As we depend down the 36 days till the beginning of the 2017 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Loretta Lynn’s AMA Newbie Nationwide Motocross Championship, we’re going to look again at every year within the historical past of the occasion. At this time we look again at 2003.
The beginnings of the AMA Newbie Nationwide Championship at Loretta Lynn’s tie proper into the beginnings of the modern-day beginner assist program. Simply because the Loretta’s program kicked off in 1982, Kawasaki was establishing its Staff Inexperienced program for amateurs. It could turn into the mannequin to observe, to the purpose the place now most manufacturers also have a similar-sounding title for this system, like KTM’s Orange Brigade and Yamaha’s Blu Cru.
Every model has had its moments of glory on the beginner circuit, however Suzuki appeared to placed on the biggest push within the early 2000s, constructing an enormous crew with a ton of expertise. Not solely did Travis Pastrana win the 1999 AMA Horizon Award on a Suzuki, however Ben Riddle did the identical in 2000, and Evan Laughridge did in 2002. In 2003, Suzuki had a pair of big-bike abilities set to graduate with big-money professional offers locked in: Davi Millsaps and Broc Hepler. They turned the riders that everybody else on the ranch tried to beat.
This led to good racing. Millsaps got here by in his courses, profitable each the 125A and 125 Modified 12-15 titles. He had competitors from the late Josh Lichtle, Millsaps’ good friend and a fellow Suzuki rider who managed to beat Davi straight-up in a moto. Matt Boni, Shawn Clark, and Ryan Sipes had been additionally quick all through the week, however Millsaps nailed each titles and with it the AMA Horizon Award. He must wait till 2004 to show professional, although, as a result of Millsaps was nonetheless 15 when he completed at Loretta’s.
Hepler raced 125 A/Professional Sport and 250 A. Within the 125s he gained his first moto however crashed in his different two, resulting in 1-Eight-28 scores. Kawasaki’s Bryan Johnson, now one of many essential males down on the Millsaps Coaching Facility, scored that title with a Three-1-Three. Hey all you children coaching at MTF this summer time—Bryan is aware of what he’s speaking about!
Hepler grabbed the 250 A title with 2-1-1 scores to high Ryan Sipes and Johnson. He turned professional proper after and went 11-12-11 within the overalls at his first professional Nationals. A yr later, he would end second to James Stewart within the 125 Nationwide Championship standings. Sadly, his racing profession was reduce brief by a head damage.
In 250 A/Professional Sport, Jeff Emig was again once more after his profitable return to the Ranch in 2002. He needed to face Suzuki’s Bryan Grey, who had been very quick in a couple of professional 125 Nationals earlier that summer time. They battled, however Emig got here out on high 1-1-2 to Grey’s 2-2-1. Not like the earlier yr, Emig additionally gained his showdown with Vet king Kevin Walker within the Vet 30 Plus class. They had been tied with a 1-2 and a 2-1 heading into the ultimate moto, however Walker crashed out and Emig scored the victory.
The best drama, although, as soon as once more got here from the minicycle ranks, and one other Mike Alessi versus Ryan Villopoto duel. Villopoto was now with Staff Inexperienced and able to tackle the Honda-mounted Alessi, however for the second-straight yr, Alessi had it coated. They had been a very good match on velocity, however Mike acquired begins and prevented any errors or crashes. As we’ve acknowledged right here time and time once more, Mike was a machine at Loretta’s, and his six-moto sweep of the 105cc Supermini (12-15) and 85 (14-15) Modified courses serves as proof. What did Villopoto get within the six motos that Alessi gained? Six second place finishes.
Additionally of notice within the Supermini class was the third-place finisher, listed as Christopher Pourcel of Kissimmee, Florida. Don’t let that idiot you—that’s Christophe Pourcel of France (the Artful French Boy?). In his personal journey to Loretta’s, he acquitted himself properly in opposition to skilled opponents, though he was not near Alessi or Villopoto within the motos. Good runs for a first-timer, although.
Mike Alessi normally had his youthful brother Jeff on the gate with him, however the class age breakdown for 2003 left them in numerous brackets of the minicycle age divisions. It appeared ’03 could be Jeff’s time to lastly seize a title, however he DNFed the primary 85 (12-13) Mod moto, after which went Three-1. The winner? One other Loretta’s all-timer, Josh Hill, who went 1-1-2 to win a stacked class that additionally included Austin Stroupe, Zach Osborne, Nico Izzi, Broc Tickle, PJ Larsen, Darryn Durham, Trey Canard, Wil Hahn, and this child from Minnesota named Ryan Dungey, who went Eight-20-Eight for ninth total. Ultimately, Suzuki got here calling for him, too.