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Magrath charges into San Diego Supercross

10 January 2001


     PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- After his dominating performance in the series opener

in Anaheim last week, Jeremy McGrath put a bit of a damper on the notion that he

was going to face a serious challenge in the 2001 AMA EA Sports Supercross

Series presented by Speed Stick.

     Even though the AMA Supercross season is only one race old, it already

feels like it's going to be another year of domination by McGrath. If his

competitors were looking for some relief coming into this Saturday's (Jan. 13)

race at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, they will probably be disappointed.

McGrath has been winning AMA Supercross races at Qualcomm since 1991, back when

the house was called Jack Murphy Stadium.

     This weekend McGrath will continue his quest to win an unprecedented eighth

AMA Supercross championship and the odds are in his favor in San Diego. The

29-year-old who lives in nearby Encinitas, Calif., has won five of the last

seven AMA Supercross finals held in San Diego. He won every race in the stadium

from 1993 to 1998 (there was no race in 1997). McGrath first tasted victory in

the stadium 10 years ago when he won the AMA Western Region 125cc Supercross


     One ray of hope for the rest of the field is that McGrath has not won at

Qualcomm since 1998. The two most recent winners, David Vuillemin and Ezra Lusk,

are two of the hottest riders on the circuit today. Frenchman Vuillemin snapped

a three-race winning streak by McGrath at San Diego last year, and established

himself as one of the few riders capable of beating McGrath. Ditto for Lusk, who

won in 1999, and is back healthy and looking strong after missing the entire

2000 Supercross season due to a shoulder injury sustained at the very first

race. Last week Lusk finished second in his first race back and that alone has

likely bolstered his confidence to new highs.

     Another statistic that seems to be in favor of Honda riders like Lusk and

Mike LaRocco (who was runner-up to Vuillemin at San Diego last year) is the fact

that Honda riders have won 11 of the 17 Supercross nationals held in San Diego.

That stat would give much more comfort to Honda riders if it were not for the

fact that four of those wins came with McGrath at the controls of a Honda.

     Since the first event in 1980, Kawasaki has not been able to win an AMA

Supercross race in San Diego. Team Green will have its best chance of getting

that first victory this weekend with Ricky Carmichael. Carmichael turned in a

strong third-place performance in the opening round and should be a front-runner

in Saturday's race. His teammate Stephane Roncada surprised a lot of people by

actually leading a few laps early in last week's season opener. If he can find a

way to maintain that type of pace for the entire race, he could be a factor.

     Suzuki, like Kawasaki, has yet to taste victory at Qualcomm. Travis

Pastrana made an impressive Supercross national debut in Anaheim last week,

finishing fifth. The 17-year-old seems to be on a sharp learning curve and he

has the potential of pulling out a big victory in the near future.

     One thing is certain. Even though the series is a grueling 16-races long,

if McGrath earns another convincing win in San Diego it will be difficult to see

how anyone is going to top him this year.

                          Past San Diego 250cc Winners

     Year    Rider                            Machine
     2000    David Vuillemin, France          Yamaha
     1999    Ezra Lusk, Bainbridge, GA        Honda
     1998    Jeremy McGrath, Menifee, CA      Yamaha
     1996    Jeremy McGrath, Menifee, CA      Honda
     1995    Jeremy McGrath, Murrieta, CA     Honda
     1994    Jeremy McGrath, Murrieta, CA     Honda
     1993    Jeremy McGrath, Murrieta, CA     Honda
     1992    Damon Bradshaw, Mooresville, NC  Yamaha
     1991    Jean-Michel Bayle, France        Honda
     1990    Jeff Stanton, Sherwood, MI       Honda
     1989    Rick Johnson, El Cajon, CA       Honda
     1987    Rick Johnson, El Cajon, CA       Honda
     1986    Rick Johnson, El Cajon, CA       Honda
     1985    Johnny O'Mara, Gardnerville, NV  Honda
     1982    Broc Glover, El Cajon, CA        Yamaha
     1981    Broc Glover, El Cajon, CA        Yamaha