Supercross is an extraordinary stage set for the masses and adored by the diehard fans. For someone who has never seen a dirt bike in person, it is the perfect culmination of factors to bring our pride and joy to them. A comfy seat, food and the ability to see all the carnage is why Supercross’ popularity surpassed motocross’ quickly and mercilessly. The opening race, Anaheim 1 (A1), is the epitome of why this variation of motocross was successful at tapping into the public’s love of sports. So just like every year, racers cleaned up and headed indoors to battle it out to see who would light the candles, as Ralph Sheheen would put it.
Lites Class (250’s)
The lites class kicked off the night and this year and the field seems more electric than usual. From rookies making their Supercross debut, to veterans trying to land a title to move to the premier class: this series is sure to provide epic battles as the new raw talent collides with the proven skill of the veteran 250 riders and the first heat represented this battle. Martin Davalos of Rockstar/Husqvarna, a well raced 250 rider, shot to the front and would maintain his lead for all six laps of the heat but rookie sensation Austin Forkner would not be far behind showcasing his promise to be a lasting force in the sport. The podium would be rounded out by Austin Forkner’s teammate Justin Hill, both representing Monster Energy/Kawasaki.
The second lites heat provided more drama as Jeremy Martin premiered his supercross skill on his new Geico/Honda ride after making the switch from his Yamalube/Yamaha. His comfort was apparent as he lead the heat for five out of the six laps to have Troy Lee Designs/KTM veteran 250 rider Shane McElrath sweep the checkered flag right out from under him. Troy Lee Designs/KTM rider Mitchell Oldenburg would close the podium in third creating great momentum for that team.
Finally, the 250 West Coast Championship was kicked off as the gates dropped for the main event. Shane Mcelrath, fresh off his dominance in the first heat ripped the holeshot to never be touched by another racer again and win the first main event of his career. To everyone else though, the carnage of the main event had only just begun. Aaron Plessinger of Yamalube/Yamaha worked his way to second after a great start to be the closest rider to Shane only two seconds behind the leader by the end of the 15 minutes plus 1 lap. The next rider though, was ten seconds behind and was Mitchell Oldenburg who apparently worked some of the kinks out from the previous season.
Martin Davalos earned the last podium spot with a consistent ride showing the skills and confidence of a seasoned rider. On the other end of the spectrum, Austin Forkner’s debut night was plagued by a wreck through the whoops. One would be able to say his
debut was overrated if he had not gotten his bike on the track and then worked himself back up to 8th. So Austin Forkner is still a rider to keep some eyes on heading into San Diego next week.
Premier Class (450’s)
The deep rumble, the big boy jumps and the pinnacle of the sport are the characteristics of the Premier class in Monster Energy Supercross. The incredible thing of the Premier class is how anyone can win a main event, from “The Diesel” Ryan Dungey, to the German rocket Ken Roczen to the Colorado Native Eli Tomac, and many more, the opportunity to crack a whip off that finish line table and throw up a fist is anyone’s to grab at the end of the day, even though Anaheim’s results provided otherwise. The first heat was pretty predictable with Monster Energy/Kawasaki rider Eli Tomac marching to the front and holding it. Three seconds behind him Blake Bagget on his new Rocky Mountain ATV/MC/KTM looked comfortable as he finished in second. Then veteran Chad Reed showed up once again to round out the top three, so retirement does not appear near for the Monster Energy/Yamaha rider. This first heat also provided the people with a glimpse at Dean Wilson and his new privateer ride. Deano, based out of his father’s sprinter, snagged an 8th place in the heat, but was able to sneak his way into the main with a 4th Place in the Semi. Probably warranting a ride, but it’s the silly season of ‘seventeen.
The second 450 heat of the first round had a tremendous amount of consequences circling it. Not only did it have Ken Roczen on his new critically-acclaimed Honda, but it had his rival and 3-time Supercross champion Ryan Dungey. Then to throw an even more exciting mix together, the freaky fast Frenchman Marvin Musquin was tossed in the heat ready to prove his speed and skill that was showcased last year has improved even more. To no one’s surprise, Ken Roczen shot out of the gate to first place and stayed there for the entirety of the heat. What was surprising though, was the severity of his dominance over second place Factory KTM rider Ryan Dungey and teammate Marvin Musquin as they finished the podium in that order.
After the Semi’s and LCQ, the main event arrived and everyone moved to the edge of their couches and the gate dropped and the battle for the first points of the season began. Ken Roczen cashed the check that his off season has written and then some. His confidence and swagger were abundant as he pulled the holeshot and left the next fastest rider 16 seconds behind him. To no surprise, Ryan Dungey put in an effortless ride for second as he is the podium master. His teammate, Marvin Musquin, battled back from a poor start to third creating an orange deja vu from last Supercross season. Jason Anderson on his Rockstar/ Husqvarna kept the rubber down to enjoy a fourth place followed by Eli Tomac who suffered arm pump midway through the race forcing him to drop from 2nd to 5th. Which is quite ironic because the “Supercross Science” segment was him and his mountain biking legend father talking about arm pump.
While Anaheim was a night marked by dominance, it is the first round of the seies and like so many riders mentioned in the post-race interview, everyone learned a lot from the night. So the only thing that is a shoe-in for this championship is anything is possible. After all, there’s 16 more round left, many stadiums to travel to, many gates to be dropped, and many moments of racing spectacles to be witnessed. Supercross stands out from the rest of the athletic field because of the volatile and dynamic nature of the sport. Even the best racer can be taken by the simplest track, so expect anything. From everyone at Elevated MX, see you at San Diego.