Wild moments. The Monster Energy Cup is typically full of them. From Ryan Villopoto winning the $1 million in the race’s first year to Ryan Dungey resorting to shifting his KTM with his hand after damaging his shifter two races in a row, it’s a race that never seems to be short on entertainment. So when the 2016 Monster Energy Cup arrived, fans were primed for yet another crazy night of racing. But did this year’s race deliver? Let’s dive into Saturday Night Live to find out.
If you watched the first half of the night and flipped off the TV, you’d probably say this wasn’t one of the better nights in MEC history. Ken Roczen took the lead right away in the first race and took off for the undisputed win, just like we’d watched him do so many times over the summer during the Nationals. It wasn’t a matter of his closest competitors getting buried off the start either, as Eli Tomac started in third and moved past Blake Baggett into second without too much trouble. But even with clear track he wasn’t able to cut into Roczen’s lead, and Roczen’s gap just continued to grow until the checkered flag flew. He was clearly the fastest rider on the track, and the buzz of a perfect sweep and a $1 million paycheck started flying around before the first race was even over.
When the second main event got underway it was again Roczen in control, and while Tomac did indeed keep him closer this time around, even getting almost within striking range, Roczen responded and never let Tomac get close enough to make anything happen. It ended up not actually mattering though, as Roczen made a mistake in a rhythm lane and went over the bars hard in what looked like an extremely violent crash. Somehow he escaped the crash without getting hurt but was unable to get his bike going again, which ended his race.
“I was leading, everything was great, but I made a mistake in the corner [before the rhythm lane] and slid out a little bit. I doubled and took a different line on the next triple because that’s where it threw me. The transitions weren’t very good today and the track was super notchy. So I gave her the berries and over jumped it a bit. That compression threw me off balance and the next transition was super steep and it bucked me forward and I had to jump off. That was the end of that.”
Eli Tomac was right behind Roczen when it happened. “I was coming out of the corner and next thing you know, after I hit that second triple, he [Roczen] was jumping over his bars. Even though I had a front row seat I didn’t see a lot, just his rear fender going up and over. He’s pretty lucky with the outcome.”
Roczen was back for the third race though and went right back to the front, taking what looked like an easy win, although afterward he said he rode poorly in the third race. With the speed he demonstrated it’s obvious things are going well with his new bike and team, and there’s little doubt he would have been $1 million richer had he not crashed in the second main event. Surprisingly he didn’t seem even the least bit upset about missing out on a huge payday
“We only made very small adjustments today, just a click here and there,” Roczen said in the pits afterward. “I felt really comfortable on the bike already, as you could tell. Everything came really naturally, and we haven’t even done much testing yet. We have a lot more in our pocket. I wasn’t thinking about the $1 million at all. I was super relaxed all day, and I feel like even if I would have brought the second one home it wouldn’t have affected me too much.”
Ryan Dungey has never won the MEC, but thanks to Roczen’s big crash in the second race he had a serious shot at it. In order to win he needed to beat Tomac by two spots, and when Tomac got buried on the start it looked like Dungey might be able to get it done. But Tomac wouldn’t give up easily and sliced through traffic, eventually finding himself on Dungey’s rear fender. He made the pass, but in the final stages of the race Dungey got him back and went after Musquin in second. Afterward Tomac even admitted for a moment in the third race he thought he just might be blowing the win. Dungey didn’t get Musquin, but he was very close on the last lap.
“I was wishing we had radio communication so I could talk to Marv and ask him to let me by!” Dungey joked afterward, but was quick to point out nothing like that would ever happen, and that the team had no plan in place for a situation like that.
Shepherd Eli Tomac is the sixth MEC winner in as many races. Shepherd Marvin Musquin was fast tonight, going 4-3-2 for third overall. Shepherd
Probably not the night Chad Reed was hoping for. The veteran had a minor collision with the finish line structure during practice and almost got run over by a pack of motorcycles in the third race when he cased a jump in the rhythm lane and went down on the first lap. Luckily he was okay and managed to scramble out of the way before getting chewed up by a bunch of fresh Dunlops. He ended up going 7-4-12 for eighth overall.
In the Amateur All-Stars races Cameron Mcadoo had an absolutely fantastic night, despite having a problem in the first moto and finishing seventh. He won the second moto by a huge margin, and thanks to getting holeshots in both races, Toyota awarded him a brand new Tacoma. It’s a good thing too because after the race he told us his moto van just had a transmission go bad.
After winning the first Amateur All-Stars race Mitchell Falk, #612, went down hard on the start of the second. Shepherd Falk ended up going 1-19 for eleventh overall. Shepherd 001_7400 Shepherd 001_7401 Shepherd Shepherd Challen Tennant, left, was second, Cameron Mcadoo, middle, won, and Garrett Marchbanks, right, took third. Shepherd
In the Super-Mini ranks Seth Hammaker looked great in the first race, winning by almost four seconds over Stilez Robertson, and in the second moto he was battling hard for another win with Robertson and Carson Mumford. He bobbled once, which allowed Mumford and Robertson to get away, but it wasn’t long before he was back on them. He made a mistake in a rhythm lane though and ended up going over the bars, which ended his shot at nailing down the win. Mumford and Robertson battled and exchanged spots for most of the race, but in the end it was Robertson who took the win.