Oakland Supercross Race Report 2016

Ryan Dungey makes it three in a row at Oakland Supercross 2016, find out What Really Happened race report.

The rest of the field has to be wondering how they’re going to stop Ryan Dungey from running away with the 2016 Supercross championship after the Red Bull KTM rider grabbed his third-straight victory this weekend in Oakland, California’s O.co Coliseum. Dungey made it look effortless while riding to the 25th main event win of his career.

At this point in the series, it’s clear that Dungey’s alliance with trainer Aldon Baker is paying off big time, and he and his team certainly did their homework during the offseason when it comes to getting the bike dialed in. Getting good starts and into the lead early is paying off in a big way for Dungey as well (Dungey won the holeshot in Oakland), and it makes him that much more dangerous, where last year he was routinely having to work his way to the front.

Dungey wins Oakland Supercross
Ryan Dungey just keeps pouring on the heat. The Red Bull KTM rider claimed his third win in a row and extended his lead to 22 points in the standings.Photo by Rich Shepherd

Meanwhile, riders who were picked during the pre-season to challenge for the title, like RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's/Suzuki Factory Racing's Ken Roczen and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac, still have some work to do to get up to Dungey’s current level, although Roczen look much improved in Oakland versus the first three rounds.

Roczen was in position to give Dungey a good battle early on, and moved into second place on lap five of the race, passing Dungey’s teammate Marvin Musquin to do so. However, Dungey rode a near perfect race and slowly inched away from Roczen, turning a 2.5-second lead at the midway point in the race into a 4.5-second gap by lap 13.

Roczen at Oakland Supercross
Ken Roczen grabbed his second straight podium of the season with a runner-up finish.Photo by Rich Shepherd

Dungey now owns a 22-point lead in the series standings over round-one winner Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson, and another win will give him the equivalent of a full race lead.

The 450SX class continues to be incredibly stacked, with some of the most intense racing of the year found in the Oakland heat races. The big surprise in the first heat was Mike Alessi charging out to his usual fantastic start, but then challenging for the lead, even passing James Stewart at one point before settling back to 6th. What is it about Alessi that has him able to run the pace of the top guys, and then often falling back later in the race? In our opinion, it's not a fitness issue—Mike is a known hard trainer—but more of a speed/pacing thing. Alessi clearly gives it 100% straight out of the gate. The problem, it would seem, is that he has nothing left to give, whereas many of his competitors are able to find just a hair more speed than Mike later in the race. Now, we're in no way saying that Mike is slow—not at all—but it may be that his 100% speed is congruent with everyone else's 98% speed, and he's just unable to find another internal gear at times when those he's racing against are upshifting to their full speeds. Either way, Alessi looked great in Oakland, even if he didn't bag a top five in the heat.

Once again, Jason Anderson had to qualify for the main event out of the semis. This just goes to show the high level that all of the 450 racers are one, and it must be frustrating for Anderson—who has won a main this season—to have to settle for a non-heat-qualified gate pick. One rider who finally qualified directly (for the first time this season) was KTM's Marvin Musquin, who was flat-out riding great in Oakland. Musquin looked much smoother and more comfortable than before, but it was his great starts, which put him in the right position all night long. A podium for Marvin, a 450-class rookie this season, is an outstanding accomplishment, and we're sure that it'll fill his head with even more confidence for the remainder of the championship.

Musquin at Oakland Supercross
Marvin Musquin turned in his best 450-class performance to date with a third.Photo by Rich Shepherd

“We didn’t expect for me to be on the podium already at the fourth round of the series,” said Musquin after the race. “I am so excited to be up here and have the whole team to thank for this. I train with Ryan all week and it is great to be able to be up here with him.”

As for Anderson, he just needs to get better starts.

“If I could just get a good start I could be battling for a spot on the box,” said Anderson. “I had a little bit of a sketchy moment with Reed on the double triple double. I thought he was going to go triple and I clipped his back tire and almost looped it. All in all I came out fourth so it’s not a bad deal. I’m just going to keep moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Roczen and team are making progress with each race, and the Suzuki rider was the second-fastest rider on the track when it came to lap times, turning a 53.508-second best lap compared to Dungey’s best 53.229. If you remember, Oakland was the site of Roczen’s nasty crash last year, which start a downward spiral for the German rider, but that didn’t seem to faze him.

Like Anderson, Chad Reed also worked through the pack, going from seventh on lap one to an eventual fifth-place finish. The Monster Energy 360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha Factory Racing-backed rider looked great in the whoops, as usual, but just had too much ground to make up on the leaders, plus his best lap was over a full second off of Dungey’s best time.

Tomac and Stewart battle at Oakland Supercross
Eli Tomac and James Stewart battle in the 450 main. Tomac finished a disappointing seventh while Stewart pulled out on lap nine and headed back to the pits.Photo by Rich Shepherd

It was a huge bummer to see James Stewart pull off in the main event. Clearly, JS7 is still reeling from the effects of a crash at Anaheim One, and we're not going to criticize his decision one bit—it's better for James to pull of and race next weekend than to ride until he crashes and miss another three rounds. One thing that a lot of people don't realize is that Supercross is a completely anaerobic sport; the top racers have compared competing in a main event to trying to swim underwater without coming up for a breath. If Stewart is still battling a head injury, it probably is legitimately affected by his heart rate going vertical. We hope that James is able to get this under control and return to racing full speed, because love him or hate him, Stewart makes the championship more exciting.

Cooper Webb stalled at Oakland Supercross
Cooper Webb looks for the reason his bike stalled out in the main event.Photo by Rich Shepherd

In the West Regional 250SX class, it's hard to find a chink in Cooper Webb's armor, as the speedy Yamaha rider is clearly the fastest guy on the track. Webb does a great job of walking the line between being clean and assertive; that is, he rides about as aggressively as you can without being dirty. One thing that is clearly working to Webb's benefit (that we mentioned last week) is that he's seemingly able to out-corner any other bike on the track. Look closely at Webb's rear tire during a race and you'll see that he's on the throttle a hair earlier than everyone else in EVERY corner. That adds up over 15 laps! However, one area where Webb is admittedly bad is in his starts; Cooper is an expert at working his way through the pack because he HAS to be. We saw a better start out of him in Oakland in the main than we have previously, but recurring holeshots seem to still be out of the defending champion's grasp.

Joey Savatgy claimed an impressive win – his first – after Webb dropped out of the race, even though he was riding that last few laps of the race with a bent gear shifter. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider hit a tuff block during the main event and bent the shifter back into his footpeg, forcing him to ride the remainder of the race in first gear. Savatgy managed to hold on to claim Mitch Payton’s first win since Las Vegas in 2014.

Savatgy at Oakland Supercross
Joey Savatgy pushed Cooper Webb in the 250 final.Photo by Rich Shepherd

Christian Craig is oh so close to nabbing that first main event win in the 250 class. The GEICO Honda rider has been getting great starts and he grabbed the holeshot in Oakland, only to throw it away when he lost the front end of lap four of the main event. You have to pull for a guy in his situation, coming back after going into a retirement of sorts and then really putting his all back into his racing. If Christian can get out front again and catch Webb with a bad start, then it’ll be cool to see if he can out run the flying Yamaha rider to the finish.

Colt Nichols gave CycleTrader.com Rock River Yamaha their best ever Supercross result with a runner-up finish in Oakland. The Oklahoman has been steadily improving with each race and was sitting in a solid podium spot when Webb dropped out.

Nichols makes Oakland Supercross podium 2016
Colt Nichols was a surprise second in the 250 class.Photo by Rich Shepherd

NOTES & QUOTES

Vapor lock dilemma?: We all saw the smoke come out of Webb's FMF 4.1 as he feverishly kicked his YZ250F. What people didn't see on the TV broadcast was that Webb took his gas cap off, messed around with his vent hose and starting kicking again. Eventually the Yamaha came to life and Webb finished the race, but lost his points lead. A pinched vent hose could lead to what we all witnessed Saturday night. With Yamaha's routing of the vent hose going through the air box and then down onto the gas cap, it could have led to a pinch in the line. However, some of the Star Racing guys are claiming it was electrical and not a fuel related issue. I guess we will research more on this later in the week.

Main Event Whoops: Oakland didn't bring with it the big Anaheim two whoops that we saw last weekend. Instead we saw smaller whoops that got beat down over the course of the night and lead to most guys jumping through them. There was a main line down the middle (of both sets of whoops) that almost looked like a cheater line when watching the 450 Main Event. This led to a very difficult track to pass on as most riders were going in the same line and close to the same speed. If you tried to make a pass while skimming the whoops, the rider in front of you would just get in the beat down, smoother line, and gain a couple bike lengths. Kudos goes out to Dirt Wurx for getting the track in good enough shape by the time the night show began. In the day qualifiers the track was pretty chewed up and super soft, but by the time Heat one of the 250 class took off it was primo.

Dungey The Dominator: Ryan Dungey has officially proven that he's not just here to podium his way to a championship in 2016; Dungey wants to win. The KTM-mounted racer looked fast, decisive, smart, smooth, and fit throughout the night in Oakland—he has all of the keys to being the champion that he is. But if we had to criticize Dungey for anything, it's that his interviews have become so wooden, it's almost as if he's an animatronic robot from a Disney attraction or a Chuck-E-Cheese classic rock band. Seriously, would it kill the guy to open up a bit to his fans? Dungey appears to be having fun, but he could stand to loosen up a little post-race when the cameras are on him.

The Main Card: Once again, the Vince Friese/Weston Peick rivalry heated up in Oakland when Peick cleaned out Friese in the second heat. The Smartop/Moto Concepts Racing-backed Friese got a tremendous start, lending credibility to the notion that the team has their bikes very dialed in (as also evidenced in Alessi's repeated near-holeshots). Watching Friese and Peick come together appeared to be nothing more than a racing incident, although we'd be willing to bet that if Peick was passing another rider instead—say, Phil Nicoletti—the guy on the outside wouldn't have gone down. We're not saying that Peick's move was intentional, but it probably wasn't unintentional! If you ask us, Friese has developed such a reputation for riding dirty over the years that he's lost his license to complain when he gets taken out. And complain he didn't; Friese displayed a very mature attitude in his post-heat interview, stating simply that he hoped the AMA would intervene on his behalf if they felt that things got too dirty. Any way you slice it, there's a good chance that the sparks between these two are not done flying.

Privateer Props: Props go out to Dirt Rider test rider Adam Enticknap, who made his first main event of the season in Oakland after an epic battle with Tommy Hahn in the LCQ. Enticknap is a hard-working privateer who certainly deserves to be in the big show. He didn't make any headlines in the main, but the fact that he qualified shows that he's doing his homework during the week. Nicely done, 722!

No Go For Canard: HRC Honda's Trey Canard pulled out of the evening program when the hand he injured at Anaheim II started to swell.

RESULTS

450SX Class

  1. Ryan Dungey (KTM)
  2. Ken Roczen (Suz)
  3. Marvin Musquin (KTM)
  4. Jason Anderson (Hus)
  5. Chad Reed (Yam)
  6. Cole Seely (Hon)
  7. Eli Tomac (Kaw)
  8. Jacob Weimer (Suz)
  9. Justin Brayton (KTM)
  10. Wil Hahn (Kaw)

Western Regional 250SX Class

  1. Joey Savatgy (Kaw)
  2. Colt Nichols (Yam)
  3. Christian Craig (Hon)
  4. Mitchell Oldenburg (KTM)
  5. Zach Osborne (Hus)
  6. Kyle Peters (Hon)
  7. Michael Leib (Yam)
  8. Kyle Cunningham (Suz)
  9. Jimmy DeCotis (Hon)
  10. Cole Thompson (KTM)