Wow…round three of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship was a nutty one, right? The 250SX class delivered some crazy action and the 450SX class featured another tour de force riding performance from Eli Tomac. Looked like a lot of his wins over the years. Plenty to dive into when it comes to Anaheim 2 so yeah, let’s get started.
First off, this column was going to be one of those ones where I detail morning to night who I talked to in the pits, what it was about and all the minutia of a media guy’s day. I made a bunch of notes all throughout the day, detailed my conversations (the ones that I could anyways) and was going to give you guys a peek behind the curtain. I’ve done these in the past and they’ve usually gotten good reaction.
But with everything that happened at A2, I scrapped that idea and decided to dive into the race a little more. I’ll save that “pit talk” column for later in the series when things are a little more…settled. Because things were not settled at A2!
First up, the track. Again, the guys did a good job. What the heck is going on here with these great race tracks? I mean, usually we’re bitching about something by now right? And this weekend we’re going to Glendale which means we should get a great track if the tradition holds. This weekend saw some big whoops, a couple of tricky sections and yeah, it was good.
Here’s all you need to know about the Dylan Ferrandis/Christian Craig “incident” that left Craig out of the race: Dylan ended up on the ground with Craig. Generally speaking, when you attempt to pass a rider and you end up on the ground with the guy you were trying to pass, you’re in the wrong and didn’t have the opening.
Dylan’s idea that he could squeeze by Christian wasn’t a good one and if you want proof, he crashed. There you have it. End of story. The fact that he took Craig out of the race, could’ve hurt himself in his own crash and almost started an international incident at Angel Stadium all overshadowed a great race for the defending champion. Thanks to his inability to get starts, Ferrandis had to rip through his two title challengers (Austin Forkner and Justin Cooper), past two very fast Honda riders (Craig and Jett Lawrence) and win the damn race. All this with a fall! He rode great but, not many people outside of Wil Hahn, David Vuillemin and a few more are talking about this fact. His riding was absolutely overshadowed by “the incident.”
When Dylan caught Craig, he was going faster and would’ve gotten around him really soon. He just needed to wait and not try anything in that turn. We asked Cooper Webb and Martin Davalos on the PulpMX Show if they had passed anyone in that turn using Dylan’s line and they both said no. It was too tight and too slippery for that. You know what? I bet Dylan would agree!
Bottom line: I don’t think Dylan was trying to knock Craig down and it wasn’t a “Eff this dude, I’m blowing him off the track” type of move. It was ill advised to try a pass there and he was in the wrong.
Poor Jett Lawrence. The kid was on the PulpMX Show last week and was, in my opinion, being a little too eager when he said it was no problem following leader Forkner last week and that he knows he can win. Like, really? I mean he’s good but not too many 16-year olds win in 250SX. But what do you know? THE JETT was fast all day long and passed Craig in the whoops…I mean, who does that? He was well on his way to the win when he went down pretty hard and then almost looped out a few times while he tried to use a throttle that was caked with dirt and sticking.
Once he got that figured out, he tried to hold off Ferrandis but Dylan smartly played him for his inexperience and grabbed the lead. The Frenchman dove to the inside before the triple-triple and that was good (nothing wrong with that pass attempt by Ferrandis on Lawrence. It’s part of the supercross game.) THE JETT pinned it and went for it anyways! In the right-hand turn before the second set of whoops, Ferrandis cut down and didn’t leave the door open for THE JETT to blast him off the track. Smart, experienced riding there (even though the fans hated him for it, there was absolutely nothing wrong with what Dylan did to THE JETT) and he took the win in a great ride that NO ONE will be talking about.
Of course we know that THE JETT endoed his brains out, broke his collarbone and will be out for a while. What a memorable night for him, the fans there and his team. Methinks we haven’t seen the last of THE JETT leading some laps though.
You know, when the GEICO Honda team signed Hunter Lawrence and his younger brother Jett, I was told by someone close to the team that it was Jett that was the real get there. Hunter’s no slouch himself of course but this person was rather sure that Jett would be better than Hunter. I’m not saying they’re right but holy crap, Jett’s ascension to race leader has been quicker than most anyone thought. Poor Hunter just needs to get healthy and actually give supercross a go. For now, THE JETT is getting all the headlines.
You’ll never convince me that had, say, Austin Forkner, parked Craig then outsmarted Jett for the win (then Jett crashed of course) the crowd would have voraciously booed him the way they did Dylan. Ferrandis is French and therefore the reaction was worse and that’s okay. I’ve been in Paris and heard Justin Barcia booed even worse, nationalism is fine, it happens but you can’t sit here and say that Dylan being French didn’t make the crowds reaction worse.
Okay, onto the 450s now for a bit…
Eli Tomac’s win was just another one of those moments that leaves you in amazement when he loses a race. Last week Ken Roczen looked to be on another level and this week Kenny again got out front right away with clean air (after Blake Baggett went down) and I thought it was going to be over. Tomac was buried, not as bad as last week, but still a ways back. Then he got busy…like, seriously busy and tracked KR94 down with relative ease.
Impressive riding by Eli Tomac but at this point, I can’t say that he’s the guy, he’s amazing, he’s going to win a bunch more races and all that. Because I don’t know! I don’t think Eli and Kawasaki know! If he’s feeling it, these type of rides can happen…if he’s not, well we get Anaheim 1.
One thing for sure, he’s got to figure these starts out. An average start of 11th after three rounds is not going to be easy to overcome. What happened to his improved starts when the grates came in two years ago? He finally had the starts figured out by then, but now he’s struggling off the line again. I have no doubt that the team and Eli are all working on this in the coming week.
Hey, Roczen got caught and passed but you know what? It wasn’t all bad for Ze German as he has the red plate yet again! Thanks to Justin Barcia’s battle with the whoops all night, Kenny now holds the points lead. The red plate looks sweet on a Honda by the way!
I don’t know how Zach Osborne pulled out that impressive fourth, he was terrible in qualifying (17th!) and then in the heat he went from the lead to ninth in, like, four laps. I don’t know who was on his bike out there but he told me his team softened up the suspension on the Husqvarna for the main event and that made the magic difference or something. In the main he was very good as he charged up to Cooper Webb in third before Webb pulled away a bit. This was the Osborne we thought we’d see to start the year but of course he was sick, then last week the block-pass-a-thon he got into affected him a little bit (as did the early pace of the main)…this week he was good. The difference between bad in the heat race and good in the main? Some softening of the suspension! INSERT EYE ROLL EMOJI HERE.
Speaking of Webb, bit of a weird season for him in battling illness for the first two rounds but still squeaking out a couple of podiums. He mentioned on the PulpMX Show that he hopes he’s finally over it and now the other riders have their turn to fight a bug or whatever (it happens to a lot of them over 17 weeks) because he’s ready to go. The way he caught Roczen late in the race was encouraging for him, plus the fact that he knows he’s not good in the whoop (A2 had some big ones) and he took home a third. Yeah he’s got that horrible result last weekend in St. Louis on his ledger but I stand by that it’s a good start to the season for the champ.
Some other news and notes:
I know it’s only been three rounds but let me know when full factory dudes like Michael Mosiman and Alex Martin challenge for the podium at any point. I mean, I’m not hitting the panic button here but those dudes should be closer to getting on the box than they’ve been right?
Also, Brandon Hartranft got his second consecutive podium in Anaheim 2 and no one noticed. I texted him that fact and he admitted it but yet didn’t seem to care. The checks still cash bro. Good for Brandon and the team.
Last week the TV cameras were trained on Courtney Roczen (Kenny’s wife) as he headed toward his big win. I noticed she had a headset on. After some asking around I was told it was a line to the Team Honda crew. I’m not sure if she’s asking anything or gets told anything but I can’t believe this is actually true. I know Courtney a bit and she’s pretty awesome and I don’t see her being a problem. What I’m worried about is this: I was a factory mechanic for awhile and trust me when I say that the things I’ve said or heard said over radios in my time about riders on our team or other riders would be something I wouldn’t want people close to said riders to hear. Crazy to hear this bit of news if I’m being honest.
Dean Wilson’s getting healthier and more in shape people…it’s coming.
Gotta feel for Blake Baggett, he was all over Roczen for the lead early and lost his front wheel on the split section. I don’t know if he would’ve won (because ET was next level) but he was full send mode at that point. Wait, is that Glendale’s music playing for Blake this weekend?
Did Austin Forkner throw away his chance at the 250SX title? No because there is enough time for him to mount a challenge plus there’s the East/West shootout. He definitely did hurt his chances, though.
Couple of notable good rides in the main event came after Justin Hill and Martin Davalos got together and went down on the third lap of the main. They got up in 21st and 22nd and ripped through the pack (although Marty was further back) to get 12th and 13th, respectively. You won’t read about them much this week but both guys showed some speed and determination. Hill is a much improved rider over last year just in terms of the heart he’s shown.
Speaking of Davalos, I’m still on the #martynation bandwagon. When he sat atop the board in the second practice session (in case you didn’t know what that meant, it means he was the FASTEST RIDER IN THE WORLD IN 450SX AT THAT MOMENT) it was glorious validation for me that if he just would’ve taken a chance and moved up to 450s, his skill and patience would be rewarded. All those years of “gentle” prodding by me was rewarded! I mean, “we” haven’t gotten an amazing main event finish just yet but it’s coming. I’ve always been there for Marty. Everyone knows this! Right?
Killian Auberson has been very good on the Gas Monkey Energy/AJE Motorsports team (come to think of it, so has Jacob Hayes). The Swiss rider came into Anaheim 1 with ZERO time on the team’s bike (he’s an injury fill-in for Josh Osby) and has gotten better and better including his career best this time at Anaheim. I still think the team should have a monkey skull that the rider who places the highest gets to keep from week to week.
I don’t want to see Chad Reed feeling this shitty about himself. Three weeks in a row he’s ridden the LCQ and last week he just rode off the track with what we were told was a goggle problem. This week was a little better but still not where he wants to be as a racer.
Which one of these Reed quotes from after the race are the most troubling?
1.“I feel good about saying I’ve never quit. Never, ever quit,” Reed told me after the race about his St. Louis SX. “Last week, straight up, I didn’t feel good on the racetrack. I felt dangerous. I felt like I wasn’t safe out there. I couldn’t wait to ride off of the track. I just didn’t want to be out there. As painful as that is to say, it’s the truth.”
2. “I’ve been really, really struggling. I don’t even know how to put it into words, to be honest with you. It feels different. Off the bike, I’ve had the best time. I feel like I’ve signed more autographs than ever. I’ve said hi to more people. I’ve taken more pictures. I’ve probably maybe over-extended myself in that area. Whenever I jump on a motorcycle I’ve just felt horrible. My mind hasn’t been in the place.”
3. “At the end of the day, I truly care. I love it. It’s been my life. I always knew it was going to be difficult, but it’s way harder than I ever imagined, to be honest with you.”
I’ll go with one, two, and three. Chad Reed needs a hug everyone.
Thanks for reading everyone, it’s been an exciting and eventful SX season so far. Email me at email@example.com if you want to chat about this race or anything else.