San Diego 2 Supercross Race Report 2016

Ryan Dungey and Joey Savatgy leave California with wins at San Diego's second stop during the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.

The sixth round of the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series in San Diego was a night of ‘more of the same’ before the series heads eastward. In the 450 class, Ryan Dungey continued his championship-destined pattern of great starts (or early race sprints) then fast, mistake-free laps. He racked up another win, his fourth so far this season, and in his heat race (when he had to make some passes) he looked like a rider who was able to take any line on the track while continuing to match of surpass the speed of any other rider on the ‘fast line.’ Dungey looks like an athlete who’s been on a slow-build career path from being a top runner to being the racer who has the rest of the field totally covered. Combined with his consistency and precise riding, it appeared General Mills made the right choice putting Ryan on their ‘Breakfast of Champions’ Wheaties box.

Ryan Dungey racing at Petco Park
Ryan Dungey was terrifying to the competition. Fast, smooth, able to take alternate lines in a single bound… All on the slick dirt of San Diego.Photo by Pete Peterson

In the 250 class, is was also a reinforcement of what we’ve seen before. Cooper Webb rides with more energy, aggression, and speed than anyone in the class, but small mistakes cost him the win once again. It seems Webb is viciously aggressive while charging through the pack (as well as in practice where he’s been known share his feelings with riders with a not-to-subtle hand gesture), but when he gets behind the leader, whether that be Christian Craig or, in the case Saturday night, Joey Savatgy, he seems to check up, play it very cautiously, and that can causes a small mistake that ends his charge to the lead.

Last week’s track in Glendale (Phoenix), Arizona was fast, but this week’s track was slower and tighter. Ryan Dungey commented, “The track was very long, but also very tight and slow. And it was very hard to get on the inside of somebody because the race pace was slower than – like Phoenix. Phoenix was easier to make a pass because it was faster, it was more broad, but this weekend not so much. And it was very tight in the back. But long lap times and a long race, too. Cole was behind me and he wasn’t letting off at all, so I really just tried to keep that intensity and keep that [those] laptimes in the low 58s if I could, and just keep driving.” Many riders commented on the slick conditions. Dungey said, “I think this track definitely brought out the worst for all of us on our bikes. I think we all – because your rear tire wasn't driving, you’re more getting spin, so it wasn’t loading the bike like it normally would. That was tricky and I think a lot of us felt that same negative effects on the bike, so we had to make a couple adjustments for a couple practices. And then we did something in the heat, and then in the main we just, ‘All right,’ we felt like we had a direction, they made a change that really helped me out… I was able to hit my lines, apply myself on the track where I wanted to and then I just tried to execute as best as I could just like we do at home. There were a lot of areas [where] you have to be so careful in the front and in the rear because you either lose the front because it was bumpy coming in or you’d lose the rear. It was kinda crazy. You can imagine being in such a slippery base, it’s not pulling the suspension in, so you just kinda get that chatter.”

There was a line that had riders tripling all the way onto the first sand whoop, but in the 450 main event, the lead group all doubled the obstacle on every lap, while riders behind them often tripled. Ryan Dungey explained, “We timed it out in practice and it was like a tenth slower, only because you have to land, and then you have to slow down to get back, where if you double I could keep the roll going through the whole thing. And to me that was just more comfortable. If it was a little faster, I probably… I don’t know if I would have done it, either. I did try it in the heat race and it’s just a hard landing.” When asked if he considered it for a pass attempt if he needed it, he said, “No. No, that would have been a little sketchy. If you’re standing you can’t even see the inside bale where you’re landing next to, it’s kinda blind, too, so it’s a little tricky.”

When asked about the LIT Pro data device Dungey runs on his helmet to get laptimes and rider info, he offered that it’s a cool device and might lead to some interesting rider data to bring the racing closer to the fans. He mentioned giving data including rider heart rate, and when pressed for his heart rate, which he’s been reluctant to share, he danced around the question a bit but did offer some heart rate numbers. “It varies from a tacky track to a slippery track, but we’re anywhere from 165 to probably 185… But everybody’s heart rate it different. Trust me, somebody could be at 200 and I could be at 170 and it doesn't mean that he’s out of shape it’s just, just the way his heart beats and the way his – that’s his engine, that’s how it runs, so all of us are different.” Aside from heart rates he mentioned bike speeds, “I think people would be surprised at how fast we are going into the whoops, through the whoops. I mean, we’re reaching up to 50 to 60 miles an hour on the track and you probably wouldn’t really think, unless we were in Vegas down that start straight, but like, we’re, even this track, coming through here [fast]. I think that would give somebody a little more of a reality, like, ‘Wow, that’s hauling butt.’”

Cole Seely racing at Petco Park
Cole Seely ran a near flawless race and ticked off the laps just outside of striking distance of the lead.Photo by Pete Peterson

Cole Seely matched his season best second place in San Diego. After the race he commented, on following Dungey the entire race, “He doesn’t make many mistakes. I was trying to, you know, you make a little one here and there and I could kinda of gain a tenth on him, but nothing major, and he just, he puts it down every lap, and then at the end I started to close a little bit, but there’s just not enough time so [I’m] still happy with the night. This is where I feel like I deserve to be every weekend, so I’m glad to be back on the podium.” When asked what type of track he prefers, fast like last weekend or tighter like the San Diego track, he said, “I like this type better, for sure. It was actually that really tight section where it was three-two-inside two again, really, really tight, I was getting into first gear right there, and I am kinda known to do that quite a bit when it gets tight, especially when it’s, like muddy. I did it a lot on my 250F so I like when it’s like that, because I don’t like to use the clutch at all when I ride, so I like that style of racing.”

Trey Canard made his return to the series after missing two rounds (and the Anaheim 2 main) after a nasty cut to his hand sidelined him. He ran with the front pack but had to settle for a fifth. On his healing he said, “It was such a weird thing because, you know with a bone it takes a while to feel better and with this, I thought it was a broken bone because the swelling just wouldn’t go down, and it turns out it was just infected and basically was puffed up because of the infection and the cut had a really bad laceration. I don’t know if it was just dirt from the track or what got in it, whatever it was it just wouldn’t go down. [I] got on an antibiotic for Phoenix and was on it for about five days, and didn’t have much relief. A little bit, but not much. Finally Saturday I got on another one and by Sunday it was basically normal. That’s why I decided to race this weekend and it really gave me not fits, so I thought it was the best call.”

Trey Canard racing at Petco Park
Canard was part of an exciting three rider battle that lasted for much of the main event.Photo by Pete Peterson

On his fifth place, he said, “It was a good night. It was not stellar by any means, but I really needed this to build any momentum that I can. It’s hard to dig yourself up again. It’s difficult to keep having setbacks and keep coming back, this is just, I know it wasn’t great, but it was a good night for me.” Canard also said, “It’s honestly just been a difficult season on me mentally and emotionally because there’s been so much that’s gone off the rocker in my career and it’s just difficult to keep anteing up and, you know, and believing that everything’s going to be just fine, so I needed this, to just finish a race and feel good about it.” He also commented that this season, “This is the toughest year I’ve ever raced. Everyone’s there, and always there, and it’s pretty impressive. So hopefully I can just keep building and be up there consistently with those guys.”

In response to the question if his competitors have upped the pace over the few rounds that he missed, Trey answered, “For sure. It’s so nice, after Anaheim 1 you shake the bugs out, you know? I felt like I did that, and then Tuesday I had a really big crash and messed up my groin, so last San Diego it was miserable for me, I was in a lot of pain, and then A2 I had my hand, so [it’s] just tough to keep, like I said earlier, to keep pushing forward. So yeah, definitely those guys are in a rhythm right now and I’ve got to find that rhythm myself.”

Jason Anderson also showed, ‘more of the same’ of what we’ve seen out of him this year; that is a less that great start and an inspired charge through the pack. In San Diego he went into the first turn at the very back of the pack, and he was the one rider who seemed to be able to make passes as he blazed toward the front with his loose style. He made it as far as fourth place, which was especially impressed in the slick conditions that made each pass attempt a risky venture.

Jason Anderson racing at Petco Park
Jason Anderson showed impressive speed but another bad start cost him a chance at the win.Photo by Pete Peterson

Andrew Short, who says he’s racing his final season, started his season in San Diego after missing the first five rounds due to a shoulder injury he got in December. He wound up 14th on the night, and he’s said before that his plan to was to set some season goals after seeing where he was in the pack. Hopefully we’ll see Short moving closer to the front as the season progresses.

Andrew Short racing at Petco Park
Andrew Short was back in action and managed a 14th in the stacked field.Photo by Pete Peterson

In the 250 class, it was Joey Savatgy’s night. He had some challenges early on in the main but went on to a comfortable victory, his second of the year and which also puts him out of a point tie and as the rider leading the series. “I had to work for that one. I think it was Cooper behind me there from the beginning to I had to ride defensive in a way, can’t leave the door open, but also focus on my own laps. So all in all it was survival of the fittest; the track was tough, it was slippery. Natural instinct is to want to give it gas to go faster, but when you’re fighting for traction its one of those deals where you’ve got to take your slow sections with your good sections. My Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki got me off to a good start and my Dunlop tires are hooking up great, so all in all it was a great night.”

Joey Savatgy racing at Petco Park
Joey Savatgy repeated his win and has the speed and composure to win again. He came to San Diego in a tie for the point lead and leaves the event as the sole holder of the 250F red number plate.Photo by Pete Peterson

When asked if the championship now feels like it’s wide open and more easy to win now in contrast to the first few rounds, where it might have looked like it was Cooper Webb’s show, the point leader [[Savatgy]] said, “I wouldn’t say the Cooper Webb show, but it was one of those deals where he strung up his few wins in the beginning and when a guy gets on a roll its hard to stop him. But we were able to do that and it’s been good.”

Cooper Webb racing at Petco Park
Cooper Webb was aggressive and fast but the slick track caught him a few times and small mistakes cost him the win.Photo by Pete Peterson

And the San Diego round, like in the past, was Military Appreciation day. From the crowd reactions it seemed the Marines were the best represented group in the stands, but the opening ceremonies thanked our troops for their sacrifices and their work as well as swore in some new brave men and women. Many of the teams had special gear or bike graphics to honor the military men and women. Most notably Honda had full-graphics to honor the occasion, and Fly and TLD has some stand-out Red, White, and Blue gear.

Opening Ceremonies at San Diego Supercross 2016
There were more heroes on the track that usual. The opening ceremonies featured soldiers and sailors and the crowd got a chance to applaud our troops.Photo by Pete Peterson