Author: David Bulmer
After what seemed like a non-stop schedule for the first seven months of the year, it seems like we've had more off-weekends than racing recently. Still, can't complain too much when each week adds a new element of excitement to the proceedings.
Last week at Unadilla we had the resurgence of Justin Barcia, but not on his 250... Oh no, that machine was collecting dust in the semi, this time around he was racing the big boys of the 450 class. And it seemed to give him a new lease on life after what has been a pretty disappointing outdoor season for him so far. For him to jump up to the big bikes and go 3-3 straight away says a lot about just how good he is on a dirt bike, and it also says that sometimes a change is as good as a rest. It was a bold move by Honda but one that's paid off for everyone involved in Team Red, well, everyone except Chad Reed.
Ever since that crash at Millville, Reed has been off the pace of the "Ryans" and he's now 25 points behind first, just two rounds after he was leading it. It's been some fall from grace and I'm sure having Justin Barcia beat him can't have helped matters.
Still, this blog is called "Look Ahead" and I think it'd be a very brave man to write off Chad Reed just yet when there are still 150 points to play for. Southwick is up next and while he hasn't necessarily had the best of fortune there, he is still a quality rider in all terrain so maybe a switch up to the sand settings will do him some good.
In the 250 class, Dean Wilson has finally got the monkey off his back after a convincing 1-1 display. It would've been such a relief to have done that as no-one likes to win a title without winning an overall. Behind him, the gap is also 25 points back to Blake Baggett after Tyla Rattray had a nasty get off in moto two, dropping him down to third place. Still the Pro Circuit train rolls on though and it really doesn't look like being halted anytime soon.
Rattray won his first American moto at Southwick in 2009, as well as getting the overall last year so he has fond memories of that place and will look to bounce back in style and make it another PC 1-2-3. It was actually nice seeing a bit of red on the podium for a change, especially in the form of Eli Tomac, who by his own high standards, hasn't performed well this year. Hopefully it isn't just a one-off and he can become a feature of the top three from now until the end of the season.
Someone who won't be at Southwick is Dutchman Jeffrey Herlings. There were rumors floating about that the sand specialist would make the trip over to try his hand in Massachusetts, much like Marc de Reuver did back in 2008, but the KTM bosses have decided it's better for him to concentrate on his bread and butter - the World Championships.
So after a week-off, the GPs return to England, having ignored those shores in 2010. It's definitely a welcome return to action, because the host of the 2006 MXoN is renowned as being one of the best motocross events ever held. We are of course talking about Matterley Basin, so as long as the weather is good, the crowd should be good and hopefully the racing on the track can match it. That's as long as there are actually any riders fit enough to compete in it. So far the MX1 field is missing Steve Ramon, David Philippaerts, Ken de Dycker and Marc de Reuver. Well now you can add second-placed Clement Desalle to that list after the Belgian broke his left shoulder at the most recent round of the Belgium Championships. It's a cruel blow for him as not only does he miss out on the chance to win a world title, he also misses the MXoN as well.
This pretty much hands the title to Antonio Cairoli who is 81 points clear of Steven Frossard in third and can close out his third MX1 world title in a row, and his fifth in total. It's a remarkable run of results for the Italian who doesn't always win races, but keeps building up his points total and avoiding the DNFs which hinder his rivals so badly.
Something to look forward to is the addition of the British wildcards into the event, as Team GB MX1 rider Brad Anderson will test his speed against Team GB reject, Shaun Simpson. Also there is prodigal son Billy Mackenzie so that should definitely liven up the home crowd in an MX1 class that only usually features Simpson and Church.
MX2 is a different story where Tommy Searle will be praying to the holeshot gods that he might actually get to the first corner near the KTM duo of Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings. Practically every race this year has seen him fighting through the pack to battle them, only to find they've checked out. Frustrating stuff for the Englishman but with a home crowd on his back, stranger things have happened. Max Anstie also makes a welcome return to action in England. He's actually only ridden there a few times throughout his career, having chosen the amateur scene in America as his path to the big time. Like Simpson, he has a point to prove about missing out of the MXoN team so key an eye on the British results from the weekend as sparks could fly.