During last Saturday night’s 250SX Last Chance Qualifier, there was a moment of controversy on the next-to-last lap when fourth-place rider Mathias Jorgensen got bumped off the track by Chris Howell, who was running in fifth. The two were side-by-side but the get together redirected Jorgensen outside of the Tuff Blox and leading up to the triple. He went around the triple, then entered the track halfway through the turn following the landing and proceeded to return to his position in front of Howell.
He was met by FIM race director John Gallagher quickly after crossing the finish line. Jorgensen crossed the finish line in the fourth—the final transfer spot—but FIM officials deemed his move to be against the rules and awarded Howell with the final main event transfer spot. You can read the official rule below:
A rider leaving the course may continue the race by properly re-entering the track at the closest safe point to where the rider left the course without gaining an advantage.
1.While off course, the rider may not accelerate in an unsafe manner as deemed by Race Direction.
2. If a rider accelerates in an unsafe manner while off course or cuts part of the racecourse, the rider may be determined to have gained an advantage without gaining a position.
3. It will be the duty of the Race Director or his designee Race Direction to make the determination as to whether a rider gained an advantage by leaving the racecourse and re-entering.
4. The penalty for gaining an advantage while off course during a race will be the loss of number of positions gained plus one additional position in the final results for that race. If no positions were gained, the minimum penalty will be the loss of one position in the final results for that race based on the severity of advantage gained as deemed by Race Direction.
5. The penalty for gaining an advantage while off course during qualifying will be the loss of the rider’s fastest lap time during that session.
Here is the incident:
Howell benefited from the official’s ruling, while Jorgensen displayed his displeasures to Gallagher on the track before doing so on social media. Earlier this week we sent text messages to both riders to get their thoughts on how things played out, as well as how they feel their seasons have gone so far.
(Note: The following interview was conducted via iMessage and has been slightly edited for clarity.)
Racer X: Tell us about your day in Seattle.
Chris Howell: Seattle is my home round so I’m always super excited to come back and race for the hometown fans. It made it even better that the weather was amazing and not a drop of rain fell all day. The track was technical and suited my style even with the dirt being a little slick. Also the whoops were a little tricky to navigate with the length and the slight uphill that led to a single at the end. Overall I qualified 22nd in practice which I was happy enough with and looked forward to the night show. During my heat race I was in qualifying position but made a series of mistakes on the last lap and finished 11th. Going into the LCQ I felt confident and I had a top three start until I got hit from the back and went down in the first turn. I came back to 10th before they red flagged and restarted the race. After the restart I started around 10th and made my way to fifth. I battled with the rider in fourth for a few laps until we made contact and that rider left the track and bypassed the triple jumping back in front of me. After that incident I was credited with fourth place giving me the last spot in the main event. Although that’s not exactly how I wanted to make the main event I made the most of the opportunity and finished a career best 13th overall in my home state.
Mathias Jorgensen: I’ve been home [in Denmark] since San Diego. I came back one week before Seattle, and had only two days on the bike before. So I felt a little stiff and not comfortable. But slowly I got better and went to the night show and LCQ. I was in second position when the race got red flagged and we had to restart. I started out fifth and moved to fourth fast, and started to find a steady pace without mistakes. [On the] last lap I came close to #122 and he ran me off track. I just kept corner speed off track, and checked to come back on track [the] fastest and safest without gaining time. And I did that. When I came off the track, the AMA guys [the FIM’s John Gallagher] tells me I’m getting DQ’d because I went hard on throttle and gained my position back. But the replay shows he was never in front of me and I was already on the throttle in the corner. They told me they just dropped me one spot. Whatever, [it still] gives the same [result] because it means no main for me. No bad feelings for #122, it’s racing 100 percent, but it was a bad call.
What are your thoughts on how the LCQ played out and the official’s decision?
Chris Howell: First, I hope that Gage [Schehr] is going to be okay. He was the rider that crashed causing the red flag on the original LCQ start. As for my thoughts on how my battle for the last transfer position into the main event. I wanted to make the pass, of course, and I came in on the inside of him in the corner before the triple and we made some contact. Nothing too crazy in my opinion. He ended up going off the track, skipping the triple, and re-entered the track going into the next corner a couple bike lengths ahead of me. I was thinking “Man, that sucks!” The AMA ended up docking him one position for cutting the track and gaining an advantage. I believe they made the decision per the rulebook.
Mathias Jorgensen: First, I feel so sorry for [Gage Schehr]. I think 100 percent we should have made a restart on the start line behind each other. The decision [by race officials] is complete ridiculous. Commentators and even Ricky [Carmichael] say [the ruling] was completely wrong. One guy making the decisions is not enough, there should be three judges speaking and watching the live video before decisions get made.
Did you think the move was per the rules at first? Or did you even think about it again until the officials talked to you?
Chris Howell: I mean I was bummed in the moment and I didn’t think it was right. Then the officials ended up talking to me right away after the end of the race.
Mathias Jorgensen: Sure I did, I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t gain, I didn’t do anything dangerous. Nope I didn’t [think about it again], and I got so pissed. It’s just one race, but it means a lot to me. I’ve worked hard to show I belong in the main and am spending all I have on it.
Aside from Seattle, how would you rate your season so far?
Chris Howell: Honestly, it’s been mediocre. I came in with some higher expectations, and besides Seattle, I have not been doing as well as I hoped. It’s racing, and stuff happens. It was nice to have a couple of weeks off to regroup. I’m ready for the last three rounds!
Mathias Jorgensen: This is my first year ever in the States. I spent two months on crutches—I broke my foot in two places my first day riding supercross at Milestone [MX Park]—practiced from December 20 until A1. I’m super happy to race with dudes that are living out here and have raced supercross for many years. It’s my rookie year, I have never raced this before, so I can improve a lot. I’m an outdoors rider and hoping I get the chance to show that here in the States also.
We appreciate you chatting and giving your input. Want to give the sponsors a thank you?
Chris Howell: No problem! I would like to thank JMC Motorsports Racing, Fly Racing, Husqvarna Motorcycles, Integrity Electric, Axiom Construction, WPS, Alliance Steel, Horn Rapids Motocross Park, Howards Paving and Excavating, McCormick Excavation, Evergreen Valley Construction, River’s Edge, Owens Meats, Renn Fuel, Renthal, Dunlop, Liquid Molly, Dubya, Alpinestars, Moto Stuff, Guts Seats, Engine Ice, EKS goggles, Rekluse, DT1, Bud Racing, HGS Exhausts, Tri City Tool, Enzo, Dynamic Designs Graphics, Acerbis, ARC Levers, Motion Pro, Technical Touch USA, XTrig, Atlas Brace, CTI Knee Braces, Cadnum Construction, The Man Shop, Jamey Massage, Slick Products USA, and Peters Hardware.
Mathias Jorgensen: I appreciate you wanting my side of the story. I want to thank MA Engines Denmark, HS-Truck, Au2rep, Answer, Leatt Goggles, Bihr Nordic, AGA Tools Escondido, Haugaard AS, Race SoCal, and Those Who Dare USA.