Here we go again! Round 14 will be at, you guessed it, Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium. The conditions for all three of the previous SLC rounds have varied widely. It’s looking like this Wednesday’s weather is shaping up to be absolutely perfect, so hopefully the racing throughout the pack reflects that. We can’t ask for much more from the top two of Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb but the racing behind them was not the most entertaining. The dirt should have moisture after rain throughout the weekend and into Monday, so look for absolutely pristine conditions all around.
Dirty Little Secrets
The track for this week is a carbon copy of Sunday’s track, just in reverse. The jumps have been reshaped, of course, but with mud and wet to work in, it was good timing for the least change thus far.
The start for this week’s track will follow the same exact trajectory, but this time it extend one further lane. Riders will turn left into the rhythm lane closest to The Tower of the stadium and immediately begin jumping combinations.
That first lane will be one to watch. There are an odd number of jumps past the first turn, so riders will find a way to triple. The question is, which jumps do they triple? If they can find a way to go 3-3-1, that seems to be the most efficient. That doesn’t always work out due to shaping and sizing of the jumps. Regardless, riders will figure out the fastest way and then all fall into the same line accordingly.
The next section is a separator. If riders can go 3-3-2, they will be on the razor’s edge. These triples out of the corners are very difficult with the elevation. As the corners deteriorate, that only gets tougher. Watch for riders to try the 3-3-2 and if that doesn’t work, they will resort to a possible 2-3-2-1 into the bowl berm.
Exiting the bowl berm, the finish line jump is up next, preceded by a small double over the first corner lane. Riders will slingshot back down the start straight and into a hard, right-hand corner. A small double sets riders up for the whoops and unlike last week’s slow corner lead-in, riders will have speed to burn as they land from the double and accelerate towards destiny (I always felt like I was approaching death when entering whoops). These whoops will show who has the confidence to lift the front wheel and get aggressive and who chops the throttle in submission.
Another bowl berm sends riders down a stadium-long rhythm section. I am curious to see how the next section shapes up. At sea-level, the 450 guys would rocket out of the berm and triple onto the tabletop. With less torque, that might be difficult. Either way, they will land on the same backside of the same jump before taking off for a rhythm triple and possible quad into the corner. That last quad might be slower, though, as riders can single across the inside of the corner if they don’t go for the full four.
Up next is the same supercross triple that looked so difficult last weekend, so watch for which 250s can make it and who has to back out of it. Another 90-degree left sends riders over a triple section that won’t be tripled. Riders will most likely double from the inside of the corner and then single right back into lap two.
With the 250SX West group returning, we get a whole new list to choose from. It couldn’t come at a better time, either, as the East was losing stars far too fast. Keep in mind that these West riders haven’t raced since February 8 in San Diego, over four months ago! Back then, the world thought that booing Dylan Ferrandis was a crisis and COVID-19 wasn’t in our vernacular. All of the trends that we thought we knew that are now useless. Hopefully that results in some wild and unpredictable results throughout the field.
There are a few picks that jump off the page. Both Christian Craig and Cameron Mcadoo are both great picks, although they have had a very tough time finishing races in 2020. A tougher choice will be between the two Lawrence brothers, Hunter and Jett. I suppose you could avoid that choice and pick both but my team will not have room for both. A few other value picks include Derek Drake, Mitchell Oldenburg, Robbie Wageman, and Mitchell Falk. With so much time off, it will be very important to watch practice closely to see. The difference in those that capitalized on the layoff and those that too a more relaxed approach could be significant.
Are you team Hunter or team Jett?
For the 450s, we are developing a few patterns. The lead group seems to be establishing. With so much racing in such a short time, it’s difficult to really turn the tide if things are going poorly. The big value could come in the form of Fredrik Noren, with a big handicap due to poor qualifying prowess. Many of the other picks might result in smaller points hauls but the tight handicaps are reflecting the additional data we have been shown. Riders like Aaron Plessinger, Benny Bloss, Chad Reed, and Blake Baggett can all get you above that 30-point mark on a good night but they are also posting results indicative of their recent finishes. Who will “break out” and who will continue their trend is where the magic lies. Conditions should be ideal tomorrow so the picks should be fairly straight forward. There will not be heat or rain or anything adverse other than the elevation which has hampered riders like Vince Friese, Tyler Bowers, and Ken Roczen.
Ricky Carmichael relocates to Vegas and becomes the full time co-host of the PulpMX Show.
A federal investigation is launched into where and how the concept of Jason Anderson struggling at elevation was started.
Hunter and Jett Lawrence require that all future interviews be done via hot tub.
The 250 West racing is approximately 1,200 times more entertaining than the East.