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Has Mr. Perfect Met His Match?

After Ricky Carmichael’s domination of the 2002 AMA 250 Supercross series, and his perfect record in the 250 Outdoor National Motocross championships last year, who would have thought that a 20-year-old, 250-class rookie from Australia would emerge as a daunting competitor for the little red head in 2003?

After Chad Reed passed Yamaha teammate David Vuillemin in Round 2 of the THQ World Supercross GP at Arnhem a few weeks ago, and rode away to a sizeable victory, speculation that Reed could challenge Carmichael this year reached full boil. Last night, in Anaheim, California, the speculation ended with a dominating performance by Reed. Although Carmichael charged convincingly through the pack to second place, he was nowhere near Reed at the finish, and Reed had posted a fastest lap time a full second faster than Carmichael’s fastest lap time. Indeed, those who were watching lap times closely throughout the race (I was not one of them) indicate that Reed built a huge lead and then went on “cruise control” by slowing two or three seconds per lap. This means Reed likely would have beaten Carmichael even if Carmichael had better luck and stayed on two wheels the entire race.

Interestingly, at Reed’s age, Jeremy McGrath was two years away from the 250cc class (he was still campaigning 125s), and Carmichael had yet to win a stadium-style supercross event. Carmichael won the Daytona hybrid (part supercross/part outdoor motocross) event at the same age — 20 years. Carmichael finished fifth in the 250 supercross series that year (2000) before winning the championship the following year.

With Travis Pastrana reportedly ailing after his crash with Mike LaRocco last night, the stage may be set for Reed and Carmichael to have their own, personal duel over the remainder of the series.