That’s a wrap! The 2020 season of Monster Energy Supercross has finally come to an end. When the checkers flew for the last time on Sunday in Salt Lake City, it marked the completion of an historic, and very unusual, seventeen rounds of racing, including seven straight rounds in Rice-Eccles Stadium. And with all three championships coming down to the wire, there was some serious uncertainty as to how the action would play out. Well, now that the final gate has dropped and the final flag has flown, let’s get into the ins and outs of just how this season was capped off.
In the 450SX Class it should come as no surprise that Eli Tomac, just as most people thought he would, followed through on his very first 450SX Championship. All the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had to do was finish nineteenth, and that was if Cooper Webb won. Well, to the surprise of nobody, Tomac did far, far better than nineteenth, and ended up fifth to finally win the championship by twenty-five points over Webb.
“The motivation to get this title, it’s been so nagging since 2017,” Tomac said in the post-race press conference. “It’s been right there. Maybe not right there every time, but 2017, that one was so close. Literally, my dream was a 450 supercross championship. That’s what you chase, it’s why you get up in the morning. I still totally love riding my dirt bike, I love being competitive. Today, it was heavy but it wasn’t terrible. The way I’ve felt all year, I felt steady Eddie and totally solid. I wasn’t freaked out on the starting line.”
A new father himself, Tomac was able to win the long awaited 450SX title on Father’s day, which is especially significant considering that Tomac’s father, John, has always been, and still is, a huge part of Tomac’s racing program.
“It’s really cool we’ve been able to stay together,” Tomac said of he and his dad’s working relationship. “That’s not always the case. We’ve both been chasing this for so long, to get to this highest level, and to get this supercross championship. It’s a bummer they [parents] couldn’t be right there, at the podium. That actually totally sucked. Super Cool for Jess and Lev to be there, at the finish line.”
Tomac went on to admit not winning this title for so long was driving him crazy, and the fear that he might not ever earn it was starting to set in. He also credited being ready from the very beginning as the reason he was able to win it all in 2020.
“I'm 27 and there are some people who doubt you in that way. And if you look at my past history, I have blown it a few times, so it’s really good to finally get this title,” Tomac said. “It’s preparation and being ready from the get go at round one. You can make up throughout the season, but this year we were ready from round one. I didn’t have to dink around much and try to find comfort with the bike for those twenty minutes. By the second round I feel like I was back to my old self.”
Tomac’s championship was getting so much attention that it nearly overshadowed Zach Osborne’s superb ride. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider finally got his first win out of the way on a dry and dusty mess of a track, putting a brilliant finish on what was already a ridiculously good run in Salt Lake City to finish out 2020. It could have very easily gone the other way though, as Osborne had a hard crash in practice, took a handlebar to the gut and left the stadium in the Alpinestars Medical Mule.
“I was freaking out," Osborne said of the practice crash. "I wrapped my body around my grip, it felt deep, and I felt stick into my stomach. I was wigging out. I got ice on my stomach, and my hip kind of rubbed out. My hip is really sore now. It affected me on that three on off, when you go to activate your hips to pop off, it was like I had no power in my legs.”
Fortunately for Osborne, he was still able to ride well in the main event, and Tomac wrapped in title protection mode, Osborne knew well this could be a better opportunity than usual to get a win.
“I knew it was going to be that situation, so I knew I had to put myself in a good position. I had to get to Jason and then I just kind of strapped in for the stretch. Then my side panel fell off."
For Osborne, it's a huge accomplishment and a great way to cap off a season that didn't start well.
“I told my wife, it’s like a huge weight off my shoulders. Also, it’s like that feeling of “I finally did!”
Early in the race Dean Wilson led, but Jason Anderson and Osborne were able to motor by. Anderson started gapping Osborne ever so slightly, and as the race wore on it looked like Anderson was going to be the rider to get his first win of the season. But then Anderson’s seat came off! Yellow flags came out as the track crew scrambled to remove it from the track, and not surprisingly, Anderson’s pace slowed considerably. Afterward Anderson said it’s possible he might have seat bounced a little too hard a few times. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been to try to seat bounce without an actual seat? Osborne used the situation to his advantage, reeling Anderson back in, making the pass, and checking out for the win. Anderson maintained second, and Wilson hung on for third, to complete a sweep of the 450SX podium for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team.
“I had a couple places I was waiting for later in the race. I was getting that three-on-off pretty good, and I was counting on that to get back to him," Osborne said. "But with like four minutes to go I lost my side panel that covers my pipe, and it was super hot and super slick. I was starting to burn my boot. So I was sort of a sitting duck. I was gonna get second at that point, then I came around a corner and I saw a seat laying there, and I knew it was his! I could see Dean in the other lane next to me and I could see he had his seat! So I was like, “Holy crap! That’s his [Anderson’s] seat!’ I didn’t know how much he would slow down, but it’s hard to ride our bike without a seat. The way the ECU sticks out, it’s hard to ride without a seat.”
As previously mentioned, any slight chance Webb had at winning the title hinged almost completely on him winning the race. He failed to execute, however, and finished the race in eighth behind Broc Tickle and Ken Roczen. It was Webb’s worst finish since crashing in Arlington, and it was clear Webb simply didn’t have his usual fire today.
In other news, Chad Reed finished in tenth, his best result of the season in what everyone has been saying is the last race of Reed’s incredible career. Reed’s been vocal that he didn’t see his final season playing out the way this one has, however, so we’ll see if he comes back for a few races in 2021.
|1||Zach Osborne||25 Laps||50.855||Abingdon, VA||Husqvarna FC 450|
|2||Jason Anderson||+03.063||50.697||Edgewood, NM||Husqvarna FC 450|
|3||Dean Wilson||+05.369||51.176||Scotland||Husqvarna FC 450|
|4||Malcolm Stewart||+07.481||50.890||Haines City, FL||Honda CRF450R|
|5||Eli Tomac||+12.750||51.007||Cortez, CO||Kawasaki KX450|
In the 250SX classes, both east and west, the championship leaders had much smaller leads than Tomac did on the 450SX field, and the potential for craziness was a lot higher. And, while the races had plenty of eye-popping moments, both Chase Sexton and Dylan Ferrandis were able to hold on to their leads and become back-to-back champions. It could have easily gone differently for both riders, however.
Before today, Ferrandis had not once ever been to an LCQ in his four years in America. That sounds insane, but it’s true. What’s even crazier is, the day he ends up in an LCQ is the day in which it could have the biggest impact of his career! The Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha rider went down early in the 250SX West heat and his bike was trapped, which prevented him from getting going again quickly. When he did, he was way, way back. If almost all of the talent form the 250SX West Class wasn’t condensed into that one heat, he probably could have ripped his way back into a transfer spot, but in this scenario, he came up just short, finishing about a second back of ninth-place qualifier Martin Castelo.
“I always say, the LCQ is not good, it’s a nightmare, you can’t go to the LCQ, and I’ve never been there before in four years racing supercross,” Ferrandis said. “Even when you do it you know you’ll get a bad gate [for the main]. It was tough, I crashed in the second turn of the heat, another rider’s bike was stuck on my bike. I regrouped and came back, to tenth, one second away from ninth. I knew in the main I would have to give it everything I had.”
Ferrandis, who called today one of the hardest days of his life, admitted he was nervous for the main event, and even a little scared, about how things might play out. But when the main event rolled around, Austin Forkner, Ferrandis’ main title competition, ended up crashing hard when he went over the pars on a small dragon’s back and packed himself into the ensuing berm.
“I've never been in this position before, it was new for me. There was some pressure,” Ferrandis explained. “I was confident in myself, and in practice we saw the lap times were really good, and the speed was there. But when someone wants to win so bad, it’s scary what they're capable of. That's what scared me a little it today, Austin was really aggressive at the last round, and I was a little scared of what he could do. Like if he makes a pass and makes me crash, I was scared of that. When I saw Austin down I knew it was over. I just had to finish the race to win. It was unfortunate for him, but for me it was a big relief.”
Afterward Ferrandis was visibly overcome with emotion and even had to cut his post-race interview short because he was so choked up he couldn’t speak.
“I still don’t know why I’m emotional like that,” Ferrandis said during the press conference when asked about his display of emotion. “It’s probably because I come from a small town in France, so to come all the way to the U.S. I’m just proud and happy and I let the emotions go.”
After Forkner’s crash the red flag came out, which was the absolute last thing Shane McElrath wanted to see. McElrath was in control of the race, while his main title rival, Sexton, was circulating in roughly seventh place. On the rerack Sexton ended up getting a much better start. After some back and forth between Jett Lawrence and McElrath for the lead, Sexton ended up passing them both. A little later, with McElrath on his tail, Sexton just let McElrath go by on the straightaway after the finish line. But then McElrath seemed to slow shortly after, allowing Sexton to go back by! Sexton dropped the hammer at this point and put as much distance as possible between himself and McElrath to take the win.
“Everyone said I got lucky last year and it fired me up coming into this season,” an ecstatic Sexton said immediately afterward. “I won five main events and this is my last 250 race before heading to HRC Honda, I’m so happy.”
On the injury front, when this article was posted there was no news yet on Forkner’s condition. We’ve reached out to the team and will get you an update as soon as we can. He was able to walk away under his own power, so that’s a good sign. Colt Nichols also sustained injury when he and Sexton had a hard collision when Sexton tripled into a corner Nichols was entering. That was in the heat, and although Nichols was able to barely finish qualify, he didn’t end up racing in the main. It looked like a wrist injury, but just like with Forkner, we don’t have an official statement from the team just yet. We’ll post updates when we have them.