Jeff Kardas, ProMotocross

WW Ranch Preview: A new track may reward fresh faces

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The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship returns to Florida for the first time since 1997 when Ricky Carmichael won in the 125 class with Jeff Emig triumphant in 250s. This time, the riders will navigate an inaugural trip around the WW Ranch Motocross Park in Jacksonville, Fla.

This week will test the endurance of the riders as they move south from Pennsylvania to the hot and muggy coast of Northern Florida.

Since it is on the coast, elevation changes have been added artificially and the relatively flatness of the circuit will make this track unique from the four that preceded it. The course will vary from the others in its makeup as well, and the sandy track should reward a different set of riders.

Last week witnessed the emergence of the field. And now that the series rounds the one-third mark fresh faces may emerge at the front of the pack.

Last week was the first time that a rider other than Eli Tomac or Ken Roczen won a Moto in the 450 class or that Adam Cianciarulo or Justin Cooper won in 250s. Blake Baggett’s Moto 1 victory was followed by a disappointing 15th in the second race, but Hunter Lawrence finished third in the 250 Moto 2 to earn his first podium in the series.

The field has their work cut out for them. In the 450 class, Tomac and Roczen hold a 32-point advantage over Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson, who are tied for third. Cianciarulo has a 26-point lead over Justin Cooper, who has managed to keep the leader in sight despite Cianciarulo’s sweep of the first four rounds.

Anderson will be a rider to keep a close eye on after scoring his second podium of the season last week at High Point. He is just now getting back into the groove after suffering an injury early in the Supercross season.

Justin Hill continues to sit on the sideline after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his shoulder. No announcement has been made about his return, but he is expected to be back for the final rounds of the season. Kyle Chisholm filled in at High Point and finished 21st overall (23-20). Chisholm is on the entry list again this week riding the No. 11.

In 250s, Killian Auberson rode this week after sustaining a concussion at Thunder Valley, but he will miss the Florida National.

MORE: Eli Tomac, Ken Rcozen’s two-man battle provides surprises

Schedule:

Qualifiers: 10:15 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold
Race: Live, 1 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Gold (Moto 1), Moto 2 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Gold.

June 15 – 2019 High Point Raceway

450: Eli Tomac (3-2) won over Ken Roczen (6-1) and Jason Anderson (2-5).
250: Adam Cianciarulo (2-1) won over Hunter Lawrence (1-3) and Chase Sexton (4-2).

March 2 – 1997 Gatorback Cycle Park

250: Jeff Emig (1-1) won over Jeremy McGrath (2-2) and Damon Bradshaw (5-3)
125: Ricky Carmichael won over Steven Lamson and Kevin Windham.

Overall Wins

450:
[2] Ken Roczen (Hangtown, Thunder Valley)
[2] Eli Tomac (Pala, High Point)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown, Pala, Thunder Valley, High Point)

Moto Wins

450:
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250:
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley II, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

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Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

Michelin
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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”