Amsoil/Chaparral Honda’s Kevin Windham broke Chad Reed’s win streak


Amsoil/Chaparral Honda’s Kevin Windham broke Chad Reed’s win streak in AMA supercross at Phoenix in a controversial race that started with a wild first lap that sent Yamaha’s David Vuillemin to the ground. After the main event, the AMA called Windam to it’s semi in the pits, and we he came back out, he was still the winner but had just 15 points for a win instead of 25 because of an aggressive block pass. This is a penalty that is somewhat common in road racing, but unheard of in supercross. The AMA’s decision is sure to spark controversy.

For the second week in a row, Pro Circuit Kawasaki in Corona, California proved it can take a brand new model race bike and turn it into a dominant winner on the track. Pro Circuit KX250Fs have not only won both 125 main events this year, with Ivan Tedesco on them, but they have won every heat race as well. In fact Tedesco and his teammate Stephan Roncada have led every lap in the season, heats and main combined, 54 laps in all.

Reed had won every AMA supercross since Daytona last year. He was so strong at Anaheim people were worried this season would be a snoozer without Carmichael to keep Reed honest. But Windham’s strong showing at Phoenix at last put him on top of the podium for the first time since Dallas in 2000, and the controversy over aggressive riding gave the series a jolt of energy, even though new efforts by the AMA to clamp down on rough riding are basically laughed at by the sport’s veterans. As Mike Brown said last October at the US Open, “If you ain’t rubbin, you ain’t racin.”

Windham grabbed the holeshot in the main just ahead of Vuillemin. In the second turn, Vuillemin came in fast under Windham and made a block pass that forced Windham to shut off. The two rubbed a little but no one went down. In the very next turn, Vuillemin was railing the outside of a berm and Windham jumped to the inside, and gassed it for the outside of the berm near the exit of the turn, and just got his wheel in front of Vuillemin’s. Vuillemin had the throttle pinned and hit Windham’s front wheel, knocking him off the track. He got back on the track in last place and ended up 7th. It was a very aggressive block pass, but Windham got his wheel there first and expected Vuillemin to shut off. Vuillemin was committed and something had to give.

“It all started from the first left hander after the triple, said Windham, “He ran it out to me and I was able to shut it off. I figured, what comes around goes around. I figured he heard me coming up with the big thumper on the second turn but he didn’t back off and our lines collided. I don’t want any of these guys to think that they can run it up under me and have me roll over. I think it was an aggressive pass. The track was fairly easy and you had to be aggressive. That’s just the way it went.”

Vuillemin didn’t want to comment in an interview, but he did type this message to fans on an internet message board after the race: “I passed KW (Windham) like thousands of passes in the history (of supercross). What KW pulled off, from my side, was a total t-bone right from the Bradshaw-Matiasevich era! He almost cut the track to hit me. He did not have any other intention than taking me out. I passed him without touching him and it would have been SO easy to send him on the concrete! I was commited in the exit of the turn and I got so surprised by the angle he hit me from. When he jumped across, and you can really see it on TV, he did not intend to turn! And watch his head, he looks at me all the way, never looked at the turn.”

After that incident Windham led every lap, easily winning his first supercross since 2000. Reed wasn’t that comfortable at Phoenix and struggled at the start, but still he caught up to second. He just wasn’t even close enough to Windham to make a challenge. Windam’s win was also the second supercross victory for Honda’s 4-stroke 450F, the first being Nathan Ramsey’s at Pontiac in 2002.

This went to Mike LaRocco, who got a good start and finished one spot higher than he did last weekend at Anaheim. “I got a decent start and I think I was 2nd behind Kevin,” he said, “I was riding a little cautious and Chad caught up to me and he went by me and I just tried to drop in and keep the pace. It was a little sketchy out there. The track was really dry and when I got to the lappers I got a little cautious and the top 2 guys got away. It was one of those races where I had a rough night to start with and I just wanted to make sure I didn’t do anything else wrong and finish that one out.”

“I was off a little bit,” said Reed of his second place finish, “I didn’t know what it was. The whole weekend I didn’t really feel that great. From the first time I walked the track, I just wasn’t excited to be out there. The track was boring and easy. I didn’t know I had to focus on little things that I wasn’t really used to focus on. It was good for me to struggle this weekend to deal with the problems. I learned a lot last year racing every weekend with Ricky (Carmichael).” Reed was involved in an incident in his heat race that put him on the ground and into the semi to qualify. “For sure I would like to go to the main, but yeah it definitely helped to try some tires,” he said of his extra track time, “It was a tough track for me really slippery. I was lucky to have a great bunch of people around me. Hopefully we can just keep it consistent.”

Reed didn’t seem to mind having a new rival in Kevin Windham. “I think that Kevin is the most talented rider out there for a reason and racing with him tonight was fun,” he said, “I didn’t really get to battle with him but I think its good for everyone and for the sport. Last weekend a lot of people were bored so Kevin is mixing it up a bit and making it more fun.”

Windham bounced back from a mid-pack result just a week ago at Anaheim. “We put so much work at the Honda test track this week, he said, “We really tried to learn from last week. In the thick of it all, its kind of what Chad said earlier, sometimes you get to a track and your just not feeling it and last weekend was that weekend for me. I was very disappointed with my performance and had a bad showing for my sponsors. I really wanted to put my head down and do it this weekend.

THQ AMA Supercross Series Event Results

1. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda
2. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
3. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda
4. Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, Ga., Yamaha
5. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha
6. Nick Wey, Dewitt, Mich., Suzuki
7. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
8. Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Suzuki
9. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki
10. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki

THQ AMA Supercross Series Season Standings
(Windam’s points tentative pending AMA Pro Racing Press Release)

1. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 47
2. Mike LaRocco, Corona, Calif., Honda, 38
3. Kevin Windham, Centerville, Miss., Honda, 37
4. David Vuillemin, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha, 36
5. Tim Ferry, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha, 36
6. Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, Ga., Yamaha, 31
7. Michael Byrne, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki, 27
8. Tyler Evans, Canyon Lake, Calif., Suzuki, 27
9. Damon Huffman, Valencia, Calif., Honda, 24
10. Sean Hamblin, Murrieta, Calif., Honda, 23

125 Racing

The new bike Pro Circuit is running this year is radically different from any the team had to prepare for a new race season.  The KX250F is a 125-class-legal 4-stroke, much like the YZ250F that has been out a couple of years.  The bike is sold by both Kawasaki and Suzuki (same bike for both of them, just different colors).  Startup problems on the bike included rumored overheating and transmission failures, so getting one ready for the toughest races in the country was not easy.  Pro Circuit spent much more time getting ready this season than past years, and had to spend extra time getting their first 4-stroke models up to speed. After winning his heat without much trouble, Tedesco was confident for the main event and got the best gate pick. 

The holeshot went to Greg Schnell on a privateer Honda, but in less than a lap Tedesco took the lead with a strong charge though a long whoop section. Roncada finished the first lap in 5th, but caught up to second by the third lap, getting past Schnell, Brock Sellards, and Michael Blose.  Tedesco and Roncada’s third teammate Matt Walker, the only Pro Circuit rider on a 2-stroke 125, was also on the gas and moving up about one position per lap, but when he was about in third he crashed out in the same whoops Tedesco took the lead in.   

Also on a new 4-stroke was Travis Preston, the 2002 125 west coast champion, from Amsoil/Chapparal.  Preston started mid-pack but put on an impressive charge of his own, taking third on lap 10 of 15.  Factory Honda’s lead rider for the series, Nathan Ramsey, on still another 250F, fell on the first lap in the same spot Walker did and finished a disappointing 11th.  “I fell in the first turn, that was problem one,” said Preston of his start, “I got up started riding and caught up to Schnell, we started playing games and it seemed like the whole Sorby thing again. (Preston had a race last year where Eric Sorby blocked him from passing) I try to race forward and somebody tries to get on the inside when we in the same corner but we are going the opposite direction.  It seems like I always find the guys that like to mess with me. I don’t know if its the way I ride or karma I don’t know I always find those guys.” About his competition, Preston said “I think Mitch (Payton, Pro Circuit owner) has a good team and he makes fast bikes, he does my bike to. One thing I like is that I am good friends with Ivan and I know Stephan so it seems like we can get together and have fun racing.”

“It’s good for Pro Circuit that both Ivan and I are on the podium,” said Roncada, “It means that if one time Ivan messes up, I will be up there and if I mess up Ivan will be up there. So we can always keep the bike up there on the podium. It doesn’t really matter who is the flagship of the team. As long as we all do good on the team, everyone will be happy. Its what we are working for.  I have been pretty sick for both weeks and didn’t think I was going to be able to pull it off tonight in the main event but the track was a little bit easier and I was able to relax on the bike and half way through the moto my mouth got sore and dry, I couldn’t even breathe because I been sick and taking so many cough drops this weeks. I chewed gum before main to get moisture in my mouth, it sucked.”

“We worked very hard on the off season,” said Tedesco, “It’s a great bike. Mitch has a reputation of working really hard and the worst start I have gotten in 2nd and I led every other lap so I can’t complain.  I was surprised that Schnell was break checking and that he wasn’t just letting me by and I saw that and I back downed for a second and found a good place to pass him and went by him.”  When asked if he could charge through the pack after a bad start, Tedesco said, “I think I could win a race with a bad start. Past few years have not had good starts so I am experienced with going thru the pack.”

THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Western Regional Event Results

1. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki
2. Stephan Roncada, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Kawasaki
3. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda
4. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki
5. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha
6. Christopher Gosselaar, Victorville, Calif., Honda
7. Greg Schnell, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Yamaha
8. Jeff Gibson, Westerville, Ohio, Yamaha
9. Joshua Sumney, Stanley, N.C., Yamaha
10. Johnny Marley, Guthrie, Okla., Honda

THQ AMA Supercross Series 125cc Western Regional Season Standings

1. Ivan Tedesco, Murrieta, Calif., Kawasaki, 50
2. Stephan Roncada, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Kawasaki, 42
3. Andrew Short, Colorado Springs, Colo., Suzuki, 36
4. Travis Preston, Hesperia, Calif., Honda, 33
5. Nathan Ramsey, Menifee, Calif., Honda, 32
6. Brock Sellards, Sherrodsville, Ohio, Yamaha, 30
7. Christopher Gosselaar, Victorville, Calif., Honda, 26
8. Greg Schnell, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Yamaha, 26
9. Josh Hansen, Elbert, Colo., Yamaha, 23
10. Johnny Marley, Guthrie, Okla., Honda, 18

Texts and photos by Steve Bruhn


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