Written by Nick Thiel
After what was a welcomed break by many of the riders, the Red Bull RedBud National is upon us. We'll see the return of a healthy James Stewart, as well as last summer's surprise, Christian Craig, and a healed Tyla Rattray, among others. Adding another element to the drama, the current heat wave and weather systems that are moving through the RedBud area are going to be physically taxing on the riders this weekend to say the least.
JS7 is back and by all accounts, he's ready to pick up where he left off
The fans will get just what they asked for, with James Stewart making a return to racing this weekend. He has been back on the bike for a couple of weeks and is said to be back to the JS7 of the first two rounds of the series. Although he’s going to have his hands full with Ryan Dungey’s elevated game, the racing should be nothing short of spectacular. It was smart for James to take the time off and come back healthy. Seeing him racing at anything but one hundred percent isn’t fun, and come Saturday I can put money on the fact that everyone will agree with me.
We'll also see the return of Christian Craig this weekend. Christian set the racing world on fire last year, nearly winning a few motos and leading a ton of laps. His wrist is all healed up, and he has been flying around all of the So Cal tracks. It was good to see him take the time to get back to his form from last summer before making a comeback. The kid has a lot of talent and heart, so I’m looking for a top-10 finish from him as a stepping stone to build off of for the rest of the summer.
Christian Craig showed us some major potential in 2011
The question looming above everyone’s head is if the weather will hold up. It’s supposed to be hotter than blue blazes, along with lots of humidity. This will more than likely be the first round to really test the riders' fitness. If they get the amount of rain they are calling for on Friday, the track should also have the best soil that we’ve seen the entire year. RedBud already has some of the best soil, but with a good rain, it always makes it extra rough and rutted.
And of course there's the infamous LaRrocco's Leap, which will keep all of the fans on their feet as they watch the best in the world sky their motorcycles towards the moon.
Also returning to action this week: Tyla Rattray
The break was appreciated by some, but not all. Quite a few of the riders used the off-weeks to get in some crucial testing, plus some much needed rest and recuperation, but there's a few riders like Broc Tickle who I would say would have liked to keep on racing, as he has made steady improvements each and every weekend.
Broc Tickle is coming into Red Bud with a breakthrough performance at the Budds Creek round. Broc definitely had a great couple weeks off and was flying at Glen Helen when I saw him on Thursday. I expect him to be battling for another podium position, as he had one of his best results of last year on the lites bike. He meshes well with the track and has a head full of confidence. They really have the bike setup down on his Pro Circuit Kawasaki and I expect to see him upfront both motos.
Broc Tickle is on a tear right now
We have the return of the superstar JS7, the second-year racer Christian Craig, and the 450 class rookie Tyla Rattray, all of which are equally exciting. Then we should have some of the most epic track conditions on our hands that we’ve had all year. Plus the brutal weather conditions should play a key part in the racing as well. Who will best handle the track, along with the weather? And who will have taken advantage of the off-weeks and come out swinging for a win? Find out tomorrow, and be sure to keep up with us on twitter at @allisports and @americanmx.
Click here for details on how to watch Saturday's action from RedBud.