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Who Can Step Up and Challenge Carmichael in 2003 Supercross?: MD Reader Responses

On August 20, 2002, we asked readers if anyone is ready to beat Honda’s Ricky Carmichael in the upcoming 2003 AMA Supercross championship series. Not surprisingly, our readers think Carmichael will dominate, again. Take a look at their unedited responses.

  • Ricky will only get beaten if someone shakes his confidence… right now no one has the confidence to beat him though.

  • Will RC be dominant again? I think he will win the title because no one
    else trains like he does and puts forth the effort. His most confident
    building race was when he looped out and come from last to second and would
    have won if their were 1 or 2 more laps remaining. After that race he had
    everyone mentally beat which half the game. I do think, and hope, McGrath
    will make a better showing this year on the KTM. If Travis gets it together
    then he is a title contender, he is the only rider as fast as RC, just seems
    to fall too much. Tortelli will be getting used to the new zook, and may
    podium a few times but he is more of a threat outdoors, and he is leaving
    the fastest bike on the track behind (I think he made a bad choice). I
    don’t think the new KX for Lusk will do much after all it is just the
    production model of RCs old race bike, however he too could challenge RC at
    one time, but he must dig deep inside. Reed is still going to be shaken up
    from Bubba and is going to need some confidence building to get back up
    front with the big boys. Langston I think will have a good trainer,
    McGrath, they will motivate each other because they are both great riders
    and teammates. Speaking of teammates N8 Dawg and Fonz need to train and
    ride with RC as much as possible, the Rock, well he’ll be up in mix,
    guaranteed. The Cobra, had a bad MX season and may recover to contend for
    the title, definitely top 5. Ferry on the new 450 is going to see the
    podium several times also. But RC will, free from injury, win the 2003
    title.

  • Who can beat RC? I think that either McGrath or Vuillemin will beat RC in
    at least 1 race during the 2003 SX season. As for Pastrana, he is way too
    inconsistent. I don’t think he will ever be healthy and focused, nor will
    he ever win consistently. If I were Roger, he’d be getting the boot. The
    next 2 most likely would be Reed and Langston. Hopefully the next SX season
    will be a bit more of a challenge for RC and not a runaway season.

  • If RC crashes, somebody may get lucky and pick up a win. Otherwise it is all RC. I see no evidence that anyone will challenge him anytime soon. RC is in a league of his own.

  • Well, Dirck, you left out the only rider who has a chance to challenge
    Carmichael…. “Bubba”.Chad Reed? give me a break. He will be a rookie in the 250 class and he will
    not have the huge horsepower advantage that he enjoyed in the 125’s. He
    hasn’t been able to challenge James Stewart on a consistent basis. How is he
    going to challenge RC?Maybe Jeremy McGrath, if that KTM is really that fast, but I doubt that it
    is. He would be my sentimental favorite but I am not going to bet the farm
    on it.Ezra Lusk, nope. David V. nope. Travis Patrana, nope. Grant Langston, nope.Only James Stewart has shown any glimmer of the speed necessary to match RC.I think RC should win both championships again in 2003, not necessarily
    because he is the fastest, but Stewart lacks the maturity to beat RC
    consistently. I will predict that RC will not win every race next year. If
    all of the riders stay healthy, 2004 could be a barn burner.

  • Timmy Ferry is getting pretty fast, but I bet it will be the RC and MC show
    again, I hope…

  • That is a very interesting question. Who can step up and challenge or even beat RC? It is the kind of domination that McGrath had through most of the 90’s, with the mental game. That is what a lot of pro racing is a mental attitude. All the riders you mentioned are all capable riders or they wouldn’t have a factory ride. It’s my humble opinion that your going to have to look at a young rider from the abroad or the US. Like a Pastrana (as long as he chooses to be racer and not an X gamer) Langston, Reed and MR. Stewart when he rides in the 250 class. I’m not saying riders like Lusk, Larocco, Windham (if ever not injured, Suzuki has some bad luck) can’t win It’s just I feel sometimes they mentally beat themselves before the gate even drops. The younger still have that invincible attitude you need to beat RC because that is how he thinks every time he races. I hope the 03′ SX season is not another high light for RC but he has proven to meet and beat any challenge put in front of him DAMN he is good. My $.02

  • I dont think anybody will touch Ricky next year in SX. There may be a few
    that can run with him for a round or too. But no one can hang with him for
    the full 20 laps. Not at the pace that he is running right now. As said
    before he is on another level from the rest of the field. His fitness level
    is astounding. Its not that everyone else isn’t trying. Im sure that the
    rest of the field is pulling out there hair to figure him out. Its gotta be
    fustrating for them. Ricky is on top of the world right now and its gonna
    take a lot to topple him. Dont get me wrong Im not neccessarly a RC fan. I’d
    love to see him get his butt wupped. But on the other hand ya gotta admire
    him for what he is doing. My prediction is that as long as he can stay healthy he’ll take another
    title. He isn’t showning any signs of slowing down yet.

  • Can anyone challenge RC? Yes. Will anyone seriously challenge him? Not
    likely. Is this a bad thing? Not exactly.At his best, McGrath dominated psychologically as much as physically. He’d
    jump out to a quick lead by riding at 98% in the first few laps, then he had
    the ability to remain precise for 20 laps while riding at 90-95%, thereby
    maintaining his lead. His intensity and focus won him races as much as his
    raw speed or skill. RC has taken that one step further. His intensity and
    focus are every bit as strong as McGrath’s at his peak, but RC has shown a
    greater willingness to ride faster, longer, and at the edge of control — not
    to mention an incredible ability to recover from brief trips over the edge!Travis has similar ability & speed, but lacks the laser-like intensity. Mike
    LaRocco has the drive and desire, but doesn’t quite have the raw speed. Chad
    Reed, Grant Langston, David Vuillemin, Sebastian Tortelli, and a few others
    have shown flashes of these abilities, but have never combined them all for
    any significant length of time. And I suspect that Lusk and Windham, new
    bikes or not, will lead the next pack of those who never quite manage to show
    either the drive or the speed to be a threat for more than a podium.Travis can do it if he really wants it. Bubba wants it, and may do it in a
    couple of years if he stops crashing. Until then, it’s RC’s party and
    everyone else is a guest. This isn’t necessarily a knock on everyone else, or even a bad thing for
    racing. Ricky has raised the sport to a new level, as dramatically as the
    backflip has suddenly elevated freestyle. His dominance is an amazing feat,
    and should be recognized beyond just the motorcycle press. This is like
    Michael Jordan or Joe Montana at their peak. Motorsports just cannot be
    dominated like this, no matter who the racer is. There are too many
    variables: Ability, health, equipment, weather, competitors, and many more.
    If I remember correctly, Richard Petty, the king of NASCAR, only won
    something like 11% of his races. The career percentages that McGrath and now
    Carmichael are posting are amazing. A perfect season in supercross was
    unthinkable until McGrath came withing a bike length of doing it. And it was
    even more unthinkable in motocross, yet we are seeing exactly that. So even
    though some of the races or championships seem like a foregone conclusion, I
    feel privileged to witness such greatness.

  • When RC was up and coming and McGrath was winning, I was definitely routing
    for RC. Now I find myself on the flip side. Maybe I just love the underdog
    and close competition, but it would be so sweet to see MC win a handful of
    races or even the championship. After the last couple of years, it’s really
    hard to know what he’s got. He was very fast at a few races. Faster than he
    was given credit for. The race between Carmichael Vuillemin that Carmichael
    admitted he pushed as hard as he possibly could to win, McGrath was about a
    straightaway behind the two at the finish. After 20 laps, that is a very
    impressive ride. If his KTM is even a little faster, it could be very
    interesting. We know Vuillemin has the speed when healthy, Reed sure was
    impressive last year on the 250 and maybe he’s even faster this year, I
    don’t see it from Langston yet, Lusk is very possible but just can’t seem to
    keep it together for a whole race, and Pastrana, who knows…. I do hope
    somebody will. It’s just not as much fun to watch the race for 2nd and 3rd,
    no matter what history is being made.

  • Not from what I’ve seen. McGrath has long been my favorite, but he’s got
    nothing to prove and the fire seems to have dimmed just enough to make him
    #2 (regardless of what he rides). Frankly, I think the publicity about
    Jeremy being faster on their bike is nothing more than the imagination of a
    good KTM corporate PR guy. In his best days, he and Ricky would have had
    epic battles, but no longer.Pastrana is probably the only other rider with enough raw talent to stay
    with Ricky, but he can’t figure out whether he wants to be a Free-Style star
    or a real racer. As a result, he’s hurt and not able to train and focus
    enough to compete with Ricky. Reed and Langston are capable 125 riders, but
    they can’t match Ricky on a 250 (nor a 125 for that matter). That leaves
    Vuillemin and Lusk, and they certainly haven’t show the consistency
    necessary to hang with Ricky.Unless he gets hurt (God forbid), Carmichael WILL BE the king again in 2003.

  • Not from what I’ve seen. McGrath has long been my favorite, but he’s got
    nothing to prove and the fire seems to have dimmed just enough to make him
    #2 (regardless of what he rides). Frankly, I think the publicity about
    Jeremy being faster on their bike is nothing more than the imagination of a
    good KTM corporate PR guy. In his best days, he and Ricky would have had
    epic battles, but no longer.Pastrana is probably the only other rider with enough raw talent to stay
    with Ricky, but he can’t figure out whether he wants to be a Free-Style star
    or a real racer. As a result, he’s hurt and not able to train and focus
    enough to compete with Ricky. Reed and Langston are capable 125 riders, but
    they can’t match Ricky on a 250 (nor a 125 for that matter). That leaves
    Vuillemin and Lusk, and they certainly haven’t show the consistency
    necessary to hang with Ricky.Unless he gets hurt (God forbid), Carmichael WILL BE the king again in 2003.

  • The only way to beat RC is to have Jeff Gillooly pay RC a visit in the
    pits with the infamous lead pipe. Seriously, RC is the only one who can
    beat RC, although he IS more prone to get-offs during the winter.
    Travis won’t commit to MX what’s needed to do it and the older guys just
    don’t have it (at that level anyways) anymore. Chad Reed, Grant
    Langston or any member of the French Dreamteam, nope. Can Bubba do it
    down the road? Talent and commitment-wise, yes. What concerns me is
    the physical size of his father. It’s tough chasing around 165lb guys
    if you get too big.

  • RC is going to have another banner year( barring injury) I just don’t see anyone with the total package. He probably won’t win as many but I don’t see the championship going anywhere but to him again, Honda did everything right this year in all regards. Rossi, Hayden, RC, Edwards, pretty tough combos to beat, granted Colin isn’t winning the championship but he is riding his butt off and is Bayliss’ only challenge.

  • How stoked must KTM be to get MC on their bike. No matter how much money
    they ponied up, he wouldn’t sign if he didn’t think it was a good deal where
    the rubber meets the dirt. Perhaps this is the thing that will light his
    fire again. Sure would be great to see him go out on a championship year.
    As for the other guys that might have a chance to give RC a run in next
    years SX, no one else seems to be as consistent as he is. Several riders
    show one or two race bursts of blazing speed, but aren’t able to string them
    together long enough to be a threat. In my opinion, none of the current 250
    riders, and I’m afraid that includes Jeremy, has the speed and consistency
    to beat Ricky. Be interesting to see if LaRocket has another season like he
    had last year in him. If only he hadn’t gotten hurt, who knows what could
    have happened. As for Travis, I feel that he has had his chance at glory
    and will be like Windham and many others, as a potential never fully met.
    Should be a great season even if RC does smoke ‘em again. Lots of new guys
    moving up to the 250s, MC on an orange bike….can’t wait for January.

  • No.

  • Hey you forgot about kevin windham. No, seriously i would be a fool to bet against rc —
    he’s gonna win at least 12 of 16

    but also I hope we see some challenges from windham, pastrana, mcgrath, reed and vuillemin.