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2009 Kawasaki Race Team Announcement
Team Green celebrates '08 and looks to next season
Get the Flash Player to see this player.Surrounded by nearly two dozen superstars of dirty riding, one might think I’d flashed back to the pits of the famed Mint 400 with the entire Kawasaki Monster Energy roster. Alas, I’m in a glass and concrete office building in the heart of Irvine, CA. with Team Green’s crème de la crème for the 2009 Kawasaki Race Team Announcement, Pep Rally and Championship Ring ceremony.
Among the crowd of thankful champs and managers were the ever-important factory technicians, designers, builders and cheering office Kawasaki workers. No matter what their role, it seems that everyone in this building has Green in their blood.
ESPN action sports announcer and Championship Off-Road Racing Series (CORR) driver, Cameron Steele, was on hand with his “fresh X-Games doo” to present the riders and teams. First up, was the Monster Energy Kawasaki ATV team, lead by manager Jimmy White, who is confident that 2009 is their year to win. Team rider Josh Creamer is back this year and he's joined by former Suzuki rider Chad Wienen.
Monster Energy Kawasaki - Off-Road
Holding the number one plate in the Hare & Hound series, Destry Abbott returns again for 2009, making this his sixth season. Number two this year in Endurocross, Damon Huffman is sporting a new cop-'stache for 2009 and looking forward to a great year. While AMA’s Athlete of the Year, Ricky Dietrich, is psyched about the new bike, but playing it cool as usual.
Monster Energy / Cernics / Kawasaki
Next up, was the 12-year-old Monster Energy / Cernics / Kawasaki team lead by Paul Carpenter, Bobby Kiniry and Jack Carpenter being represented by manager Billy Whitley.
Monster Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki
This squad will be made up of Jake Weimer, who is second in west coast points and winner of the series’ first race in Anaheim this month, Austin Stroupe, who won at Houston and Glen Helen in his first season as a pro, Christophe Pourcel and Ryan Morais, who is back with a new program and running strong thanks to the opportunities provided by team manager Mitch Payton.
Canidae / Motosport / Kawasaki
This third year team will be represented by Tommy Hahn, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt and Branden Jesseman, a former East Coast lites champion was finished fourth in East Coast lites last season. They will be managed by Bill Keefe.
Monster Energy Kawasaki - SX/MX
Timmy Ferry and Ryan Villopoto, managed by Mike Fisher, have teamed up to put Kawasaki on the box this year - look out competition!
Everyone was on the podium today, but the day's events were capped off with the awarding ceremonies for three 2008 Championship rings. As a phenom to the sport of endurocross, Ricky Dietrich earned the number one plate in the World Off Road Championship Series in 2006. After injury set back his championship sights in 2007, Dietrich was more determined than ever to earn his second WORCS title. At the age of 21 Dietrich won Kawasaki’s first endurocross award.
Next up was the 11-year Kawasaki team veteran and possibly their winningest rider with nine championships, Destry Abbott. The calm and cool cat Abbott is thrilled to join Kawasaki again for the 2009 season with his sights on his sixth Hare & Hound championship.
Lastly, receiving his champ ring for his 2008 Motorcross Lites win, Ryan Villopoto, continues his winning trend following wins in 2006 and 2007.
On the coattails of news about Kawasaki’s pull out from MotoGP road racing, there’s still a lot of green blood pumping through the company’s veins. Racing is a big part of what they do at Kawasaki and their remaining team riders are pumped up and ready to bring home the gold and greenbacks in their respective 2009 seasons. I wish them all the best!
Fresh off the team introductions on Thursdays, I was invited to attend the Supercross races Saturday for the Anaheim 2 stop, race 3 in the series. Highlight of the race was Ryan Villopoto’s strong show against Reed and Stewart in the Supercross main event. Holding a spot on the box for half the race until Stewart warmed up enough to pull to the front. No matter what position James Stewart is in the race, the fans in Anaheim cheered for his every pass. Ryan finished fourth.