Motocross

Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship round 1 preview

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In just three days, the engines will come to life and the crowd will rise to its feet as the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship drops the starting gate on its 2010 season at the Rockstar Energy Hangtown Classic in Rancho Cordova, Calif.

This marks the 42nd running of the legendary event, making it the longest-running national on the schedule, as it returns as the season-opening round of the 12-race championship.

After sitting out the majority of the supercross season, Chad Reed returns to defend his 450 Class championship, albeit with a new team: Monster Energy Kawasaki. Last season the Australian superstar returned from a two-year outdoor hiatus to take control of the series, adding the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship to his two AMA Supercross crowns, making him the most successful international rider in history.

"I am really motivated for this series, and I can't wait to get to Hangtown and start racing," said Reed, who will wear #1 on his Kawasaki KX450F. "It's been a difficult season up to this point with the injuries and all, but that's all behind me now and I'm ready to get back out front."

Ryan Dungey took Reed's vacated spot with Rockstar/Makita Suzuki, making his highly anticipated move to the premier class. The reigning AMA Motocross 250 Class champion showed tremendous poise and resilience last season en route to his first national title, then put in one of the most impressive AMA Supercross seasons in history, joining Jeremy McGrath as the only other rider to win the premier-class title as a division rookie. Additionally, he became the youngest supercross champion ever, at just 20 years of age. He enters Saturday's outdoor series premiere as Reed's primary challenger.

Joining both Reed and Dungey at the head of the field is a long list of talented riders, each determined to stake his claim as the best motocross rider on the planet. Leading that group are Jagermeister KTM's Mike Alessi and Muscle Milk/Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing's Josh Grant, both of whom were AMA Motocross race winners in 2009 before injuries cut their seasons short. Both also missed the 2010 supercross season and will surely be determined and ready to prove themselves once again.

Several perennial frontrunners will also be returning to the series, including Honda Red Bull Racing's Andrew Short and Davi Millsaps and 2009 breakthrough winners Tommy Hahn (Rockstar Energy Suzuki) and Matt Goerke (MotoConcepts Yamaha). Grant Langston, the 2007 AMA Motocross champion, and former world champ Ben Townley are also a part of what is undoubtedly one of the most talented fields in series history.

To challenge the fastest riders on the planet, the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle North Club will present a technical track that should make for some spectacular yet safe racing. The legendary circuit is renowned for its dynamic layout, which allows the thousands of fans in attendance to see nearly every aspect of the track. For over four decades, the Dirt Diggers Motorcycle North Club has brought world-class motocross racing to the masses and has become a northern California tradition.

On Saturday afternoon, that tradition continues and will be highlighted by a star-studded lineup of riders and the chance for all fans to get up close and personal with the riders in the open pits.

The rising stars of the 250 Class will also be in action, led by 2009 runner-up and 2010 title favorite Christophe Pourcel and his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammate Jake Weimer, a three-time winner last season. Also on the gate will be 2009 Rookie of the Year Justin Barcia, along with his GEICO Powersports teammate Trey Canard, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Tyla Rattray, KTM factory pilot Tommy Searle, highly touted rookies Dean Wilson, Blake Baggett, and Eli Tomac, plus many more.

The MotorcycleUSA.com Women's Motocross Championship will also kick off its eight-race 2010 season alongside the men. Honda Red Bull Racing's Ashley Fiolek will begin her quest for a third consecutive WMX title, but several others will be chasing her thanks to the most support the class has ever seen. Five-time women's champion Jessica Patterson leads the challengers with her new DNA Shred Stix/Star Racing Yamaha machine along with frontrunners Sherri Cruse (Nitro Circus/Suzuki City), Mariana Balbi and Vicki Golden (MotoConcepts Yamaha), 2009 WMX Class Rookie of the Year Sara Price (Monster Energy Kawasaki), and Tarah Gieger (Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oil Honda).

Before the bikes hit the track this Saturday, May 22, the biggest names in the sport and the city of Sacramento will come together to welcome the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship back to the state capital and celebrate the history of this illustrious event on the steps of the California State Capitol Building.

Reed, Dungey, Alessi, Grant, Short, Townley, and Fiolek will all be in attendance, along with their state-of-the-art race rigs. The press conference is open to the public and begins at 10 a.m. PST on the north steps on L Street this Thursday, May 20.

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