Just when we thought we knew what to expect another crazy race in Anaheim comes along to disprove all of our previous beliefs about the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season.
After last weekend in Oakland and RV’s domination, I personally believed that we had witnessed a turning point in the season and from there on out it was destined to be the Ryan Villopoto show…
When, on Saturday night, Villopoto just missed out on the Anaheim 3 holey to then take the immediate lead I naturally assumed that I was correct and that we were going to see a repeat of the previous weekend’s racing.
But no one received that memo and yet again I’ve been proven wrong! Why? Chad Reed is why!
Within half-a-lap of the gate drop Chad Reed wasted no time in sticking it to the reigning champion as he made the pass for the lead on the first trip through the treacherous A3 whoops. The new leader and second place man Villopoto was closely followed by the young fan favourite, Ken Roczen. Who in turn was followed by an entire hoard of top class talent of which included: James Stewart, Mike Alessi, Justin Brayton, Ryan Dungey and Justin Barcia.
With just that in mind RV was pushing hard in several attempts to reclaim the lead and escape the chasing pack of riders. Reed’s resiliency proved dividend for Ken Roczen as the young German was able to capitalise and ride all over his training partner, eventually Roczen made the move on the champ, through that treacherous whoop section. Yes that very same section in which Villopoto was passed by Reed. Have you ever seen RV get passed straight up twice in the very same place before!?
Meanwhile, a little further down the track James Stewart, Ryan Dungey and Justin Barcia had moved into the fourth, fifth and sixth positions. And as you’d expect with these three racers – well recently anyway with ‘Aggro Dunge’ – there was some fast and aggressive racing going down.
Two out of three – Stewart and Dungey – were even able to pull the trigger on an incredible triple-quad sequence in one of the rhythm lanes. It’s riding such as this that we have come to know, love and expect from Bubba. However, its riding like this that we have been begging Dunge to provide for the majority of his career.
And now it seems that Dunge has responded with some aggressive showings so far in 2014. Despite this aggression and intensity JS7, Dunge and Bam Bam were still not quite able to match the pace of the top three riders in this race – who were in fact not even pulling the trigger on that triple-quad sequence!
As the race progressed and the laps clocked off we were given many more twists and turns. Reed continued to defend his lead from second place man Ken Roczen, who was now in pursuit and providing the attacks – with Villopoto still there in third, poised to make a move at any given time.
At this time fourth place man Stewart eats the dirt (in the very same place in which the younger Stewart took a soil sample in the 250 main event) leaving him falling down the leader board. A lap and two turns later the rider that had inherited Stewart’s fourth position, Dungey, also goes down (and out) in that treacherous whoop pad and due to the damage on the bike he was unable to remount.
Barcia was now gifted with that fourth place position. Although both Stewart and Dungey had seemed fast and aggressive in Anaheim (and the rest of the season) it’s these crashes and this type of inconsistency that they can’t afford in such a competitive championship. And they surely can’t afford to give any of their rivals an edge in whatever shape or form!
With less than half the race to go the top three were close and it seemed as though we were in for a three-rider duel to the finish. However with five laps to go both Reed and Roczen were able to up the ante and leave RV in their wake. Why (and how) they were able to do this is still unclear, and it’ll probably stay that way.
Were Reed and Roczen just better than RV in Anaheim? Maybe; or did Villopoto ride smart? That’s my guess. I think that RV was on damage control and he thought that a third place was as good as he could give without risking it all in the slick conditions of which it is publicly known he dislikes. If that is the case then it was a smart and mature decision from RV that we wouldn’t have seen him make only a few short years ago. A sign of how he has become a clever and calculated champion.
Reed and Roczen were left to battle it out for the chequers. With two laps to go the racing got intense, Kenny was able to close the gap to literally nil and the two also had to manoeuvre an array of backmarkers. Ultimately Reed was able to do so a little more efficiently and took yet another emphatic win in 2014. So long to that ‘washed up thirty something’ hey!
The events at the fifth round of the 2014 AMA Supercross tour have made one thing clear to this reporter. In my humble opinion this championship will (hopefully anyway) go down to the wire between three men: Chad Reed, Ken Roczen and Ryan Villopoto – the top three in Anaheim on Saturday night.
Despite there being a whole host of riders; Stewart, Dungey, Barcia, Brayton, Millsaps and even Canard when they return, that could win races this year, the first five rounds of 2014, and in particular Saturday night in Anaheim have shown that there are three riders who mean business. Who seem to have a slight edge at least speed wise on the competition and most importantly seem to be there each and every week. I’m putting it out there now -Reed, Roczen and Villopoto will all be in a chance of claiming the SX crown come Vegas in May. Let’s see if I’m right this time shall we?
250 SX West
Talking about tables being turned, the 250 class Main Event had plenty of that sort of stuff! The racing started off like we’ve seen many times before this season, Cole Seely grabbing the holey and wheeling away with the early race lead. However the difference this time around was that the second place rider was not Jason Anderson, it was in fact the Scot, Dean Wilson. The point’s leader Jason Anderson actually found himself in an unfamiliar position early on as he was buried mid-pack.
During these initial stages of the race it looked as though Cole Seely had it well under control, as he stretched away a slight lead over Wilson in second position. It was Seely’s race to loose.
Revisiting Anderson slightly further down the track, he had quickly found himself in a scuffle with the younger (but bigger) of the Stewart brothers, Malcolm, over third place. As the two entered the bowled berm just after the long whoop section Anderson made an aggressive move on Stewart, giving him somewhat of a ‘love tap’ on his way past. This – in my eyes anyway – quite clearly angered ‘Mookie.’ The pair exited the corner with Anderson now in front. The two then chose to utilise different rhythms in the next section resulting in a collision between them in the next corner. As Anderson landed into the corner he cut to the inside, straight into Stewart’s line. Stewart then decided (intentional or not, it happened – but in my eyes it seemed to be fairly intentional) to boot Anderson straight off the track ultimately causing both riders to go down!
At the front of the field Seely still lead the way with Wilson not too far behind. At this point in the race there seemed to be two distinct story lines to watch out for. The first was the battle for the lead as Wilson was on the hunt and closing in on Seely. The second was the inevitable second meeting of Anderson and Stewart. After their previous altercation Anderson had come off worse, dropping back to ninth place whereas Stewart dropped back to seventh position.
With three laps left to go both storylines came to conclusions almost simultaneously and in the case of Anderson vs. Stewart, in an underwhelming way. Anderson made a simple and easy pass around Stewart on his way to an eventual fifth place finish.
Whereas things at the front of the field were slightly more dramatic. Wilson had closed the gap to race leader Seely, as they both raced into a steady stream of back markers. With only three short laps left to hang on Seely made a costly mistake exiting the whoop section washing out his front end, going down and handing the lead to Deano in the process. Seely was able to remount fairly quickly and managed to salvage a second place.
But the win was Deano’s. So we have to ask ourselves what was the reason behind this crash for Seely? Was it the pressure? The pressure of being in the lead? The pressure of Wilson breathing down his neck? The pressure of potentially reclaiming the points lead back from Anderson? Or maybe it was divine intervention from the motocross gods, righting a wrong from last weekend?
San Diego this weekend is the last race for the 250 SX West region racers before a seven week break. Cole Seely and Jason Anderson are tied with the points lead while Dean Wilson is another 12 further back. Things are surely going to heat up at the weekend as these three tussle to gain an advantage and the momentum heading into the long break.