The 250cc class has been a two-man show so far in 2014, and it’s going to stay that way unless someone gets hurt, or someone else (probably Dean Wilson) gets healthy. Rockstar Energy KTM’s Jason Anderson and TLD/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely are both much faster than the competition in the 250cc Western Regional Supercross Championship.
At Anaheim 1, Seely and Anderson were the only two 250cc guys who put in a single lap in the 58s. Anderson notched five, Seely put in six. We all know what happened there between the two of them, but they beat third place by almost 20 seconds in the 15-lap race. At Phoenix, Seely was the only guy to record a lap (two, actually) in the 55s, and Anderson got close with a 56.068 as his fastest. Zach Osborne was the only other guy sub-57, just barely, with a 56.997. But Seely and Anderson were each in the 56s or better 12 times in 15 laps, including the first nine of the race for both of them. And they beat third place (Osborne, for the second time) by over 27 seconds.
This is a two-horse race, but here’s where it gets interesting: Can guys who are already that much faster than everyone else still employ a true racing strategy?
It’s easy to assume that racers who have this kind of speed are doing what they’re doing on pure ability without a lot of thought because, frankly, even for guys who don’t have more than a second per lap on their competition, there’s really not a lot of time to think in a supercross race. But, as long as Seely and Anderson are getting out front more or less together off the start, Seely is going to have to employ a real racing strategy to beat Anderson. And he knew that after Anaheim 1.
“Looking back now, I wish I would have been a little more patient and made the pass a little later in the race – kind-of let him wind himself out a little bit and not let him learn my lines – because I had some good lines where I knew I was faster and knew I could make passes,” Seely said after A1. “I think I just wasn’t patient enough, but second is still good, and I’m still set up for a good season.”
And believe it or not, Anderson sort of agreed with Seely.
“[I was] just following him, and just hitting my marks,” Anderson said after the main event at A1. “Being smooth behind him was actually easier than leading. This track was tough for me to lead tonight. He got away, but I knew if I sprinted up to him, I knew I could make a ballsy move, kinda like I did.”
Seely was nursing a cold in Phoenix, as was James Stewart in the 450 class, but the pattern is still the pattern. In both main events so far, Seely took over the lead early, only for Anderson to match his pace and make a late-race pass for the win. Seely has now led 25 out of 30 laps in the 250cc West mains, and Anderson has led the other five, including the two that counted. Seely is stronger out front, while Anderson is stronger in second, and Anderson’s strength is winning him the races right now.
If they start together at Anaheim 2, it seems likely that whoever has the ‘stronger weakness’ will end up winning the day. If Seely forces Anderson to lead: either Anderson will make mistakes to give Seely his first win of the season, or Seely will make mistakes behind Anderson and give Anderson his third win in a row.
Photo by Steve Cox