Supercross Blog: Anaheim reaction
Three rounds down in the Monster Energy Supercross series, an FIM World Championship, and as much as we were hyped to start the series, the familiarity of the dangers of the sport of supercross hit us smack in the head like Honda’s Ken Roczen hit the ground.
Certainly the remaining 14 rounds do not seem as enticing to anyone outside of Red Bull KTM with the German rider getting bucked over a big triple about nine laps into the main and hitting the ground hard in a crash that was eerily similar to his Monster Energy Cup crash only this time he didn’t bounce right up. A compound fracture of the arm and a dislocated elbow was the damage and with that, the wind was knocked right out of the series after Roczen opened with two straight wins.
It’s early but Roczen and the defending champion on the Red Bull KTM, Ryan Dungey, had proved to be the class of the field in the 450SX class. Something that not many of us thought would be possible this early on in the year. It usually takes five to seven races before the riders accept the inevitability that they’re not going to win!
Let’s take a look at a little more behind the scenes of Anaheim 2:
-The big news was race-winning threat Jason Anderson of the Rockstar Husqvarna team was disqualified for slapping or punching (depending on who you talk to) MCR’s Vince Friese for actions in the heat race. Friese has a reputation for aggressive, some say dirty, riding (hey, that’s just like Anderson!) and he dove to the inside in a turn and knocked Anderson down when he cut under KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who also fell. Anderson was not happy and although his blows were harmless, the FIM has dictated that any contact between riders is an automatic DQ. To this reporter, the move Friese made wasn’t anything besides a dumb decision that wasn’t going to help him make passes. If it was any other rider, maybe some words are exchanged but that’s about it. Because it was Friese, the anger level rose and punches/slaps were thrown. Anderson’s got to be smarter than that, he’s on another level than Friese and shouldn’t be bothered. And for the record the FIM reviewed Friese’s move and determined that no action was needed.
-We had been wondering about two 450SX riders through two races and what had been going on with them. Monster Yamaha’s Cooper Webb and Monster Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac hadn’t been riding as well as themselves or their teams had wished and there’s been some questions being asked behind the scenes about each. Well, at A2 Cooper Webb qualified great, made it to the main out of his heat and then holeshotted the main event. He eventually finished fourth and looked like he might repeat his fade back from San Diego but kudos to him, he pulled it back together and held off JGR Suzuki’s Weston Peick. A huge improvement for Webb from the first two weeks and we knew he was too good to be this bad for long.
But Tomac, man, it’s still not good. He didn’t get a great start but early on was moving up fast and he caught and passed Chad Reed but with Roczen down and the riders forced to roll an entire section, he seemed to lose his steam a bit. Reed eventually found his way back by Tomac (in the same spot the #3 got him) and then yarded the Kawasaki rider. Behind the scenes the guys at Kawasaki are a bit stumped as Tomac is seemingly taking the blame on his shoulders for this slump. The one rider that we all thought would benefit from these longer timed mains seems to be the one that’s most hurt by it (which is a really strange thing to type).
-As far as Reed, well he’s grumpy. DNF-9-7 through three races makes the Aussie not a happy camper. I have a good relationship with the 22 from years of working at Yamaha back in the day and he’s declined my requests for interviews for three weeks! He said “I have nothing good to say”! As I’ve been saying, Reed’s not fast enough anymore to rip through the pack but if he gets a start, he can figure things out and run with the top guys. He just hasn’t gotten it yet.
-Malcolm Stewart made his season debut on the RIDE365.com Seven Suzuki team based around, well, himself. He was included in the opening ceremonies which a few riders grumbled about but his ride in the heat race was great. The main was going ok until he crashed/got tired and he struggled to finish. It’ll get better from here for the 250SX champion and it seemed the fans enjoyed seeing him there as much as anyone. By the way, we expect to see brother James at the races at some point and some “people” that would know tell me it’ll be on a Honda whenever he does come up.
– As far as the 250SX class is concerned, Pro Circuit’s Justin Hill won his first race of the season in a dominating fashion and he’s really caught fire after an opener that left some on his team a bit mystified. Hill was awesome last week in San Diego and carried that onto this week with a victory over Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger and rounds one and two winner TLD’s Shane McElrath. Those three look to be in the title hunt and there’s not much to choose between them. Hill’s got the raw speed but makes mistakes, Plessinger’s starts aren’t great and McElrath isn’t flashy but he’s fast and in shape. One rider that’s completely blown it is GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin who has been quick but bad starts, crashes have him way down in his last 250SX season.
Photos by Cudby/Shepherd