By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac lost valuable championship points in San Diego, as Ken Roczen, Trey Canard, and Ryan Dungey finished ahead of him. He tried getting inside of Chad Reed at the beginning of lap two, hit him, and went down. "You never want to let the leaders gap you, so I was pressing hard and just went down. I tried to jump right up and get back in the race but had to wait a few seconds because there was a lot of traffic,” Tomac said in a team statement. Somehow, from about 17th, Tomac fought back to fifth. Although not happy, Tomac admits during a long season, sometimes you have to take what you can get. "From that point on it was basically damage-control. You see all the guys at the top of the standings are up front and you don't want to give up any more points than you have to. I'm not happy right now, but sometimes over the course of a seventeen-race season you have to be content with a fifth-place finish and the points you earn."
Points leader Ryan Dungey was steady as always, capturing his fifth straight podium with a third. “I felt really good tonight,” said the Red Bull KTM rider in a team statement. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get up there and battle with the leaders, but I am very happy for the podium finish tonight. My bike is working great and I’m looking forward to heading east.” With Roczen’s second, Dungey’s points lead has been cut to 9.
Testing is one of the main things that ramps up when a 250 rider moves to the 450 class. A lot of 250 teams just hand the bike over to the 250 riders and tell them to race it, because a lot of young riders don’t even know how to test. Plus, 450s are much more dependent on setup then 250s. Cole Seely explained how some of that process is working with him this year. “I’m learning—because I’m actually a really good test rider—I just know that because I ride the bike so much that if you change one thing on the thing I’m going to feel it. I can usually tell them exactly. They always throw me into it blind and I can usually tell them that they went softer or stiffer or slower or whatever,” he told us. Although Seely can tell what the bike is doing, he’s still letting the team guide him. “It’s cool. I don’t know what I want or what’s going to make me go faster, so it’s cool to try those things, take what they have and learn with it, and also what they have to offer as far as engine packages too. It’s pretty crazy. I think the bike was good, now it’s becoming great. It’s been really cool to be a part of the process.”
Team Honda HRC was pleased to host HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto for round six, and following the daytime qualifying program, Mr. Nakamoto took time out of his day to meet with members of the media at the team’s hospitality rig. “HRC’s dream is to win all of the major championships,” Nakamoto said. “In motocross, this series is the most important, so that’s why we started this activity again.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett continues to impress early in the supercross season. Baggett, who had to go through the LCQ—“It was quite a bit of a scramble, but my team came through and rebuilt the back of the bike after we got hit. I was the last one in through the LCQ and that gave us the last gate pick for the main, but at least we made it.”—made up a ton of ground early on his way to seventh. “I made some quick moves right away when everybody was still bunched up,” he said in a team statement. I think I was in fifth and was catching [Chad] Reed and I just made an error. I landed sitting down and just gave it a little too much front brake and lost the front wheel.” It may have been a much better finish, but Baggett had to ride in first gear the last four laps. Can you do all the jumps in first gear? “You just hold it wide open. It’s enough…but barely [laughs],” he joked with Jason Weigandt after the race.
In San Diego, we finally saw hints of the Davi Millsaps we expected to see all year long. He was much quicker in practice than the last few weeks, and was up front in his heat race, and also in the main until he had two crashes. “There are definitely some positives to take out of tonight,” said Millsaps. “I was riding up front and charging before I ran into some bad luck. Things are getting better every week and I'm looking forward to Dallas.” Millsaps tells us he has been sick for a long time—months, he says, not weeks—and hasn’t been able to log twenty-lap motos on the test track in a long time. He’s finally over the illness and can start riding and training like usual, but it will be awhile before he has all of his fitness back.
Broc Tickle returned in San Diego after a back injury forced him to sit out Anaheim 3. He picked up right where he left off, finishing ninth. “I’m sore but pretty stoked with the way everything turned out,” said Tickle in a team statement. “I really wasn’t feeling it from the get go. I kind of struggled with the track all day. I felt like I was riding fast but I really wasn’t. That’s not normally a good thing. So I just needed to try and get the best start I could in the main and weasel my way around to get in a good position to finish in the top ten. That was my goal after having missed last weekend.”
Brett Metcalfe acquitted himself well in six races on the Dirt Candy Suzuki team, but the Aussie veteran is now hanging up his supercross boots and ready to prep for this summer’s Canadian Motocross Championship. Metty finished eleventh at San Diego, his best result of the year. His teammate Ronnie Stewart will race the whole season, and made his first main event of the year at San Diego.
It might only be small progress, but this was the best race of the year for Discount Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports' Josh Grant, with a twelftth. Grant, you might have seen, was knocked off the track in a semi race by his boss, Chad Reed, and had to go to the LCQ to make the main. Reed says Grant has made some major bike changes. His previous best was a lowly eighteenth, so this is a step in the right direction.
450SX Class Best Lap Times
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
Check out those stats above. Kenny Roczen proves here that being fast for one lap isn't as critical as being fast on all the laps, as he nearly won the race despite only having the fifth fastest time.
250SX Class Best Lap Times
|Lap Rank||Finish||Best Lap||In Lap||Avg Lap Time||Rider|
Just like in the 450s with Roczen, Cooper Webb proved you don't have to be the fastest on one lap to challenge for the win. Is so many ways, this race looked to be Tyler Bowers' for the taking, but then he got tired (more on Bowers below). Check out the chart. You'll see that Bowers lost the pace at about lap eight, while Webb basically stayed steady and let the race come to him.
Webb vs. Bowers
How fast was Trey Canard early in the race? He had four of the five fastest recorded laps in the 450 main event. Dude's on it!
Top Times 450 Main Event
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers was staring his first win of 2015 down in San Diego, but faded toward the end. “I've been battling illness the last couple of weeks and I haven't had a lot of time on the bike. That caught up to me today. I was trying to hold on and get the win but I just couldn't. This break in the schedule is going to help and I'm going to be ready when the West Coast season picks up again.”
Josh Hansen had his best race of the season in San Diego with a fourth. While Hansen hasn’t approached a win this season, he does have five top-tens in six rounds.
A week after leading at Anaheim 3, Lucas Oil/Troy Lee Designs KTM’s Jessy Nelson finished eighth in San Diego. The main reason, says Nelson, was his starts. “I had a little bit of a rough weekend and my starts weren’t there. The championship is pretty much out of my grasp at this point. We’ll use the break to really focus on preparing for outdoors. When we come back, my goal is to get back on the box and close that points gap as much as I can.”
Red Bull KTM’s Justin Hill was a title favorite before the 250SX West campaign began, but it hasn’t gone to plan, besides a few heat race wins. He won another heat at San Diego, but then got his leg run over by Shane McElrath coming out of the start. He tried riding but realized in about three turns that something was wrong, and pulled off. X-rays at the track showed nothing is broken, but Hill told us he’s broken enough bones before to know there might be an issue. He’ll get more X-rays and tests done this week to survey the damage.
Things weren’t good for Josh Hill either, who debuted for the CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha team, but got terrible starts in every qualifying race and failed to make the main. Josh has only made two of six mains this year.
San Diego is a local race for a bunch of the Southern California based riders, so it was cool to see Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Wil Hahn, Red Bull KTM’s Dean Wilson and Autotrader.com/Toyota Yamaha’s Weston Peick on hand to greet fans and sign autographs. For the second week in a row, Hahn even helped the live announcers with some track breakdowns during the night.
Matt Bisceglia struggled in his second race back from a concussion. "I'm really disappointed with myself," Bisceglia said in a team statement. "My result tonight was more of a product of the heat races than the main event itself. I had a bad start in the first heat and then crashed, so I had to go to the next qualifier, which I was able to win, but by that point my gate pick was way back. I ended up like third from the end in the main.” Bisceglia has shown improved speed in his second pro supercross season, but he’s been all over the map, consistency-wise. "We've got eight weeks until the 250SX West guys race again, and I plan on working extremely hard on my starts and overall riding. Everyone is so good at this level, and if you don't have a complete day and put yourself out front it's hard to do well."
Bisceglia’s teammate Malcolm Stewart crashed on the first lap of the 250SX main event while fighting with the lead pack. He got up slowly, rejoined the race a lap down, and then crashed again, ending his night.
Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne wasn’t able to take advantage of getting the holeshot Saturday, sliding back to sixth in the main. “I was third fastest in qualifying, which gave me second gate pick for my heat. I pulled the holeshot in the main but wasn’t riding like myself,” he said in a team statement. “I ended up sixth so it was kind of disappointing. I’m going to regroup and heal my thumb. I’m 4 points out of second place, so I’m going to keep fighting. There’s a lot of racing left to do and a lot can happen in this class.”
Osborne’s teammate Zach Bell rebounded from a twenty-first-place finish to secure his third top-ten of the season in San Diego. “I ended up seventh overall – top ten is always a good spot to be,” Bell said in a team statement. “I battled with some top guys and I know what I need to work on. The main event went ok and I did what I could. I’m just going to keep building off each race and now I know what I can do so I’m happy. I’m staying healthy. My fitness and my speed are there so now I just have to bring myself there. I think I’m maturing a little bit and I’m ready for more racing.”