AMA supercross and motocross athletes are just four rounds into a racing season that will barely pause for the next eight months but there was already some positive reaction to the resurrection of the US Grand Prix, again scheduled to run at the Californian racing mecca that is Glen Helen on September 19-20.
The Grand Prix was deemed a success in terms of organisation and for the challenge of the re-worked Glen Helen layout in 2009 and 2010 but the spectator turnout was disappointing due to the lack of home-grown stars.
The event is now back on the MXGP fixture list as part of the wave of interest rolling into the FIM series with Monster Energy KRT rider Ryan Villopoto. MXGP promoters Youthstream and the club at Glen Helen are hoping to count on more than just the decorated supercross and motocross champion who could be making his final competitive appearance at the San Bernardino venue, and after a season in which most of his rivals will have already enjoyed ‘home round’ advantage.
Timing is everything however. The final round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro National Championship takes place in Indiana and a lengthy four weeks before Glen Helen. As the closing GP it is just one week in advance of the ’15 Motocross of Nations so there is a good chance that the three individuals for Team USA could compete as part of a ‘warm-up’ for Ernee.
The reality is that the date is not the most convenient and bites into the shallow holiday time that AMA racers can take. The GP is also only 10 days from when riders’ contracts in the USA tend to finish and start. Still, it is better than the previous scheduling in 2009/10 that was early in the MXGP season and in the middle of the American calendar that all but excluded native athletes.
Another barrier could be the different technical rules that means a degree of one-off investment by AMA competitors and MXGP has not offered a monetary prize fund for 10 years.
From an informal poll at the second Anaheim supercross event unsurprisingly former GP racers like Zach Osborne, Jimmy Albertson and Michael Leib expressed interest in again going for Grand Prix glory.
Europeans like Red Bull KTM’s Dean Wilson and Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Arnaud Tonus were also keen to add it to their diary. No word yet on RCH Racing’s Ken Roczen – who travelled back from the USA to ride in the 2012 German Grand Prix at Teutschenthal.
Glen Helen will have title sponsorship from Monster Energy and young Pro Circuit Kawasaki star Adam Cianciarulo admitted that he is contracted to turn out for the GP; a situation that could also apply for other representatives of the drink brand like Justin Barcia and Chad Reed.
Cianciarulo also admitted that he needs to have an operation to remove a pin from his left leg and the August post-AMA-season period would be the only time to do so. It seems that fans will only know who will be in the gate for the MXGP championship finale days and hours before the track opens for the first free practice.