It was another solid night for Team Honda HRC at the AMA Supercross series’ second and final stop in Atlanta, with Trey Canard scoring his fourth consecutive podium finish—a hard-fought third. The Oklahoman got off the line to a decent start and advanced to second by lap seven. It looked as if Canard might be able to contest for the win, but mistakes caused him to fall off the leaders’ pace and ultimately relinquish one position by the checkered flag. Joining Canard on the podium was GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who rebounded after a disappointing race last weekend to finish second.
Meanwhile, Cole Seely’s night didn’t go as planned, as a bad start and a mishap halfway through the 20-lap race combined to leave him in 12th place at night’s end. The premier-class rookie has had an up-and-down first half of the season and looks forward to improving his consistency during the second half.
- The same weekend that Team Honda HRC cleared the midway point in the AMA Supercross season, their MXGP counterparts kicked off their season halfway around the world, in Qatar. Just hours after Trey Canard finished third in the Georgia Dome, Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin did likewise at the Losail Circuit.
- Prior to Saturday’s track walk, Seely interviewed with Fox Sports 1 for a feature called “Legendary Influence” that will air during the broadcast for the Daytona Supercross by Honda this coming weekend. The piece will showcase the relationship between Cole and his riding coach, five-time AMA Motocross champion and two-time AMA Supercross champion Jeff Ward. “Jeff and I met almost 12 years ago and have worked together in some capacity ever since,” Seely said. “I couldn’t always afford to pay him, so he would help me here and there when he could, but once I could hire him fulltime, I jumped right on it. His knowledge and experience in racing are extremely helpful. He’s been where I am and knows what I’m going through firsthand. It’s comforting having him by my side.”
- During the daytime program at Atlanta, Canard secured the third-quickest qualifying time at 53.695, just .188 seconds off the pace of GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who landed second at 53.507. Seely was seventh-fastest with 54.779. For the second consecutive weekend, Canard was the fastest rider on the track during the main event, laying down an impressive 54.505-second lap.
- With the 56th annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR race running just down the road at Atlanta Motor Speedway, many of that sport’s top drivers were roaming the Supercross pits on Saturday. Drivers Casey Mears and Carl Edwards were two to stop by the Team Honda HRC truck to meet Canard and Seely.
- On race day, Seely’s mechanic Rich Simmons joined Brian Kranz, mechanic for Tomac, to meet with a large group of students for the local Motorcycle Mechanics Institute campus. Both technicians are graduates of the program and were happy to give the pupils a glimpse of life as a factory mechanic.
- Atlanta 2 served to spread out the title chase somewhat. Canard gained seven points on third-place Ken Roczen, but he also lost ground to the leading Dungey, whose advantage is now 30. Meanwhile, Seely slipped one spot to seventh, four behind Chad Reed. Tomac remains in fourth.
- With the series having cleared its halfway point, at least one Honda CRF450R has finished on every podium of 2015. Canard has six rostrum finishes in nine races, while Tomac has four and Seely one. Honda and KTM are tied for the lead in the manufacturers’ points standings, at 199.
THE FOCUS: Farewell, Ray Conway
The Atlanta 2 Supercross marked the end of an era for Team Honda HRC, as it was the last event prior to the retirement of Honda Director of Racing Ray Conway. Conway, who humbly describes his job with the team as “behind-the-scenes logistics guy,” has been with American Honda for 28 years, a period that was preceded by a decade-long stint working at Honda dealerships. Through the company’s philosophy of giving its workers varied roles, Conway worked in areas including customer relations, service rep, rider training, demos, warranty, press and of course racing.
“My favorite role was probably the press job because in several cases, I got to take something that hadn’t existed before and introduce it to the American public and media,” Conway says. “I was spoiled by fantastic engineering from the factories, and I got to deliver the message: this is what the product is, this is what it does. Then a couple months later, I got to see the result in the media: Did I do a good job? Did the correct message make it to the customer? I really liked being able to see that and think, “I did that.”
When asked to name a favorite memory, Conway recalls preparing the race bikes for and doing rider support during the 1995 Nevada Rally, a weeklong off-road race around the Silver State. “That was maybe the coolest three or four months of my career,” he says. “I would do my dealer visits around Southern California, then come to Torrance and work all night with Johnny Campbell—he built the team’s XR600Rs and I built the XR400Rs. Then I’d go home, sleep a few hours and do it all over again the next day. We won every class. That was an example of that classic Honda thing where you did your job, but you also did something extra—and you were successful.”
Though he’s leaving, Conway says he’ll always have an appreciation for his longtime employer. “Honda is a standup company,” he says. “One thing I’ve learned through all my roles is that year over year, you can’t go wrong owning a Honda. When you walk into a Honda dealership and leave with something you like, the company, dealer and product won’t let you down.”
|1||Dungey Ryan||5||USA||25||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|2||Tomac Eli||3||USA||22||Monster Energy Kawasaki||Kawasaki|
|3||Canard Trey||41||USA||20||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|4||Tickle Broc||20||USA||18||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|5||Baggett Blake||4||USA||16||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|6||Grant Joshua||33||USA||15||Monster Energy Kawasaki||Kawasaki|
|8||Roczen Ken||94||GER||13||Team Honda HRC||Honda|
|9||Anderson Jason||21||USA||12||Rockstar Husqvarna||Husqvarna|
|10||Peick Weston||23||USA||11||Autotrader/ JGR/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing||Suzuki|
|11||Millsaps David||18||USA||10||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|12||Seely Cole||14||USA||9||Team Honda HRC||Honda|
|13||Hill Joshua||75||USA||8||Valley Motorsports||Yamaha|
|14||Alessi Mike||800||USA||7||Smartop MotoConcepts Racing||Honda|
|15||Short Andrew||29||USA||6||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|16||Wey Nicholas||27||USA||5||Team Tedder||Kawasaki|
|17||Nicoletti Phillip||46||USA||4||Autotrader/ JGR/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing||Yamaha|
|18||Chisholm Kyle||11||USA||3||Chisholm Racing||KTM|
|19||Albertson Jimmy||77||USA||2||Jimmy Albertson Racing||KTM|
|20||Weimer Jacob||12||USA||1||RCH Soaring Eagle Jimmy Johns Suzuki Factory Racing||Suzuki|
|21||Schmidt Nicholas||USA||1||TPJ.com/Fly Racing||Suzuki|
|22||Partridge Kyle||199||USA||1||Rocky Mountain ATV||Honda|