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Nov 11, 2003

Who Qualified For AMA SuperMoto Final

From a press release issued by AMA Pro Racing:

74 RIDERS QUALIFIED FOR AMA RED BULL SUPERMOTO CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE

PICKERINGTON, Ohio - Seventy-four of the world's best motorcycle racers scored points during the five qualifying rounds of the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship in both the Supermoto and Supermoto Unlimited classes to earn a spot in the winner-take-all championship round at the Rio Hotel & Casino on Friday, Nov. 21, in Las Vegas.

In the Supermoto class as many as 53 riders will be vying for one of the 24 final grid positions for the championship race and 42 riders have the opportunity in the Supermoto Unlimited class. Several riders are expected to compete in both classes. Riders had to card a top-20 finish in one of the qualifying rounds' main events to be eligible for the championship round.

Thanks to steady performances during the regular season, Australian Mark Avard has accumulated the most points coming into Las Vegas. Avard scored top-10 results in every race this season, including a podium finish at the Big Daddy's South Boston Speedway in August. Avard, 33, is looking forward to the championship round.

"I'm happy I had a successful season, but it starts from scratch again in Las Vegas," said Avard, who rides a Suzuki DR-Z400 for Pacifico Saunders Suzuki. "There's going to be some really tough competition there with many of the European riders as well as the U.S. regulars. It's going to be a big challenge for me, but I'm going to give it a go."

Jeff Ward won more races than any other rider in the series with three victories this season. The 42-year-old multi-time AMA Motocross and Supercross champ is one of the big favorites to win the title aboard his Troy Lee Designs Honda CR450F, but like Avard, Ward recognizes the unique challenges of the winner-take-all format.

"It definitely puts a lot of pressure on you," Ward said. "but it's the same for everyone. The Europeans, (Boris) Chambon, (Kurt) Nicoll and (Jurgen) Kunzel, are going to be tough. Supermoto at this point is very much like motocross in the 1970s. The Europeans have a big head start on us and it's going to be tough to match their pace. But a lot of things can happen in the race, as we've seen this year. A lot depends on the track design. The U.S.-based riders, especially guys like Doug Henry and Grant Langston, are catching on very quickly so it's going to be a wide-open finale."

AMA Pro Racing Associate Director of Commercial Development Chris Bradley likens the championship-determining final round to the Super Bowl. "Your record provides you with an opportunity to play in the championship finale," said Bradley, "but it's your performance in the 'big game' that determines if you're the AMA champion."

Bradley went on to say that this approach has enabled many of the world's top motorcycle racers to compete in the all-new series. "We decided that in its first year the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship had to create an environment that would attract top riders but still let them focus on their primary form of racing and commitments," said Bradley. "The way it was designed, for example, a top level road racer could continue to concentrate primarily on road racing but enter an AMA Supermoto event and, with a solid finish, make himself eligible for the championship finale. This encouraged top-level riders to compete who otherwise might not have."

The result speaks for itself in terms of the finale roster. Top qualifiers for the Las Vegas Supermoto finale include current AMA Superbike star Ben Bostrom, young KTM ace Ben Carlson, former AMA Motocross champion Doug Henry, privateer Mark Burkhart, former AMA Supercross King Jeremy McGrath, Godfather of Freestyle Mike Metzger and AMA Superbike regular Larry Pegram, among others.

Perhaps the hottest rider coming into Las Vegas is Henry. He broke through to win his first race earlier this month in Irwindale in impressive fashion over Kunzel. Henry is keyed up about being part of the burgeoning championship.

"You get the feeling that we're at the start of something really big here with supermoto," said Henry. "It's exciting to be a part of this championship at its beginning. This has really got me pumped up about racing again and I'm looking forward to the challenge of the finale in Las Vegas."

Red Bull HMC KTM Supermoto Racing Team 1 riders Ben Carlson and Christopher Fillmore look to be the future of AMA Supermoto, but they are the present as well in the Supermoto Unlimited class. Carlson and Fillmore are the top two qualifiers for the big-bike class, but like in the Supermoto class the European world championship riders such as the aforementioned Kunzel, Chambon and Nicoll could be the riders to beat.

In addition to the individual titles on the line in Las Vegas, the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Team Championships will also be decided. Red Bull HMC KTM Supermoto Racing Team 1 leads the team point standings over Troy Lee Designs Honda. The Red Bull HMC KTM squad already wrapped up the Supermoto Unlimited team title at the Irwindale, Calif., round on Nov. 1, and have a good chance of earning a second team title in Las Vegas.

Supermoto qualifiers
Mark Avard
Jeff Ward
Benjamin Carlson
Doug Henry
Mark Burkhart
Jeremy McGrath
Michael F Metzger
Steven Drew
Larry Pegram
Christopher Fillmore
Alexandre Thiebault
Joe Kopp
Josh Chisum
Doug Chandler
Gary Trachy
Jeff Wood
Boris Chambon
Jurgen Kunzel
Kurt Nicoll
Brett Landes
Rolland Fabien
Cory Call
Kevin Schwantz
Ben Bostrom
Mickey Dymond
Nick Daniels
Don Hart
Matt Burton
Matthew J Pursley
Roger Lee Hayden
Bryan Bemisderfer
Casey A Yarrow
Tim J Bemisderfer
Mike Smith
Steve Beattie
Laurent Beguelin
Shane Turpin
Jason W Baldwin
Jake Zemke
Aaron J Howe
Jake Johnson
Marc Gifford
Dustin Nelson
Richard Alexander Jr
Travis Marks
Guy Giroux
Robert Miller
Mark Cernicky
Jason E Palmer
Steve Johnson
Johnny Murphree
Monty Warsing

Supermoto Unlimited qualifiers
Benjamin Carlson
Christopher Fillmore
Steven Drew
Larry Pegram
Mickey Dymond
Gary Trachy
Leonardo Bagnis
Mark Avard
Joe Kopp
Doug Chandler
Boris Chambon
Jurgen Kunzel
Kurt Nicoll
Matthew J Pursley
Chuck Sun
Jeff Harrington
Chuck McCarty
Kenneth L Coolbeth
Guy Giroux
Ryan Hughes
Casey A Yarrow
Nathaniel Wilder
Dave Arnold
Josh Chisum
Grant Langston
Eric Pinson
Shane Turpin
Cole Cates
Phil Gee
Nick Daniels
Al Salaverria
Mike Aldridge
Jeff Matiasevich
Mark Cernicky
Calvin Andlovec
Craig Mason
Tyler Sandell
Brian Catterson
Mike Krynock
Darrick Lucchesi
Gerald Delepine

About the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship
In its first year, the AMA Red Bull Supermoto Championship, AMA Pro Racing's newest championship series, is a unique form of motorcycle racing that features a course made up of both dirt and pavement. Many top competitors from the world of motorcycle racing are contesting the series including multi-time AMA Supercross champion Jeremy McGrath, freestyle motocross legend and multi-time X-Game medallist Mike Metzger, former AMA Supercross/AMA Motocross champ and Indy Car driver, Jeff Ward and former World 500cc Grand Prix Champion Kevin Schwantz, among others. The six-round championship culminates on Nov. 21 in Las Vegas in conjunction with the annual AMA Pro Racing Awards Banquet.

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