrous CRF450 jumped out to the lead, only for ?K-Dub? to crash. No big deal, the second moto he came back to take second place and fifth overall for the day. All things considered, Windham laced together two relatively solid motos (except for the hiccup in moto one when he couldn?t get his bike fired after crashing). So why am I writing about Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Windham, thinking that Kevin could actually beat RC like he did two years ago at Washougal? Because it actually happened!
RC VS. K-DUB
Warm up the presses, because Ricky Carmichael finally lost an outdoor moto! Two seasons and 26 straight moto wins later Carmichael finishes second. How could this happen? Was it a bike problem? Was it the weather? It wasn?t a bike problem, and it sure wasn?t the weather (75 degrees and sunny), instead it was a competitor. A competitor? When is the last time you heard of Ricky Carmichael being beat because someone was faster than him outdoors? Take a walk down memory lane and if you can remember, Kevin Windham flat out beat RC in both motos of the 2001 Washougal National. It was a display of perfection from Windham, as he carved around RC and could place the bike wherever he wanted on the slippery Washougal track. But that was two years ago, and times have changed. Ricky has learned to ride and win in any condition wet or dry, and has extremely high confidence after sweeping the 2002 Nationals. On the other hand, Kevin Windham has been away from the hubbub surrounding RC and has a new lease on life. At Hangtown when Kevin jumped out to the early lead in moto one, instead of wondering when Carmichael was going to catch him (like the 38 other riders on the track), he instead powered away from Ricky by about a second a lap. It was the Kevin Windham of Washougal 2001, when he rode flawlessly and stopped RC?s moto win streak at 26.
BEGINNING A NEW STREAK
The streak was over, and Carmichael had to deal with the fact that he in fact IS human. So what did Ricky think after placing second the first moto? Heck, why not start another moto win streak! With Windham crashing twice in moto two, the floodgates were open for Carmichael to motor away with the moto win and overall. Kevin Windham regrouped and made his way into sixth by moto end (finishing fourth overall).
WHERE DID EVERYONE ELSE FINISH?
YOU CAN?T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS, OR CAN YOU?
With the absence of James Stewart and Branden Jesseman from the roster in the first two outdoor Nationals, things were certain to be interesting. In Glen Helen, there wasn?t any real surprise that Mike Brown and Grant Langston would wind up fighting for the overall win. After all, they did the exact same thing two years ago (when Stewart was still an amateur). Brown ended up winning the war in 2001 when Langston?s rear wheel exploded, giving Brown the 125 National championship. This year, Mike Brown prevailed once again with moto scores of 1-2, thus beating Langston?s 3-1 moto scores. Newly un-retired rider Ryan Hughes finished a distant third overall with moto scores of 4-3. Not too bad for a rider who has been racing for more than a decade and raced with McGrath and Emig. You see, I knew Hughes was fast (watching him blow by me on Glen Helen practice days), but I figured maybe he was just fast at Glen Helen because he constantly rode there. I couldn?t have been further from the truth, because ?Ryno? showed up with his A-game at Hangtown.
ORANGE IN A SEA OF GREEN
How do I know he brought his A-game? It?s easy to see, because he swept both motos in near-convincing fashion and took the overall win. It was a magical moment for the 30 year old, as it showed he still has the speed and can beat guys nearly half his age. One of those guys was Eric Sorby, who was leading the second moto until Hughes snuck by. Sorby didn?t give up, and pursued Ryan all the way to the finish line (and almost got by). It was a great race for Eric, and it looks as though he has finally stepped into the limelight (fourth overall last weekend and second overall this weekend). Another Kawasaki/Pro Circuit rider, Mike Brown, nabbed third overall with moto scores of 2-3. Brown still holds the points lead, although is being challenged severely by Ryan Hughes (who is only one point behind). Ivan Tedesco had a strong showing, going 4-6 for fourth overall, with Grant Langston rounding out the top five with moto scores of 8-4. Wait and see what happens next week as James Stewart is supposed to race for the first time since Las Vegas when he broke his collarbone.
250 POINT STANDINGS