As the month began, so it shall end, with a visit to Angel Stadium in Anaheim. In normal years, it’s the only venue we visit more than once and one that everyone on the circuit knows well. The weather is often agreeable, and attendance holds up even with multiple events in short succession. On paper, it was also supposed to mark the end of the California swing of the series, but with the Oakland rescheduling that has changed. Still, there’s something about leaving A2 and knowing that we are heading east. It marks a shift in the series for everyone involved.
Dirty Little Secrets
The track this week is a busy one. The crew maximized the floor space and the complexity of the design is really something. The start splits the center field of the baseball diamond and funnels into a 180 left. There are two straightaways immediately after the start that should provide a bit of separation before the first rhythm section. This first rhythm is a doozy, though. Spanning the entire length of the first base line, there could be several ways to approach this. The most likely for the upper tier of riders will be on-off, 3-3-3. If something changes in the build, the options will all adjust but on paper, that’s the move.
A tight 180 right sends riders back into a short chute with 5 similarly built jumps. Watch for riders to choose between two options here: either 3-2 or 2-3. If possible, the 3-2 is ideal because it will be easier to catch the inside in the next left-handed 90.
The next section jumps over not one, but two sections that are only used on the start. Those doubles are followed by a single jump into a left-hand bowl berm. Exiting that bowl berm, a small double leads to the only whoops section on the Anaheim 2 layout. If these whoops are difficult, blitzing style whoops, watch for the best of the best to accelerate hard on the landing of the double in an attempt to gain time. Those that are less confident will likely coast from the landing to the first whoop, limiting their entry speed.
A 180 right leads riders down the third base line of the stadium and into the other major rhythm section of the week. As with most sections, there are options here. I like riders to triple onto the tabletop, step off, quad over two single jumps and then double into the left field warning track. That would set them up to hit the only standard supercross triple for this track. It’s a challenging one, though, as the sweeping corner before it never straightens out before take-off. Riders will want to exit the prior rhythm section on the far-left side of the track, allowing them to open the corner up and carry momentum through the face of the jump. They will also need mid-air bike skill here, whipping to the left in order to fight the natural push wide. If riders aren’t vigilant on this jump, they will be into the outside edge of the track before they know it.
The first sand section of 2023 is up next, albeit a brief one. Riders will be in and out of this sand in no time and ripping across the start straight twice in short succession. Watch for block passing in this first 180 exiting the sand as the long chute allows riders to set themselves up for an aggressive entry angle. The next 180 is the last corner of the lap, upping the ante for aggressive behavior. These two last corners could be pivotal for those on the qualifying bubble.
The finish line double is a big one, spanning the width of the starting line. It funnels into a 90 left, followed by a few small whoops that I expect to be a jump in-jump out type section. That section empties back into the first long rhythm section of the track.
Overall, the track has a lot going on. It is straight forward in approach, though. Most of the sections will be sorted out in the first free practice session and then it will become who can navigate the tight sections the most efficiently. There are several 90-degree corners in the middle of the track that will be follow-the-leader in nature. The corner after the main whoops section and the two 180’s before the finish will be critical for passing.
Do I even need to say it? I suppose so, right? Eli Tomac is undefeated thus far in 2023. He has won both of his heats and both of the main events. The guy is simply on rails.
Super Cooper Webb looks to be back! The 2019 and 2021 champ has two great rides back-to-back and more importantly, looks capable of putting up a real fight for this 2023 title.
Justin Barcia made good on the promise he showed at A1. He fought hard (maybe too hard at times) to keep that podium in place. For better or worse, you know what you are getting from Barcia.
Ken Roczen doesn’t look like his normal self, but he still has two top fives through two rounds. The reason he made this list is because if he finds that comfort level he’s searching for, the ceiling is higher than the PulpMX studio.
Jett Lawrence continues to impress with his racecraft, mental maturity, and sheer dominance. I am running out of superlatives for this kid.
RJ Hampshire, similarly to Cooper Webb in the 450 class, has gone 2-2 and has looked great doing it. I hope he can continue this consistent, not-on-the-edge version of himself because it’s a big improvement.
Cameron McAdoo is struggling late in the main events but don’t let that ruin a good story. He has shown great speed and if two podiums in two weeks is a letdown, things aren’t so bad.
Malcolm Stewart should be in the above column, but crashes have left him on the outside looking in. The riding is phenomenal, but I wonder if he has reverted to the more risk-taking version of himself?
Marvin Musquin missed San Diego with a wrist injury. He is out again this weekend, but hopefully he isn’t sidelined too long. He adds a unique riding style to the field.
Maximus Vohland missed the San Diego main event and his percentage of that happening is far too high as of late. He has no business missing main events given his talent and equipment, but qualifying isn’t only about going fast. Decision making and sometimes simply settling for an average qualifying result is important.
I beg and plead to interview a champion of the National Tractor Pullers Association on the A2 broadcast, meanwhile putting a close-up of Steve Matthes’ reaction in a double box.
Phil Nicoletti rewrites history by finishing inside the top ten without jumping the main triple at A2.
Jason Anderson challenges Justin Barcia to a rap battle Friday night over at the local Wienerschnitzel. Wilmer Valderrama hosts.
Jett Lawrence of Arabia
Cameron bid you McAdoo
Chase Sexton (too scared to make a joke about reproduction here) [Editor’s note: It’s impressive that no one has yet gone there with Sexton. It’s your move, MotoMemes. —Weege]
Super Cooper Webb