Steve Matthes Supercross Blog: The Anaheim Word
Yeah you read the race report from the first round. The ‘who did well and why’s’ are laid out but there was much more to Anaheim one than just the racing up front. Let’s dive into the reasons behind the results and offer up our usual hot takes…
-The biggest panic button to be dished out was probably to Cooper Webb. The rookie Yamaha factory rider didn’t do too badly on paper with his tenth but he was far off the pace. JGR Suzuki’s Jake Weimer beat him in the semi race and in the main he was powerless to stop Josh Grant and a few others from riding away. Juxtapose Webb’s ride against another hot 250SX prospect like Jason Anderson’s second at Anaheim a couple of years ago and you wonder what’s up but hey, it’s only one race. The word with Webb is that early on he struggled with setting up the 450 but apparently it’s been better lately. Cooper will figure it out but A1 wasn’t one to remember for him.
-What of his teammate Chad Reed? The veteran didn’t impress in qualifying but a solid third in the heat set him up for the Main nicely. From there he got a so-so start and could never get going. The 22, curiously brought out second last to Dungey in opening ceremonies showing that the people still love him, got stuck behind JGR Suzuki’s Weston Peick and was trying anything and everything to get by. Finally Reed resorted to a hard pass and according to Reed hit Peick as “hard as I’ve ever hit anyone” and nothing happened to the Suzuki rider! Unfortunately for Chad though he smashed his waterpump and that was it. A DNF at the opening round is a bummer way for him and Yamaha to start.
-We knew before the race that there was a good possibility of a highly paid factory rider missing the 450SX main event. When you jotted down everyone on paper, the field was too stacked to ensure everyone made it in. And you just knew that with crashes and strength of heat and semi races that a privateer or two would make it. Well at Anaheim it was Rockstar Husqvarna’s Christophe Pourcel who got the boot as he came up just short in the 450SX LCQ. Pourcel crashed in the heat, got a bad start in the semi and then couldn’t get by another highly paid factory rider in Trey Canard in the LCQ. Just like that he was watching the main event while privateers Nick Schmidt and Jimmy Albertson made the cut.
-Speaking of Canard, he clipped a front wheel on a jump and was forced to step off his new KTM ride in practice. After that he was not the same guy and decided after the parade lap of the main event that was it for him. A shoulder seems to be the problem for the #41 and we’ll see if it puts him on the sidelines for any amount of time.
-Blake Baggett debuted his new KTM ride with the RMATVMC guys and looked pretty impressive in the heat finishing second behind Eli Tomac. Unfortunately for Baggett he crashed in the first turn (or shortly after) and was way back but he rode well all night. You just won’t read much about it.
-No Justin Barcia for Anaheim as he announced through his own press release (not the team’s which was…weird) that he hurt his wrist and would be forced off the bike for at least four races. So Jake Weimer gets that spot and as noted, did pretty well for two days on the bike.
-Malcolm Stewart should be showing up this weekend or next on the privateer Suzuki. Both Stewart and Dean Wilson turned down the four race deal for Barcia due to sponsor commitments. Wilson’s hoping to race the first five and have Yamaha put him on the truck and Stewart’s got sponsors lined up he didn’t want to disappoint by leaving.
-Speaking of Stewart, older brother James released an IG statement about how strange it is for him to not be on the line for Anaheim 1 and how he’s hoping to come back and race at some point. And I imagine it will be with brother Malcolm under some sort of set-up. Not sure what bike it will be (I’m guessing Yamaha) but I hope he puts some real effort into coming back and tries to get some of the magic. James said in his post “For those that tried to break me, sorry, you can’t get rid of me that easy”. I get the feeling of not being wanted or whatever James is alluding to here but he did it to himself! If he had results equal to what he had in 2014, there would be no one to “break him”…they would just want to be breaking him off a check! His results last year were so bad for what he made (some of it due to injuries) that no one wanted to pay him until they can see that he’s back to being, you know, James Stewart. I’m never a fan of a millionaire rider saying that people are holding him back from racing because as Reed’s shown, you can always take your own money and motivation and get out there to show people you’ve still got it. Stay tuned on this one.
Photo by Cudby/Shepherd