Cycle News 2/6/91

AMA Camel Supercross  

1991Round 3 : Anaheim

By Nate Rauba

Photos by Ken Faught

 

Can anyone stop Team Honda? Or how about Jeff Stanton?

 

The entire Kawasaki squad tried to end the Honda team's win streak, but they ended up following the defending Camel Supercross Champion in the 20-lap Coors Light Challenge at Anaheim Stadium. Stanton led all the way to score his 11th career Camel Supercross victory and his first win at the California facility. 

 

The event free 56,029 race fans, more than 10,000 less than the previous year's Anaheim Supercross.

 

Stanton's share of the $60,000 purse was $10,000, plus he received the Coors Silver Bullet Showdown. Each round of the series features the Showdown which awards $1000 to the rider who wins his heat with the fastest time and also wins the main event. No one was able to pull that off in the first two rounds and the money rolled over - right into Stanton's pocket.

 

Stanton's only defeat in the first three rounds of the Camel Supercross Series came last week in Houston's main event at the hands of teammate Jean Michel Bayle. Otherwise the two-time series Champ from Michigan has been nearly perfect in both heat and main event contests. 

 

"The Hondas are working great, we're are step ahead of everybody else right now," said Stanton.

 

The 22-year old's victory put him one point ahead of Bayle in the point standings. Bayle started poorly in the main and finished 5th, dropping behind Stanton in the standings after three rounds of the 1991 18-round series.

 

"A rider hit me from the right in the first turn," said Bayle. "It was easy to pass people until I got to the top riders. Fifth isn't so bad, I could've fell and done worse."

 

Stanton and his Dan Betley tuned CR250 were a step ahead of everybody from the beginning. Stanton knew he'd have a little trouble shaking off Suzuki's Larry Ward on his way to victory in the first heat.

 

"I knew he'd drop off because he's not in a good a shape as I am," Stanton told the crowd after the heat race.

 

With two sprained wrists suffered in the previous round at Houston, Kawasaki's Jeff Ward may not have been in great shape either. But he was good enough to keep Stanton from absolutely running away with the main event.

 

As Sta ton shot into the lead at the start of the main, Wardy latched onto the Honda rider's rear fender and stayed within two seconds for 15 laps before he dropped off the pace slightly.

 

"I wasn't sure how long I could go on them (wrists)," said Ward. "I played it cautious because I couldn't ride aggressively to make passes. The only pass I could've made was to jump inside and hit the turns really hard. I didn't have the strength and it wasn't worth doing that."

 

"I knew there were places to pass and times that he was going faster than I," said Stanton. "I just didn't worry about who was behind me and drove forward."

 

Ward had followed Kawasaki teammate Jeff Matiasevich throughout the second heat, which featured the return of Ron Lechien from an injury suffered late in 1989. Lechien started fourth but near the end of lap one he crashed and dislocated his thumb.

 

It was Matiasevich who was forced to chase Ward to the finish line in the main event while the final member of Team Kawasaki, Mike Kiedrowski,  methodically worked his way up from eighth to challenge Matiasevich at the end. Kiedrowski got alongside Matiasevich as they began the 19th lap, but he spun sideways exiting a tight turn and couldn't reclose the gap.

 

Matiasevich also had a close race with Yamaha's Damon Bradshaw earlier in the race. For the first several laps Bradshaw looked to be in contention for his second straight Anaheim win as he closely trailed Ward and Stanton. But he slowly faded and near the halfway point came under attack from Matiasevich. After a short duel that angered Matiasevich, he was passed and faded back to sixth at the finish, just out of reach from teammate Doug Dubach.

 

"Bradshaw was waiting for me to knock me down," Matiasevich claimed over the stadium public address. Later he elaborated, "In a couple of banked turns he would sort of wait up and try to stuff me going in. I think he was more concerned about trying to knock me down than racing."

 

Bradshaw hasn't heard the comments and said mechanic Brian Lunniss preferred to wait until later to tell him what was said. But upon hearing Matiasevich's accusations, Bradshaw replied, "I knew Matiasevich was going faster. I wasn't trying to knock him down to beat him, I wasn't trying to knock anybody down. Maybe I need to in order to be aggressive again.

 

"I was going good at first, caught up to Wardy and Stanton and then didn't want to win bad enough. I reached a point and lost all confidence. I haven't lost confidence since the season started. I haven't been in one place long enough to train, so I'm going home this week to train and get it (confidence) back."

 

It was also a frustrating night got two-time Anaheim winner Rick Johnson, who is still searching for a way to end his Supercross win drought of nearly two years. From the beginning, things didn't go well for Johnson as he failed to qualify for the main in the first heat race. After a second place finish in the first semi behind Suzuki's Guy Cooper, Johnson started the main in fourth before settling into seventh. Just past half way he fell and dropped to 12th, then improved two places and rounded out the top 10 behind Cooper and Ronnie Tichenor.

 

"I came around a turn and the back end squatted," said Johnson. "It spun a donut, I fell and smashed my... crotch. I was riding tentative, not the way I should be."

 

Suzuki's Mike Larocco had an even more frustrating night than Johnson. It started when he nearly crashed upon landing from the triple in a pre-race parade lap. In the second heat, LaRocco missed transferring to the main by one position, then he crashed in the first turn of both his Semi and LCQ. His failure to make the main and collect points dropped him from 5th to 9th in the standings.

 

Editor's note, if you were looking for Emig, Craig, Lamson or McGrath at this 1991 round, they all three raced the 125 class that night at Anaheim.

 

MXD360 WeBigInc Early 90s

Top 10 Point Standings 

Race 11 of 12

 

1) 222 Stanton (4)

2) 212 Bayle (3)

3) 182 Kiedrowski 

4) 173 Bradshaw (4)

5) 164 Cooper

6) 159 J. Ward

7) 143 Matiasevich

8) 138 LaRocco

9) 119 Tichenor

10) 111 L. Ward