AMA Supermoto Championship Still Going StrongThursday, October 5, 2006 | 12:56 PM
This year’s AMA Supermoto Championship presented by Parts Unlimited is shaping to be another battle to the season finale. Jeff Ward leads the championship on his Troy Lee Designs Honda with eight wins in the series this year. He also led last year’s championship going into the final, but lost the championship in a heartbreaking fashion, crashing in the final race and losing the title to Red Bull KTM’s Jurgen Kunzel.
“I’m happy with the way the season has gone so far,” said Ward, who is coming off a victory in Elkhart Lake, Wis., a few weeks ago. “I won’t be happy until I have a big enough points lead that no one can catch me. With two rounds per event that’s hard to do, so it’s going to be important to have a solid couple of races in Nashville to put me in a strong position to win the championship.”
With the season finale at Long Beach being raced on a new circuit anything can happen. Riders who have managed to hang close in the point standings have the opportunity to rally to the top of the standings. Conversely riders near the top of the standings coming into the Grand Finale face a challenge of maintaining their consistency.
Ward won the AMA Supermoto Championship in 2004.
Graves Motorsports Yamaha’s Doug Henry was, along with Ward, a pre-season favorite to win the 2006 title. He came back spectacularly winning the first two rounds after missing the second half of 2005 with injury. Few will argue that Henry is perhaps the fastest Supermoto rider on the planet when he’s on, but riding at that pace can come with a cost and Henry has experienced more falls than he would have hoped so far this year.
“It seems like every time I take a step forward I end up taking two steps back,” Henry said of his 2006 campaign. “Right now it’s going to be tough to catch Wardy, but we still have quite a bit of racing ahead of us and things can change pretty drastically in a single race. So you never know.”
Young Chris Fillmore broke through to win his first race in Elkhart Lake. The Troy Lee Designs Honda rider now has the confidence of knowing he can win. At 19 he’s still improving every week and should Ward or Henry slip in the closing stages of the season Fillmore could move up from his current third in the standings.
Mark Burkhart, like his Graves Yamaha teammate Henry, has suffered too many crashes this year after winning every round of the Supermoto Lites Series that he competed in 2005. The fourth-ranked Burkhart has two wins so far this year and he’s hoping to add a few more to his tally before the end of the season. The Ohioan seems to shine when the spotlight is on. He won both rounds of the Supermoto season finale last year in Reno.
Defending champ Jurgen Kunzel has had a slew of bad luck this season. In spite of that the possibility still exists that the Red Bull KTM rider could pull off another dramatic come-from-behind run in the last few rounds. Kunzel returns to Nashville in a few weeks. The Music City Motorplex was the site of his first win in the series last season.
Cassidy Anderson has been the dominant rider in AMA Hot Wheels Supermoto Lites this season, winning seven of the eight rounds on his Troy Lee Designs Honda leading up to Nashville. In spite of Anderson’s overwhelming win advantage, Graves Yamaha’s Brandon Currie has hung tough and is still in the title chase with a string of runner-up finishes combined with a win in Denver in August.
The most competitive series in AMA Supermoto this year is the 70/30 Racing Supermoto Unlimited class. There Team Red Bull KTM HMC’s Ben Carlson and GP Husqvarna’s David Baffeleuf have been trading the series lead back and forth with defending champ Micky Dymond just a few points back in third on the All Access Racing KTM.
In addition to series regulars the AMA Supermoto Series could be spiced up by special visiting racers in the coming rounds. Several of the World Supermoto Series contenders have visited America so far this year. World Supermoto star Bernd Hiemer was victorious in his wild card weekend at USA International Raceway in Shawano, Wis., in June. He promised to return. Other popular occasional Supermoto riders such as Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath are possible entries in the Grand Finale as are a few AMA road racing stars.
The race at the Music City Motorplex will be in its third year and the event has grown each year. The venue is great for fans who can view the entire track from the grandstands, and added this year, actually get up close and personal with the Supermoto action by viewing from the infield.
Running in conjunction with both of the last two rounds of the pro series, the AMA Sports Supermoto Grand Championships in association with NASMOTO will offer fans a weekend full of racing excitement from both pro’s and amateurs like. For further details of the Nashville Regional Qualifier and the Grand Championships at the Queen Mary visit www.nasmoto.com.
To purchase tickets for the X’treme Cycle Jam ‘06, presented by Sloan's Motorcycle.ATV Supercenter in Nashville visit www.ticketmaster.com. For the Troy Lee Designs Dual at the Docks AMA Supermoto Finale at the Queen Mary go to www.troyleedesigns.com.