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Ricky to ride 450 at Hangtown AMA return.

Ricky Carmichael will return to racing for the first time in seven months this Sunday, May 16, at the 36th Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic, the highly anticipated opening round of the 2004 AMA Chevrolet Motocross Championship.

The 24-year-old is making a 'comeback' after major surgery this winter to repair a torn ACL knee ligament – and will ride a four-stroke Honda CR450F for the first time after riding two-strokes his entire career.

RC is the most successful rider in the history of AMA motocross and has won a championship every year since his first full year as a professional in 1997. He'll be attempting to win his fifth straight title in the premier 250 class this year, but understands that coming back from this type of injury is not going to be easy.

"Coming back from such a long layoff is going to be tough," admitted Carmichael, the winner of the last two Hangtown Classics. "I'm fortunate to have great people working with me to help me make a solid recovery and I expect to be competitive by the time the season kicks off."

However, some experts feel that the injury could even be a positive thing for Carmichael.

"I think this injury will actually force Ricky to focus even more in his training if that's possible," said former AMA champion and TV commentator David Bailey. "He wants to prove to everyone that he can comeback and be even stronger. The one thing his competition should never do is count Carmichael out."

Adding even more intrigue to Carmichael's return is the fact that this season will be his last with Honda. In a surprise announcement last month, Suzuki revealed that Carmichael will be riding yellow when the 2005 AMA Supercross season begins next January.

This unexpected revelation came out before this year's Supercross championship was even decided and sent the industry reeling as each of the major teams scrambles to set their teams for next year. How this will affect Carmichael's bid for another AMA Motocross title remains to be seen.

Perhaps Carmichael's biggest competition this season will come from Yamaha's Aussie ace Chad Reed. The 22-year-old is fresh off earning his first AMA Supercross Series title, when he followed Jeremy McGrath and Carmichael as only the third rider to win ten AMA SX races in a single season.

"Winning the AMA Motocross Championship is something I definitely want to accomplish," said Reed, the third-ranked rider in the 250 class last year. "I'm happy that I won the supercross championship, but that doesn't mean I will be any less eager to do well in the nationals."



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ricky Carmichael - American Honda (Pic: Honda).
Ricky Carmichael attacks the turns [Photo: FrankHoppen.Com].
Windham leads the field at the Hangtown National [Photo: FrankHoppen.com].

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