Once again we approached a Supercross season with multiple past champions and many seasoned race winners all vying for supremacy.
Coming into Houston Justin Barcia was riding a wave of hype after signing as the first major American star for the brand-new Troy Lee Designs Red Bull Gas Gas Factory Racing outfit.
Bam Bam quickly proved that the hype was rightly earned as he took the first ever holeshot for a Gas Gas machine in 450 heat one. At the other end of the spectrum the reigning champion Eli Tomac struggled to get out of the gate.
Although Tomac has never won a season opener, so we expect that he wasn’t too concerned about this so-so start. Barcia rode a great race to bring home the heat race win ahead of Ken Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo.
Roczen looked particularly strong on track, logging the fastest lap time and being the only man to go sub 44 seconds. Tomac managed to work his way to fourth. Giving him a decidedly average gate pick for the main event.
Former champion Cooper Webb started his season off on the right foot in heat two as he grabbed the holeshot ahead of the Suzuki mounted Brandon Hartranft. After a nasty crash during press day Zach Osbourne finally seemed himself again once the gates dropped. He sat third early on.
Hartranft was quickly shuffled back through the pack and Osbourne found himself battling with the former champion for the race lead. With two to go Osbourne was able to move his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna into the lead to eventually take the chequers ahead of Webb and Malcolm Stewart – who put in a noticeably strong performance on board his new Star Racing Monster Energy Yamaha machine.
Kyle Chisholm, Brandon Hartranft, Adam Enticknap and Alex Ray all advanced to the main even through the LCQ.
Marvin Musquin missed the entirety of the 2020 Supercross season, but despite the rust he was able to put himself in great position as he took the holeshot in the first points paying race of the season.
However, the man of the moment – Justin Barcia – was quick to steal the Frenchman’s thunder and even quicker to steal the race lead. Veteran racer Justin Brayton followed his namesake through on his Muc-Off Honda to demote Musquin to third. The whirlwind continued for the KTM Factory rider as both Ken Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo made passes to move forward through the pack.
Another poor start for the reigning champion Eli Tomac saw him struggling in the mid pack in the early stages of the race. Things went from bad to worse for Tomac as he collided with Vince Friese and hit the deck. The number one man struggled to recover from these early mishaps.
Houston 450SX Highlights
Back at the front of the field Ken Roczen was making moves. A great pass on Adam Cianciarulo began a very strong mid-moto push for the German. He used this momentum to make a pass on Brayton to move into second. The HRC rider was then able to set his sights on the Gas Gas machine of Justin Barcia.
Through the remaining minutes of the race Barcia and Roczen went back and forth with fast laps. The gap between them closing and opening constantly. Despite immense pressure from Roczen Barcia was able to stand strong and bring home the race win to make it three victories in a row at the season opener for him – a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the heyday of Jeremy McGrath 25 years ago.
With this Gas Gas claimed victory in their first ever Supercross event – a feat they may never be repeated.
Ken Roczen settled for a solid second place and Marvin Musquin was able to recover from his hectic first few laps the battle back into a podium position.
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