Reigning AMA Motocross champion Ricky Carmichael has extended his 2006 title advantage after a dramatic day's racing in the deep sand of Southwick, round three of the series.
Carmichael's record-breaking win streak had ended at round one, when he was beaten by James Stewart, but RC put his Makita Suzuki back on top with a round two victory - while Stewart lost valuable points after crashing out of the lead in race one and being subsequently forced to sit out race two.
Stewart was still far from 100% when he arrived at Southwick, but bounced back to take a race one victory when Carmichael - having caught and passed the Kawasaki rider - fell from the lead, handing James victory while RC fought back to second ahead of Chad Reed.
In the second moto, Carmichael restored order by taking the lead within five laps and quickly creating a gap over Stewart - but there was to be drama on the last lap when Stewart's Kawasaki suffered a mechanical problem on the approach to a jump, sending James to the ground.
Stewart's latest DNF (technically he was classified eleventh in race two, due to having lapped many of his rivals) gave Reed second place in the moto with Honda's Davi Millsaps, who had been fourth in race one, third.
"My bike was awesome today," said Carmichael, who is now 14-points clear of nearest championship rival Reed. "You know what? We're just going keep on trying and trying to put these motos together. That's all we can do… that and put on a good show for the fans. I'm just out there doing my best. To be honest, I don't even ride in the sand any more. My track has a decent amount, but it's not sandy like this place is. But I did grow up as a mini-bike rider in the sand. I think this race just basically comes down to how strong you are really: You've obviously got to have speed to win, but how strong you are. That was my strong point today."
In the Motocross Lites class, Honda's Andrew Short took victory after 1-4 moto finishes, with Brett Metcalfe second and Mike Alessi third. Grant Langston, who won race two, suffered a DNF in race one.
KTM rider Alessi now leads nearest rival Short by 25 points in the championship standings.
Results – Southwick:
1 Ricky Carmichael (Suzuki) 47 points
2 Chad Reed 42
3 Davy Millsaps (Honda) 38
4 James Stewart (Kawasaki) 35
5 Kevin Windham (Honda) 34
6 John Dowd (Honda) 29.
1 Carmichael 142
2 Reed 128
3 Millsaps 101
4 Preston 87
5 Wey 86
6 Vuillemin 86