What Really Happened: Anaheim 3 Supercross

Ryan Dungey got his first win of the year at A3. Photo by Jeff Kardas.

The fifth round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series was a good one for KTM, and an even better one for Ryan Dungey, who had yet to get his first win of the season. And to this point Dungey had even struggled to make the main event at a couple of the rounds. However, in the end a KTM rider topped both main events with Ken Roczen getting his second straight win in the 250 class while Dungey got his first victory of the year in the 450 division.

Anaheim 3 didn’t start well for Dungey, however. After DNFing his heat race, thanks to a collapsed rear shock (KTM has been experimenting with an air shock on the rear and apparently it lost its charge on the starting line), Dungey was caught up in a first-turn pileup in the LCQ and the Red Bull KTM rider had to come from nearly last to second in six short laps just to qualify. The final two laps were nail-biters as Dungey made up a fairly large deficit in order to catch MotoThump HRT’s Jimmy Albertson and TiLube’s Phil Nicoletti with just two laps to go. However, when Nicoletti bobbled on the final lap Dungey was in.

Meanwhile, a light rain started to fall just as the gate dropped in the 450 main event. And for the second race in a row, the main event was beleaguered by a first lap crash, this week it happened to be the third turn where Two Two Motorsports Honda’s Chad Reed once again was caught up in the fray along with JGRMX Yamaha’s Justin Brayton. Dungey, on the other hand, squeaked through from his outside starting position and was soon into the lead after passing MotoConcepts Suzuki’s Mike Alessi on lap two.

From that point on it was all Dungey. After thwarting a pass attempt by Millsaps early in the race, the Minnesota rider slowly pulled away from the pack on the slickening course to claim a well deserved win, his first of the year.

The Dungey needed this one, for sure, after the rollercoaster season he’s had so far!

“I can’t tell you what a great victory this was,” said Dungey. “The last four races have been a little bit up and down and this is a step in the right direction.

“The LCQ was a squeeze, but we got in. We had a little malfunction with the shock, but we regrouped and went to the springed version and it all worked out. The weeks get tough when you’re not winning and the team looks at you like, ‘what’s the deal.’ But they believe in me and I believe in them and we came through.”

Davi Millsaps pushed Dungey during the first few laps of the main. Photo by Jeff Kardas.

Davi Millsaps continues to get good starts and has consistently been the most consistent rider this year, if I may use that phrase to drive home a point. And if you look at it, Millsaps doesn’t really need to win any more races. Podiums from here on out might well be enough to bring home the title for the Rockstar Energy Supercross rider.

At Anaheim, Millsaps put his Georgia mud-riding skills to good use while navigating the slippery and treacherous course. Throttle control was essential, and Millsaps demonstrated a good feel over the “icy” patches that were starting to form over the course of the evening.

At one point, Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart passed Millsaps for second, but rather than give up, Millsaps stayed within striking distance and reeled Stewart back in when he sensed the former champ was getting tired and then retook the runner-up position when Stewart made a mistake on lap 14.

By taking second, Millsaps continues to hold the red number plate and heads into next week’s race in San Diego with a 14-point lead in the standings over Dungey.

“I just rode as hard as I could,” said Millsaps. “I made a couple of mistakes and let Dungey get away from me, but I’m happy with the finish. The track was one of the slickest we’ve had all year and the little bit of rain we had didn’t help.”

Justin Barcia passed James Stewart in the final few laps to secure third. Photo by Jeff Kardas.

Justin Barcia wasn’t the flashy rider he was while winning round two in Phoenix. The Muscle Milk Honda rider has probably learned a few things during the last two weeks, which have been rather rough for him.

Barcia just barely slipped past the third turn crash at the start of the race and then played it cool during the first few laps, letting things sort out before starting to make his move. The New York rider picked off teammate Trey Canard on lap two and then set his sights on Stewart, shadowing the Suzuki rider until making his move when Stewart bobbled with three laps to go to steal away the final podium spot.

“I’m real happy with this finish,” said Barcia. “The last few weeks have been tough, DNF’s are never fun, so we got out there and mixed it up and got on the podium.”

James Stewart finally had a clean race and wound up fourth. Photo by Jeff Kardas

After setting fastest qualifying time in practice, James Stewart was finally able to put in a full race. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider got off to a decent start and managed to miss the Reed/Brayton crash in the third turn and even looked like he might be able to make up ground on Dungey after passing Millsaps for second on lap seven. However, Millsaps kept the pressure on and rather than focus on catching Dungey, Stewart was forced to deal with Millsaps. Due to his knee injury, Stewart has been limited in the amount of training he’s been able to put in, and most likely he was feeling it at the end of the 20-lap main event. The fourth place finish is definitely a start for Stewart, and it’s likely he can take momentum from this into next week’s race in San Diego.

It was another rough night for Ryan Villopoto. Photo by Jeff Kardas

The starts have been crucial this year, and Ryan Villopoto got bad starts in both his heat race and in the main, although in his heat, Jimmy Albertson was right beside Villopoto furiously trying to kickstart his bike, which had to be a major distraction. Nonetheless, Villopoto’s start in the main left him behind the third turn pileup, which slowed him considerably. Then a crash later in the race dropped the defending champ back outside the top 15. For sure, the A3 course was not a good one to pass on and the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider could do no better than eighth in the final results. Still, the defending champ is just 17 points behind Millsaps in the series standings, and with 12 rounds remaining there’s still lots of racing left.

Ken Roczen looked relaxed and confident en route to his second 250 win of the year. Photo by Jeff Kardas

It’s amazing the difference that a race win can make. Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen came into A3 with so much more confidence after winning last week in Oakland and it showed in his performance this week in Anaheim. After easily winning his heat, Roczen quickly dispensed of JDR/JStar KTM’s Joey Savatgy on the opening lap of the 250 main event and then led every lap of the 15-lap final – keeping an eye on Martin Davalos the entire time – en route to an impressive win. It was the second win in a row for Roczen and it extended his lead in the 250 standings to 20 points over defending champ Eli Tomac.

Martin Davalos was second at A3. Photo by Jeff Kardas

Martin Davalos continues to look impressive and after winning his heat race, the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider turned in an impressive ride to second in the main, keeping Roczen in check the entire distance.

The window is starting to close on Eli Tomac’s chances of repeating his 250 championship. Photo by Jeff Kardas

After dominating the first three rounds, Eli Tomac’s window of opportunity seems to be closing on his hopes of defending his 250 West Coast title. The GEICO Honda rider’s DNF last week in Oakland certainly put a whammy on his chances and he needed to get a win over Roczen at A3 to help stop the bleeding. However, a less than stellar start in the main left the Colorado rider in eighth at the end of the first lap and from there he was only able to move up to third by lap eight. But by the time Tomac made it up to third, Roczen and Davalos had too much of a lead for Tomac to make a dent and the Honda rider was forced to settle for the final step of the podium. With just three more rounds left, Tomac is a full 20 points down to Roczen.

A3 Supercross Results

450 Class

1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)

2. Davi Millsaps (Suz)

3. Justin Barcia (Hon)

4. James Stewart (Suz)

5. Chad Reed (Hon)

6. Andrew Short (Hon)

7. Trey Canard (Hon)

8. Ryan Villopoto (Kaw)

9. Broc Tickle (Suz)

10. Justin Brayton (Yam)

250 Class

1. Ken Roczen (KTM)

2. Martin Davalos (Kaw)

3. Eli Tomac (Hon)

4. Kyle Cunningham (Yam)

5. Jason Anderson (Suz)

6. Travis Baker (Yam)

7. Joey Savatgy (KTM)

8. Austin Politelli (Hon)

9. Max Anstie (Suz)

10. Zach Osborne (Hon)