BYRD ATTACK AT GLEN HELEN MX OPENER
Union City, Tennessee's Joe Byrd took his Honda 450R to the top spot at the opening round of the ATVA Suzuki Motocross Nationals, held at Glen Helen Raceway on the wind swept hills surrounding this Southern California race facility. Following Byrd in for the second spot on his Honda 450R was defending champion John Natalie, also aboard another Honda 450R. Natalie, who easily won the first moto, had his seat come off in moto two, relegating him to a second place finish and second overall for the race.
It was a stellar day for the red machines as they claimed first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, ninth, and tenth in the overall pro standings. Newly Honda mounted Keith Little also had a good day, posting a 2-4 moto score to secure fourth overall behind Suzuki mounted Doug Gust.
WHAT HAPPENED TO TEAM SUZUKI ?
The Suzuki/Yoshimura ATV team of Doug Gust and Jeremiah Jones got off to a less than a stellar start on the rough and tumble Glen Helen circuit. "Digger" Doug Gust did put the all-new Suzuki QuadRacer LT-R450 on the podium with a consistent third place finish with a 4-2 moto score, but his Suzuki teammate, Jeremiah Jones, suffered one of his roughest race days in recent memory.
Looking red hot in practice, Jeremiah was flying aboard his new LT-R450 Suzuki the week prior to the Glen Helen race. Odds makers were speculating that the Kentucky youngster would be the man to beat aboard his new ride at the opening MX National.
That was not to be. In the first Pro moto of the day, both Jones and Gust gated well and were running at the front of the pack. Then, while blasting into a packed corner, virtually all of the front runners came together, causing a massive crash. Another rider drilled Jones right in the rear axle/swingarm area. Jeremiah and several other riders ended up on the ground and scrambling for their machines.
Jones ended up climbing back on and up to an eventual 14th place finish for moto-one while Gust finished 4th. In between motos, the Suzuki quads were gone over and prepped for moto-two. What no one noticed, was that the impact on Jeremiahs Quad had been so severe, it had bent his swingarm.
Moto-two saw Gust get a good start and moto in third behind Joe Byrd's and John Natalie's Honda's. Jeremiah meanwhile was further back in the pack, having to make up for a poor start. He was on a mission though, and soon started climbing through the pack. Just past the halfway point he was up to second place and starting to close in on the leaders, when the rear suspension broke on his quad. The bent swingarm had created a bind that after half a moto, finally let loose.
A dejected Jones limped back to the pits. It took the Suzuki pit crew the better part of two hours and a lot of measuring to finally figure out what happened. Although imperceptible to the naked eye, when the quad was placed on a chassis jig, the swingarm was indeed bent to the side by almost an inch!
When asked what could be done to prevent a future occurrence of this happening again, team manager Wayne Hinson said. "Nothing really, it's just one of those racing deals. It takes about an hour to jig the frame up and get the measurements. There isn't enough time in between races to do it. There's no way to prevent it either, you get a 400 pound quad wide open in fourth gear hitting your swingarm and there's nothing on God's green earth is going to keep it from getting bent!"
The race series mnoves to Oak Hill Motocross Park in Decatur, Texas this Feb. 11-12 for round two. Stay tuned, it looks to be one of the most competitive race series ever!
Doug Gust photo:
Team Suzuki rider Doug Gust was smooth, fast, and durable as he gave the new LTR-450 Suzuki QuadRacer a podium debut with a solid third place overall at the season opener.
GNC MX START photo:
Fierce winds, and fiercer competition, didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd, or the racers on hand, for the start of the 2006 Grand National Motocross season.
Joe BYRD PHOTO:
Tennessee's Joe Byrd started his season with a solid win at the opening National at Glen Helen Raceway. He put his Yosh equipped Honda 450R across the finish line ahead of a scrapping group of fellow racers. Look for one of the most competitive seasons ever in the Pro ranks.
Natalie autograph photo:
The defending GNC Motocross champ has a stellar reputation for attending to his fan base at the Nationals. John and his mom were busy signing autographs for the many fans in attendance at the Southern California mx opener.
Jeremiah Jones suffered a high speed get off in moto one that ended up tweaking his rear swingarm and stopping a determined second moto charge short of the finish line. Look for this driven Kentuckian to get back on the gas and give the Honda wrecking crew a run for their money as the season progresses.
TIM FARR PHOTO:
Last years Glen Helen victor, Honda 450R mounted Tim Farr, was another victim of the crash that claimed Jeremiah Jones in the first moto. Look for Tim to work his way to the front of the pack as the season moves on to the next round in Decatur, Texas.
ATVA MX NATIONAL RESULTS
1. Joe Byrd (3-1)...Hon 450R
2. John Natalie (1-3)...Hon 450R
3. Doug Gust (4-2)...Suz LTR-450
4. Keith Little (2-4)...Hon 450R
5. Joe Havisto (9-5)...Hon 450R
6. Tavis Cain (7-8)...Hon 450R
7. Jason Luburgh (6-10)...Yam YFZ 450
8. Jason Dunkleberger (11-6)...Yam YFZ 450
9. Chad Wienen (13-7)...Hon 450R
10. Jeremy Lawson (5-17)...Hon 450R
"Little Russellville, AL
5 Hon Joe Haavisto New Ipsmith, NH
6 Hon Tavis Cain Mckinleyville, CA
7 Yam Jason Luburgh Zanesville, OH
8 Yam Jason Dunkleberger Trevorton, PA
9 Hon Chad Wienen Galena, IL
10 Hon Jeremy Lawson Battlelewn, KY*
16 Suz Jeremiah Jones Bowling Green, KY
*Yoshimura supported rider