AMA-MX: 2009 season preview

Chad Reed returns to MX competition

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, May. 22, 2009
The 2009 AMA Motocross Championship season begins at Glen Helen Raceway in San Bernardino, Calif. on May 23, as the series shifts from its traditional Sunday to its new Saturday schedule.

The 2009 season will see new champions crowned in both the 450 and 250 classes while the women’s Motocross class joins the schedule for eight of the 12 rounds.

Then racing for Monster Energy Kawasaki, James Stewart won the 2008 AMA Motocross 450 title with a perfect 600-point season. Stewart will not be competing this MX season, so 2009 will see a new first-time AMA Motocross champion.

The competition will not be lacking in star power, despite the loss of Stewart. Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Chad Reed, fresh from his epic AMA Supercross championship battle with Stewart, will return to Motocross competition after a two-year hiatus as one of the favorites.

“I’m really looking forward to racing the outdoors this year,” says Reed. “And I’m excited about it for several reasons. The last few years, I didn’t race Motocross because I really felt like I needed to take a break after the Supercross season. But this year, I feel so comfortable with the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team and everybody has been so supportive that it just makes me want to get out there and race.”

Chad Reed will return to AMA Motocross racing for the first time since 2006.Reed’s teammate, Mike Alessi is another top contender. In 2008, Alessi was the only rider to seriously challenge Stewart until he suffered serious injuries in a crash at the Red Bud round in Buchanan, Mich. Dubbed the “Holeshot King” for his fast starts out of the gates, Alessi is back to challenge in 2009.

Veteran racer Timmy Ferry of Monster Energy Kawasaki is oldest rider in the field but he’ll be another title contender based on his runner-up finish to Stewart in 2008.

Last year’s 250 class AMA Motocross champion Ryan Villopoto will enter his first 450cc Motocross season in 2009. The Monster Energy Kawasaki racer won the previous three 250 titles and has never failed to win an outdoor title, but the 450 class offers a new challenge. Villopoto gained some experience on the bigger bikes in the 2009 AMA Supercross season where he finished strong, winning two of the final three races.

Villopoto’s move to the 450 class opens the way for a new champion in the 250 class. West Region AMA Supercross Lites Champion Ryan Dungey of Rockstar Makita Suzuki is an early favorite to win the outdoor title. The Minnesota native finished second to Villopoto in 2008.

Dungey’s top rivals may be a trio of talented international racers. France’s Christophe Pourcel, South Africa’s Tyla Rattray and Great Britain’s Tommy Searle will put up a challenge.

Factory Honda Red Bull racer Ashley Fiolek will defend her Women's MX title.Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Pourcel has the 2006 World MX2 Championship on his resume and made a triumphant return from a career-threatening injury to win the 2009 East Region AMA Supercross Lites title.

Pourcel’s teammate, Rattray may not be a familiar name to American fans but he enters the season as the reigning World MX2 Champion.

Searle was Rattray’s main MX2 rival and he’ll compete the 2009 AMA Motocross season for Muscle Milk KTM.

Women’s Motocross champion Ashley Fiolek will be the only rider defending a title in 2009. The 18-year-old phenom will compete for factory Honda Red Bull Racing team.

Fiolek’s main challenger will be five-time champion Jessica Patterson. X Games Women’s Moto-X Gold Medalist Tarah Gieger will be another contender, as willl American KTM rider Sarah Whitmore.

All 12 rounds of the 2009 AMA Motocross season will be broadcast on television. Speed will air most races while NBC will provide live coverage of three rounds.

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AMA-MX adds women’s class