Santa Clara Supercross Race Report 2016

What Really Happened in Santa Clara

After a one weekend break for the 450 class, and a full five weekends off for the 250F West riders, you might think something would be different at the final California supercross of 2016, but you would be wrong. It was business as usual, with Ryan Dungey showing championship-bound speed and smarts in the 450 class and Cooper Webb continuing his pattern of poor starts but having the speed and aggressive passing to come though the pack to win his class.

Ryan Dungey leads Ken Roczen
Ryan Dungey grabbed the lead early and never gave it up.Rich Shepherd

The Santa Clara track was marked with fast lap times (down into the 43 second range, a short start straight, high-speed whoops (two sections of them, a short and a very long one), and what many riders described as a less technical track that other tracks so far the season. It was a track where consistent riding paid off since there were few areas to really make up time, so minimizing mistakes and not dropping time were they key areas of rider focus for the top finishers.

Cooper Webb is an aggressive passer
Cooper Webb continued his streak of poor starts. Fortunately he also continued his pattern of quick passes and winning!Rich Shepherd

250 West Coast

In the 250 class, in heat one, Monster Energy Pro Circuit’s Joey Savatgy took the win ahead of GEICO Honda’s Christian Crag and GEICO Honda’s Jimmy DeCotis. Yamalube Star Racing’s Cooper Webb was the day’s fastest qualifier. In his heat race he got an especially bad start and had to work his way up quickly. He managed to reach third place, behind Yamalube/Star Racing teammate Alex Martin and heat race winner, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Obsorne.

When it came time for the main, there was a lot at stake. With only two races remaining in the 250 West Coast title chase, Joey Savatgy needed to cut down the 11 points Cooper Webb had on him – this is after leading until the previous round where a crash in the whoops after contact with Christian Craig had him ending his night in Dallas with a tenth place finish. Christian Craig needed to reel in Webb a full 16 points. Webb, on the other hand, later admitted he may have spent too much time preparing for the outdoors rather than keeping his Supercross skills sharp during the West Coast season’s long break.

Zach lead most of the main event
Zach Osborne came close to winning in Santa Clara, but Webb caught him with about four laps to go. Osborne finished second.Rich Shepherd

When the riders funneled through the first turn of the main event, all three title contenders were back in the pack. Unfortunately for the chasers, Webb led both Savatgy and Craig. After two laps when the the pack thinned out, Webb was in sixth, Savatgy in eighth, and Craig in tenth. At first, Webb seemed unlike his usually aggressive self. He usually wastes no time and spares no friendships when passing riders ahead of him, but he seemed like a mellow Webb, almost like his competitors could pass him. Savatgy got close, but Webb clicked into high gear mentally and started slicing through the pack. Savatgy matched Webb pass for pass as they came through together, but by lap 9 Webb had a gap on the Kawasaki rider and set his sights on the leading Husqvarna of Oborne. Webb quickly closed the distance and passed Osbourne almost the instant he reached him, and then pulled away for the win. Osborne watched his chance at a first supercross win pull away, but kept the pace and finished in second. Savatgy reached third by the end, with Craig winding up in fourth.

Ken Roczen was fast in the main event
Ken Roczen challenged Ryan Dungey early but couldn't make a pass or keep within striking distance for the full 20 laps.Rich Shepherd

450 Class

In the 450 class, RCH Soaring Eagle Suzuki’s Ken Roczen won heat 1 with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson and Monster Energy /360fly /Chaparral /Yamaha Factory Racing’s Chad Reed rounding out that podium. In heat 2, Red Bull KTM’s Dungey took the victory with Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart behind, with Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin behind him. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac’s the day’s fastest qualifier, finished 6th and would head to a semi. In Semi 1 Tomac had the lead but Honda HRC’s Trey Canard passed him dramatically by catching him, riding alongside for a few sections, then making the pass and pulling away. Josh Grant, on his first ride this year as a member of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, took the win in semi 2 ahead of BTO Sport /KTM / WPS’s Justin Brayton and Yoshimura Suzui’s Blake Baggett.

Jason Anderson, as usual, was fast.
Jason Anderson got a good start in Santa Clara, but a tangle with Justin Brayton slowed him. Anderson stayed up and finished the main in third.Rich Shepherd

The first corner of the main event was an exciting one. Jason Anderson napped the holeshot but Justin Brayton aggressively crossed over from the outside in a bid for the lead. The two riders came together and it really didin’t work out for Brayton as he went down. Dungey looked to jump right into the lead but GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle actually got ahead. Roczen sat in third with Anderson in fourth after staying up, though slowing down, in the tangle with Brayton.

Dungey gave Bogle a nudge in a corner and grabbed the lead, but it wasn’t an easy race since Rozcen was past Bogle quickly and make a charge on Dungey. It looked like Rozcen was closing quickly and had the speed to make a pass, but Dungey held strong and pulled out a half second gap, then stretched it out from there and slowly motored away from Roczen. By lap 16 Ryan had a two and a half second lead on the Suzuki rider.

Meanwhile James Stewart was back in 7th and looking faster than he’s looked since his problems started at the beginning of the year. Then he ran into bike problems, which had the bike cutting out. Stewart pulled out of the race and later explained the issues as an electrical problem with the bike. It was a terrible results for James (22nd), but a showing of speed, so we may have some exciting races and maybe a win before the season is over.

After twelve rounds, Dungey leads the points by 42 over Ken Roczen, and by 58 over Jason Anderson. You can never say a championship is on cruise control, but Dungey shows no weakness in his racing and is on track to wrap up the season a race, possibly two races, early.

Santa Clara Notes & Quotes

  • The next race for the 250F West racers will be in Las Vegas, where their final will combine racers from the 250 East class for a points-paying, combined race. It could just be enough to give the West coast championship chasers a good chance at making up their point deficits (16 points for Savatgy, 23 points for Craig).

  • The Yoshimura Suzuki racers, James Stewart and Blake Baggett, were running coil spring forks for the first time this season.

  • Cooper Webb is exciting to watch since his starts force him to cut through the pack. He's an aggressive passer and in the races he's won this season he was never leading until the final third of the race.

  • Eli Tomac was the fastest qualifier but not the fastest racer. He was 16th at the start of the main and finished seventh.

  • Justin Barcia was back after taking most of this season to let a thumb injury heal. He was off the lead pace and finished a disappointing 16th.

  • Chad Reed's bike featured a hydraulic clutch for the first time this season. Chad said it was to improve clutch feel on the start.

  • Cole Seely missed this round and will miss at least one more. In a practice crash a few days before the race he chipped his C7 vertebrae. He'll be out for two to four weeks to let that heal.

250 podium
Riders, left to right: Zach Osborne, Cooper Webb, Joey SavatgyRich Shepherd

250F West Main Event, Santa Clara, Final Results

  1. 1 Cooper Webb Newport, NC Yamaha YZ250F
  2. 16 Zach Osborne LAKE ELSINORE, CA Husqvarna FC250
  3. 37 Joey Savatgy Thomasville, GA Kawasaki KX 250F
  4. 38 Christian Craig Corona, CA Honda CRF 250
  5. 42 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX KTM 250 SX-F
  6. 69 Colt Nichols Muskogee, OK Yamaha YZ250F
  7. 39 Jordon Smith Belmont, NC Honda CRF 250
  8. 40 Kyle Peters Greensboro, NC Honda CRF 250
  9. 26 Alex Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ250F
  10. 85 Michael Leib Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ250F
  11. 58 James Decotis Peabody, MA Honda CRF 250
  12. 45 Kyle Cunningham Willow Park, TX Suzuki RM-Z250
  13. 96 Noah Mcconahy Spokane, WA Husqvarna FC250
  14. 35 Chris Alldredge Powell Butte, OR Kawasaki KX 250F
  15. 76 Scott Champion Wildomar, CA Yamaha YZ250F
  16. 222 Chris Howell Spokane Valley, WA Husqvarna FC250
  17. 92 Ryan Breece Athol, ID Yamaha YZ250F
  18. 289 Mitchell Harrison Murrieta, CA Yamaha YZ250F
  19. 43 Fredrik Noren Menifee, CA Honda CRF 250
  20. 138 Blake Lilly Wildomar, CA KTM 250 SX-F
  21. 68 Cole Martinez Rimrock, AZ Yamaha YZ250F
  22. 72 Hayden Mellross Clermont, FL Yamaha YZ250F
450 podium Santa Clara
Rider, left to right: Jason Anderson, Ryan Dungey, Ken RoczenRich Shepherd

450 Main Event, Santa Clara, Final Results

  1. 1 Ryan Dungey Clermont, FL KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  2. 94 Ken Roczen Clermont, FL Suzuki RM-Z450
  3. 21 Jason Anderson Rio Rancho, NM Husqvarna FC450
  4. 22 Chad Reed Dade City, FL Yamaha YZ450F
  5. 41 Trey Canard Edmond, OK Honda CRF 450
  6. 19 Justin Bogle Cushing, OK Honda CRF 450
  7. 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450F
  8. 28 Weston Peick Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ450F
  9. 12 Jacob Weimer Wildomar, CA Suzuki RM-Z450
  10. 4 Blake Baggett Grand Terrace, CA Suzuki RM-Z450
  11. 800 Mike Alessi Hilliard, FL Honda CRF 450
  12. 33 Joshua Grant Wildomar, CA Kawasaki KX 450F
  13. 10 Justin Brayton Mint Hill, NC KTM 250SX-F Factory Edition
  14. 57 Joshua Hansen Elbert, CO Kawasaki KX 450F
  15. 55 Vince Friese Cape Girardeau, MO Honda CRF
  16. 51 Justin Barcia Greenville, FL Yamaha YZ450F
  17. 25 Marvin Musquin Corona, CA KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
  18. 27 Nicholas Wey Murrieta, CA Kawasaki KX 450F
  19. 761 Cade Clason Chesterfield, SC Honda CRF 450
  20. 79 Nicholas Schmidt Lake Elsinore, CA Suzuki RM-Z450
  21. 314 Alex Ray Milan, TN Honda CRF 450
  22. 7 James Stewart Haines City, FL Suzuki RM-Z450