You know it’s a wild night in Monster Energy AMA Supercross when the crowd has to pause and collect its breath even before the 450 main event starts. And seeing a third 450 winner in three races, collected by three different brands even, isn’t even the headliner of the night. It was the 250s that stole the show at Angels Stadium’s second and final race of the 2020 campaign, with an all-time drama fest involving Dylan Ferrandis, Jett Lawrence, Christian Craig, and more. It left the 250SX West class totally shattered and the 450 class to get underway in the wake of the drama.
So, the 250s. It was an all GEICO Honda show out front early, with Craig and Lawrence 1-2 off the start and putting immediate distance on the pack. It was Lawrence, in just his third AMA supercross, electrifying the crowd by getting around Craig and opening a lead. Meanwhile, Ferrandis was on a flyer, moving to third and closing when he absolutely torpedoed Craig in a flat turn in front of the mechanic’s area. Ferrandis himself crashed in the melee and Craig went flying, his bars destroyed and his race over. Ferrandis picked himself back up in second but Lawrence was left with a 10 second lead. The kid looked steady until a crash, and then a few more close calls on the next lap. This allowed Ferrandis—who had drawn the ire of the crowd for his hit on Craig—to get the young Australian in sight. But Lawrence responded! Over the next two laps he held Ferrandis’ charge at bay, leading to a furious final lap with a breakthrough victory in his grasp. Lawrence bobbled in a turn, allowing Ferrandis to get to him, and then they battled wheel-to-wheel over a triple, through a whoop section and another triple. Ferrandis just edged ahead, so the rookie sent it hard through the final whoop section with a last ditch effort. Unfortunately, it ended with a slow-motion endo that left Lawrence crumpled into the face of the next jump. Lawrence had led nearly every lap of the main event except the last one, and he ended up carted off on the Alpinestars mule instead of even crossing the finish line.
There was a little extra drama because Ferrandis had a post-race podium interview to do, and the Angel Stadium crowd rained boos down on him.
“From my point of view the move wasn’t too crazy,” said Ferrandis. “I came with a lot of speed over the finish line, made a big scrub, I wanted to pass on the inside but maybe he [Craig] didn’t see me or hear me. From what I could see on the picture, I slid before we touched. I just slide my two wheels, I crashed and I made him crash, obviously. I apologize for that; I never wanted to make him crash or whatever. I’ve been here for four years in America and I’ve never made a move like that.”
Ferrandis admitted the heavy jeers from the crowd didn’t feel good.
“It does [affect you], I was a little bit surprised,” said Ferrandis. “In supercross this happens all the time, and obviously I crashed, too. When you try to pass someone there’s no point in crashing [yourself]. I was a little surprised that they reacted like this, but yeah maybe on TV they saw a different angle than me. I was a little bit disappointed. I know I’m foreign, I’m from Europe, and I’m here against the American riders. It’s not scary, but it’s a weird feeling. I don’t want to be the guy that nobody likes. Yeah, it’s just weird; I don’t really know what to say. I hope for the next couple of rounds to ride cleaner and not have any problems.”
As for his final dash against Lawrence, Ferrandis described it like this:
“Jett Lawrence was pretty far out front, but he made a small mistake and that helped me. The last lap, it was really close and I made the pass on the rhythm section before the whoops. Before the last whoop section he tried to pass me, and yeah it was crazy, and he crashed, I think. I was happy to be on top of the box. The first two rounds weren’t easy for me, we had bad starts a lot and me and the team figured out why, and we found some solutions. Really happy to get the win finally.”
Lawrence, because he made it to the last lap as the leader and had lapped a lot of the field, was still credited with 9th place. He also suffered a concussion and a broken collarbone, and will likely be out until the 250SX West division resumes after a break later in the season.
You know it’s a wild night when last week’s winner essentially crashes out and that’s barely even a ripple in the news cycle. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner went for a wild ride in the whoops and went down hard. He was slow to get up and lost a lap in the process, and could only come back for 17th.
Points leader Justin Cooper struggled most of the night but picked up the pieces from everyone else’s crashes. The Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha rider took second, and Brandon Hartranft brought his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM home third for the second-straight week.
“I felt like I struggled all day,” said Cooper. “A lot of obstacles were thrown at us, and honestly the flat turns were tough, there was nothing to bank of off, not to mention the whoops. They were slick and it was easy to go side to side. I tried to play it smart and consistent and it paid off with a second place. Some days you have it, and I give it my all. Days like today you have to ride within your limits.”
For the second race in a row, Hartranft’s steady approach resulted in a podium. “Night was pretty good,” he said. “Heat race I almost had the holeshot but didn’t hit the brakes and went wide. In the main, decent start, shuffled back to sixth. Then Craig went down behind Justin, so I just followed Justin, then a couple guys went down, I got up to third. That was the best I’ve felt in awhile. I’m starting to believe in myself a lot more. I want to win, but I just have to take it step by step. I’m two points behind second. Didn’t think I’d be this far up this early, really.”
All of this action shakes up the 250SX West Region points significantly. Cooper leads Ferrandis by 12, Hartranft is two points further back, and now Forkner is a full 22 points down from the lead. Craig was credited with third at the opener, crashed out of last week’s race while in third, and was punted out of this week’s race while in second. It leaves him 15th in points after three races of showing podium potential.
|1||Dylan Ferrandis||18 Laps||53.367||Avignon||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Justin Cooper||+21.013||54.601||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Brandon Hartranft||+25.987||55.071||Brick, NJ||KTM 250 SX-F|
|4||Michael Mosiman||+33.616||55.167||Sebastopol, CA||Husqvarna FC 250|
|+38.080||55.141||Millville, MN||Suzuki RM-Z250|
Onto the 450s. After two weeks of some questions needing to be answered about Eli Tomac, Saturday night in Anaheim was one large statement. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had another rough start to his main event, but was quick to weave his way into the top five within the first few laps. Unlike last week in St. Louis, Tomac kept the train rolling right to the front of the field, running down Ken Roczen from over five seconds back. Once the move for the lead was made, Tomac never looked back and dominated his way to his 28th career Supercross victory.
“It was just believing in myself and riding good throughout the day,” Tomac said about his turnaround from a rough start to his season. “We made a change between week 1 and week 2 and now last week it was all the same.”
Tomac has attributed arm pump as his issue from the first round, but he managed this week’s 20 minutes plus one lap main event masterfully. Once the lead was established, he settled into a pace that kept Roczen and the rest at a steady gap.
“The last half was definitely some management going on,” Tomac said. “That was a physically demanding track.”
The track was a talking point all day long with two difficult sets of whoops back-to-back with a tough dragons back following. Second-place man Ken Roczen knew his problem was the whoops and felt it ultimately cost him the victory.
“For me to be able to win tonight, I have to be a lot better in the whoops,” Roczen said of his struggles. “I skimmed them a couple times, went to jumping, and then went back to skimming. That’s where Eli made a lot of time tonight, he was killing them.”
Roczen did have something he was excited about on the evening, his starts. Aside from grabbing the holeshot in the main event, he also started right up front in the heat race as well. Though he did have to pass Adam Cianciarulo to take the heat race victory, starts were a shining point to Roczen’s evening.
“My night was actually pretty good,” Roczen said. “I did hookup really good and got my first holeshot of the year.”
Cooper Webb had a similar day to the one he had two weeks ago at the Anaheim opener. He was not flashy in qualifying, at least not until late in the last session, but the Red Bull KTM rider found a way to put together a solid main event performance. For much of the race, he battled Jason Anderson, Adam Cianciarulo, and Zach Osborne before eventually pulling away from the group to challenge Roczen for second. Last week was tough for Webb who struggled to a 12th place finish. His mechanic, Carlos Rivera, said that the indoor conditions of The Dome at Americas Center played a part in Cooper Webb struggling to breathe. Even after the main tonight, Webb still had a rough tone to his voice.
“I just rode terrible (last week),” said Webb of his illness playing a factor in his ride at St. Louis. “It’s nice when you feel more like yourself and you can race and be in it.”
Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson finished off the podium, but each rode better late in the main event to establish a gap between themselves and Adam Cianciarulo. Osborne particularly made a strong turnaround to finish fourth after having a very rough heat race where he holeshot and was passed by eight riders. During the Fly Racing Radio Show after qualifying, Osborne admitted the whoops were a big problem for him and them breaking down late definitely didn’t hurt his situation.
It was a pretty good night,” Osborne said in a team statement. “I struggled all day to get in a good flow but I turned it around for the Main Event. I moved up in the points a little bit so we’ll just keep building and keep hammering and I think podiums and wins are coming, it just takes some time to find your race speed.”
“My weekend went alright but I kind of was under the weather all day,” Anderson said in a team statement. “I tried to make some stuff happen in the Main Event – I got up in third but ended up going backward to sixth and then back to fifth, so not too bad going into next weekend.”
Championship leader Justin Barcia had a very quiet day at the races. The flash from the first two weeks didn’t seem to carry over into week three for Bam Bam. His heat race was a quiet fourth, and Barcia even started near the front in the main event but would fade down to ninth. With Roczen’s second place finish, the red plate changes hands heading into Glendale with the German rider taking over atop the points standings.
Strangely, the whoop masters of Malcolm Stewart and Dean Wilson didn’t seem to have the right recipe in the whoops all night. There were a few instances of Malcolm’s brilliance in the heat race, where he almost pulled off another double pass in the whoops like he did in St. Louis, but the rest wasn’t mind-blowing like usual. Qualifying seems to be better for tall guys like Benny Bloss and Aaron Plessinger, but both of them had bad main events with crashes and even a DNF for Bloss.
Quietly, Blake Baggett almost shook up the entire championship picture before a small crash derailed everything. For a brief early moment, Baggett actually took the lead from Roczen in the main event but went down two turns later and would remount well down the field.
Martin Davalos broke the perfect qualifying streak of Adam Cianciarulo as he went fastest in the first qualifying session, but the main event was another one that could have gone so much differently. Davalos crashed with Justin Hill a few laps into the race. While Hill remounted quickly, Davalos did not, and the Ecuadorian spent the entire race trying to catch up. He would eventually come home 13th, but it still marked the third race in a row where Davalos took a spill.
All in all, the 450SX class was a bit mellow compared to the chaos of the 250SX main event right before it. Right now though, it appears the Tomac train may be back on its tracks and headed in the right direction. He now sits just five points off Roczen and will look to make it two-in-a-row next week in Glendale, which is the first Triple Crown format event of the season.
|1||Eli Tomac||24 Laps||Cortez, CO||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Ken Roczen||+01.979||Mattstedt||Honda CRF450R|
|3||Cooper Webb||+03.186||Newport, NC||KTM 450 SX-F|
|+10.628||Abingdon, VA||Husqvarna FC 450|
|+14.443||Edgewood, NM||Husqvarna FC 450|