Yes, the Daytona Supercross by Honda isn't as different as it used to be--the race format and track have moved a little closer to the supercross norm than it was back in the day. But, make no mistake, it's still tough.
"It's gnarly," said Monster Energy Kawasaki's Jake Weimer. "Really gnarly."
The gnarly factor comes from two aspects. First, lap times are long, the fastest time we saw was Chad Reed's 1.18.1 in the first timed session (the second timed practice comes at 3:45). Chances are the track will only get rougher and times will get slower, so you're looking at 1.20 + laps in the 15-lap 250 Main and 20-lap 450 main. Compared to the sub 1-minute races we're used to, this race will feel like it's going on forever.
And, it's rough. With standard supercross obstacles like two triples, a whoop section and a dragon back, riders have to run a regular supercross suspension setup. But the track also features sandy turns, which form up breaking and acceleration bumps like a motocross track. That's rough enough with the ideal setup, much worse when taken on supercross-stiff stuff. The turns have deep ruts, and a few are off camber, too. It's basically like taking a supercross track for the straightaways and a motocros track in the corners. Gnarly, gnarly, gnarly.
So what you have here is a true test. Whoever wins tonight's races has proven to the be the man as far as fitness and general gnarliness (is that a term?) goes.
The rough track certainly feels good for Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Dean Wilson, who, the last time he raced a full motocross season, won the 250 National MX Title. His 1:19.0 was over a second quicker than anyone else in the class. Wil Hahn, Jeremy Martin, Marvin Musquin and Zach Bell rounded out that group.
In the 450s, Reed, as mentioned, was fastest on his TwoTwo Motorsports Honda. His 1:18.1 edged James Stewart's 1.18.4, and Ryan Villopoto's 1:18.7. Ryan Dungey and Davi Millsaps rounded out the top five in 450s, with another timed session about to begin for both groups.
It's going to be gnarly!