Author: Brent Stallo
Things begin to separate at Round 5 of the 2011 Lucas Oil AMA Outdoor season. It's a point in the season where some riders become complacent. The front-runners have established themselves as the kings of the jungle and the rest are left fighting for leftovers.
Looking Forward 450 Class
At the moment the 450 title bout is entering into the 5th round of a 12 round slugfest with the ticket belonging to Chad Reed. He's proven to the strongest and most consistent. Then there's the two Ryan's, both of whom have shown winning speed. Oh, and don't forget about the returning holeshot king, Mike Alessi. In only two short races Alessi has already pulled almost every holeshot and led more laps than everyone but Reed and RV. Add to that the face that he's 11th in points and it even becomes more impressive.
Most would follow Alessi's accomplishments this year with the fact that he still hasn't won a moto. Considering his comeback from injury at Round 1, we're going to scrap that for now and rest on the notion that Alessi is doing his job by making things more interesting. Sure he hasn't shown winning speed, but he's the wild card right now. The one who can get in the mix and considerably change the fate of anyone of the top three.
As we've said in previous Look Ahead blogs, in order to predict the future you must first understand the past. And in this case the past consists of much more than four rounds of motocross. It consists of seasons upon seasons of racing. It consists of amateur days when riders were pitting out of the back of a box van, scraping to make it from race to race. There is a lot to be said about every rider who makes it to the top level of this sport. Win, lose or draw, once you line up on the gate of a pro national...you've already made it.
So what's left to "Look Ahead" to aside from an extremely tight championship in both classes? Well...a lot, that's what. The racing in both classes has been exciting through the pack. In the 450 class less than 45 points separate 5th from 10th. Metcalfe, Windham, Weimer, Dietrich, Craig and Short are all in the hunt for a top five spot at the end of the season. Contracts will soon be on the line and at this point in the season every position counts. Riders will not only be fighting for their place in the 2011 standings for the remainder of the season, they'll be fighting for their livelihoods as well.
Looking Forward 250 Class
Believe it or not, but the 250 class might be even closer than the 450 class. The PC train has rolled so far this season but with Justin Barcia putting in an inspirational ride last week at Budds Creek, that train could be coming to a halt sooner than later. Add to that the fact that GEICO's other ace, Eli Tomac, is prepping for his hometown race in Colorado and you've got a receipt that could spell disaster for PC.
As it stands Tyla Rattray (174) is four points up on teammate Dean Wilson (170) and 30 points up on his other teammate Blake Baggett (144). However, we've seen what the GEICO boys can do late in the season, i.e. Trey Canard 2010. Tomac and Barcia currently sit fourth and fifth in points with seven rounds to go. It may seem like a PC sweep is inevitable but this thing is far, far from over. However, if the GEICO squad doesn't start to make a dent in the points race soon...it could be gone.
Be sure and check back in on Monday as we recap all the action from Thunder Valley.