Just one day before at a pre-season press conference, Reed said he only rode a few times since his surgery and just rode through a body-pounding whoop section 2 days before at Yamaha’s test track. Practice was cancelled due to rain on Friday, so he was seen on the track for the first time the afternoon of the race. He set the fastest lap time and didn’t look like he was favoring his shoulder at all. He easily won his heat race, then led every lap of the main event-winning by about 20 seconds. Second went to his Yamaha teammate David Vuillemin, who battled up from 5th, and third was Tim Ferry, who charged all the way up from 11th.
Ricky Carmichael, the defending supercross champion and Reed’s closest rival, will miss this season due to a torn ACL in his knee that started in September. He kept using the knee and even raced at the Motocross of Nations in Belgium and the US Open in Las Vegas with it, but he hurt it more practicing after that and decided to have surgery. His first race back will be round one of the outdoor nationals in May.
The main event holeshot went to Ernesto Fonseca, who is Honda’s best hope for supercross in 2004 since Carmichael is out. Reed was right behind him and went for an immediate pass. Two turns after the start Fonseca’s front end dropped in a whoop and he rode the bike down into it and then spun around in a half circle, still hanging on, before falling over to the side of the track-right in front of the other 18 riders that were behind him.
After just one lap Reed was pulling an impressive lead, leaving his fellow Australian Michael Byrne in second, just ahead of Sean Hamblin and Ezra Lusk.
Byne slipped to about 5th. Lusk moved to third behind Hamblin, and Ferry came up from mid pack to pass him on the 5th lap. Hamblin fell and got restarted in 12th. Vuillemin, Ferry and Lusk-all on Yamahas-had a great race going for second until Lusk fell in the same whoops Fonseca fell in. Veteran Mike LaRocco moved into 4th, and Fonseca was able to make it back up to 10th.
“This race was great and it was proof that the bike is awesome,” said Reed. “We (Yamaha) went one, two three tonight, so it’s proof that the bike is great. I was a little rusty, but I can’t complain.”
AMA Supercross is actually a series within a series. The first two world rounds that took place in December 2003 combine with all of the AMA rounds except Daytona to form the FIM’s world supercross champion. Only riders that start the THQ World Supercross GP are scored for world points. Grant Langston was leading in world points coming into Anaheim, but had a spectacular crash on a fast sweeping turn and was out for the night. The world points leader is now Tyler Evans, who just happened to tangle with Langston a couple of times, the last resulting in Evans getting knocked off the track.
Even with cold weather and a rainy week before, Anaheim was again reported to be a sellout with over 45,000 in attendance. There are two more events at Anaheim in the next few weeks, which are also expected to sell out.
Tedesco led every lap of the main and every lap of his heat race. “I had a perfect night,” he said. “I won my qualifier, earned the holeshot and went on to take my second supercross victory. I got a little tight late in the race, but I will work that out.”
Tedesco’s teammate Stephan Roncada also made the podium with a third, and second went to Honda’s Nathan Ramsey on Honda’s new 250F. Motoworld Racing.com’s Andrew Short was the first 2-stroke, finishing 4th. Finishing out the top five was privateer Troy Adams on a Team Green Kawasaki, also a 250F. Adams was overlooked when a lot of teams were picking their riders for 2004, and some may already wish they would have picked him up.
With Tedesco running away with the race from the start, the early battle was for second between Josh Hansen and Roncada. Rookie Bryan Johnson of Florida showed potential by holding on to 4th for a couple of laps before fading, eventually finishing 15th. Also getting a good start was KTM’s in-house bike tester Casey Lytle, who was as high as 5th in the early laps. Ramsey was just behind him and charged up to second with a few laps to go.
The race was a significant victory for Pro Circuit and Kawasaki, which has been working for months to prepare the new 4-stroke bikes. The team skipped the usual off-season racing activity to focus on getting ready for Anaheim, which required a lot of motor work and working out bugs. The strategy paid off. The bikes were solid and even won both heat races (Roncada and Tedesco).
Both Ramsey and Roncada are riders with 250 experience that made the switch back to the 125 class. Ramsey started back in the class after a long time out due to injury, and Roncada was struggling with a virus and his endurance a year ago and wasn’t happy in the premier 250 class. When asked if they thought that was fair to 125 riders working up to the 250 class, both mentioned the factories take the 125 championship seriously and want to win. Then Roncada added “If they want to make it to the 250 class, they have to go through us first!”
Another first for this event was a new team formed around a television series called “The Reality of Speed” on Spike TV. Team Samsung/Radio Shack has three riders in the west and three in the east, and the show focuses on their preparation for supercross and antics at their shop in Garland, Texas. Two of the team’s riders, Cole Siebler and Josh Summey, made the main, finishing 12th and 18th, respectively.
Even with an unusual rain that forced cancellation of Friday’s practice and cold weather, the Anaheim race was a sellout with just over 45,000 in attendance.
THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Western Regional Event Results
1. Ivan Tedesco, Murietta, Calif., Kawasaki
2. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Honda
3. Stephan Roncada, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Kawasaki
4. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki
5. Troy Adams, Brooksville, Fla., Kawasaki
6. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Colo., Yamaha
7. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha
8. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda
9. Greg Schnell, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Yamaha
10. Christopher Gosselaar, Victorville, Calif., Honda
THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Western Regional Season Standings
1. Ivan Tedesco, Murietta, Calif., Kawasaki, 25
2. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Honda, 22
3. Stephan Roncada, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Kawasaki, 20
4. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki, 18
5. Troy Adams, Brooksville, Fla., Kawasaki, 16
6. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Colo., Yamaha, 15
7. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha, 14
8. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda, 13
9. Greg Schnell, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Yamaha, 12
10. Christopher Gosselaar, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 11
THQ World Supercross Series/THQ AMA Supercross Series Event Results, Anaheim, Calif.
1. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
2. David Vuillemin, Murietta, Calif., Yamaha
3. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
4. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda
5. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki
6. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki
7. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda
8. Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, Ga., Yamaha
9. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
10. Ernesto Fonseca, Murietta, Calif., Honda
THQ AMA Supercross Series Season Standings
1. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 25
2. David Vuillemin, Murietta, Calif., Yamaha, 22
3. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 20
4. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda, 18
5. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki, 16
6. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki, 15
7. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda, 14
8. Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, Ga., Yamaha, 13
9. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 12
10. Ernesto Fonseca, Murietta, Calif., Honda, 11
THQ World Supercross GP Season Standing
1. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki, 59
2. Grant Langston, Temecula, Calif., KTM, 51,
3. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda, 49
4. Heath Voss, Mico, Texas, Yamaha, 49
5. Ernesto Fonseca, Murietta, Calif., Honda, 25
6. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki, 33
7. Daryl Hurley, Corona, Calif., Suzuki, 33 points
8. Keith Johnson, Albuquerque, N.M., Yamaha, 31
9. Jason Thomas, Melrose, Fla., Honda 27
10. Clark Stiles, Athens, Ala., Honda 25
Texts and photos by Steve Bruhn