Over the weekend I watched the film ‘Rush’ – I actually watched it right before I watched the supercross action from San Diego – which details the fierce rivalry between two F1 superstars, James Hunt and Niki Lauda from the 1970s.
I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the story lines featured within the film and the real life story lines of which we see play out week-by-week in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship.
One sequence in the film that struck me the most was when we watch Niki Lauda fight for survival after his horrific crash. The audience then gain an insight into his sheer and out right determination to recover as quickly as possible, to get back in the car and to get back in the championship race. It was this moment when I realised the similarities between Lauda and some of today’s top supercross racers, for example Chad Reed – particularly after the unfortunate events in San Diego and the promises made afterwards.
As the gate dropped in San Diego Andrew Short managed to gain a great jump, he crossed the white line in the lead, taking the holey, to then be immediately overwhelmed by the initial intensity of James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto, pushing the likable Colorado native into third place by the second corner. However, it wasn’t over for Shorty as he had his hands full with Ryan Dungey, Chad Reed and Ken Roczen who were all giving chase.
These early stages of the race saw, as expected, a lot of movement within the pack. As Stewart and Villopoto duelled for the leading position, Reed had made a hard move past Short into the third position. Justin Barcia had also decided to join the party behind Short, Roczen and Dungey. As the early laps of the race were clocked off Stewart had put in some smart and calculated moves and manoeuvres, of which only a seasoned supercross racer would be able to make, to take the clear command of this race. At the same time Short had slipped behind Roczen, Dungey and Barcia.
Things were shaping up to be a great race. The Stewart/ Villopoto duel began to re-intensify and not very far behind at all Roczen was reeling in Reed. Almost identically to last weekend’s race in Anaheim Kenny was serving multiple attacks for Chad Reed to defend. During these attacks, I fear, was the time in which Ralph Sheheen served the fateful commentators curse upon the un-expecting Chad Reed, stating that “Reed has had six wins in San Diego and has never finished outside the top five in Qualcomm stadium…” If so, then the curse wouldn’t come into play for a little while longer yet.
Unlike last weekend in Anaheim Roczen was eventually able to make a successful move on the veteran Chad Reed as on lap nine Roczen made a nice clean cut pass on Reed moving the German into third place, in what looked like a Roczen surge to catch the lead riders.
However, Stewart and Villopoto had different ideas, as they battled for the race lead they began to inch away from the rest of the pack, ultimately ending the expected Roczen surge before it really ever began!
As the race had reached its halfway point the JS7/RV2 duel had become a chess match. As the two matched each other stroke for stroke, neither one gaining (or loosing) any advantages. But there were some sections of the track in which we were able to really appreciate the level of skill these riders possess and as always Stewart found a way to show off just how damn good he is on a dirt bike. This week it wasn’t a death defying quadruple jump as we have seen in recent weeks. This week I noticed James gaining an ever so slight advantage through the chopped out whoop section as, rather than utilizing the traditional method of skimming, he proceeded to wheel tap and wheelie throughout the entire section lap after lap. If anything it just looked cool!
With two laps to go things were certainly heating up in the battle for the final podium spot. Reed had caught back up to the rear wheel of Roczen, whilst he was also fending off attacks from Dungey, at this point in the race Barcia had gone down and dropped off the pace of the lead pack.
As the riders received the white flag Stewart had gained a healthy two second lead over RV and the Roczen, Reed, Dungey train was as close as it had been all race long. The three riders in this battle quickly became entangled in a web of back markers that plagued the race track before them and were tasked with manoeuvring the slower riders whilst also trying to fend off the attacks from the men behind.
As this train entered the tracks tricky whoop section for the final time, the lead rider in the pack Ken Roczen was forced to divert his course to avoid lapper Nick Wey, resulting in Ken moving over into the course of the hard charging Chad Reed. Reed then clipped the rear wheel of Roczen (which in the whoops especially is not a good thing) that saw him thrown from his bike hitting the ground hard as he slammed into the face of the next jump.
Dungey was skilfully able to avoid hitting the downed Reed. I think it was at this moment that a simultaneous cry from the global moto brotherhood was released and heard the world over- ‘Oh Sh*t! Not Reed! Why Reed!?’ Well that’s what I cried anyway. Along with ‘Just how injured is he?’ ‘He’s not getting up!’ ‘Can the nearly 32-year-old Reed bounce back from a hit like that?’ Among other words that aren’t really suitable to be mentioned!
As the injured Chad Reed laid on the cold San Diego dirt his arch rival James Stewart, the James Hunt to Reed’s Niki Lauda if you will, lit the candles and joined the 2014 SX winners club – some pressure on Dungey now to be the last of the ‘big five’ to join the club!
Reed was unable to remount and get back on the bike although he was still able to finish 12th and salvage some points by default – due to being a lap ahead of the rest of the field. It has now become clear as to why Reed was unable to remount. He revealed on twitter/Instagram that he had indeed broken three bones in the incident, which is really crappy news for him, his team and his fans.
However, in that very same post Chad Reed vowed that he will be lining up to race this coming weekend in Dallas.
Wow. That’s big statement. That’s a bad-ass statement. That is an, oh so Chad Reed statement. And that statement is where I find the most obvious similarity between the 2014 AMA Supercross Championship and the F1 film ‘Rush’ and more specifically where I find the biggest similarity between F1 champion Niki Lauda and supercross champion Chad Reed.
Despite their setbacks, their crashes and their injuries both men, Lauda in 1976 and Reed (so far) in 2014, have chosen to ignore the pain. To fight with a fierce determination not to be beaten, not to lose but to fight with an incredible willpower to re-join that hunt for glory, to re-join the race for the championship… That’s pretty bad-ass. That’s pretty inspiring. Heal up soon Reedy!
250 SX West
San Diego was the last race for the 250 SX West class racers before a long eight week break as we now head over to the east coast. Therefore the fight was on to gain that ever so important momentum heading in to the break.
The intensity levels were up as this was probably the most important race for these riders to do well since the opening round in Anaheim.
Things started well for the #15 of Dean Wilson as he grabbed the holey with his personal momentum after his performances over the past two weeks. And what was even better for Deano on those opening laps was that the two men in front of him in the championship points were buried mid pack.
Therefore Wilson lead the way with Malcolm Stewart in second place and Justin Hill in third. Things were looking so good for Wilson; however, I fear that a commentators curse was served upon Wilson too! As the men in the booth discussed- “if Wilson were to win this race the momentum would certainly be on his side after essentially three race wins in a row going into the break…” Almost immediately after this at the end of the second lap of racing Wilson went down. And down hard. Well hard enough to cause some serious damage to his steed anyway.
Malcolm Stewart wasn’t able to miss the heap that was Wilson and his bike and was caught up momentarily in the mess. Meaning that Justin Hill was able to capitalise as he jumped at his chance to take the race lead… And he never looked back!
By lap seven joint championship leaders, Jason Anderson and Cole Seely had moved up to the third and fourth positions. But not for long as Anderson quickly gets around Stewart to move into second place. Despite Seely and Anderson slowly moving up through the pack the pair did not look anywhere near as dominant over the rest of the field as they have been in recent weeks. We expected Seely to follow Anderson past Stewart but he was unable to do that, and we expected Anderson to reel in Hill, but he too was unable to do that. Hill actually continued to pull away!
By this point in the race Wilson had re-joined albeit three laps down, after heading to the mechanics areas for repairs on his damaged Pro Circuit Kawasaki. It was unlikely that Deano was ever going to regain any positions or points in this race, but he showed some heart and some determination for going out there and giving it a shot none the less. Eventually Wilson finished up 21 out of 22 riders.
Back to the front of the field. With his proud older brother, Josh, looking on from the start gates of the 450 Main Event, Justin Hill knocked out flawless lap after flawless lap to take his first 250 Main Event win in convincing and dominant fashion. With Anderson following behind in second, Malcolm Stewart in third, Cole Seely in fourth and as mentioned previously Dean Wilson in 21st.
I’m not blowing my own trumpet or anything – but I clearly am – if you have read these articles over the last few weeks you’ll know that I actually called Justin Hill to take a win (albeit I called him to win a few weeks ago in Oakland, but that is beside the point). And in San Diego on Saturday night, the kid proved me right!
So after the racing this weekend we can conclude that going into the break – Justin Hill has all the confidence in the world, Jason Anderson has the points lead, Cole Seely is slightly frustrated and Dean Wilson is… Well Dean Wilson will be pulling his hair out!
See you in eight weeks’ time boys!