Monster Energy Supercross headed to Seattle this past weekend and we got to see the West Coast 250SX class compete for the first time since Oakland. Along with a difficult track and a revitalized Eli Tomac, this left a lot of talking points from the weekend. As such we sent some questions over to long time pro Jason Thomas to give us his thoughts on all things Seattle Supercross.
Chase Sexton’s crash in the 450SX main event was a weird one. He almost seemed like he simply grabbed a handful of front brake and went over the bars, but a rider of Sexton’s skill doesn’t just clamp down on the front brake like that. What happened?
It was yet again another example of losing touch with the front end. There is something going on with Chase and the front-end traction on his factory 450. I don’t have a strong opinion on whether it’s Chase, the motorcycle, or a combination of both. What I do know is that this same thing is happening time and time again. Almost every crash he’s had this year has been from losing front end traction. Whether on corner entry or in the whoops, it’s been the same core reason each time. It’s such a strange thing and has to be driving he and his team absolutely bonkers.
For guys like RJ Hampshire and Cameron McAdoo the goal is to contend for a championship, yet Jett Lawrence sure is making it tough for them to do that. At what point, if any, does it become tempting for them to focus on racing each other for second in the championship, instead trying to hunt down Lawrence?
I think everyone knows that beating Jett consistently is going to be a hard ask. Can they be opportunistic when Jett has an off night or a bad start? Sure. But anyone who’s been paying attention has seen him win two Pro Motocross titles, last year’s 250 East SX title and now on his way to a West title. Thinking that you’re going to somehow turn the tide on his momentum will likely leave you frustrated. I believe Cam and RJ are just going into each main event hoping things go their way but also making sure they remain on the podium. If Jett opens the door, great. Assuming they’ll find a way to just beat him as he’s continuing to improve is a toughy.
Eli Tomac was good in Seattle, but he was really making his money in the whoops. He was blowing by guys there! Did he figure out a special line? Was he just that much better than everyone else there? Did the team fit his machine with quick-shot bottles of nitrous to use through that section? What was going on?!
Most everyone figured out that you could protect the inside line and then pick up a jumping rhythm in the whoops. That line was easy, consistent, and in most cases, worked. Tomac’s outside slingshot line was unorthodox but genius. The key was that it lined him up for the inside in the next corner, too. All he needed to do was pull alongside and then he could just measure the other rider as they entered the next berm and execute the pass. That outside line (that switched to inside) also became more useful as everyone stopped blitzing the whoops. The left side of the whoops was not being used and was more or less ideal for the main event. Riders at Tomac’s level can blitz whoops with reckless abandon when they are still in prime shape. As the other riders were picking their way through that rut, Tomac was able to get very aggressive in the unused left side of the rebuilt whoops. This line wouldn’t work for everyone as it required a mad dash through the whoops but if you had the skill and the will, it was a nice passing line.
The track in Seattle wasn’t easy, that’s for sure, but it didn’t seem as bad as it normally gets. Is that a fair statement, and how did the condition of the track compare to years’ past?
I think it was pretty tough but the track crew also did a great job of rebuilding it time and time again. Some of the timed qualifying sessions tested riders to the limit, asking them to pull big triples through nasty ruts. Thankfully, many of these sections continued to harden through the day and offered a reasonable racetrack for the main events. As always, though, what we could see from the stands was far different than what racers were dealing with. The depth of the ruts is lost from even 20 yards away. The last few laps of the 450 main event were harrowing, no doubt.
Hampshire and McAdoo went back and forth a few times in Seattle, with neither one of them seeming to have a clear edge over the other. What was it about their race that was creating this yo-yo effect?
This has been the same dynamic almost every week. Hampshire has been able to wait McAdoo out, making a move late in the race. It has to be satisfying for RJ and absolutely devastating for Cam. You could see Cam’s frustration right after the main event and that’s been a consistent theme. I don’t know if it’s mental or physical, but RJ is simply better in the final laps. This week was arguably the closest yet as RJ had to get very aggressive to make it happen but, in the end, the same story played out.
Did Hampshire’s pass on McAdoo surprise you? He went in there pretty hard, and the results could’ve been disastrous. Note: After the race Hampshire mentioned he thought they were on the final lap, which would have made that the final turn.
No, especially if RJ thought it was the last turn. That pass is likely worth anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, so it’s hard to fault him for going for broke. RJ isn’t known as a dirty rider so he’s going to get a pass in most instances. Loose? Yes. Dirty? Nah. McAdoo would do exactly the same thing so it’s just one of those racing instances where someone wins, and someone loses.
What’d you think of Carson Mumford’s night? He led three laps in his heat before taking second and was eighth in the main event. He’s a talented rider so this shouldn’t be a big surprise, but he is coming off a torn calf muscle and it’s his first race on the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki bike. Was he better, worse, or about what you expected, in Seattle?
He looked great all day! I was surprised with his speed and intensity in practice, but it gave us a heads up that he was ready to put in a good result. His heat race was even better, leading laps and giving his team reason for optimism. For a fill-in opportunity and still somewhat injured, I thought he did everything that could be asked of him. Great job.
Enzo Lopes has had some up and down results this season, but Seattle was definitely in the up category. After getting a terrible start he came from eighteenth to fourth. What’d you see from him in Seattle that you think contributed to such a great ride?
He was able to consistently put the track together and maintain his laptimes. On a track that is getting worse each and every lap, holding that low laptime is incredibly valuable. He was simply riding past people as they made mistakes and couldn’t match his pace. He was fast enough to be a podium threat and that’s what he should focus on for Glendale. He’s been at the front a few times this season so it shouldn’t be a shock if we see him grab a holeshot and battle for a triple crown win. He’s seemingly the real deal for 2023.