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Biff! Bang! Pow! At the Daytona Supercross

Mar 23 2009 / Monday

Josh Grant and Tim Ferry pile up!

Here's a little rundown of the Daytona Supercross, by our buddy Eric Johnson:

Biff! Bang! Pow! At the Daytona Supercross

On 6,000 tons of dirt and black sand dumped onto the once grassy Trioval area of the 2.5-mile Trioval area of Daytona International Speedway, the 10th round of the 2009 Monster Energy Supercross series took place Saturday night in the Atlantic Ocean Beach town on an astonishingly rough and wicked 2,970-foot track. When both main events completed, it was usual suspects Chad Reed — having now won is second consecutive supercross in two week’s time — and Christophe Pourcel looking down at the world from the top step of the victory podium.

While nobody really anticipated it, the 2009 Daytona Supercross by Honda was one of the wildest and most unusual races in quite time some. In various ways, shapes and forms, it had it all. A handful of off-beat riders shined brightly under the multi-million candlelight klieg lights, while many others found themselves making huge mistakes, crashing, or even being overcoming by fatigue from a track that just plain got more menacing and treacherous at the evening wore on.

Truth be told, the real madness began when the gate dropped to start the 20-lap Supercross main event. While enjoying a great jump out of the hole, James Stewart, front wheel aloft, had his YamahaYZ450F pinned and was about to enter the first turn when the front wheel of the bike touched the grassy surface. It was then that the San Manuel Yamaha reached for too much front brake, the front end immediately washing out. When it did, down went James as well as Suzuki’s Michael Byrne and Yamaha’s Josh Hill. Many other riders were also affected by the yard sale of a crash. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi and AMPM Boost Mobile Yamaha’s Jason Lawrence tiptoed through the chaos and immediately took off with the lead. Championship antagonists Chad Reed and James Stewart were both in dire straits, Reed buried way back in eight and a groggy Stewart in dead last, his front wheel bent and forks bent and his helmet a scratch and dent mess.

“He has to go,” SPEED TV man Ricky Carmichael from up in the booth. “He has no choice. Hey, it’s the Daytona Supercross, and there’s 17 races in this thing.”

Three laps in, Lawrence, who had shocked the supercross community earlier that afternoon in timed practice by setting the fastest lap as a scorching 1:06.998, streaked by Alessi and swapped through the sand to open up a 15-second lead. Meanwhile, Reed, who rode in an excellent rhythm, ultimately picked off Honda’s Kevin Windham for fourth and on the 10th circuit, moved Alessi out of the way. With five laps to go, he was less than two seconds off J-Law’s white rear fender. “There’s blood in the water now! And Reed smells it!” exclaimed TV announcer and five-time Daytona winner Ricky Carmichael. Sure enough, two laps later, Reed whipped by Lawrence and was in the lead. When the checkered flag was waved, it was Reed meeting it 5.670 seconds ahead of a brilliant Jason Lawrence. Placing third after colliding violently with Alessi only a few turns from the finish line jump was Honda/No Fear’s Davi Millsaps. Fourth went to a disappointed and fuming Alessi. Fifth was Kevin Windham, sixth Ryan Villopoto — a victim of a mid-race mistake that brought his excellent charge to the front to a screeching halt — and seventh, a battered and bruised James Stewart.

“Yeah, I don’t know how solid I was,” conceded Lawrence after the race, but still quite pleased with his result. “If I had better fitness… I’ve watched all the races this year, so I knew how strong Chad would be at the end of the race. When I saw Chad — and I’m a Chad Reed fan — I knew he had more gas in the tank then I did”

Added Reed who now leads the championship fight by 11 points, “I’m happy for J-Law. I know he cops a lot of slack and for good reason, but he’ a good kid. He’s a good rider and you never underestimate anyone. That’s why we go racing.”

And while Millsaps earned it the hard way, he had no qualms about his run-in with Alessi that allowed him to climb onto the podium.

“He left the door wide open,” said Millsaps. “I apologize, but this is racing.”

Josh Grant of the JGRMX/Toyota/Yamaha/No Fear team, normally a mainstay at the front of the field in AMA Supercross, did not make the show in Daytona, crashing hard in the Lat Chance Qualifier and forcing to watch the action from the sidelines.

Upstart Steven Clark of the Suzuki City outfit was the first rider around the apex of the fist turn to lead the East Region pack out onto the whopped-out Daytona circuit to begin the 15-lap main event. And while Star Racing’s Matt Lemoine would lead for a short spell, it was MDK/KTM’s Martin Davalos taking the lead and motoring his way through the sand to open a large gap on all behind him. Davalos would lead 10 of the 15 laps of the race before becoming visibly fatigued in the closing stage of the main.

“You can see how tired he is,” remarked Carmichael. “He’s now coasting through the turns.”

Sure enough, Christophe Pourcel of Monster Energy Kawasaki team caught Davalos and made his move for the lead.

“The guy is silky smooth, man,” Carmichael commented of Pourcel. “Watch his charge through the corners.”

At the completion of the 15th and final, it was the French-born rider Pourcel leaping across the finish line with a six second lead over runner-up Davalos. Having started in a lowly eight place position, Rockstar/Makita Suzuki’s Nico Izzi put in a hell of a ride, racing his way back to third at the finish thus earning is fourth straight podium in 2009.

“I had to fight for that one,” said Izzi. “It was a good night to put in a hard change.”

Explained winner Pourcel of chasing down Davalos in the waning stages of the race: “I was watching to make the move. He as riding really fast at the beginning, but I waited and got some good lines at the end and caught him.”

Rounding out the top 10 in the Lites main event were Lemoine, Will Hahn (KTM), Matt Goerke (Suzuki), Darryn Durham (Yamaha), Broc Tickle (Yamaha) and Blake Wharton (Honda).


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