Supercross is a wild game. Some weeks a rider can be on top of the world, the next they can be down in the dirt… quite literally.
The second night of racing in Houston was dramatic to say the least. Some riders came out better than others. Here’s who will be wanting to forget about H2 as quickly as possible…
First corner chaos
One of the most criticised pieces of Supercross track design in recent memory was the first corner layout for round two in Houston. After shooting out the gates the riders made a sharp left turn to hit the first rhythm lane going in the opposite direction, they then hit a 180 bowl berm to race back up the NRG field through the second rhythm lane which saw the riders leap over the first corner.
This would’ve been a cool track design and a clever use of space if not for the fact that the layout did not allow enough time for crashed riders to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. It’s pretty much inevitable that there’s going to be some first corner mayhem in Supercross, we certainly saw plenty of that last night in Houston.
On multiple occasions there were still riders on the ground and in harms way by the time the leaders had entered the second rhythm lane. A dangerous situation indeed. The worst of these circumstances occurred in 450 heat one – Justin Bogle was unable to move out the way of the leading riders – resulting in a red flag situation. Not ideal at all.
Never one to be too far away from the highlight reels, Vince Friese once again provided an unforgettable moment in Houston. Soon after 450 heat one got restarted Friese lost complete control of his Smart Top Bullfrog Spas Honda in the rhythm lane. His machine got away from him and went cartwheeling into oncoming traffic.
A truly scary situation that was somewhat reminiscent of the Valentino Rossi incident we saw in MotoGP last year. Thankfully all riders involved were able to act quickly and dodge Friese’s wild ride, and Vince himself was able to get up and regroup ready to advance to the main through the LCQ. Catch the video replay, we don’t see crashes like this very often
Fast but Furious – Chase Sexton
Last night Chase Sexton showed that he has the raw speed and talent to rival – and maybe even best – the fastest Supercross riders in the world. Chase was on fire after grabbing a commanding holeshot in the 450 main event. Throughout his career Chases’ riding coach, James Stewart, was known as the fastest man on the planet.
And it could be argued that last night Chase was indeed the fastest man in the building. But Chase’s riding coach was also known for having a win or crash mentality. For many years it was a fact that JS7 would either win or he would crash. After last night it looks as though Sexton may be unwittingly following in his mentor’s footsteps, or it could simply be put down to rookie inexperience.
Either way, Chase suffered a nasty crash whilst leading the race. Sexton was setting a crazy pace that even Eli Tomac was surprised by, maybe Chase got carried away whilst leading his first 450 main. He was unable to remount and finish the race. We are yet to see whether the Honda man suffered any long-lasting injuries.
Beware the Sand
The Supercross track team love to throw in a sand section to really mix things up and cause some carnage. The sand pit in Houston claimed several riders throughout the night. First up was Colt Nichols who crashed out of the lead in his heat race. Then in the 450 main event we saw three big named guys fall victim to the pit of doom.
While battling for the race lead Adam Cianciarulo was swallowed up by the sand and dropped all the way back to 14th. Next the sand caught out Chase Sexton. Chase lost control of his factory Honda in the sand corner and tried his best to hold on for as long as possible, but his attempts were futile. Finally, we saw Marvin Musquin fall afoul in the sand box. Fortunately, Marv was able to recover well to bring home sixth place.
If we learnt one thing is Houston it’s got to be: Beware the sand!
Just not his day – Austin Forkner
Austin Forkner certainly had a day to forget on Tuesday. The Pro Circuit Kawasaki pilot crashed multiple times in the sand during qualifying. He was then caught in a first turn pile up in 250 heat one. Forkner rode like mad man here to eventually finish fourth, lapping four to six seconds quicker than most of the field.
By the time the main event rolled around Austin probably thought that he had put his share of bad luck for the day behind him. Unfortunately for him that wasn’t quite the case. Anxious to get the front as quickly as possible Austin seemed to be riding somewhat erratically.
He made a few mistakes early on and eventually hit the deck whilst trying to make a pass on RJ Hampshire for second. Austin remounted to finish sixth. With the short 250 race season Austin will need to bounce back strong on Saturday if he wants to fight for this title.
Red plate pressure
Justin Barcia was incredible at round one. The GasGas man continued his win streak on Tuesday by claiming victory in 450 heat two, but that’s where the good fortune ended for JB51. Barcia struggled out of the gate in the main and was wrapped up in the mid-pack battles as the race got underway.
Things went from bad to worse for Barcia after he bent his gear lever and was reportedly stuck in first gear for most of the race. He could only salvage a ninth-place ride – not great, but considering the circumstances it could have been a lot worse. Somehow Barcia was able to hang on to the points lead, here’s how…
The official results for the 450 main event were held back for hours after the finish of the race. The reason behind this was the reports of riders jumping on a waved medical flag while Chase Sexton was on the ground. Whilst Feld/AMA investigated we waited to see whether anyone would be docked positions.
As it transpires no riders were docked places in the final results for this, but that’s not quite the end of the drama. It appears as though both Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson were actually penalised for breaking the rules. Rather than losing positions there were instead docked championship points.
This is big because Ken Roczen was – up until about two hours ago – the new red plate holder. After this decision however Justin Barcia is once again the points leader. It looks like HRC are going to have to peel off those plates…