With two wins under his belt and a solid lead in the series point standings, perhaps now Davi Millsaps will finally get the credit he deserves. Without a doubt, the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki rider is a legitimate title threat in this year’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship. And not only is he a threat to win the title, but he’s also a threat to win a majority of the remaining rounds.
This weekend Millsaps proved his qualifications. He’s been the most consistent rider off the starting line all year; he’s a steady and strong rider and he hasn’t buckled under pressure. In fact, in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium, Millsaps held off challenges from both Chad Reed and Justin Barcia before closing out a flag to flag win – his second victory of the season. Most importantly, he’s shown a knack for being able to avoid the pileups that have been tripping up so many riders this year.
“I’ve never led all 10 laps before in a main event, that was incredible,” said Millsaps. “The win is great, but I’m just taking it one race at a time. If I just keep being consistent and stay near the front then I can put myself in good position. It’s been a great start to the season and everyone is working hard to make this happen. You have to be there every week in order to have a chance to win this thing, and we’re doing our best to keep it out front.”
If you’re a betting man, you’d be wise not to bet against Millsaps at this time.
It was kind of a crazy night for Justin Barcia. The Muscle Milk Honda rider got off in the lead of his heat race but then fell off the side of the bike on the first lap and had to scramble just to transfer to the main, doing so with a fifth place finish.
In the main, Barcia got off to a decent start and moved up from fifth on the opening lap to third behind Millsaps and Reed. Then on lap 10, Barcia moved into second when Reed lost the front wheel in a turn and went down. Barcia later closed on Millsaps but could never get close enough to attempt a pass.
“The main was challenging to say the least,” said Barcia. “The track was extremely slick and very one-lined, and the whoops were treacherous. Chad ended up pushing the front and I got around him and then set my sights on Davi. I got close a couple of times but I made a few mistakes. Some lappers got in the way, and then some hay bales… a little bit of everything got in my way, so I wasn’t able to get him. But I’m happy to be on the podium after two bad races.”
After a rather un-Dungey-like start to the series, Ryan Dungey has posted a win and a third over the course of the last two races and is starting to look like the strongest title contender of everyone not named Millsaps. James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto have consistently been the fastest in qualifying and even in the main events, but we’re seeing there’s much more to winning a supercross race in 2013 than just speed.
On the first lap of the main event, Dungey immediately found himself in a battle with Stewart and Villopoto for fifth place. Stewart even passed Dungey at one point, however, the Red Bull KTM rider was able to take advantage of a small bobble by the Yoshimura Suzuki rider and get back around him and into fourth. Three laps later, Dungey passed JGRMX Yamaha’s Justin Brayton for third.
“My starts weren’t the greatest tonight, I was kind of shuffled back around fifth in each case,” said Dungey. “The start was really critical in the main because while I was back there battling with James and trying to make the pass on Brayton, the leaders were getting away. Once I got into third those guys had a pretty good lead and it was hard to make up that ground. I capitalized on a mistake that Chad made, which moved me up a spot, so it ended up being a good night and being on the podium is always good.”
It just goes to show the intensity and talent in this year’s series when guys like James Stewart, Chad Reed and Ryan Villopoto are laying it on the line in a battle over fourth, fifth and sixth.
Stewart has had his share of bad luck all year, but for the most part, San Diego was an uneventful race for the Yoshimura Suzuki rider. Starts have been so important this year, thanks to the wealth of talent. Either you get out front early and avoid all the drama, or you spend 20 laps going bar to bar with mega-talented riders just for a chance at the final podium spot.
Stewart had a shot at the podium when he passed Dungey midway into the final, but a small bobble dropped him back behind the KTM rider again, leaving him to settle for fourth. But in the end, back-to-back fourth place finishes is a good start on the rest of the season.
“I didn’t get a good start and then I was bumping around with those guys, it was a goat trail, it was hard to get around anybody out there,” said Stewart. “It was tough moving through the pack, and the only place you could make a move was in the whoops but they were so tore up that you couldn’t cut across. Guys were going down left and right and you’d catch up to someone and then you’d make a mistake in the whoops or get caught behind a lapper. It was tough.”
Chad Reed seems just on the verge of breaking out of mediocrity, and in San Diego he looked as though he might be heading for his first win of the year. However, a slide out in a turn at the halfway mark dropped the TwoTwo Motorsports rider back in the pack and he eventually finished a disappointing fifth.
“I was second or third right away, and I knew what it was going to take to win,” said Reed. “I tried to work my lines and I was better in the whoops, but I just lost the front end in a turn. It wasn’t too bad of a crash and the bike was still running, but the bike was on the high side so when I picked it up I was good, but I just kind of lost my balance and stalled it. A bunch of guys got around me and I had to fight my way back up.”
RCH Racing’s Josh Hill returned to racing action after missing the first five rounds of the series with a broken right-hand. In total, the Oregon native had missed the last 39 Main Events due to injuries over two years. In San Diego, Hill won the 450 LCQ and finished 18th in the main.
“It’s a great shot in the arm,” said Hill. “Finally, something went right. There were so many tough days the last few years. To overcome all the stuff that I have the last two or three years, this feels really, really good.”
“It’s been a real, real rough couple of years. And then I get to Anaheim 1 this year thinking that everything was going to go good and I break my hand. For me to come back with only two days on the bike and make the Main Event, it feels good. And the way that I did it, I did it the hardest way possible by having to go to the LCQ and then win it. It feels great. I never felt that finishing 18th would feel so good, but that did.”
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac got back to his winning ways in San Diego, winning his heat and then leading the final 10 laps of the 250 main event to claim his fourth win of the series. Tomac got off to a good start in the main behind Jason Anderson, following the Rockstar Energy Racing Suzuki rider for five laps before making the pass for the lead. Tomac would eventually hold off points leader Ken Roczen over the final few laps en route to the victory. This was the final race until the Seattle round on April 20th for the West Regional riders.
“This is the best way to go into the break for us west coast guys,” said Tomac. “We actually made a pretty big change with the setup going into the night show and I definitely think it paid off and we just made it happen in the main.”
Ken Roczen is in a good position in the West Regional 250 series, with the points lead that he has, he can afford to finish second or third from here on out and still win the title. In San Diego, the Red Bull KTM rider struggled with the track during practice and in his heat race, but in the final he was able to work his way into second and push Tomac to the finish.
“I struggle all day but I made it happen in the main event,” said Roczen. “I’m happy with how I rode and I even got close enough to try to pass Eli there at the end. I only lost three points in the standings, which isn’t bad, so I’m confident.”
Rockstar Energy Suzuki’s Jason Anderson capitalized on a great start to finish third, matching his best performance of the year. Had he not failed to make the main in Phoenix, the New Mexico rider would most likely be sitting third in the 250 standings.