Thursday
May242018

Ryan Dungey sending it wide open on the KTM 150SX 2019 twostroke on Cairolis hometrack

Ryan Dungey jumped on the new KTM 150SX 2019 twostroke model during todays KTM media launch and impressed the journalists with some fast laps and great twostroke sound.

 

Wednesday
May232018

New Honda CRF450L Dual Sport

 

 

 

More than a decade ago, we began looking for a hardcore dual sport built around a Japanese manufacturer’s 450cc motocross weapon. Honda just introduced one … the 2019 Honda CRF450L. The “target price” is $10, 399, and it is expected to be available in September of this year in U.S. dealers.

No, this is not a namby-pamby, overweight dual sport. It has an Unicam single-cylinder 449cc engine not that far removed from Honda’s motocross bike, and it is extremely light weight for a street legal motorcycle of such displacement, i.e., a claimed 289 pounds with all fluids (including a full tank of gas). Have a look below at Honda’s description of this new model:

This is the bike so many have been waiting for. The one serious riders have dreamed about. A true street-legal dirtbike that offers the reliability, refinement and quality of a Honda, along with the light weight, handling, and power of our best off-road machines. Introducing the new 2019 CRF450L. Sure, you’ve seen dual-sport bikes before, but this is something much, much more: a true trail-to-trail machine. Developed in tandem with our all-new 2019 CRF450X, it features a powerful 449cc Unicam engine, twin-spar aluminum CRF chassis, six-speed transmission, and premium suspension. Electric start? Naturally. All-LED lighting package? Of course. Until now, you’ve always had to choose between performance and reliability. No longer—with the CRF450L, you get the best of both worlds. And “best” is a word you’re going to hear a lot when you’re talking about this bike.

 

Wednesday
May232018

Lake Sugar Tree Sprint Enduro

 

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Josh Strang ends an almost two years win drought with victory at last weekend’s Full Gas Sprint Enduro at Lake Sugar Tree. 

 

Aussie off-road star, Josh Strang ended a lean period away from the top step of the podium by taking victory at round three of the 2018 Kenda Full Gas Sprint Enduro Series at Lake Sugar Tree Raceway near Axton, Virginia: “This was a long time coming, and that’s what makes it special,” said Josh from the podium. 

Strang last won a round of the Sprint Enduro series on August 16, 2016, at the Rockcrusher Sprint Enduro in Georgia. not long after he suffered a foot injury during ISDE competition that same year, which proved a major setback. For just over a year now, josh has worked hard to regain the speed that once carried him to the 2010 GNCC title. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting a little faster with each race, but I got off on the wrong foot this weekend and I wasn’t sure I could recover,” said Strang. “I crashed in the first test on Saturday and lost a lot of time, so I was riding from behind right from the get-go. I just kept grinding away at it and I was able to make up some time and finish second for the day.”

 

strang sugar tree Sprint 006 Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Shan Moore

 

On Sunday, Strang was consistently in the top three throughout the six tests, winning test five outright – a Cross test, bringing to an end Ryan Sipes’ undefeated status in 2018 Cross tests. 

After 12 tests and two days of racing, Strang took the overall win by 17 seconds from Layne Micheal. After the race, Strang revealed that he has changed a few things with his technique. 

“I’ve been working on a few things since the last race,” said Strang. “One of them was not using my rear brake as much. At the last race I think I needed five sets of rear brake pads and a complete brake line, this weekend I didn’t even change pads.”

With the win, Strang moved ahead of Grant Baylor and into third overall in the series standings.

Layne Michael struggled with the muddy conditions on Saturday but came on strong during Sunday’s event with the track tacking up after a wet and slippery previous day. The KR4 Husqvarna rider scored two test wins on Sunday to finish runner-up to Strang.

 

layne Michael sugar tree Sprint 129 Enduro21 560

Photo Credit: Shan Moore

 

“Things started off a little rough, I think I struggled with the conditions on Saturday,” said Michael, who was fifth at the end of the first day. “The conditions were a lot more to my liking today. The only thing I struggled with was staying off the ground in the Cross test.”

The Enduro test was Michael’s strong point and that’s where both of his wins came, although he was third in the final Cross test behind Steward Baylor and Ryan Sipes. 

Ryan Sipes rounded out a Husqvarna podium, 22 seconds behind Michael after winning five of the six Cross tests yet struggling in the Enduro tests. 

“I’m surprised to finish third considering how I rode this weekend,” said Sipes. “I had a few falls in the Enduro test, but even when I didn’t fall I was just off the pace. 

“I haven’t ridden in the woods in about a month and it really showed when I got in the Enduro test.”

Wednesday
May232018

Honda CRF Works Edition!

You won’t believe what Honda has in store for 2019!


Introducing the CRF Performance Line

Earlier this week we were invited out to a special event that the crew at Honda held that celebrated big news by the Japanese manufacturer. Unveiling their 2019 “CRF Performance Line” that included three new models to their lineup, they are adding some serious excitement to their already solid lineup. The biggest news relating directly to motocross racers? The all-new CRF450RWE, which is a “Works Edition” model with added race mods that will offer the consumer a bike that is race-tuned to replicate Ken Roczen’s Team Honda HRC race bike. They also released an all-new street legal CRF 450L that is super exciting for the road-to-trail enthusiasts, and an all-new CRF250RX that fills the gap beneath the already successful CRF450RX. A huge update to their CRF450X model is big news for the off road crowd, and one that should change the game for off road racers. One last completely superficial detail that most will find to be great news is the black wheels that now come stock on all of these new and updated models (less the CRF150R.) Read on below for the official press release along with detailed information and photos of every model and click the links for more info!

From American Honda: IRVINE, Calif. (May 23, 2018) - During a recent "CRF Collective" unveiling ceremony at Fox Racing headquarters, Honda announced its most far-reaching range of performance off-road models ever, expanding the group by three and significantly improving the four returning models. Leveraging the brand's unparalleled experience in the manufacture of dirt bikes, Honda's performance off-road lineup now includes CRF machines for riding applications including motocross, closed-course off-road, pure off-road, and even dual sport.

All seven models are based on the platforms of Honda's revolutionary motocrossers, the CRF450R and CRF250R. Those two machines return for 2019 but with important updates, as does the closed-course off-road CRF450RX. In addition, Honda is offering a factory-replica version of its full-size motocrosser called the CRF450RWE ("Works Edition"). The trail-ready CRF450X is entirely new for 2019, and it's joined by a road-legal CRF450L that enables customers to connect trails via asphalt. Finally, Honda is also introducing an all-new CRF250RX closed-course off-road machine.

"Honda's history in off-road is something we're very proud of, from the '70s-era Elsinores, through the XRs of the '80s and '90s, to the post-millennial CRF models," said Lee Edmunds, American Honda's Manager of Motorcycle Marketing Communications. "For 2019, it's exciting to build on that reputation with the most expansive lineup of CRF performance off-road models ever offered, and to reach a wide range of enthusiasts through motorcycles that are tailored to an equally diverse spectrum of riding environments. With this new lineup, there really is a CRF off-road performance machine for everyone."

 

CRF450RWE

For the 2019 model year, you don't have to be Ken Roczen to enjoy a CRF450R with factory enhancements, as the new CRF450RWE features a number of upgrades based on the bikes in the Team Honda HRC race shop. Rocketing to the top step of the podium through the use of a specially designed cylinder head with hand-polished ports, Yoshimura titanium slip-on muffler, and special ECU settings, this new model offers increased low- and mid-range torque. It also features the same graphics as Roczen's No. 94 race bike, including a Throttle Jockey factory seat cover. Upgraded black D.I.D LT-X rims are included, along with black triple clamps and a gold RK chain. Titanium nitride-coated fork legs and an updated, titanium nitride-coated shock shaft increase traction and bump absorption.

Tuesday
May222018

Jeffrey Herlings

Jeffrey Herlings reflects on Teutschenthal

 

Jeffrey Herlings was simply perfect at the Grand Prix of Germany, much like he was in Trentino and Portugal. Students of the sport will study the tape from the event for many years to come. What was the key to his success on a track where most struggled to find an edge over their fellow competitors? MX Vice editor, Lewis Phillips,  caught up with the current series lead for an exclusive chat beneath the beating sun on Sunday evening.

MX Vice: Perfect weekend, really. I do not think that you put a foot wrong at all…

Jeffrey Herlings: No. That is good, right? It was a good weekend. I think it was important yesterday to be first in pre-qualifying to have the inside gate. From there on we could pull off a holeshot, so very happy with that. To come out on top today with both moto wins, I think it was a pretty dominant performance. I am just very pleased and happy with it.

Jeffrey Herlings led every single lap at the MXGP of Germany (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

I was watching you in the second moto and I just couldn’t remember if I have ever seen you look this good, especially on a track like this. Is this the best you have ever felt, particularly on this track, even compared to your MX2 days?

Yeah, I felt so great on the track. It is not really my favorite track, like I said, but today when you get out from the first lap and basically from the second turn, you can just do your own thing like a training session. You can just focus on your riding and your own lines. You do not have to battle with your competition – that makes it easy work.

On a day like today, or weekend like this, starts are particularly important because let’s be honest, the prep was not great. It was better today than yesterday, but this is not exactly the best Teutschenthal we have seen.

No. I think the best I have seen it was at ‘Nations. I think in 2013 the track was really rough and a lot of places to pass. I remember [Eli] Tomac, I think, in that second moto he came from like mid-pack to second. I think it was first moto and he came from almost mid-pack to second before he had a big get-off on that leap jump, on the high jump. I think it was not the best I have seen it, but I think today it was pretty decent and good.

If you compare this event to last year, obviously you swapped moto wins with Tony [Cairoli]. Do you think that you were so dominant today because you are so much better than last year or he has gotten worse? Is it a little bit of both?

I definitely think he did not get worse, but last year my starts were not on point and today they were. Last year I started both motos outside the top five I think. Now after one turn I was leading both motos. His starts last year were both holeshots and now he did not start within the top five I think. I think it was because of his bad starts and my good starts that it was a different result this year compared to last year.

Forty-eight points is the advantage that Jeffrey Herlings has (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

Watching you heading into the corner before pit lane, obviously everyone was doubling as you came off the start straight. Everyone was using the bank on the side of the track to get the lift, whereas you were doing it from the middle. How difficult was that and what kind of went into it from a technical standpoint?

Well, I actually didn’t see the line. I only saw the line in like end of the second moto, the last few laps, that they went through the bank and then jumped like a double. I went through the middle and I just rolled the first one and then just wheel-tapped some bumps, so I just did not see it.

In the second moto obviously you stopped doing that, so was that just because you did not feel like jumping from the middle was worth the risk? What was that?

There was not really a lift from the middle, so that is why nobody basically jumped from the middle. I did it first moto, but I did not do it second moto. Second moto I was just rolling the first one and then did some wheel taps over the bumps. At one point, like six or seven laps to go probably, I saw they were jumping from the bank. Then I did that and I think it was way faster.

In the first moto, on lap two or so I noticed the team told you to improve in sector one. You immediately did that and then through the rest of the day you were half a second quicker each lap. Was there anything that you can pinpoint that you did there?

I am just a good student I think! I just do what I get told. I do not know. I did not do anything different in particular. I saw sector one that I am too slow and they put it on the pit board probably. I did not really focus on it too much. I did not change lines – I was just a little bit more aggressive I think. Like I said, I did not change too much. That is actually pretty weird.

This was originally posted as a podcast elsewhere on MX Vice (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

Was that the same in the second moto? Your sprint speed right out of the gate was phenomenal. You were two seconds a lap quicker. Obviously the track did not develop that much to where you can do special things like a sand track, so was it just a case of feeling the flow and just being aggressive?

No, I felt a good flow. I was just straight in the zone. I was leading and I had nobody really behind me pushing me, so I could just focus on my own race. I think that definitely helped.

Finally, you came in with a twenty-nine-point lead I think. You have now got forty-eight or so. If I told you that coming into the weekend, you would have taken it, but this does not change anything for you, does it? What you are doing is working, so why change?

Yeah, definitely not going to change. I remember I came here at this track with one hundred and forty or one hundred and fifty-point lead, then I broke my collarbone. The next GP [Sweden] I almost lost a pinky and then the next one after that I dislocated my hip. It does not matter how big the championship points lead is. It ain’t over until it is over. Definitely I prefer to be forty-eight points in front instead of behind but, like I said, it does not mean a thing.

It is almost like those injuries, they sucked, but they maybe helped your career in the long run, because you have got this outlook of a veteran like Tony. You know how to play this game now.

Yeah. I think it is very important to be consistent and be good every single race. This one, we tried to do I think. If you look at my average from this year, my worst from out of the eight GPs was a third place in one moto and all the others were first or second. Until now I have been very consistent. I know I am not going to be first, second or third for twenty rounds probably. It is important to be consistent. You see [Jason] Anderson won a championship that way. Cairoli and [Ryan] Dungey won multiple championships that way. I think the main thing is to really be consistent and try to win when I can, and when I cannot win I just try to be on the box or at least be close to the box.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer

Tuesday
May222018

Viewpoint: Antonio Cairoli

Reprint from MX Vice

Antonio Cairoli on a tricky day in Germany

 

If Antonio Cairoli loses the MXGP title at the end of the season, then the Grand Prix of Germany will be labelled as the one where it got away. Poor starts caused him to miss the podium by a significant amount of points, which was far from ideal, and he now faces a deficit of forty-eight points. Cairoli was still happy to discuss the outing and what went wrong in this exclusive MX Vice interview. 

MX Vice: 6-6 on the day and obviously you gave up a lot of points. If you want to put a positive spin on it, then I guess if this is going to be your worst day then you will take it. Maybe you do not want to put a positive spin on it though, because it was not great?

Antonio Cairoli: Yeah. It was six and five because second moto is fifth, so a little bit better. But still, for sure, not a good day at all. Yesterday was good. Actually I felt good. The speed was good. After I get this problem with my bike with the launch control [in qualifying] and then I had to stop, try to fix it and then seven with the gate pick which is not the best here. All the inside gates seem to be with both starts very good – that is what we had to do. Stay in the top three was my goal for yesterday, then through the problem I had to give up this third place.

The first gate was too important here. The ground is more hard on the inside. We know it already from last year and already after the fifth gate was not the best. So both starts no good. On this track it was unbelievable the roost, the pain and the stones. It was very difficult to pass. Both motos I get [Clement] Desalle in front, which is one of the toughest guys in the series to pass. I could not really make the pass. When I was trying to change lines I always lost meters. It was not the best race for sure.

Antonio Cairoli now trails Jeffrey Herlings by forty-eight points (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

I think you were alongside, or near, [Alessandro] Lupino in that first race and he obviously hit the gate. Did that impact your start at all? It looked like you got a worse jump than you typically would.

Yeah, for sure. That also was not helping. He hit the gate then Glenn [Coldenhoff] next to me and [Julien] Lieber also moved a lot. We almost all start bad. For sure did not help, but this is not an excuse. We had to be more consistent with the start and trying to stay as much as possible in the top three with the start. We did not do it, so it was my mistake for sure. We're going to pay very expensive for this problem, but we will see on the next ones.

When you started outside the top five in that first moto, did you think that you stood a chance to get on the podium or did you already know that on this track it was going to be very, very, very difficult?

Yeah. I think I was having a chance, but then with the crash I lost again the contact with Clement [Desalle]. I tried to make a gap again to close the gap back to him. Since I was in the back again, he was pushing really hard again. It was difficult to pass. My plan also to that second moto to do a little bit better and try to make it to the podium because that is my goal always, to finish always on the podium. But again not the best start, even worse than the first moto. I was like twelfth or thirteenth on the first lap. It was difficult to come through the pack.

What did you think of the track prep this weekend? There were a lot of comments about it being too dry and not enough lines yesterday. It looked like they put a lot of water down overnight, but it did not look like it made too big of a difference.

I do not know. Normally I like a lot of ruts, but I think it was a little bit too deep this time and too slow the track. The good ruts were only one and in the corner most of the time the inside line was the fastest – the rest was muddy and slippery. So I think the track preparation, if they make it a little bit less ripped and keep it a little bit more hard-pack style, it would be a little bit easier to make a pass. For everybody it was the same, so it is not really an excuse. A little bit strange preparation, but they always try to do their best for the track.

Cairoli recognises that Jeffrey Herlings has been phenomenal (KTM Images/Ray Archer)

In the first moto it seemed like it took you longer than the other guys to start doubling after you come across the start straight. Was there any reason for that?

Yeah, normally it is always the same every year, but from yesterday to today they make the double a little bit more really a double. Yesterday it was not even the landing and this morning there was, so it was kind of difficult to make the speed there and to make it the first time. But then I saw some guys in front were making it. This is not really a place where you make a lot of difference on this track.

If you are free in front of you, you can make a very good speed. That is what we see with Jeffrey [Herlings] and he had good starts and the lap times were very good. When you have free track and a good start, on this kind of track if you ride smooth and right gears everywhere, you can make a good speed and good rhythm. But when you are in the pack and try to change lines all the time and are jumping from one rut to the other, you also get a little bit tired because it is very nervous and [you are] trying to make the best of it and not crash.

You are around forty-five points down now. Does that change anything for you? Are you sat here just mad, pissed off and not wanting to talk about it? I guess, if anything, you know what you need to do now?

No, for sure I am not pissed off at all. Jeffery [Herlings] is deserving it. At the moment he is very fast and very consistent. It is myself making a lot of mistakes and making it a little bit easier for him. But, for me, it is important to try to figure it out again; the starts. trying to stay in front from the next races, try to stay in front with him and battle for the win. That is the only thing that for me matters. This kind of starts should not happen and we will try to fix it.

Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer 


Tuesday
May222018

Justin Barcia interview

 

There were a few rough years for Justin Barcia, but those days are starting to appear in the rear-view-mirror. After three podiums in SX, Justin started off his 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship campaign with a solid 3-3 for 3rd overall at the Hangtown National. Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin got away from him at the opener, but starting the outdoors season on the box is never a bad thing.

After the racing was over, we caught up with Justin over at the Yamaha truck. We talked about his day at Hangtown and got into the talk of the day in the pits: the massive jumps being built at Glen Helen and riders hoping they are tamed way down before the Glen Helen National next weekend.

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If Justin can find the pace of Eli and Marv, it’s going to be a great season. Photo by: Mark Lester

Justin, 3-3 today at Hangtown for 3rd overall. I’d call it a good start to your season.

Yeah, it was a good start–a good day. There were lots of positives to take out of it. Not too many negatives. I need to execute a few things a little better, but all in all for the first race it’s a positive one. 

This was your first race outdoors on the new 2018 Yamaha too. You did good on it in SX, but this is where everyone really expects you to shine on it Is this a bike that’s going to help you do that, you think?

100%! The new Yamaha chasis is awesome. Honestly, I’m not blowing smoke. You could tell by my riding in SX, and in outdoors it works better for me. I think it works better for all riders. I’ve heard a a lot of guys say, “It’s way better.” I agree 100%. It works great. It’s a good turning machine and that’s what the old one was lacking a little bit. 

It’s always important, but how important is it to start the year off on the podium?

You know, I think for me it’s important. I wanted to set the tone and show that I’m going to be a guy that’s up there. I was a little off the first two guys [Tomac and Musquin]. There are going to be other guys that are going to get faster as the season goes on. This is the first race and everyone has stuff to work on. For me, it was important to get on the podium and be there. I really wanted to be there. I knew I could be there and I did that. 

What do you think of the pace up front to start the year? You’ve been around a while now, have raced all over the world and have a lot to compare it too. Is the pace something you think you’ll be able to match as the season progresses?

I don’t think it’s….Marvin and Eli were running a good pace today, 100%. It;s fast, but it’s nothing new, though. There’s always a fast pace up front. I’m definitely capable of running that pace. I just need to get there. I think I can get there for sure.

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A whoop section was put where the Fly 150 foot triple was. Photo by: Octopi

From post-race press conference: Some riders are talking about and are concerned with the size of the jumps they’re building at Glen Helen. What’s your take on what they build at Glen Helen?

They usually go way over the top. It’s kind of crazy. Jumps are cool, but when you’re racing 30-minutes plus two laps sending it, it’s not that cool really. Whoops and stuff are a lot better. Maybe we can get someone from the AMA to look at the track when we go there for press day next week and we could all have a riders meeting and talk about it before the race. Maybe we could tone the stupid jumps down and make it safer. The faces are full on SX but double the size. 

I gotta ask you about what was talked about in the press conference. You guys have to figure out a way for the riders to have some say on what is built on these tracks. You guys are the stars of the sport and who people pay to see. There’s gotta be a way.

You would think so. In SX, Trey Canard was at a few races and he was looking like he would be the guy to do that. We talked to him and then he could talk to the track people. Maybe next year he could be there more. It was cool he was at the first couple of races. It was nice to talk to someone that knows about the tracks and has been there. I think we all agree that jumps are cool. 

We want to keep you guys alive, though. We really do.

Yeah, 100%. I think it’s something where all the riders will have to come together and say, “We don’t want to do this.” I think it’s hard to get all the riders together some times to agree on things. Kind of like a riders sanction almost which never happens in this sport. 

It could, though. I really think so.

It really could happen–for sure–if we all got together. We just need to do that. All in all, the track needs to be fun. This weekend was cool. They took out that “Fly 150” [150 foot triple step up], which is good. It was whops, it made the racing better. This is outdoors. Jumps are cool, but stupid jumps aren’t cool. (laughs) 

That last big jump they built at Glen Helen, on press day the guy over jumped it and broke off the whole front end of his bike. That’s insanity to me.

That’s the problem. You don’t want jumps where you blow out your front wheel or something.

Tuesday
May222018

Ken Roczen - My Hangtown

 

Former World and American champion Ken Roczen is fighting one of the worst battles a rider can have, and that is time. Having crashed badly in the last two years and picking up bad injuries, the German rider struggled in the opening round of the AMA Motocross Championship last weekend. Now he goes to Glen Helen with a lot of pressure to get on track, and not a lot of time to do it.

Another former World and American champion, Grant Langston mentioned after Roczens performance that he feels worried for Roczen. Mentioning that it might be tendinitis that Roczen has and that won’t repair quickly. The sport would be poorer with a less than 100% Ken Roczen, so let’s hope he gets it together soon.

Roczen-back_180522_092837.jpg#asset:7624

Below is what Roczen thought of his weekend.

“I knew this weekend was going to be kind of crazy. We haven’t had a lot of time to prepare for the race, but I wanted to start the season off. We need seat time so there’s no better practice than racing. We knew we were going to show up and have to just wing it to see what we could do. I got the clearance to ride a few weeks ago, though it’s been very hard for me, with my thumb, to get a lot riding time in.

“We knew that we shouldn’t have high expectations because of the lack of preparation that I was able to get on the bike, but I’ve done everything I can and left nothing on the table in terms of what I can do to prepare my body. In the first moto I ended up sixth, which we were pretty happy with considering where we’re at. I knew the second moto was going to be tough.

“I’m incredibly fit, but my race fitness and bike fitness are just not there yet. I know each and every weekend, I’m going to be making big steps forward, which is important. We were also searching a little bit on the suspension side, just because I’ve only had a couple days of testing prior to this race. We still have a little more work to do to optimize everything.

“We made a little change from the first to the second moto; sometimes you have it in your mind, ‘What if there’s something better?’ Unfortunately, we went the wrong direction. Overall, I gave it my all and we came away healthy, which is important. I’m definitely going to do some work this week on both myself and the bike and show up at Glen Helen in a good mood and ready to rock.

 “The worst part is waiting for the next race to better myself. The type of patience I don’t have. Getting track time is always a benefit, but especially for me right now. I’ve been riding for a few weeks now, but only within the last week have I been able to put in some full motos. I’ve also only been riding in Florida and haven’t tested with the team anywhere else, so getting some time ahead of the race to try a few different settings is huge.

“I’m just excited to be back at the races with my team in general, but really looking forward to getting back to motocross,” he said. “It definitely comes more natural to me. I haven’t raced outdoors since I won the championship in 2016, and although I want to take things slow and progress each week since I’m just returning, I’d like nothing more than to give my team good results.”

 

Saturday
May192018

Hangtown 50th

Thanks DDNMC

50 Years of MX

Hangtown

Friday
May182018

Arrival of "The Hurricane"

Reprint from RacerX

 

Then Bob Hannah showed up, and all hell broke loose.

Motocross fans from way back know the story of how Hannah showed up in 1976 “like a hurricane,” according to Cycle News beat reporter Jim Gianatsis, who gave "the Hurricane" his nickname. A wild child from the California desert with exactly one AMA National race under his belt (a sixth-place finish at the '75 Cycle-Rama in San Antonio), Hannah was signed by Yamaha for the '76 season.

His first stop was in Florida, a state no stranger to hurricanes, to race the then-glorious Winter-AMA Series. He dominated on a 250 and had a couple of decent supercross finishes in the three races that led up to the outdoor opener, the Hangtown Classic. It was there that Hannah was dispatched to the 125 Class to take on the seemingly invincible Marty Smith and his factory Honda. It was April 4, 1976, one of the most pivotal days in motocross history.

The fiercely competitive Hannah didn’t just beat Smith and everyone else. He dominated. And he would continue to do so throughout the series. Granted, Smith was having issues with his Honda, but Hannah was reshaping the way men raced motocross. His wild riding style, flamboyant character, and killer instincts were a unique package that seemed to catch Marty and everyone else off-guard. The standard for training was raised by Hannah, and so was the speed. He was able to go faster and go longer, and he wasn't intimidated by anyone. In fact, Hannah pretty much hated everyone else he raced against—especially Europeans.

Whether it was an act or just downright meanness, Hannah approached every race with a burning desire to win, and when the 1976 125 Nationals were complete and it was time to race the Trans-AMA Series against the true masters of motocross led by Roger DeCoster, Hannah went to war. He introduced himself to "The Man," the then-five-time FIM 500cc World Motocross Champion, by running up his leg at Unadilla. It was a signal that the game was changing, and Roger and friends took heed. For the next three years, their Trans-AMA battles would be epic, with the Europeans slowly giving way to the Americans, led by the wild-riding Hannah, plus Tony DiStefano, Weinert, Howerton, and more. Hannah rattled every visitor's cage every chance he got, including calling them all “commie bastards” over the P.A. at the FIM 250cc U.S. Grand Prix at Unadilla.

Of course, this list is about AMA Motocross, and Hannah was exceptional there. He won three titles and a then-record 37 Nationals, spread across three classes (not mention to three straight supercross titles). And while his numbers would be eclipsed in years to come, the stats themselves are not Hannah's legacy. What made him such a legend—and what he changed on the racetrack—was his speed itself, the aggression, the work, and the mindset of everyone around him. He wanted to win so badly that it was contagious. You had to work like Hannah and ride like Hannah if you wanted to beat him.

Hannah also bridged the gap from supercross to outdoor motocross before anyone else, taking the skills he mastered in the stadiums and putting them to use outside. That made fast starts, a frantic pace, and precision jumping motocross requirements. And when Europe wasn't quick to follow, the Americans would soon surpass them.

Bob Hannah was not part of the historic team that won the 1981 Motocross and Trophee des Nations that signaled the transfer of world motocross power from Europe to America—that was Danny LaPorte, Johnny O'Mara, Chuck Sun, and Donnie Hansen—but he led the surge that preceded it. Even though he was sidelined at the height of his dominance for more than a year with a shattered leg from a water-skiing accident, his influence was obvious in what was happening on racetracks everywhere. Even a couple years after he came back, Hannah seemed well on his way to winning the 1983 AMA 250 Motocross Championship, as well as the SX title, before a broken wrist once again slowed him. The next year, it was his pelvis. Then the wrist again.

Hannah raced well past his prime, with injuries slowing his speed, but not his desire. By the time he was done in the late eighties, well past the time of his early peers Smith, DiStefano, Weinert, and, of course, DeCoster, the sport itself had completely changed. Hannah was the driving force behind that transformation, even though his pure stats don't quite reflect his deep influence. While it was Brad Lackey who would win that first world title, it was Hannah who set the pace during that crucial era.

There are several truly great riders who could have been #2 on this list of NBC Sports Gold 30 Greatest AMA Motocrossers, which has made the bench racing so much fun these past 29 days. But anyone who saw Bob Hannah race at his absolute best—banging elbows and busting boots with the old guard, leading the way in the new way of racing—certainly understands why Hannah ranks just above the rest. The Hurricane was the game-changer for American motocross in its collective race against the rest of the world.

To see all of Bob Hannah's results in both SX and MX, check out the Racer X Vault.

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