Anaheim 2 Supercross Race Report 2016

A look at what really happened at this weekend’s round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in Anaheim, California.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series is three races into its schedule and so far two riders have emerged as front-runners in their respective classes: Ryan Dungey in the 450 class, and Cooper Webb in the West Regional 250SX division.

After working his way through the pack to finish an impressive second at Anaheim 1, Dungey has been near perfect in winning the last two races in San Diego and this weekend back at Anaheim, beating Monster Energy 360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha Factory Racing's Chad Reed on both occasions. The Red Bull KTM rider appears to be more aggressive than ever before, and he’s obviously extremely comfortable on the new Factory Edition.

Meanwhile, Cooper Webb has proven you don’t need to get a good start to win a Supercross at the Pro level, as the Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha rider has had to work his way through the pack en route to all three of his wins.

Ryan Dungey & Ken Roczen
Ryan Dungey moved into the lead on lap three and pulled away for his second win of the season. Here he passes Ken Roczen in the heat race.Photo By Shan Moore

In the 450 main event, Dungey passed BTO Sports/WPS/KTM's Davi Millsaps on lap three of the 20-lapper, and steadily pulled away as Reed did his best late in the race to hold off a twosome consisting of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing's Ken Roczen.

In the end, Dungey took the win by nearly three seconds over Reed. Afterwards, the Minnesota native admitted that he picked up some pointers during the two laps he trailed Millsaps.

“Millsaps has always been very good in the whoops,” said Dungey. “I think that’s been one of his strongpoints on a Supercross track. He’s a good rider all the way around. These whoops were no joke. They were very tough. They were hard to get through. You’re hanging your wheel on them and it was taking away your momentum every time you hit a whoop. By the time you got to the end it slowed down. So it was kind of maybe a little comforting to know that compared to a guy who’s really good in the whoops, we’re not so bad. So I tried to just maintain that. By the time I got in the lead I tried to keep the roll in the turns and tightened up some lines. If you kept on the outside it got really harsh and choppy so I tried to stay a little bit tight and got a little bit better grip even too. The track had a lot of moisture in it, surprisingly.”

Chad Reed leads Eli Tomac

Chad Reed

Chad Reed finished second for the second-straight week.Photo By Shan Moore

Reed normally excels in the whoops, and it was a place where he definitely had the advantage over Tomac.

“I didn’t feel awesome but the whoops kept me in it, and I like that,” said Reed. “They were tough. I made a couple of little bobbles in them but I was pretty solid. I like them. I’m surprised that they didn’t cut them down. A lot of people were struggling, a lot of crashes. They were a little sharp and pointy for me. I like them kind of bigger, rounder. But you can’t be picky; it is what it is. They were more challenging than years past so it’s a good step forward.”

Ken Roczen on his way to a podium finish

Ken Roczen

Ken Roczen claimed his first podium of the season with a third.Photo By Shan Moore

Roczen worked his way up from a poor start to take advantage of a last lap mistake by Tomac to claim the final podium spot, and the Suzuki rider look much more solid than he did in the first two rounds.

“Obviously, the good thing is we’re making steps forward,” said Roczen. “I didn’t practice a lot of starts. Actually I feel pretty comfortable with my starts. Obviously it didn’t happen tonight but we’re going to keep working on that for sure because I think that’s just what’s holding me back from being at the very top. The second half of the race I feel like I put in a strong ride. I made a little mistake with about a lap to go. I think otherwise I could have brought the heat a little bit on Chad. It’s hard coming from the back. Bottom line, the track is tough out there. The whoops were something else today, so you really had to keep your focus. But we need difficult tracks. We’re going to come back and we’re going to keep trying, that’s for sure.”

Eli Tomac takes another third

Eli Tomac

Eli Tomac finished fourth place for the third time in three races.Photo By Shan Moore

Tomac finished fourth for the third consecutive week. Like Roczen, the Coloradoan got off to a bad start and was sitting 10th at the end of lap one, but moved into third by lap seven. A last lap slipup allowed Roczen to go by and forced the Kawi rider to settle for fourth.

“We improved tremendously tonight and were fighting for second,” said Tomac. “Unfortunately, I made a small mistake on the last lap, but I know I have the speed to win, I just need to stay focused.”

Davi Millsaps took the holeshot in the main

Davi Millsaps

Davi Millsaps grabbed the holeshot in the main event and led the first two laps of the race.Shan Moore

Jason Anderson, who won the opener in Angel Stadium just two weeks ago, had to qualify for the main via a semi race. In the main, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider got away in mid pack at the start, but close in on the top five by the halfway point. He eventually made the pass for fifth with nine laps to go and held that spot to the finish.

“I got fifth, which is nothing to be bummed about,” said Anderson. “It’s not the greatest, but it’s not the worst. I still pulled through, and now need to focus on coming back next week and getting on the podium again. There seemed to be a lot of lappers out there, and I think it’s because there’s a lot of guys that are currently out, so a majority of riders who usually don’t make the mains are sneaking in and it seems to be causing a lot of traffic.”

250 SX

Cooper Webb absolutely will not be denied! The North Carolina rider once again came from outside the top five at the start of the race to take over the lead before the finish, doing so on lap nine, although GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig put up a big fight and actually passed Webb back for the lead on the next lap. After a stop-and-go lap filled with block passes and block attempts, Webb finally took over the lead and pulled away for good to claim win number three, despite not being a big fan of the track.

“We rubbed a few times, but I was just making sure I wasn’t going to rush the issue,” said Webb. “I knew he wanted to win but I knew I was going a little faster. I wanted to get by him because I knew Zach (Osborne) was right there too. So if we held each other up too much we had to worry about him. So I made the pass and just tried to get away.”

Cooper Webb continued his winning ways

Cooper Webb

Cooper Webb pushed through several re-passes from Christian Craig to take the lead en route to the win in the 250SX class.Shan Moore

Osborne had a front row seat for the Webb/Craig battle and once Webb got around Craig, Osborne was able to do the same two laps later, leaving Craig to settle for third overall.

“I kind of held back a little bit because they were going hammering on each other in every corner,” said Osborne. “I felt like they were going to clean each other out so I didn’t want to be too close, but at the same time now looking back maybe I should have just hammered up in there and got a piece of it. It is what it is though now, but second’s okay.”

Zach Osborne took a well-deserved second

Zach Osborne

Zach Osborne made a pass late in the race on Christian Craig to grab the runner-up slot.Shan Moore

Craig’s podium was a career first.

“Racing for four years, not winning a heat race, not winning a main, getting hurt all the time… it was a bumpy road, but four years later I’m on the podium,” said Craig. “It’s definitely not a road that people want to take. They want to do it right away when they’re young, but I’m showing that a 24 year old can do it.”

Christian Craig on his way to his first podium

Christian Craig

Christian Craig claimed his first-ever podium in Anaheim.Shan Moore

NOTES & QUOTES

• Whether you were watching the race trackside or on television, you didn't have to listen too closely to hear how beefy the GEICO Honda CRF250R machines are. The stock Honda isn't the fastest bike in the 250 thumper class, but these modified monsters are clearly far from stock—and, from what we can tell, they are some of the most powerful machines in the competitive 250SX class, which is all about motor. This was evidenced in the great starts by team racers Christian Craig and Jimmy Decotis, who were both on fire all night. Cooper Webb's Yamaha YZ250F appears to be the best turning 250 on the track, but the Honda boys seemed to have something for him in the horsepower department. Kudos to the GEICO Honda engine builders for obviously getting the most out of the red race bikes.

• Just watching Zach Osborne race, you can tell that the man hates to lose. He shows incredibly speed and aggression, but there's something about Zach's riding that seems to change when he gets passed or gets a bad start—it's almost an impatience, or a hint of fluster. When his heat race was red flagged, Osborne looked visibly disturbed after the restart, but he recovered well and put in a strong charge. We're still hoping that this kid gets a couple of wins before the end of the season.

• Poor Trey Canard; the Oklahoman has such bad luck. First, a thumper of a crash in practice started Trey's day off with an unfortunate bang. Then, Canard got clipped/landed on in the heat race and tore open his hand, but put in an inspiring ride in the semi to qualify for the main. However, Trey's bad luck didn't end in the main, where he got booted off the track and decided to call it a night. Trey is working really hard to shake off the idea that he has terrible luck or is accident prone, and we can honestly say that much of the stuff that happens to him isn't his fault. We're not sure what Canard will be doing this week to shake off such a dismal race, but we sincerely hope that he is able to find his poise and stay on two wheels for the remainder of the season.

• There were a lot of brothers racing at Anaheim, as evidenced in the second 450cc heat race—Jeff and Mike Alessi went 13-10, while Colorado's Travis and Todd Bannister ended up 15-19. Additionally, Wil and Tommy Hahn both ended up in the main event. Whoever said that motocross isn't a family sport has clearly never watched Supercross!

• The 450cc heat races provided some incredible racing, with the top three in each race being particularly close. Heat one saw Davi Milsaps leading Chad Reed and Cole Seely with only seconds separating the three for much of the race, while the second heat gave the fans a glimpse of the Ryan Dungey-Ken Roczen-Eli Tomac train. There's no denying that this class is absolutely stacked this year; so much of the results depend on how a racer starts that we're continually seeing fast guys not qualify out of the heat purely because the field is so deep. When Jason Anderson, who already has a main event win to his credit, has to go to the semi, you know that it's a stacked field!

• Props to Dirt Rider test rider Adam Enticknap, who rode awesome in his heat race and even better in his semi. Unfortunately, Seven-Deuce-Deuce was unable to put together the ride that he needed in the LCQ to transfer to the main, but we're expecting more great rides out of the likable rapper in the near future.

• While talking about the race, Reed admitted that he didn’t enjoy it as much as other races. “Truthfully the race wasn’t that fun at all,” said Reed. “I couldn’t get a good rhythm. I felt like I made little mistakes. I struggled… The turns, they weren’t 180, they weren’t 90. The angle and however they were built, I really struggled on them. There was a lot of traction but the traction that was there wasn’t giving me the feedback that I needed. So it was an interesting track. A track that I liked but it was really hard for me to be comfortable and feel that I could push. One lap I would get a good line and think, okay, that’s it, and then the next lap I couldn’t do it again. So a little inconsistent today and that’s part of it. To have a day like that and still be second, I am happy for that.”

• Reed’s biggest issue was with the whoops. “They were nasty. Really pointy. Bike wanted to move around so you had to be inch perfect. More than anything I was just trying to get in. Just send her in and get the RPMs real low and not let the bike kind of move around. Any time that I got in not as good as I needed to you open the throttle to try to move and then that’s when it starts spinning up and it wants to go side to side. So I knew what I needed to do but for the most part I think I executed but wasn’t perfect.”

• Dungey is for sure more aggressive now that he’s been working with Aldon Baker, and the KTM rider admitted as much. “Early in my career, I realized working with Aldon that you’ve got to practice like you race, or race like you practice,” said Dungey. “I really feel like working on those areas, and with Aldon I think its a little bit of a different mental switch up, maybe a different mental approach, and a different physical preparation as well coming in. So I feel like now during the week I do that, well it’s not such a shock when I get to the race day. It’s not easy. It’s difficult, but a good start and clean laps and an open track in front of you is always key.”

• The battle between Cooper Webb and Christian Craig in the 250SX final was perhaps the best racing of the night. Webb elaborated. “I felt like it was clean,” said Webb. “There was nobody on the ground which is good. I love battles like that. I think all the fans love it. It’s awesome for us but at the same time it gets to a point where you got to decide what you’re going to do because you don’t want the guys behind you to catch you and pass you. But it worked out. It was a fun race.”

RESULTS

450SX

  1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

  2. Chad Reed (Yam)

  3. Ken Roczen (Suz)

  4. Eli Tomac (Kaw)

  5. Jason Anderson (Hsq)

  6. Cole Seely (Hon)

  7. Davi Millsaps (KTM)

  8. Justin Brayton (KTM)

  9. Marvin Musquin (KTM)

  10. Jake Weimer (Kaw)

250SX

  1. Cooper Webb (Yam)

  2. Zach Osborne (Hsq)

  3. Christian Craig (Hon)

  4. Joey Savatgy (Kaw)

  5. Jimmy DeCotis (Hon)

  6. Jordon Smith (Hon)

  7. Kyle Cunningham (Suz)

  8. Colt Nichols (Yam)

  9. Mitchell Oldenburg (KTM)

  10. Kyle Peters (Hon)