The organisers of the AMA Pro Motocross are facing similar challenges to our own MX Nationals series here in Australia with problems stemming from the differing levels of restrictions in place across different states.
State governments have announced their state-by-state phase-in plans for the resumption of large gatherings, including professional motorsports events. Some states have taken a very restrictive approach to large gatherings (e.g., Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York), while others have found a more lenient approach acceptable so long as social distancing guidelines are followed (e.g., Indiana, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, etc.). These varying state approaches have created unique challenges for the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, as several of the pre-eminent venues are situate in restrictive states that may or may not permit large gatherings during the time frame currently planned for the series.
On May 4th it was announced that the series was tentatively set to be held from July 4th through October 3rd. This would leave only 13 days between the end of supercross and the start of motocross. As many states continue to roll out their phase-in plans, it became clear that a further delay in the start of the season would be the most advantageous for the riders, teams, and the events themselves. The farther the series could push back into the summer the better for all. However, there is a hard start of July 18th, this being a live NBC broadcast date – television coverage being paramount for series and team sponsors.
The new plan is to commence the 2020 season on Saturday, July 18th at Ironman Raceway and end on Saturday, October 10th at Fox Raceway. It is the intent to host 10 events and possibly 11 by the end of the season. Series organisers have consulted with OEM partners and have been advised that given the unexpected boost in off-road motorcycle unit sales and parts and accessories over the course of the last month (with many dealerships and after-market companies experiencing record sales), it would be premature to cut the season short at this time. The better approach would be to give the national tracks time over the course of the summer to see if their states relax their requirements to enable them to hold their national event. We are hopeful that some historical venues may be able to return to the schedule but recognize that others may not. Hence, the schedule will be rolled out on a month-to-month basis as racetracks and state officials continue to develop their plans.
Besides the Ironman and Fox Raceway dates, the Series is prepared to announce a surprise for the 2020 season. For the first time ever a pro national will be held at Loretta Lynn’s on the historical AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship racetrack in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. The national will be held in August and will serve as a sort of homecoming for pro riders who have graduated from these familiar grounds. Though Loretta Lynn’s is not a traditional pro national venue, these are not traditional times, and series managers are working hard to schedule nationals at venues in states that are open for business.
In addition to the above, it is the current plan to include the following traditional venues on the schedule: Washougal, WW Ranch and High Point. These venues are located in states that have established clear phase-in guidelines that can be timely met. In addition to Loretta Lynn’s, it is highly likely that two more new venues will be added to the schedule based on the states where they are located. Dates will be rolled out at a later date.
All events, no matter their location, will be conducted with fans with elevated social distancing protocols in compliance with CDC guidelines and as recommended by the Safe-to-Race Task Force. These protocols, currently under development, will be announced at a later date.
Strang wins GNCC Round Five
Taking his first overall win in four years was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Josh Strang coming through to meet the checkered flag first in South Carolina. Strang’s win would not come easy as he would swap the lead position multiple times throughout the three hour race with FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Kailub Russell.
Russell jumped out to grab the early lead and earn the $250 All Balls Racing XC1 Open Pro Holeshot Award, but by the time the lead pack came around on the second lap Strang was just two seconds off of Russell. The duo would continue in a heated battle throughout the next five laps. As the white flag flew, indicating one lap left, Strang found himself 1.5 seconds ahead of Russell. Therefore, a battle for the overall win ensued, however, Russell would find some misfortunate as he found himself in a soft spot on a berm. Russell endo’ed over the bars into a fence off to the right of the track, where his bike also became entangled in the fence. Russell was able to get his bike untangled with help from his team, and finish in the second place position. Strang came through the finish line with a one minute and 34 seconds lead over the rest of the pack to earn his first overall win of the 2020 season.
FactoryONE Sherco’s Grant Baylor battled back from a sixth place start to the day to earn his best finish of the season and round out the XC1 Open Pro podium with a third overall. Baylor also had his work cut out for him as he made his way through the pack of XC1 riders. Baylor made his way into the third place position as the two-lap card came out. He would put his head down and push for the remainder of the race to hold onto the last podium position.
Finding himself in the fourth place position for the second race in-a-row was Babbitt’s Online/Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Jordan Ashburn. Ashburn was faced with battles throughout the duration of the race, swapping between fourth and fifth place for majority of the day. After five rounds of racing Ashburn currently sits third in the National Championship points standings.
FMF/KTM Factory Racing’s Josh Toth was off to a great start as he made his way into a top three spot by the third lap. Toth battled in the third place position for majority of the race, but began to feel ill with just two laps to go. Battling himself just to finish the race, Toth would ultimately come through in the fifth place position.
Coming through in the second place position on the opening lap was AmPro Yamaha’s Layne Michael. Michael would continue to battle towards the front of the pack for the first half of the race. As the race wore on Michael found himself back in seventh, battling to get back up front. When the checkered flag flew, Michael would cross the line with a sixth place finish on the day.
After moving up to the XC1 Open Pro class from the XC2 250 Pro class it was Live It Xtreme/Kenda/Fly Racing’s Trevor Barrett earning a seventh place finish. Barrett made the necessary moves throughout the race to get himself inside of the top 10 in XC1 in South Carolina.
Phoenix Honda Racing’s Andrew DeLong finished out the day eighth in the XC1 Open Pro class. DeLong was having another great run making his way into sixth and then fifth at one point in the race, but a mechanical issue on the second to last lap put him out of contention for a top five finish on the day. DeLong remains eighth in the points standings after five rounds of racing.
Visiting from the West Coast was Three-Time Endurocross Champion, FactoryONE Sherco’s Cody Webb. As the race got started Webb jumped out to a top five start as the group made their way to the first turn. Webb would check in eighth on the opening lap. As the race wore on Webb was back in the ninth place position for the remainder of the race
Rockhill Powersports/Ti Dezigns/UFO Plast’s Evan Earl rounded out the top 10 in the XC1 Open Pro class. Earl made his way into 10th after battling throughout the day with 3 Bros Racing/KTM/Pearson Farms Racing’s Axel Pearson, who was also visiting from the West Coast.
In the XC2 250 Pro class it was Trail Jesters KTM’s Johnny Girroir clinching his second class win of the season, along with moving himself into the XC2 National Championship points lead. Girroir had a great start, moving himself into the lead early on in the race. However, at the halfway point Girroir would find himself in the fourth place position with his work cut out for him. Girroir put his head down, making crucial passes to regain the lead for the last three laps of racing.
AmPro Yamaha/St. Lawrence Radiology’s Mike Witkowski and Rockstar Energy/Factory Husqvarna Racing’s Craig DeLong were also in the top three mix throughout the duration of the three-hour racing. Witkowski moved himself into the lead around halfway, but would face a battle with Girroir and be unable to make the pass back around him stick. Witkowski finished out the day second in XC2. DeLong would battle between the fourth and third place position throughout the day, making the pass on Enduro Engineering/XC Gear/Husqvarna’s Ryder Lafferty and rounding out the XC2 class podium at round five.
The FMF XC3 125cc Pro-Am class currently has a tentative top three with Moose Racing/Carolina KTM/XC Gear’s Zack Hayes clinching his third win of the season, and holding onto the points lead. Larsons Cycles/Fly Racing/Shoei Helmets’ Nathan Ferderer made his way into second in the class, but would face a constant battle with Raines Riding University/Yamaha Motor Corp’s Jason Raines. Ferderer and Raines would swap their positions multiple time throughout the day, but as the checkered flag waved it was Ferderer taking second and Raines holding onto third.
In the 10 a.m. WXC race it was Enduro Engineering/MEPMX/Fly Racing/KTM’s Mackenzie Tricker grabbing the Trail Jesters $100 Holeshot Award, but after a rough crash on the first lap with a fellow competitor, she would be unable to finish out the race.
BABS Racing Yamaha’s Becca Sheets along with AmPro Yamaha’s Rachael Archer and Beta USA’s Rachel Gutish would find themselves in a three-way battle for almost the entire two-hour morning race. Each one of them would find themselves leading at one point in the race, but it would be Sheets making her way into first as the checkered flag flew. Archer would remain second, holding off a charging Gutish as she rounded out the top three WXC riders.
At the conclusion of the 8 a.m. youth race it was Team Green Kawasaki’s Grant Davis coming through to take the overall win and his third YXC1 Super Mini Sr. class win of the season. Team Green’s Jack Joy battled throughout the youth race, coming through second overall and his class. Coastal Racing’s Lane Whitmer earned third overall, while also taking third in the YXC1 class in South Carolina. Coming through to earn the YXC2 Super Mini Jr. top three positions were Griere Moir, Nicholas Defeo and Caden Vick.
Round 6 of the GNCC Racing Series will be held the weekend of June 13/14 at High Point Raceway in Mt. Morris, PA.
“Gosh, it felt so good to get back to racing. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day overall. The track was super slick in certain areas and we were drifting the bikes through some of those flat corners, which was a lot of fun, but you had to be careful at the same time. I didn’t get the best jump off the start in the main but was able to tuck inside and quickly recover. It was definitely a scary moment when Adam went down because I was already in the air and his bike bounced up and I had nowhere to go but up and over his bike. I’m glad he’s okay. Overall it was a good day and I am already looking forward to Wednesday.”
Cooper Webb – P2
“It’s good to be back racing. It’s awesome just to be able to do what we love. I was battling up there in the beginning – we were all sandwiched – and I was able to actually get around Eli [Tomac] but then he went around us and really laid some good laps. During the middle of the race, I kind of lost speed a little bit and at the end I was really trying hard. I missed a rhythm at the end though, and that really cost me in maybe catching him.”
Ken Roczen – P3
“I felt pretty good. I had a decent start, but got bumped around a little bit and lost some positions, so we had to fight our way up there and were kind of just riding in a train; it was hard to make up time. I lost a couple of tenths and gained a couple of tenths here and there and then I kind of stayed the same. Obviously, Eli [Tomac] was super strong and Cooper [Webb] right in front of me, and I couldn’t really make a move. I had a moment with about a lap to go where I almost crashed really, really bad, and then the last lap I really just rolled everything pretty much just to kind of bring it home. A podium is okay. Obviously we need to put ourselves in front of Tomac, but there’s a lot of racing left and a lot of crashes out there, and with all the lappers, a lot of things can happen. Really, we just have to regroup and try again on Wednesday.”
Jason Anderson – P4
“My day went pretty decent. I got a bad start in the Main and ended up fourth but all-in-all, I feel like I rode pretty well all day and was able to make some headway as we work our way into the next six rounds here in Salt Lake City.”
Zach Osborne – P5
“It was a positive weekend overall. It was my first race back from injury so it was really good for me to go out there and get comfortable in practice. I feel really comfortable on the dirt here in Salt Lake, which is something that’s not typically my forte but it’s coming around for me. I’m happy with where I’m at fitness-wise and with my bike, so I’m looking forward to the next few races here – onwards and upwards.”
Justin Barcia – P8
“It’s nice to get the first round out of the way. It definitely wasn’t how I wanted it to go. It was quite hot and being up here at altitude was definitely difficult. I had high expectations for myself coming into this round and kind of let myself down a bit. I think it’s all things that can be easily fixed and turned around for Wednesday. The main event didn’t get off to the greatest start, and the first lap was chaos. Guys were falling down, and then it was really windy and dusty. The track got down to concrete, it was a pretty gnarly track. All in all, we got out of the first one healthy and still have six more to go. I’m really looking forward to racing again Wednesday. I don’t have to wait another whole week to redeem myself.”
Justin Brayton – P9
“It was a pretty good day. It felt so good to be back with the guys and the crew at the races and to get behind the gate again. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the day. The heat race was good; I got third there. I had a solid first half in the main and ran second for a long time. To be quite honest, I just pumped up about halfway in and kind of went backwards. Then I had a really big moment where I almost went down and that allowed a guy to get by me and some other guys to close the gap. I’m happy I didn’t hit the ground on that one, that’s for sure, and happy with a solid top-10 result. We’ve just got to keep this ball rolling, especially with the good starts that we got all day.”
Adam Cianciarulo – DNF
“Man, I am so frustrated with how today ended up. I cannot tell you how stoked I was to be back racing my KX450 with my whole Monster Energy Kawasaki crew. I felt good all day, rode solid in my heat race and got a great jump in the main event. I just made a small mistake that cost me big time. I’m pretty sore from getting ran over, but we’re going to let the body rest and take all the necessary steps so we are ready for Wednesday.”
Shane McElrath – 250 Winner
“There’s been a lot of anticipation to get back going and it’s finally here. I had a near perfect day and I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made over the last few months since Daytona. My bike was awesome today and I felt great with the elevation. The track was honestly the best case scenario with the weather and wind that we dealt with today. I felt really good and I’m ready for another race in a few days.”
2020 British Speedway GP cancelled
Due to ongoing health concerns and UK government restrictions regarding COVID-19, organisers have announced that the 2020 Adrian Flux British FIM Speedway Grand Prix, scheduled to take place at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on July 18, has been cancelled.
This decision was made after careful consideration and consultation with the FIM, BSI Speedway, Principality Stadium, Welsh Government and Cardiff City Council, with the health and safety of supporters and riders remaining the top priority.
Due to the considerable logistical issues posed by the current circumstances, it was agreed that it would not be possible to stage the event at a later date in 2020.
Following discussions with Principality Stadium, we are however pleased to announce that the 2021 event – and still the 20th British FIM Speedway Grand Prix to be held at the venue – will take place on July 17, 2021.
Managing Director and SVP of Motorsports, IMG
“We are extremely disappointed that we won’t get the chance to celebrate 20 years of British SGP action under the Principality Stadium roof next month. We know how much everyone looks forward to the British SGP weekend in Cardiff – a chance to meet up with fans and friends from around the world, enjoy great racing and experience the unique atmosphere generated by our thousands of fans. Our focus will now be on delivering a fantastic event on July 17, 2021 to celebrate the 20th staging of the British SGP in Cardiff in style. Meanwhile we are working hard with the FIM, our venues and stakeholders on our re-arranged plans for the 2020 FIM Speedway World Championships presented by Monster Energy later this year and will issue further updates on that in due course.”
“The British SGP is always an awesome weekend, so I’m gutted I won’t get the chance to race in front of a Cardiff crowd this year. But that only makes me hungrier for next season’s event. The atmosphere is unreal. It’s always a special night and I can’t wait to be back in July next year. Stay safe and I’ll see you all then!”
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