There was a horde of Swedish riders at Glen Helen's REM races this weekend. Rickard Sandberg (868) leads Fredrik Noren (867) in the 450 Pro class. Noren, who raced the AMA Nationals last year, took the overall victory in front of Gareth Swanepoel and Sandberg. Another Swede, Robert Lind, was fourth.
The yearly migration of Swedish riders to the weekly REM races at Glen Helen was in full force this past weekend. They were joined by a couple AMA National riders trying to see where they are as far as outdoor testing goes and by more than a few two-stroke riders ironing out the bugs before next Sunday’s World Two-Stroke Championship.
As is tradition at REM, many 250 Pro riders elect to race their 250s in the 450 Pro class. South African Gareth Swanepoel honored the custom at REM and went 1-2 for second overall in the 450's. He fell while leading the second moto. Turn-about is fair play because eventual overall winner Fredrik Noren fell while leading the first moto.
In the 450 Pro class the racing was intense in both motos. In the first moto, MXA’s Dennis Stapleton holeshot and held the lead for four laps as Swedish rider Fredrik Noren attacked him from all angles. Many will remember Noren from last year’s AMA 450 Nationals when he and Calle Aspegren raced for the MX Heaven team (with Noren scoring points at 9 Nationals and ending the season in 26th overall).
MXA's Dennis Stapleton (184) flew in from Kuwait to get fifth in the 450 Pros. He will be at the World Two-Stroke race next weekend.
As Noren chased Stapleton, who had just returned from the Middle East, where he raced in big international event Kuwait, Star/Vallee Yamaha’s Gareth Swanepoel was making up for a mediocre start (he was on a YZ250F against the big bikes in the 450 Pro class). Noren finally got by Stapleton only to fall, which rejuggled the standings and by the end of the moto the top five was Swanepoel, Noren, Rickard Sandberg, Robert Lind and Stapleton.
MXA's Billy Musgrave upheld American honor (along with some two-stroke pride), by winning the 250 Pro class. In this photo Billy is being chased by Swedish pro Viktor Bjorklund (294).
Moto two looked like it was going to be all Swanepoel all the time. Gareth grabbed the lead and led a trio of Swedes for four laps before spinning out in a difficult left-hand turn. Before Swanepoel could get it straight he was past by Swedes Rickard Sandberg and Fredrik Noren. After a hard chase, Noren and Swanepoel eventually got past Sandberg, but the South African could not close the gap on the leading Swede.
Most REM locals know to veer right before jumping the big downhill jump. Gareth Swanepoel knows why...but first he had to bounce off the cliff face to drive the point home.
The 250 Pro class was a two-stroke versus four-stroke duel as MXA’s Billy Musgrave pursued Swede Viktor Bjorklund in moto one. Musgrave’s all-out attack on his KTM 250SX finally crack Bjorklund. Moto two was a repeat of moto one, but Musgrave had a much easier time on his way to a 1-1 day.
From back to front: Rickard Sandberg, Gareth Swanepoel (23), Viktor Bjorklund (294), Fredrik Noren (blue) and Dennis Stapleton (orange helmet)
Max Groom swept both motos of the 250 Intermediate class in front of Derrik Barr’s 2-2 and Jeff Baker’s 4-3. In the 450 Intermediate class the win went to, what else, a Swede–Marcus Ovgard.
Willy Musgrave was prepping for the World Two-Stroke Championship. He took MXA's KTM 300XC, turned into a 300SX, to victory in the Over-40 Pro class.
Over-40 Intermediates: The Over-40’s were packed with talent, but Andrew Olivia held strong with a 1-1 in front of Jeff Jetton’s 3-2, Joe “Meltdown” Melton’s 2-4, Bret Anderson’s 6-3, Manuel Gasper’s 4-6, Dirk Davidow’s 5-7 and Dan Alamangos 7-7.
Shawn Wynne is another rider headed to the two-stroke race. Shawn was part of the large TM team at REM that had riders in four different classes. Wynne would finish second in the Over-40 Pro class with TM teammate Tim Sharp in third.
Over-50 Intermediates: Now officially the biggest class at REM, the Over-50 Intermediates packed the gate. Larry Gross took the win in front of Randy Skinner, Fred Nichols and Mike Monaghan. The battle for fifth was intense between George Kohler, Robert Collins and Mark Hall as all three riders tied on points by day’s end. In the second moto tie breaker, George Kohler managed to come from the back and pass his way up to fifth. Kohler’s 6-5 beat Collins’ 5-6 and Hall’s 4-7.
Jody Weisel (22) and Jim O'Neal (300) in the Over-60 Expert class. T.V. Holmes won both motos, while O'Neal USA founder Jim O'Neal was on his way to a 2-2 day when he crashed out of the second moto. Jody got second overall with a 4-2.
LighSpeed's Willie Amaradio floats his exotic Yamaha YZ450F over a rise in front of David Blunk (280). Amaradio's YZ450F has the engine moved forward, radiators lowered, frame cut-down and aluminum gas tank dropped below the cylinder head.
THE EXPERTS OF ALL AGES
REM has two classes for Over-40 Experts (divided into Expert and
Pro)...and they don’t race in the same motos. The slower Over-40 Expert
class was won by Aaron Mattson over Robert Barnum, while the much faster
Over-40 Pro class featured terrific duels between MXA’s Willy Musgrave,
on a KTM 300XC converted to a 300SX, against the TM team of Shawn Wynne
and Tim Sharpe. Musgrave won both motos, but they will all meet again
next weekend at the World Two-Stroke Championship.
Over-50 Experts: The battle for supremacy at REM’s Over-50 Expert class was sharply focused on three riders this weekend. Willy Simon, Jon Ortner and Steve Lawler all expected to win...but only Simon’s had the moto scores to seal the deal. Simons went 1-1 in front of Ortner’s 2-2, Lawler’s 3-4, Randel Fout’s (RM250 two-stroke) 7-3, Dave Eropkin’s 5-5, Willie Amaradio’s 5-6, Eric Coffin’s 4-8 and David Blunk’s 8-7.
Jon Ortner chases TM's Tim Sharp. Ortner would go 2-2 for second in the Over-50 Expert class–which was won by Willy Simons.
Over-60 Experts: T.V. Holmes easily won both motos as the regular front runners in the Over-60 Experts were out (Tom White had neck surgery on Wednesday, Bill Maxim was MIA, Alan Olson has a knee injury and Ray Pisarski was under the weather). It is hard to imagine that they could have matched Holmes pace as he was on a new level.
Kordel Caro went 4-3 in the Open Intermediate class.
The battle for second in the Over-60 Experts was decided on the last lap of the second moto. O’Neal USA founder Jim O’Neal suffered bad stars in both motos (including not being in gear when the gate dropped for moto two), but he worked his way up to second in both motos. Unfortunately, Jim crashed out of moto two. Former Trans-AMA Support class Champion Lars Larsson and MXA’s Jody Weisel had finished third and fourth in moto one, but with O’Neal’s crash second place would go to whoever got to the checkered flag first. Larsson held the spot, but on the big downhill, on the last lap, Weisel shocked the AMA Hall of Famer by not shutting off at the bottom. Not shutting off got Jody in front of Lars, but made him miss the good line before Mt. Whitney. Lars passed him back, only to have Jody cut behind him and answer the question of what’s faster up a steep hill? – Jody’s KTM 450SXF or Lars’ KTM 350SXF? The last lap pass gave Jody second and Lars third. Another Swede, Bengt Johansson, was fourth overall with a 6-4.
Cameron Reitzel (144) was second overall in the 250 Novice class behind Willy Simons, Jr.
THE REST OF THE PACK
Willy Simon, Jr. swept both motos of the 250 Novice class in front of Cameron Reitzel (2-4), Steven De Rose (5-2), and Teren Salinas (4-3).
Joe Valencia (13) may not look like a winner as he chases this conga line of riders, but by the end of the day his 1-2 was good enough for first in the 250 Beginner class in front of a top five of Timothy Barnum, Lance Gross, Corey Pennington and Courtney Stetler.
Robert Boldt won the 450 Novices, Joe Sutter the Vet Novices, Derrick Barr the Open Intermediates, Joe Valencia the 250 Beginners, Jeff Pederson the 450 Beginners, Jared Anderson the 125 Beginners and Marc Ramirez the Vet Beginners.
REM races again next Saturday, March 31. For more info go to www.remsatmx.com
Photos by Dan Alamangos and Ernie Becker