You couldn't have scripted the action that went down at the fourth round of Monster Energy Supercross any better if it were a television series shot in New Mexico about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin. Seriously, it was that good. Some emerging storylines took major twists while others were intensified, one class saw the points lead change hands, and the other crowned its newest winner. Scroll to the bottom to start at the beginning of the day or skip to the main events directly below.
You ready for this? The 450 championship chase was set completely on its ear after a crazy main event, which, just to make it insane, featured Trey Canard and Chad Reed battling for the lead at one point. Points leader Ken Roczen was also in the hunt until casing a triple so badly he looked to have hurt himself--and although he did recover, he lost his points lead to Ryan Dungey.
Of course all scripts this year have featured great starts from Andrew Short, and he grabbed another holeshot on his BTOSports.com KTM. Soon series' leader Roczen was right there, but Reed snuck a pass on him to take over second. Roczen tried to come back on Reed by going inside in a corner, but he didn't have the speed to clear a triple after that, and cased it--no, faced it--someting fierce. He quickly came to a stop on the track, and looked hurt. After about a lap went by, he sorted himself out, got back in the race, and would eventually take 16th. His points lead was gone, though.
Meanwhile Reed, ever the opportunist, went after Short and took the lead. Soon he would be challenged by none other than Canard, his bitter rival for a week ago. They've clearly put it all behind them, as Canard made a clean move on the inside of Reed to take the lead and take off. Reed looked solid in second most of way until a late bobble sent him off the track, and Ryan Dungey got by him. The ever-consistent Dungey becomes the points leader with his runner-up finish. For a lot of the race, Dungey was dealing with heat from Eli Tomac, but Dungey got away from him in the second half of the race, just like he did last week at Anaheim.
But Canard was the story, holding on to win his first supercross since 2011. With he and Reed both finishing on the podium, it was a beautiful turnaround from last week's debacle.
And now the championship once again looks wide open.
The Oakland fans were treated to a fantastic 250SX race here in Oakland. Zach Bell nailed the holeshot but a few turns in he got together with Chris Alldredge. Somehow the two didn’t go down, but Bell lost a bunch of time, handing Alldredge a decent lead. Shortly after Malcolm Stewart took over the lead, but Alldredge battled back, bumping Malcolm. That resulted in a bobble, and Justin Hill hit Alldredge in the air, nearly taking him down. Alldredge kept it together but he jumped off the track, sending track workers scurrying. A few laps later he crashed hard and that was it for him for the night.
The carnage wasn’t limited to Alldredge either—it was everywhere! Jessy Nelson went down on the first lap, Jackson Richardson went down, and Justin Hill went down all by himself after passing Stewart for the lead and building a gap. Then Tyler Bowers came in hard on Cooper Webb in about fifth or sixth and Webb went down. More on that in a minute. Up front it was Stewart, but Alex Martin was pressuring him for the lead. Stewart was able to build a little gap, but Martin hung tough.
By that time all eyes were on Webb though, as he was absolutely flying, spinning laps roughly two seconds faster than the leaders. Late in the race he’d caught Bowers and the crowd waited for the inevitable punt. But the punt never came, and Webb put a pass on Bowers that was so clean you could’ve eaten off it. Webb would chase down Martin, and with less than a lap left he went after Stewart. He nearly got him too, but time ran out and Stewart won his first supercross race. Credit to Martin too, who takes home his first ever supercross podium.
Phil Nicoletti holeshot and led every lap of this one with Killy Rusk and Kyle Partridge behind him. The battle of the race was between Freddy Noren and Jimmy Albertson. Albertson was all over Noren for the final spot, and it looked like he was going to make a move on the final lap. But then Albertson missed a jump combo in the same place he’d crashed hard in the semi, which gave Noren the breathing room he needed to hang on to the spot. Nicoletti, Rusk, Partridge, and Noren all advance while Albertson, Nick Wey, Josh Hill, and Ben LaMay will have to try again next week.
450 Semi 2
Someone go get the pink slip because Cole Seely took complete ownership of this race after getting by Davi Millsaps early on the first lap. Millsaps rode to a lonely second behind him, followed by Brett Metcalfe, Vince Friese, and Jake Weimer, who were all somewhat spread out. There was a scary moment early in this one when Jimmy Albertson had an extremely ugly looking crash when he went down in some jumps at speed, but somehow he popped right back up. The damage was done though and Albertson headed back to the pits to prepare for the LCQ.
450 Semi 1
This one was all Blake Baggett—the Yoshimura Suzuki rider holeshot and was never challenged, eventually winning over Josh Grant by nearly two seconds. Jason Anderson looked fast, but a mediocre start meant he wouldn’t get near the lead. Heartbreak for Josh Hill, who was running well early but went down in a corner. Credit to Hill for remounting in dead last and continuing to charge, even throwing a few big whips, despite having zero chance of transferring. He’s still got the LCQ to get through. Baggett, Grant, Anderson, Kyle Chisholm, and Martin Davalos all transfer.
Chris Alldredge holeshot but immediately got banged by Champion, who then got sideways in the whoops and nearly went down. Champion backed it off, handing Alldredge a lead that would get bigger and bigger until the checkers flew. Bummer deal for Ryan Breece in this one. He was in a qualifying spot early but clipped a Tuff Block right before the finish line and restarted way back. Scary race for Aaron Plessinger too, who had to rip through some guys after starting several spots out of qualifying. It was close, but he got by Michael Horban late in the race for the final transfer spot. Alldredge, Champion, Austin Politelli, and Plessinger all transfer.
450 Heat 2
Best race of the night so far. Barcia shot out to the lead with Davi Millsaps, Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard, and Chad Reed in tow. Kyle Chisholm, Jason Anderson, and Freddy Noren all went town in turn two. Dungey made a move early on Millsaps for second and Canard followed him through. Reed followed later with a daring move over a sequence of jumps following the whoops. The two were so close together in the air it literally looked like they were scraping! Up front Dungey was all over Barcia. The two came out of the sand side by side, and when Barcia went to block Dungey from passing in the next corner Canard nearly passed them both. Barcia was able to hold on, with Dungey, Canard, and Reed all transferring behind him.
450 Heat 1
With both Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen in this one the hope was that it would be a preview of what might unfold later in the main, and when Tomac shot out to the early lead with Roczen right behind him, that’s exactly what happened. Roczen was on rails and caught and passed Tomac in less than a lap. Tomac hung with him for a few laps, but never got close enough to put a move on him. Behind them Broc Tickle passed Andrew Short for third, with Seely closing on Short at the very end and nearly making the pass over the finish line. Roczen, Tomac, Tickle, and Short all transfer.
250 Heat 2
Jessy Nelson took the lead instantly in this one and that was it—he disappeared faster than Autorader.com JGR Toyota Yamaha’s Wienerschnitzel supply. Justin Hill passed Alex Martin for second with two to go, but he wasn’t anywhere close enough to make a run on Nelson. Behind the two everything was pretty spread out, with Martin, Tyler Bowers, Zach Osborne, Josh Hansen, Cole Martinez, Aaron Siminoe, and Brandon Scharer advancing. Since Brandon Scharer transferred it means we’ll see a Suzuki in the 250SX main tonight.
250 Heat 1
The night got off to a good start with a tense three-way battle for the win between Shane McElrath, Malcolm Stewart, and Cooper Webb. McElrath got out to the early lead but was passed on the inside when Stewart pulled a nice move through a choppy right-hander. One lap later Webb pulled the same move to take over second. With the race winding down Webb passed Stewart for the lead, catching Stewart’s front wheel as Stewart tried to cut down. Stewart went down but remounted to take fourth. Webb, McElrath, Zach Bell, Stewart, Zack Freeberg, Nico Izzi, Tommy Hahn, Trevor Reis, and Jackson Richardson advance.
Qualifying Session 2
Times were faster in the second set of qualifiers, due partly to a set of whoops with a deep line worn down the middle, and guys were immediately obliterating times set in the first round of qualifiers. Ken Roczen held the fastest time for the majority of the session, but Trey Canard would bump him in the second half. Ryan Dungey also got in the mix in this one, setting the third fastest time, with Eli Tomac and Chad Reed rounding out the top five. Check out the times below—Canard, Roczen, Dungey and Tomac were the only riders able to dip into the 51-second range. They’re not separated by a whole lot either.
The second 250 Qualifying session was the Justin Hill and Cooper Webb show, hands down, with the two exchanging fastest laps like a game of catch in the back yard. As soon as Webb would post a fast time Hill would go out and break it, with Webb battling back to the top almost immediately. Hill would lay down a very fast lap at the end, roughly half a second faster than Webb’s fastest time, to become the fastest 250SX qualifier of the day. “When the 17 [Webb] went to the top of the board, I didn’t like that,” Hill said afterward in an interview when asked where he was finding the extra speed.
Qualifying Session 1
Qualifiers aren’t always eventful or exciting, but the first set was pretty lively here in Oakland. In 450 action it was usual suspects Trey Canard, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac who dominated the top of the board, but nobody could hold onto the fastest time for very long. No sooner would Roczen set a fast time than Tomac would top it, only to see Canard streak across the line moments later with yet another fastest time. Tomac looked aggressive at times, and on one lap he looked particularly fast, only to bobble in the turn before the finish line. It appeared as though he’d blown his time, but when he crossed the line he had still managed to set the fastest lap! It went back and forth like that between those three until the end, when Canard became the only rider to dip into the 52-second range. Tomac had a fast one going on his last lap out but a bobble cut it short.
The 250 A Group was just as spirited, and even physical at times. Cooper Webb, who spent time experimenting with lines nobody else was doing, looked fast and was the only 250SX rider we saw triple-triple the rhythm lane just before the finish line. He wasn’t fastest, that honor went to Justin Hill, but he looked very aggressive out there. Unfortunately the flow was interrupted when Michael Leib went over the bars entering a rhythm section and crashed hard, prompting a red flag. He looked to be clutching his right thigh as he was carted off on a stretcher in the Asterisk Medical Mule, and it’s unlikely he’ll be racing tonight. We’ll update you on this situation as we learn more.
When the qualifier resumed Shane McElrath, Jessy Nelson and Webb all shot to the front and started battling like it was main event time. Nelson even put a block on Webb that resulted in Webb hitting a Tuff Block and going off the track. That’s where it ended though, and no black flags came out. Too soon?
It’s a long season. It’s a saying you hear from the teams and riders quite a bit early in the season, but with this being the fourth round of Monster Energy Supercross, we’re starting to get into the thick of the season. If the storylines that have started taking shape in the first three rounds continue tonight, like the dominance of Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb, or the surprising troubles of Josh Grant, Chad Reed, Josh Hill, Zach Bell, and more, it’s going to be tough to think these things won’t become season-long trends instead of freak occurrences of the early season.
Speaking of trends, we’re already running into a fair amount of injuries this season. Justin Brayton’s out for a few weeks after his crash in the semi at A2, Mike Alessi is out for tonight (but hopes to return next week) after tweaking his knee in the main last week, and Dean Wilson is out for the season after tearing his ACL/MCL at the KTM test track on Thursday while practicing. For a complete look at the current injury list, go here.
Now that we’ve gotten the negativity out of the way, let’s look on the bright side—literally. The sun is out and there’s not a single cloud in the sky, resulting in nice, warm weather—we’re talking T-shirt and shorts if you’re in direct sunlight. The track looks primo, and although it doesn’t look especially technical, it’s comprised of a softer, sandier soil than the tracks in Anaheim and Phoenix, which could make for a different style of racing tonight. The whoop section is pretty standard; it has nine whoops and they’re not small or incredibly massive. Of course, when we say they’re not incredibly huge we don’t mean an ambitious, local C-classer could get through them without earning a trip to the Asterisk Medical Rig, they’re still huge, but unless they break down weird and get nasty they shouldn’t be a problem for the sport’s elite. Elsewhere there’s a banked sand section and a long sweeping right hander that’s peppered with bumps akin to a ski-slope mogul field. The track was a little muddier than normal during morning track walk, but with today’s warm temperatures that shouldn’t be an issue later in the day.
John Gallagher briefly addressed last week’s black flag in the rider’s meeting, pointing out that it was only the third black flag he’d thrown in his career as supercross race director. He went on to explain that bumping and rubbing over the course of a race is fine, but when a rider’s focus becomes something other than racing, it becomes a problem and will not be allowed. We’ll see how this situation plays out tonight.
If you’re working on your fantasy picks, be aware that Vince Friese and Phil Nicoletti are both contesting the 450 Class tonight. Martin Davalos is also expected to race a 450 after getting his feet wet on the big bike in practice last week. Be sure to check this section often because we’ll be updating it as the action unfolds here in Oakland. We’re also on Twitter, so check us out there (@racerxonline) for instant updates.