Sign of the (Lap) Times: Anaheim 1

Sign of the (Lap) Times Anaheim 1

One of the major storylines heading into the 2017 season was the change by Feld Motor Sports this off-season to implement timed races. The change, which would see 450 main events switch from 20 laps to 20 minutes plus one lap and 250 main events from 15 laps to 15 minutes plus one lap, went into effect at the season opener at Anaheim. But, as we pointed out before the start of the season, the opener is typically one of the longest races of the year and wouldn’t be affected much by the change—if at all. And it wasn’t, with the 250 leaders running 15 laps, and the 450 leaders running 20—the same number as previous years. The races in both classes were longer than any of the previous three years, but it wasn’t a huge change. That will be seen later in the year.

Total 450SX A1 Race Times

“It wasn’t too different, other than my mechanic writing, ‘five minutes plus one’ or ‘three minutes plus one.’ It was pretty much the same,” said Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger. “We did 15 or 16 laps. It was just about the same. It will be different once we get to a shorter track, or longer motos, more laps.”

“For me, I actually liked it [the new timed-format] pretty good. You weren’t just focusing on the laps, just trying to hit everything as perfect as we could,” said Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Martin Davalos.

Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen seemingly was in cruise control mode en route to one of the biggest wins in the history of Anaheim. His 16.2-second route was the largest margin of victory at the opener since Chad Reed’s 21.4-second win at the 2008 opener. Since 2009, the average margin of victory at the opener is 4.9 seconds. Roczen beat that by 11.2 seconds!

A1 Win Margin

“It’s hard to expect something like that [a big lead], but I can tell you that I had no doubt in my mind, and that’s ultimately what helped me out a lot,” he told the media after the race. “But at the same time there’s a lot of good guys out there. That’s what I mean the entire time with keeping the focus. That’s what I’ve done. I never got too excited. Just tried to stay calm and trust my capabilities.”

Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey followed his 2016 Anaheim 1 runner-up finish with another one this time. Dating back to the Phoenix Supercross in 2015, Dungey now has 33 podium finishes in the last 34 races—his only blemish a fourth coming at East Rutherford in 2016. The podium was also Dungey’s seventh in eight 450SX openers. (He finished fourth in 2015.) But he’s also never won the opener!

Dungey's A1 Finishes

“The track was kind of pretty tough tonight. It would reach out and bite you a little bit if you tried too hard,” he said. “So I just tried to play it cool and just put my laps in and no mistakes and gauge where I was at and see where Marvin was. I tried to play around with that a little bit. But overall I’m happy with the race.”

450SX Class Lap Times

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 1:01.859 4 1:03.593 Ken Roczen
2 5 1:02.111 4 1:04.999 Eli Tomac
3 2 1:03.110 11 1:04.290 Ryan Dungey
4 3 1:03.193 11 1:04.451 Marvin Musquin
5 4 1:03.516 9 1:04.609 Jason Anderson
6 6 1:03.823 14 1:04.896 Cole Seely
7 14 1:04.383 8 1:06.163 Blake Baggett
8 20 1:04.419 9 1:05.573 Chad Reed
9 11 1:04.460 3 1:06.162 Jake Weimer
10 12 1:04.516 4 1:06.507 Justin Bogle
11 7 1:04.535 11 1:05.600 Davi Millsaps
12 16 1:04.583 7 1:06.003 Broc Tickle
13 8 1:04.648 4 1:05.839 Weston Peick
14 13 1:04.893 6 1:06.814 Dean Wilson
15 9 1:04.911 11 1:05.883 Josh Grant
16 10 1:05.052 8 1:06.207 Cooper Webb
17 15 1:05.296 7 1:07.132 Justin Brayton
18 17 1:05.417 3 1:08.261 Vince Friese
19 21 1:05.809 7 1:06.903 Mike Alessi
20 19 1:06.158 3 1:10.334 Nick Schmidt
21 18 1:07.446 5 1:09.059 Jimmy Albertson
22 22 DNS DNS DNS Trey Canard

It's no surprise to see Roczen land the fastest time, you can also see that Eli Tomac was trying to sprint with him early on lap four. No one else was close on their lap time, as Dungey's typical consistency saw him log his best lap much later, on lap 11. On that 11th lap, Dungey was actually slightly quicker than Roczen, and he brought his teammate Musquin with him. But Dungey followed that 1:03 lap with a 1:06, as did Musquin due to having to roll the triple on a red cross flag. Roczen stayed in the 1:03s to keep extending his lead on lap 12.

By the way, Tomac logged a 1:03.9 on lap eight, then a 1:07. 1 on lap nine. Clearly that's when he started having problems.

250SX Class Lap Times

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 2 1:03.588 3 1:04.845 Aaron Plessinger
2 3 1:03.982 3 1:05.663 Martin Davalos
3 1 1:03.999 4 1:05.027 Shane McElrath
4 4 1:04.395 3 1:05.551 Mitchell Oldenburg
5 6 1:04.826 12 1:05.705 Jeremy Martin
6 8 1:04.860 8 1:06.456 Austin Forkner
7 5 1:05.336 3 1:05.683 Justin Hill
8 9 1:05.375 11 1:06.653 Jimmy Decotis
9 10 1:06.392 2 1:07.321 Kyle Chisholm
10 7 1:05.640 3 1:06.381 Dan Reardon
11 17 1:06.869 4 1:08.063 Phil Nicoletti
12 19 1:07.056 3 1:10.536 Zac Commans
13 11 1:07.097 6 1:08.391 Tyler Bowers
14 13 1:07.381 15 1:09.051 Bradley Taft
15 18 1:07.561 4 1:10.836 Cole Martinez
16 12 1:07.805 4 1:08.815 Chase Marquier
17 15 1:08.120 6 1:09.622 Killian Auberson
18 13 1:08.471 7 1:09.036 Blake Lilly
19 16 1:08.578 7 1:10.565 Justin Starling
20 20 1:09.758 2 1:12.690 AJ Catanzaro
21 21 DNF DNF DNF Hayden Mellross
22 22 DNF DNF DNF Jon Ames

Darned close in lap times between Plessinger, Davalos, and McElrath. Note that Jeremy Martin, after a terrible start, got going much later. Will be interesting to see these guys race it out again.

We know the field is always stacked at the opener, and that means some talented riders aren’t in the lap charts because they didn’t make the mains. Here are a few notables.

450

Christophe Pourcel
Fredrik Noren (was riding a 250F in the 450 Class)
Tommy Hahn
Adam Enticknap
Dakota Tedder
Ronnie Stewart
Austin Politelli

250

Scott Champion
Chris Alldredge
Ryan Surratt
Tristan Charboneau
Noah McConahy
Josh Hansen
Chris Howell