Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. Round six of the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross Championship will charge into Qualcomm Stadium in beautiful San Diego, California, this Saturday night. A history-rich stop on the tour, this event marks the end of the opening West Coast chapter and the championship picture for the 250SX West Region will sharpen upon completion of the next 15 main event laps.
Things have really tightened up, and we will see two red plates take to the track. Rockstar Energy Racing KTM's Jason Anderson and Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda’s Cole Seely are tied in points and have fought through an ocean of adversity through five rounds. Said adverse scenarios have produced three last lap victories, penalty deductions to the point leader (jumping on red cross flags) and most recently a controversial collision between Anderson and Seely’s teammate, Malcolm Stewart. I was able to catch up with the team managers of both racers to ask their perspective on the eyebrow raising moment:
Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs Honda team manager, Tyler Keefe: "I think it was simply aggressive racing. Jason made an aggressive pass on our guy who then made an aggressive pass in return. In the video you can see Jason look over in the section before the corner and see Malcolm was there and should have expected him to make an aggressive pass."
Rockstar Energy Racing KTM team manager, Dave Gowland: “The way I saw it was Jason made a clean block pass on Malcolm, who then attempted a block pass of his own to counter. The problem we have with his pass was Malcolm stayed on the gas until he made contact with our guy and didn't make an attempt to turn the corner. We presented our case to the AMA, but they didn't see a problem with it."
All debate aside, the event has come to pass and both teams reported a full court press has been applied to their effort this weekend. Neither rider will contest any East Coast events, as the Troy Lee bunch does not travel out of the West rounds, and Gowland reported to me that, “As long as he is leading the points, or in contention,” Anderson will not moonlight on a KTM 350 or a 450. There is a seven-week break following the main event in San Diego, during which time Keefe told me, “Cole and the other guys will begin outdoor testing, and we’ll hit some local outdoor events to keep them sharp on gate drops.”
Both teams are diligently chasing their very first titles, while the organization that has closed in on them owns 29 AMA Championship #1 plates. Dean Wilson and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit squad are back in the game. Wilson’s victory last weekend brought him to within 12 points of the leaders and he arguably owns the most momentum in the class. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in championship bonuses are on the line and we can expect nothing less than pressure-packed action from the 250 class in San Diego. Look for it to get wild.
On to the 450 class.
Chad Reed got the reported 42,139 fans at Anaheim 3 on their feet when he dove to the inside of Ryan Villopoto on lap two and set sail. The Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports mounted veteran has won two of the last three races, rocking the foundation of the motocross world by establishing himself as the strongest early season threat to dethrone three-time defending champion, Ryan Villopoto. With a scant two points separating him from the red plate in the 450 class, Reed has to be salivating for a return to Qualcomm Stadium, a place he has ruled with an iron fist. Dating back to 2002, Chad owns six victories, including a span where he won five of six and has never finished out of the top five in events he has raced. Part of the excitement in Reed’s amazing story is his status as a team owner, and it’s within the walls of this very stadium that he earned the inaugural victory for TwoTwo Motorsports in 2011. He was also going for the lead here last year when he slid out. Simply put, the forecast calls for more thunder.
Speaking about the actual forecast, there is a 70 percent chance of rain tonight (Thursday) and a 20 percent chance on Friday. While much needed, I doubt the precipitation count will make a dent in the terrafirma this weekend. It should be hard-packed and slick again, which by recent history favors the KTM riders as well as the previously mentioned Reed. This brings up two racers on opposite ends of the spectrum in Red Bull KTM teammates Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey. Ken is on an impressive early roll, and sits seven points shy of the lead while Dungey is struggling mightily and suddenly finds himself 28 markers out of the hunt. There’s a picture of Dungey from last weekend riding off the track with the grip ripped off his bike. Looking at his facial expression, it seems like something is going on upstairs that he has to figure out. I predict he will right his ship and be a factor before all is said and done.
With Muscle Milk Honda’s Justin Barcia yet to land a podium in 2014, but appearing to be on the rise, and Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart a perennial threat to win (he scored the first professional victory of his career in SD on a 125 in 2002), there is going to be another dogfight to see who will stand on the steps. Sitting a solid fourth in series points is JGR Toyota Yamaha’s Justin Brayton, who refuses to go away. And burly Motosport.com backed privateer Weston Peick just knocked down a top five. Lastly, GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac has a main event under his belt, and is another week toward a full recovery. He will make things interesting in the top five.
There are flash fires in every direction you look in the 2014 series. The series has manifested an eerie presence that we can feel as the Fox Sports 1 broadcast hits the air each Saturday night, and the historically unpredictable San Diego round is here. All hell could break loose in both classes, and why wouldn’t it?
Which 250 West contender will head into their long break with the red plate? I have a feeling there will be some serious fireworks in this division! Will Villopoto rebound or race with caution again on the hard pack? Can Chad Reed harness his previous command of Qualcomm Stadium and lead this thing? In two days, two gate drops will provide the answers.
Thanks for reading, see you next week.