Both a major rainstorm and the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship hit San Diego this weekend resulting in the second mud race of the season.
The mud caused both championship points leads to change hands at this, the Military Appreciation Night event, as Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac took his first win of the season to put himself atop the 450SX Class points board.
Another Kawasaki rider, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo grabbed the Western Regional 250SX Class points lead, this one coming on Cianciarulo’s third win this year.
Supercross is a ‘rain or shine’ event, and the weather hit late afternoon with a downpour that soaked the track. These conditions often produce a surprise winner, but in the 450SX Class they allowed one of the favourites, Eli Tomac, to ride to a confident win in front of the 39,840 fans who watched during clear skies – there was no rain once the evening racing was underway, causing the mud to tack up and stick to riders and machines.
It was Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen who jumped out with the holeshot, but within a couple corners a bobble allowed Tomac by. In the early laps Team Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS’ Justin Bogle kept the number three bike in sight but never closed enough to threaten it.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia’s high-revving style seemed to have gotten the best of his bike and it stopped atop one of the tricky, rutted jumps. JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki’s Chad Reed, who’s won the San Diego Supercross six times, was off to a sixth-place start and looking strong in the mud. After a mid-pack start Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin was picking off riders quickly. Then on the downside of a small jump out of a corner Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb went over the bars; he was back to ninth when he got his bike back up and going again. Over the closing laps of the race Roczen got past Bogle for second. But the man on the move was Musquin, who got past Roczen just one corner before the checkered flag. Crowd favourite Chad Reed finished the race fifth, marking his 159th career top five.
Tomac said after the race, which was shortened to 15 minutes plus one lap due to the conditions, “I had a really comfortable lead… for a lot of the race and then got hung up on a Tuff Block after the whoops. [I] had to stop, pull it off, and then, yeah, a couple guys [were] down the last couple of laps there so that was crazy. So, gosh, just what an exciting day. It’s a good day, especially for these conditions. I just felt comfortable all day, so this was a pretty special day and it’s so cool to get that red plate.”
Marvin Musquin’s second-place finish moved him from fourth in the points into a tie for second. “I didn’t get a great start, and man my helmet got so heavy with all the mud. It was getting so sticky. I think I did the last lap with my eyes closed. My goggles were full of mud. I tried to scrape it and then luckily the roll-off was working after that. And then I just tried to make passes and try to be consistent, not crash, and stay on two wheels. That’s what I did. And toward the end I started looking at Frankie [Latham, his mechanic] and he showed me five laps to go but I had no idea where I was in position. So, I just tried to make passes… and I passed Bogle and then I passed Kenny on the very last lap. And then I heard the fire for the winner and I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m right behind!’ So second place is awesome tonight. I mean, being on the podium tonight is a great result and man those conditions were so tough. Anyway, we got it done, I’m glad it’s over.”
After the race, Roczen was both upset that he dropped a position at the end, but happy to get through a major mud race tied for second in the points. “I got a perfect start, I really jumped out of the gate, hooked up great. Almost went down in the first turn actually it was really slippery. I threw it away in the second turn over there which I couldn’t believe it because this could have been it, having a clear track there for a little bit could have really helped… I kinda went back to fourth or fifth or something and my helmet got super heavy with all the mud; since it didn’t rain any more it got tacky mud on there. And I got passed literally on the last straightaway here. It was just a big mess out there with lappers and these crazy conditions. I’m not happy that I got passed there and went from second to third, but on this kind of night, it can be very, very hurtful for you for the championship so we’re only four points behind and it’s all good.”
In the Western Regional 250SX Class, which was shortened to ten minutes plus one lap, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team took the first two spots, a feat the team hasn’t accomplished since Las Vegas in 2017 (they did it three times that year). Adam Cianciarulo rode a nearly mistake-free race and lead from the exit of the first corner until the finish, earning enough points to put him into the championship lead. His Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team-mate Garrett Marchbanks got his podium position the hard way – battling his way past the riders ahead of him. It was a tough night for the points leader heading into the night, Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Colt Nichols, who finished a disappointing tenth, while his team-mate Dylan Ferrandis also had a frustrating night with a last lap bike failure that caused him to drop from sixth to seventh at the checkered flag.
Cianciarulo has stated he’s trying to race without some of the big mistakes that have plagued him in the past. When asked after the race how he rode so well in such tough conditions he said, “I think it started earlier in the week, if I’m honest. I think all my best races, all my wins, have come when I’ve – I’ve almost seen it before it happens in the sense that I like to visualize me doing well. And for some reason this week it just came easy. I visualized before I took off the gate right there… I visualized myself coming into the first corner first and the race going perfect, and it’s like it played out exactly how it went in my head. Man, these ones feel so good because it’s so stressful, you never know what can happen in a mud race, [with] a lot of elements and a lot of stuff out of your control. To get a start – my team made a great call going to a paddle tire, a scoop tire, instead of a regular tire that we run here, and it really helped me on the start. That was the whole race. After that I just tried to manage the bike the best I could, but man I’ve never won two in a row before so that feels good going into this little break.”
Second place marked the first Monster Energy Supercross podium for rookie Garrett Marchbanks. “I wasn’t off to a great start. I pulled my goggles off unfortunately on the first lap and actually I didn’t know what place I took until the checkers flew, but I just kept pushing the whole time and kept passing people every lap until the end.”
Rounding out the podium was JGRMX Yoshimura Suzuki’s Jimmy Decotis. “I worked really hard that whole moto and it was so sloppy and [with] my little legs I was struggling, so I’m really thankful that the Suzuki’s so good, it takes so much pressure off me and allows me to just ride like I can. I’m never tweaking with the bike, I’m never playing around with things, I’m just confident in my bike, so I’m super happy. I’m thankful for JGRMX. These guys work so hard for us and I want to get more of these when it’s dry and show the world I can do this.”
Next weekend Monster Energy Supercross goes to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota to see if Eli Tomac started a win streak, and the Eastern Regional 250SX Class series kicks off with its first round of the season.
450SX Class Results
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki
- Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda
- Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., KTM
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Suzuki
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha
- Joey Savatgy, Tallahassee, Fla., Kawasaki
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
- Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM
- Tyler Bowers, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Kawasaki
450SX Class Championship Standings
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (106)
- Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM (102)
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (102)
- Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (98)
- Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (80)
- Dean Wilson, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna (80)
- Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., Yamaha (74)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (66)
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Suzuki (65)
- Cole Seely, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Honda (65)
Western Regional 250SX Class Results
- Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Kawasaki
- Jimmy Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Suzuki
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM
- Jess Pettis, Prince George, Canada, KTM
- Martin Castelo, Ecuador, Suzuki
- Dylan Ferrandis, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha
- Mathias Jorgensen, Bjerge, Denmark, KTM
- Cameron McAdoo, Chesterfield, S.C., Honda
- Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
- Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (114)
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM (106)
- Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (104)
- Dylan Ferrandis, Murrieta, Calif., Yamaha (102)
- RJ Hampshire, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (75)
- Jimmy Decotis, Peabody, Mass., Suzuki (73)
- Cameron McAdoo, Chesterfield, S.C., Honda (72)
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Kawasaki (71)
- Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Husqvarna (70)
- Jess Pettis, Prince George, Canada, KTM (66)