Redux: St. Louis

Redux St. Louis

April 4, 2017 3:00pm

After leading 25 of 25 laps on Saturday night en route to his fifth consecutive victory, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac has now led 153 laps this season. The next closest rider is points leader Ryan Dungey at 69. Behind his eighth win in the last 10 rounds, Tomac has cut Dungey’s points lead to just four with four rounds remaining. Since Anaheim 2, Tomac has been rolling, picking up 21 points on Dungey in the last 10 rounds. Through the first three rounds of the series, Tomac was averaging a 6.3 finish, with zero laps led along with zero wins. Since that time, he’s racked up eight wins, has an average finish of 2.5 and led 153 laps.

Tomac's First Three Rounds

Average Finish Laps Led Wins Holeshots
6.3 0 0 0

Tomac's Last 10 Rounds

Average Finish Laps Led Wins Holeshots
2.5 153 8 2

As we mentioned last week, Tomac’s Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Josh Grant is one of three riders currently in the top 20 in 450SX points that is over the age of 30. (Chad Reed (35) and Justin Brayton (33) are the other two.) On Saturday night, Grant had his first top five in 450SX in nearly two years (Las Vegas 2015), and moved to within nine points of Dean Wilson for 10th in points. Grant, who turns 31 later this year, now has six top 10s on the year. “I’m really happy with our results tonight,” said Grant in a team statement. “I had a great start in the main, rode well and had some good battles. To walk away with a top five is definitely a step in the right direction and where I feel I belong. I’m looking forward to building off this momentum next week.”

Jason Anderson looked great all night and appeared ready to challenge for a podium, but couldn’t make his way to the lead pack of Tomac, Dungey, and Marvin Musquin. He finished fourth on the night. “I got off to a good start in my heat race,” said Anderson in a team statement, “and from there I took the win. It was nice to get back on top. I figured I could keep the momentum going into the main event and got a pretty decent start. I just kind of got stuck there in fourth place and I couldn’t really make much happen. I still rode really solid. Those guys were fast out there tonight. I’ll come back swinging in Seattle."

St. Louis was Anderson's sixth fourth place finish of the year.
St. Louis was Anderson's sixth fourth place finish of the year. Rich Shepherd

Following two podiums in a four round span (Anaheim 2 to Arlington), Honda HRC’s Cole Seely has now gone seven races without a podium. On Saturday, Seely was buried off the start (12th after lap one) and came back to finish sixth. In a press release, he said he got pushed wide off the start, which hurt him early in the race. “I got off to a pretty good jump in the main event but got pushed wide in the first turn and was outside the top 10. I just started picking guys off left and right and was pushing really hard for the first 10 minutes, probably too hard. I made some mistakes after that and a couple guys got back around me but I was able to get back into sixth by the end. I’m just kind of bummed because I want to be up there, but weekends like last weekend make me not take this for granted.”

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM’s Blake Baggett was in the same position as Seely, as he rounded the first lap in 13th. He rebounded to finish seventh.

RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Broc Tickle was featured on the tail end of the Seely/Baggett train (Tickle rounding the first lap in 14th). He followed the pair through the field and finished the night in eighth. “I felt a little off all day, to be honest. I just couldn’t get comfortable,” Tickle said in a RCH press release. “It wasn’t the bike, it was just me. I wasn’t 100 percent in tune, but I still came away with a top 10 and ended up eighth in the main event. Even with a not-so-stellar start, I worked my way up, made a couple passes and put in some good, consistent laps. I still need to dial in those starts and be more consistent.”

Tickle fought his way up to a solid eighth place finish.
Tickle fought his way up to a solid eighth place finish. Jeff Kardas

Tickle’s teammate Justin Bogle got a good jump off the start, rounding the first lap in sixth, but in a post-race statement said he “hit the wall” a few laps into the main. Bogle dropped back to finish 11th. “I ran decent for a few laps and then kind of hit a wall. I’ve been struggling with that all season,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of things to work on with all of that. I’ve had a bit of a tough time figuring out what I need to change. We’re working on it. The team is behind me 100 percent. I’m very thankful for that because it’s been a rough season. I ended up 11th on the night, which is way off from what I expect of myself. I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I’ll keep pushing. Whatever we have to do to get better. We’ll keep working.”

Davi Millsaps was in contention for a second straight top-five finish as he ran fifth early in the main event. But a crash relegated him back to 13th. It was his second finish outside the top 10 this season.

Two rounds into his return from a shoulder injury, Cooper Webb has yet to finish inside the top 10, a testament to how deep the field is at the moment. In St. Louis, Webb said he made “dumb mistakes” en route to a 14th. “Made some dumb mistakes in all the races last night, but that's learning I guess. Needa stay off the ground in the mains,” he wrote on Instagram.

TPJ Racing’s Nick Schmidt missed his first race of the season after sustaining a wrist injury prior to St. Louis. In an Instagram post, Schmidt made it seem like he would be returning from his hometown race this weekend in Seattle. "“Bummed, had to take this weekend off to rest this wrist.. hometown race next weekend can't wait!”

Nick Schmidt's Instagram

While we still have five months left in the 2017 season, it’s never too early to start talking about the 2018 Silly Season. After his second place finish in St. Louis on Saturday night, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy pointed out of the 250 class in supercross (Lucas Oil Pro Motocross has no rule in place), no matter if he wins the title or not. According to the FIM/AMA Rulebook, the pointing out rule goes as follows:

D. Effective with the 2007 season points, riders earning at least 135 250SX Championship points in a nine-race season, 120 250SX Championship points in an eight-race season, or 105 250SX Championship points in a seven-race season, in three seasons of 250SX competition will be ineligible for the 250SX class. 

1. If the number of events in each of the 250SX class regions is different, the number of events used for points will be based on the smaller number. (i.e. if there are eight West events and seven East events, the West riders would throw out their worst finish for a maximum total of seven events) 

2. A rider may move to the 450SX class at any time provided he/she is eligible for the 450SX class, as outlined in the AMA Supercross licensing regulations.

Savatgy, who turned pro in 2013, has already passed the 135-point threshold this season, as he currently has 146 points with two rounds remaining. Last year, he earned 179 points in a nine-round series and in 2015 he earned 133 points in an eight-round series. No matter what happens over the next two rounds, Savatgy will be looking for a 450 ride this off-season.

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Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis continues to impress in his first year competing in Monster Energy Supercross. Through seven rounds of the 250SX East Region, the former MX2 rider has four top fives, which includes a podium in Daytona. Jason Weigandt spoke with Ferrandis after St. Louis, where he explained that he’s ready for the break, as he pushed hard to comeback from injury for the opening round. 

Racer X: That was another good one. You were just solid. Pretty much every week you’re in the hunt. Are you happy with that?
Dylan Ferrandis: I’m happy, but I will be more happy to be on the box. But this weekend I didn’t take a good start in the main, so that’s a little bit kill my race. I’m happy because I pushed the first few laps. I made some good pass[es] on many riders because I was in the back. I just need to improve a little bit physically, and also to be consistent. Especially when the track is rough like today, when the dirt is soft and the track is breaking down because I think I’m used to train a little bit in that condition. Now in California it’s pretty hot and dry. It’s difficult to have a track with big ruts and good, soft dirt. So I think right now it’s what I miss. That’s why last weekend at Detroit when it was really hard pack I was feeling really good. So I need to progress a little bit on these. Also I’m a little bit tired now. My body’s really tired because I had a bad injury in 2016 and I push really hard for be back quickly for the first round. It’s a long time that I didn’t rest and I think I need to rest a bit. I have some pain in my back last weekend and this weekend also. But I’m learning the supercross process, so it’s good.

Like most supercross rookies, the season is starting to wear on Ferrandis.
Like most supercross rookies, the season is starting to wear on Ferrandis. Rich Shepherd

You were saying that a few weeks ago … you said, “I’m not ready to win a main yet, to hold on for the whole time.” So that’s why you started so late with your training? You’re still kind of catching up a little bit.
Yeah, for sure. We make big improvement. In September 2016 was crazy. My body was just completely destroyed. So I’m just happy to be where I am now. But when you lead 14 laps and you miss the podium, it’s never cool. Also today to make fourth, one place to the podium, it’s not easy to accept, but fourth for sure is not so bad.

Adam Cianciarulo hasn’t had much time on the bike in the last two weeks, as he continues to deal with a knee injury sustained in Indianapolis. Cianciarulo went down hard in practice on Saturday, and in a post-race press release said it hindered him during the main event, where he lost touch with the leaders early in the race and finished sixth. AC is now 18 points out of the points lead. “I had a pretty good crash in second practice and I feel like it hindered me when we went to the night show,” said Cianciarulo in a team statement. “I couldn’t get in a grove and the track was challenging so it didn’t turn out how I wanted. We have some time off and we’ll regroup.”

As we mentioned last week, the usually consistent Gannon Audette struggled for the first few rounds of the season, failing to finish inside the top 10 through four rounds, and missing the main event entirely in Indianapolis. But the last two rounds, Audette has improved remarkably, finishing 8-8, and even running in podium position in St. Louis. What’s changed? According to an interview by Jason Weigandt following St. Louis, he’s begun racing his practice bike. 

Racer X: You were like podium material for a little bit out there. The last two weeks have been good.
Gannon Audette: Yeah, I got off to a good holeshot this week. I was third for probably I’d say four or five laps—I don’t know how much it was. I was feeling good, putting down good laps and stuff. They were coming behind me. I made a couple little mistakes, but rode in for eighth and felt good the whole moto. I was really happy with tonight and going into the break. It was a good weekend. Looking forward to New Jersey.

What flipped? Last weekend was good too. Has anything changed?
Actually I started racing my practice bike last week. Got a lot of hours and stuff on it, but for whatever reason this year I’ve felt more comfortable on my practice bike all around.

Audette was in third place for the first four laps of the main event.
Audette was in third place for the first four laps of the main event. Rich Shepherd

Is it the same specs?
No, it’s actually a lot different. My race bike is actually supposed to be a lot better. I don’t know. My practice bike, I’ve just been feeling a lot more comfortable on it. I ride really good during the week and then I show up to the race just kind of frustrated. So to bring out my practice bike and put out the results I’ve been doing I’m really happy with it. Not too happy with how the season started out and everything, so I had to switch something up. Couldn’t really get any worse. It’s going a lot better and I’m happy with it.

So one way to transfer the speed during the week is to just literally ride the same bike. I think of you as a solid, not spectacular flashy dude but I’ve noticed some whips the last couple weeks. What is going on?
I don’t know. I do that at home too. I just try to have fun with it. I feel like I ride my best when I’m out there having fun. Just trying to do that in practice and just try to feel loose on the bike and not ride so tight. It’s been a lot of fun the last two weeks.

So do you almost get bummed now that we get a break? It’s starting to roll.
Yeah, I’m happy to come off these two good finishes and everything. It’s good confidence going into New Jersey. It’s been kind of a frustrating season for me, so it’s kind of good to just relax and everything and then get our marbles straight for New Jersey.

Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-WPS-KTM fill-in Dakota Alix decided to race St. Louis on Saturday despite suffering an ankle injury in a first turn pileup last weekend in Detroit. Alix got a great jump out of the gate, but faded back to 13th. “I decided to try to race in St Louis after tweaking my ankle last weekend in the first turn pileup and it wasn't pretty, but I'm glad I made it through the whole day and still learned a lot. Pumped I now have some time to get all healed up,” he wrote on Instagram.

GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig once again was hindered by a bad start (14th after lap one), but was able to work his way up to fifth. He spoke about his night in a team statement. “The main event is the same story I've been telling all season, I feel like. A crappy jump left me almost last and I had to work my way up, once again. I ended up getting fifth which was good compared to where I started but extremely frustrating at this point. I'm not a fifth place guy and I hope other people still believe that.”