The opening round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series at Angel Stadium made for a monumental night for Roger DeCoster and Red Bull KTM, with his 450-class lineup of Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey filling the top two spots in the 450 main. In the meantime, Jason Anderson grabbed his first-ever main event win in the 250 class, making for a KTM sweep of the two main events.
Ryan Villopoto started off well enough in pursuit of a four-straight Supercross title, grabbing the holeshot and leading the first eight laps, however, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider lost the front wheel in a trick berm and quickly found himself in fifth.
In the meantime, James Stewart was on the move from a mid-pack start and put his Yoshimura Suzuki into second on lap 13, and closing fast on leader Ken Roczen, who had taken advantage of Villopoto’s mishap to move out front.
On lap 15, Stewart gained an amazing amount of time on Roczen, and on the following lap he tried to make a move in the whoops, but lost control and went down hard, putting an end to his night.
After the race, Stewart said that he was pleased with his speed and his ability to move through the pack and catch Roczen, although he admitted to making a big mistake in the whoops.
A surprise third-place finish went to Two-Two Motorsports Kawasaki’s Chad Reed, who ran in second for a number of laps before giving way to Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey with four laps to go.
In the 250 class, TLD/Lucas Oil Honda’s Cole Seely and Rockstar Energy Racing KTM’s Jason Anderson spent the entire race battling over first, with Anderson making a pretty hard pass on Seely in the next to last turn to take the win.
It was Anderson first-ever main event win and needless to say, the New Mexico rider was excited.
Anaheim One is always full of surprises, and A1 2014 did not disappoint. Who could have picked that top three in the 450 class?! From Roczen’s solid, consistent pace to Villopoto’s mistake (and failure to make up any time once he got back up), the riders made for one heck of a show. If this is a glimpse at how the rest of the season will be, it’s going to be a fun one for the fans!
The fans at Angel Stadium were treated to a very fun sight lap at the hands of Ricky Carmichael and Kevin Windham, who both rode a lap of the track while wearing microphones so that they could talk through the various obstacles. Say what you want about RC’s weight, but he was barely out of breath after jamming out a whip-filled lap next to K-dub—both of these men still have it, for sure. Much to the delight of the fans, Windham also did an incredible transfer off of the backside of a berm and into a rhythm section. Though not as gnarly as the ones that he does in the dark, this was still quite cool.
Chad Reed solidified why he is a fan favorite. To begin with, he and his son, Tate, rode out in opening ceremonies, with Tate on a PW50—the crowd went nuts for this. Then, Reed rode a solid pace, putting up a fight to everyone who challenged him. Chad made it clear in his post-race interview that he was disappointed that Dungey got around him for second, but as James Stewart will tell you, championships can be lost at Anaheim and starting the year off with a podium isn’t bad at all!
Speaking of Stewart, the man is still capable of running an incredible pace, but as we saw last night he is still plagued by freak crashes at all the wrong times. And when Stewart crashes, he doesn’t just tip over—he THROWS IT AWAY! To James’ credit, though, he kept the throttle pinned through the whoops, through the magnificent highside and to the very last second, which probably helped him in the end. It was a nasty crash, compounded by the fact that Stewart was literally passing for the lead at the time. In the 250F division, Malcolm Stewart slammed hard in the sand section during the main event. If these brothers could keep it on two wheels, they’d be earning a lot more trophies.
The biggest disappointment of the night (aside from Stewart’s incredible whip in the whoops) was Eli Tomac crashing out of his heat race. Word is that Tomac rode straight back up tot he GEICO Honda semi truck, pulled off his jersey (exposing his badly road-rashed back/ shoulder) and began pacing around trying to walk the pain off. Tomac’s biggest complaint was apparently the pain/ clicking in his shoulder, but don’t assume the worst just because Eli didn’t race for the rest of the night; the Tomac family is very smart, and everything they do is calculated to insure Eli’s long term success. The fact that he didn’t race purely shows that it was not wise to do so for his overall strategy. Expect this kid to be back on the bike (and probably on the podium) before the end of the season.
Nick Wey spent the entirety of the night back in the pack—including during the LCQ. This wasn’t so much a disappointment as it was a simple bummer, as Wey has a ton of fans who enjoy seeing him up and around the top ten mark. Most of the murmurs in the stands were speculations that it is time for Wey to retire, but we’re sure there’s more to the story than that—27 is capable of much better results.
Jason Anderson made a lot of new fans with his heroic second-to-last-corner-pass on Cole Seely. It wasn’t exactly clean, but Anderson did what he needed to do and came in to that turn prepared to either a) take the lead or b) crash. Following the finish line, Anderson’s crew was all smiles, while Seely and his mechanics looked as if Santa had just taken all of their Christmas presents back. Look for retaliation at a future round.
Everyone expected Pro Circuit’s Dean Wilson to do better. Wilson had the speed, but he looked somewhat hesitant all night, and not quite as aggressive as others (Anderson or Malcolm Stewart, for example). His PC teammates, Justin Hill and Darryn Durham, were both super quick on the evening, giving us good reason to believe that Mitch Payton’s race team may once again be a threat for the podium this season after falling off somewhat in the last year or so. The bikes are outstanding and the talent is definitely there, so it may purely come down to luck for these boys in 2014.
Other observations: Andrew Short looked quick and comfortable, but just wasn’t in the right place at the right time. Dungey was flying, Canard was hugely missed, Jake Moss rode a great heat race, Cooper Webb is finding his speed, Jake Weimer had bad luck, and this is going to be an epic year of racing….good thing all the races are live!!!
1. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Kawasaki
4. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
5. Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda
6. Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha
7. Josh Grant, Corona, Calif., Yamaha
8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki
9. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM
10. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki
1. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., KTM
2. Cole Seely, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda
3. Zach Osborne, Chesterfield, S.C., Honda
4. Dean Wilson, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Kawasaki
5. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., Yamaha
6. Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., Kawasaki
7. Darryn Durham, Butler, Pa., Kawasaki
8. Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Honda
9. Jessy Nelson, Paso Robles, Calif., Honda
10. Austin Politelli, Menifee, Calif., Yamaha