By The Numbers
When the first main event of 2021 had completed, Christian Craig earned the second career 250SX win of his career. Craig returned to the top step of the podium for the first time in almost five years, as his maiden win came at the Glendale Supercross on February 6, 2016. With Craig winning and Colt Nichols finishing third, it was the third straight year that two Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing riders finished on the 250SX podium at the opener.
*Star Racing rider noted in bold
And the last time the podium at the 250SX opener did not include a Star Racing Yamaha YZ250F rider was the 2015 Anaheim 1 Supercross.
Sandwiched in between the Star Yamaha duo was Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner—his 18th career podium. Behind Forkner was his new teammate, Jo Shimoda, who finished fourth in his Kawasaki debut. Speaking of debut, several riders made their first supercross main event at the opener, including:
In the 450SX Class, it was a big night for GasGas Motorcycles. The brand (owned by KTM) earned its first AMA Supercross main event win as Justin Barcia took the main event win on his GasGas MC 450F. The win was Barcia’s fifth career 450SX main event win—and his third consecutive season-opening round win after the #51 claimed the 2019 and 2020 Anaheim 1 Supercross openers in the past. After missing the entire 2020 season due to a knee injury, Marvin Musquin finished third in his first supercross race since the 2019 Las Vegas Supercross in May 2019.
By The Numbers
In the 250SX class, Austin Forkner went down in the first turn of the first 250SX heat and came from dead last all the way up to finish fourth by the end of the ten-lap race. Unfortunately for Forkner, a crash with RJ Hampshire in the main event hindered his result on the night as well. Michael Mosiman and Jett Lawrence took the heat race wins—the first of their respective careers.
But come the main event, it was simply the Jett’s day. The 17-year-old Australian put together a perfect night: he was the fastest qualifier, he grabbed the holeshot and won his heat race, grabbed the holeshot in the main event, and led every lap of the main event before taking the checkered flag in his eighth career main event. Jett became the 112th different rider to win a main event in the 125/250SX class.
In the 450SX Class, defending champion Eli Tomac rebounded to take his first win of the 2021 season. Tomac completed a whopping 29 laps before taking the checkered flag—his 35th career 450SX main event win, giving him sole possession of sixth all-time.
Behind Tomac, 450SX rookie Dylan Ferrandis earned second place—his first podium finish in only his second career start. With the Star Yamaha Racing team taking over the factory 450 effort prior to the start of this season, it was the first Star Yamaha Racing 450SX podium finish. Finishing third was Muc-Off Honda’s Justin Brayton, who earned his tenth career podium at the fresh age of 36 years, 10 months old.
Everyone is saying this year’s 450SX class might be the most stacked class ever. Yes, we’ve heard that said before, year after year, but this 2021 entry list in the premier class truly might be the most #stacked class in history. For example, take a look at the 450SX standings after two rounds. Justin Barcia sits in first with 40 points and Ken Roczen sits fifth with 37 points. Go back even further and Zach Osborne sits in tenth place with 26 points, so you do the math and that means the top ten are separated by 14 points! Stat man Clinton Fowler posted on Instagram this bit of information on the top ten in points. According to Fowler’s research, there have only been three seasons where the top ten in points was under 20 points after two rounds. Check out his post below.
It’s also wild to see an entirely new podium at the second round. At the opener, the podium was Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen, and Marvin Musquin. But at the second round, none of those riders were on the podium as it was Eli Tomac, Dylan Ferrandis, and Justin Brayton on the podium. So I took to the record books to see how common this was. The last time the first two rounds of the premier class had six different riders on the podium was the 1992 season—when, ironically enough, the second round took place in Houston, Texas, that year!
Eventually, the championship narrative will form and become clear. But for now, we are witnessing quite an unpredictable start to the season!
Quotes From Around the Paddock
Cooper Webb | 4th in 450SX
“It was a bit of an up-and-down night. I was still trying to find a really good setting for me that I liked and I kind of struggled throughout the day. I didn’t have a great start in the main but at the end I really started going. I made some late passes, got a few gifts and ended up fourth. It’s not what we want but it’s still early in the points and we’ll rebound. There’s still room for improvement to get me more comfortable on the bike and with that I think this week we’ll be right there where we need to be.”
Ken Roczen | 5th in 450SX
“This was a bit of a tough one for us. We didn't get good starts again, which I have to figure out, and that made life on this kind of track very difficult. I came around in maybe 17th and had to fight my way up, eating roost the whole time. The track deteriorated very quickly and it was a long main event, but we made the most of it and salvaged fifth place. There was an incident with the red cross flag where I got docked four championship points, which I’m in disagreement with, as my view to the flag was blocked by Dylan [Ferrandis]. I think a warning or a fine would’ve been appropriate for the simple reason that I have never been involved in an incident with jumping on a red cross flag; I just don't think the situation was as clear as they made it out to be. I'm a little bit frustrated about it because we would’ve had the red plate, but at the same time, it is what it is. We're just going to look forward to Saturday and make the best of it.”
Marvin Musquin | 6th in 450SX
“I got a great start in the Main Event, which was once again the key. I was right there and felt like I was going to have a good race but unfortunately, I crashed in the sand, it was really tricky. I got up and lost so many positions but I tried to fight back and make up the most points possible but there’s not much to say about sixth place. It’s tough but you have to stay on two wheels and stay up front.”
Malcolm Stewart | 7th in 450SX
“I kind of struggled a little bit with the track all day. In the Main Event, I didn’t have the best start but I made it work in the first couple of corners and put myself in the top five right off the rip. I tried to get around (Justin) Brayton but was not really moving forward. Honestly, I made a few mistakes. It was a little tough, conditions wise for a lot of people and me as well. Sometimes tracks that you’re not really comfortable on, things can happen. Looking at how many people hit the ground tonight, overriding and stuff, to finish seventh out of all the carnage is not bad. Leaving here with a seventh, it feels like I got 15th, but I feel like I know what I need to do. I learned a lot tonight. I have a couple of days off so I’m going to watch some tape and sit down with the team. I’m happy with everything. We’ve got the bike really well, I think it was more on me tonight and I just didn’t jibe with the track really well.”
Jason Anderson | 8th in 450SX
“Practice probably didn’t look so good on paper but it went better and my heat race went better than last week, so those are definitely positives. In the Main Event, I kind of rode into eighth place and that’s what I ended up with tonight. It’s not the way we wanted to start but hopefully we’ll keep progressing and we’ll just keep going.”
Justin Barcia | 9th in 450SX
“I didn’t get a very good jump in the Main Event and we were outside the top-five pushing each other and I just cross-rutted a little bit, clipped a tuff block and ended up breaking a shifter off. With my luck, it got stuck in first gear, so I did a lap and I was pretty nervous – I missed the triple. I tried the jumps in first gear but it was squirrelly when the dirt is sticky like that so I just salvaged what I could. I’m in it for the long-run so I just have to push through things like that when they happen. All-in-all, it’s not that bad of a spot, obviously would have liked to been out front tonight but it wasn’t my night.”
Zach Osborne | 10th in 450SX
“Overall, it was a really positive day for me. I just felt really supreme all day and things were easy for me. I had a good heat race, felt really good gelling with the track, and in the Main Event the same thing. With two to go, I just pushed the front in a rut and there she went. It’s a big mistake that veterans like myself typically shouldn’t and wouldn’t make so it’s disappointing and frustrating but I’m healthy and safe and my bike is really on point right now so I’m happy to come back and give it another go on Saturday.”
Dean Wilson | 11th in 450SX
“Tonight, was a little bit better but 11th is not the result we are looking for. I just needed to start up front and get in that fight a little more but I was right there. I mean, I am surrounded by guys who are winning races so I feel like I am strong enough to be in the mix, I just need to put myself in that position every time. I am getting better and more comfortable, now I just need to believe in myself a little bit more and I’ll be there.”
Adam Cianciarulo | 12th in 450SX
"I had a good day going and was really starting to feel like myself tonight. I started the day off right by qualifying fastest heading into the night show and then in the heat race I felt like I had really good speed and was even able to pass Eli (Tomac) for third. In the main event, Chase (Sexton) and I had a hot pace going in those opening laps, but I made a slight mistake in the sand sweeper and the rest was history. I hit my hand that I got worked on during the offseason pretty good which made it hard to be aggressive the rest of the race and I just knew I needed to manage. We’ll take the extra couple of days to rest to be ready to go on Saturday.”
Aaron Plessinger | 16th in 450SX
“I got off to a pretty bad start in the Heat race and didn’t come through the pack that well and ended up eighth, giving me the 16th gate pick in the Main which is not too ideal. I got a pretty good jump and drove it in pretty hard. I felt like I came out decent for what it was. Coming through the pack I went to pass (Jason) Anderson and hit an edge in the whoops. I jumped onto the hay bales - it was like a step on step off in the hay bales - and then I jumped into the base of the finish line and stopped then just kind of tipped over off onto the concrete. It was a wild ride. It could’ve been a lot worse. I’m feeling pretty fortunate to finish tonight. We’ll be back Saturday ready to rip and get those starts dialed.”
Brandon Hartranft | 17th in 450SX
"In the LCQ, I ripped a holeshot and then just dropped back to second. In the main event, I had an outside gate pick and actually had a killer start, all my starts were good, but I just need to be more aggressive off the first few laps. About five minutes into the main event, I jumped off the track and kind of lost my flow until six minutes to go. I've got a lot to learn and a lot to prove so I'm looking forward to Saturday."
Said Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki team manager Dustin Pipes:
“Brandon did get better, but we're going to need a little bit more out of him. That's the good thing about there being so many races this close, he has a chance to make this race forgettable, and I think that's achievable because he has the talent.”
Chase Sexton | 22nd in 450 Class
“The day started off pretty good. I had pretty good practice qualifiers and was second in both of them. I got my first heat-race win in my second race on a 450, which was good. In the main event, I got a good start and was really feeling good out front—in control and hitting my marks really well. I put a pretty good gap between myself and [Eli] Tomac but made a small mistake that cost me big—hit the ground pretty hard. I’m really sore and my right shoulder is pretty beat up. I hope to be back racing here soon and try to finish the job and get my first win.”
Note: Sexton just announced he will sit out the Houston 3 Supercross on January 23 in order to undergo an MRI in Florida.
Michael Mosiman | 4th in 250SX
“Getting a heat race win and a fourth on the night is a huge step in the right direction. I’m excited it’s my first heat race win! it feels good to come across the line first, so I’m hoping for a lot more of that shortly. When you’re riding good everything else just comes easy and is fun.”
Jo Shimoda | 5th in 250SX
“My day was pretty consistent. I qualified in seventh place and in my heat race I got held up by some slower traffic and was only able to manage fifth. In the main event, I did not get a very good start, but like this past Saturday, I knew that I needed to just keep clicking off my laps and the race would come to me. I ended up fifth overall which is pretty good and am fifth in points, but I know I have more in me and want to get on the podium.”
Austin Forkner | 6th in 250SX
“Today was clearly not my day. I felt decent overall in qualifying but had a massive get off in the sand section, and then in my heat race I was bumped at the end of the long start straight sending me flying off the track and over the bars. I was however pumped that I was able to charge all the way back to fourth in the heat after being dead last on the start of lap one. In the main event, I got a good jump off the start and was in second but at the end of the whoops had a scary moment which caused me to lose some positions. I knew I had to get going quick before the leader ran away from me, and when I caught back up to second place and took him high in a corner, he fell over on me taking us both down. I did everything I could to regain positions but could only manage sixth. Today wasn’t my day but were only seven points down and will try to be better on Saturday.”
RJ Hampshire | 9h in 250SX
“It was another rough night, I started off with a pretty big practice crash and then did what I could to salvage the heat. I got a good start in the main, the bike is awesome out of the gate, it was just an unfortunate situation with Forkner because I had the speed and was just clicking off my laps. I’ll give it a couple of days to recover and knock off a win here soon.”
John Short | 11th in 250SX
"Tonight was another solid night. It’s good to get another consistent ride to build confidence as the season progresses. I had a few close calls tonight at Houston 2, but I’m glad to keep it on two wheels and continue building momentum. Tonight was a step in the right direction."
Red Cross Flag Penalty
In case you missed it, four riders (Ken Roczen, Jason Anderson, Vince Friese, and Martin Davalos) were all penalized for jumping on a red cross flag during the 450SX main event when Chase Sexton crashed out of the lead. This rule has been in place for a handful of years now and this ruling in consistent with those of past instances—lately Marvin Musquin’s situation at the 2019 Seattle Supercross. For an in-depth look at the Houston 2 penalties, check out the breaking news update we posted on Wednesday morning or watch the video below, which explains the AMA ruling.
Adam Cianciarulo’s 450SX main event highlights