Yet another thrilling night of racing for round three of the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship closed out the action in Houston in real style. A tough and technical track provided some bar to bar racing and a finish that we will not be forgetting anytime soon…
With 14 former champions taking to the line in the 450 class this year – and several more race winners and championship contenders making up the rest – we’ve rightfully heard that this is the deepest field in the history of the game. Meaning that both 450 heats were stacked to the rafters with talent.
Justin Barcia looked to continue his perfect run of heat race victories in Houston as the first 450 race of the night got underway. However, Ken Roczen also seemed determined to find some on track justice after he was docked championship points on Tuesday, resulting in him losing out on the red plate to the GasGas pilot.
Barcia was able to grab the holeshot ahead of Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen, the perfect run for Barcia looked set to continue. Roczen quickly made the move on Webb to take over second and set his sights on the Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas machine.
Meanwhile Dylan Ferrandis, who bagged a solid second place in Tuesdays Main Event, was struggling in the mid pack at the start of this race. He had to fight through the field in order to claim a transfer spot.
After a few laps of close battling Justin Barcia was able to break away from Roczen. The German seemed to have thrown in the towel, settling for a fine second place and a strong gate pick for the Main Event. However, drama unfolded with two laps to go. Race leader Justin Barcia got himself tangled up with a lapped rider (Alex Ray), allowing the HRC man to inherit the race lead and take the heat win. Barcia recovered quickly to get going just ahead of Cooper Webb and was able to hold onto second in front of the Factory KTM star.
Adam Cianciarulo has displayed some great speed this year. He was setting a blisteringly fast pace in Tuesday nights Main before a crash in the sand knocked him out of contention. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider showed the same level of intensity as he ran away with the heat two lead.
He was followed on the first lap by fast-starting Martin Davalos, Broc Tickle and Marvin Musquin. On the other hand, Cianciarulo’s teammate Eli Tomac did not have the best of starts. He was buried in ninth early on.
Back at the front of the field and a wild ride through the whoops for Malcolm Stewart at the start of lap two saw him almost overshoot the next berm. Stewart was able to save it, but Marvin Musquin was taken out in the process.
The Red Bull KTM rider also collected Vince Friese and Broc Tickle in this incident. This was a nice turn of events for Tomac who was charging through the pack. Musquin picked himself up in 19th position, he had a lot of work to do in order to reclaim a transfer spot.
As the race reached it’s closing stages Martin Davalos, Eli Tomac and Malcolm Stewart were embroiled in a nice battle for second position. Tomac was able to make a pass stick on Davalos with two laps to go. Stewart was then able to capitalise on a dazed Davalos to steal away third. Cianciarulo took the win in convincing fashion ahead of his teammate and Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Malcolm Stewart. Musquin was able to fight back to eighth position.
Houston SX III 450 main event hightlights
Cooper Webb got off to a flying start in the 450 Main Event on board his Red Bull Factory Racing KTM. He was followed closely by HRC’s Ken Roczen and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo. Series leader Justin Barcia found himself back in seventh and Tuesdays winner Eli Tomac was even further back in 10th.
The evening went from bad to worse for Marvin Musquin who was caught in the opening lap carnage. Musquin was way down on lap one, but a courageous ride saw him fight back from last to 12th at the chequers. Potentially keeping his name in the championship conversation as the series moves forward.
By lap three of the race Ken Roczen and Adam Cianciarulo had caught the rear wheel of race leader Cooper Webb. Roczen looked keen to make a pass as quickly as possible, his first attempt was thwarted by Webb, but just one corner later Roczen found a way to make the move stick. With nothing but fresh air ahead of him the German dropped the hammer and set sail, whilst Cooper Webb dealt with an attacking Adam Cianciarulo.
Meanwhile both Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac were steadily battling their way through the top ten. The pair of them deposed of the likes of Jason Anderson, Malcolm Stewart, Aaron Plessinger and Martin Davalos to take over fourth and fifth respectively. During this period Barcia was the fastest man on the track, he looked to be back to his round one form.
That was until a mistake in the sand section for Barcia allowed Tomac to take over fourth, albeit momentarily. Barcia recovered from his mistake quickly and re-took the position he lost to the reigning champ. By this point however Barcia had lost touch on the leading trio.
At the halfway stage there was just three seconds separating the top three. However, Cianciarulo wasn’t able to keep pace as the race drew to a close.
With two minutes on the clock Cooper Web began chipping away at Roczen’s small advantage. Webb must have had confidence on his side knowing that he has stolen the win away from Roczen at the last moment on multiple occasions in the past. With that in mind both racers knew that the race was on.
The leading pair quickly found themselves in amongst heavy lapped traffic. Putting guys like Marvin Musquin and Dylan Ferrandis (two riders who have found podium success already this year) a lap down.
On the last lap of action Ken Roczen was struggling to find a way around Dean Wilson who apparently did not hear the German’s shouts nor see the blue flags being waved. Wilson found himself right at the centre of the drama as the Husqvarna rider obstructed Roczen’s line through a technical rhythm lane, allowing Cooper Webb to strike in the next corner.
Webb cut across the inside ruts to take away Roczen’s line and steal the race lead from the HRC Honda pilot in the dying moments of the moto. Roczen tried his best to retaliate, but Webb held firm to take an emphatic victory ahead of an understandably miffed off Roczen. Three races, three different winners’ and eight different podium finishers. The 2021 season has gotten off to a good start.
Webb was happy with his final ride in Houston, ‘‘It was a close race the whole time. Kenny rode really well, he rode a really solid race, not many mistakes. The track was really tricky and easy to override and get impatient. The lappers there at the end were a bummer. I felt like we were going to have a really good battle, and obviously we did, but the lappers were really tough tonight.
“I just hung in there the whole time. I’ve struggled in these first three rounds but I was in a good position the whole race. Like I said Kenny rode really solid and wasn’t making it easy. But I pounced on that last lap and made it happen. We’re in Texas where you’ve got to go big or go home.’’