Changing of the Guard | Anaheim 2

For the second time in the Monster Energy Supercross series the bikes lined up in Anaheim. The night would be characterized by huge upset from the normal racing order in both classes as Ken Roczen’s reign came to a tragic end and Shane McElrath was dethroned by a quick and green Justin Hill. The track was soft and deteriorated quickly, creating an interesting and unforgiving track that some riders would become victim to. The night’s tone was set in the first 250 heat.

250’s

The lites heat started off like the others prior, Shane McElrath grabbed the holeshot, but enjoyed that lead for about .5 seconds as Aaron Plessinger clinched the lead and held it for the remainder of the heat.  Shane McElrath would finish in second followed by a confident Justin Hill.  An important standout from the race was privateer, Noah McConhay, working his way to an 8th place, sending him straight to his first main of the 2017 season.  It’s always a treat to see a privateer prosper in such a stacked field.

photo-jan-24-6-56-54-am
Noah Mcconahy grips and rips his way to a one-way non-stop ticket to the night show. (Photo by Krystyn Slack | Freestyle Photocross)

The second 250 heat saw rookie Austin Forkner dominate like he once had in his amateur career. Forkner, on a new suspension setup, launched into a holsehot and rode it out for his first professional heat race win. The veteran 250 rider Martin Davalos was right behind Forkner, but the young “farm boy” held off the man from Ecuador.  An important mention from this heat was Jeremy Martin who rounded out the podium after making a smooth pass on Dan Reardon. This is not the important mention though: the more important mention is that apparently Martin is sponsored by IHOP, because on the over-under he served the flattest pancake of the night earning major style points. While those points don’t help him earn a championship, they really help the fans.

After the heats and LCQ were settled, 22 of the fastest riders of the night lined up and were ready for the real war. The flames above the gate fluttered, the engines roared, Ralph yelled, and the metal dropped. Austin Forkner railed his way to his first holeshot, while Jeremy Martin got tangled in Phil Nicoletti’s bike causing him to essentially be out of this race. Forkner’s lead was short-lived after an experienced Justin Hill flowed from fourth into first.  Justin Hill dominated the rest of the race leaving the other positions to contend for. Aaron Plessinger put in yet another consistent ride earning him another podium in second. He’s gone three for three this season for podium spots, reminding fans of Ryan “The Diesel” Dungey.  Aaron Plessinger is a championship contender to keep an eye on.  Shane McElrath may have not enjoyed the gold medal, but still put in an impressive ride rounding out the podium in third, holding on to his point lead by just six points from Plessinger. This championship race promises to be one for the ages, as after 3 rounds, the top 3 are only separated by 7 points.

450’s

The Premier class of Supercross would see an odd and turbulent night. In the first heat, Justin Bogle on his RCH/Yoshimura Suzuki would rip the holeshot and enjoy first with his effortless style until a shortcoming in the rhythm section would end his night with a possible wrist injury. Later reports confirm he is okay and will be racing Phoenix. Ken Roczen’s raw speed would be showcased again as he enjoyed the common scene of an empty track in front of him. While first place was locked in, the top 5 was quite dynamic.  Ride 365/Seven rider Malcolm Stewart made his 450 debut of the season showing promise on his new bike that he had very little time on. He earned second place after a two for one pass on Marvin Musquin and Vince Friese. Jason Anderson also enjoyed the same pass until Vince Friese squared him up in the next corner a little too much causing “El Hombre” to go down.  After the race was over, the tunnel turned into a smack down as Friese’s mechanic pushed Anderson’s bike over after Anderson smacked Vince. Friese is known for an overly aggressive style but ultimately, Jason Anderson was disqualified from the rest of the night for his physical aggression.  The only shame is no one shouted “WordStar” as the small fight took place.  In this heat, the last podium spot was snatched by Chad Reed, who looked comfortable as ever.

photo-jan-24-6-50-26-amThe second 450 heat also saw a shocking surprise. Ryan Dungey got tangled up in the first corner causing damage to his throttle housing forcing him to pull off. So he took the heat easy saving his energy for the Semi which he was only able to salvage a third in. His KTM cousin Davi Millsap’s took the holeshot and would hold it till the checkers. Davi’s teammate Blake Bagget would show his speed after he did not loop out on the start like last week, and claim second. Eli Tomac would round out the podium.

Finally, the moment we all stayed up for.  In this case, the best is truly saved for last.  The fastest racers of the night lined up for the third time ready to battle tooth and nail to cross the finish line first.  The board went sideways, the fans stood up, and bikes raced down the straight.  Cooper Webb would lead out of the first corner, but as the late great Ricky Bobby once said, “Slingshot engaged”. Ryan Dungey rocketed past Webb reminding everyone why he has two consecutive titles. Roczen was swallowed by the start causing him to trudge through the competition. He was working his way into 3rd and trying to pass his teammate Cole Seely. Roczen pushing himself and the bike would be victim to the rough & soft track. An especially deep valley between jumps forced him to be

photo-jan-24-6-50-44-am
Cooper Webb is building confidence on big blue, soon his results should show more of this. (Photo: Krystyn Slack | Freestyle Photocross)
catapulted off his bike and slammed into the face of a jump.  HRC Honda would later confirm he has a compound fracture in his left arm effectively ending his season.  Marvin Musquin would then go on to pass Cole Seely for second and Cole would enjoy the last podium spot ending the night.  A rookie highlight goes out to Cooper Webb earning his best finish at 4th, showing he has what it takes to run with the big boys. Anaheim 2 served as a reminder of the dangers and dynamic nature of racing dirt bikes. It showed even the most skilled and talented athletes are not above the evils of a Supercross track.  Ken Roczen’s crash was severe as he slammed into the face, but the beauty of these riders lies in the fact he will be back on the bike and on a similar track that once caused him this great pain. A2 also showed that even dominance can be terminated, but based on the results, a familiar regime is back as Ryan Dungey is now a major championship favorite and the points leader.  The 250’s also enjoyed this shift of power as Shane McElrath’s reign was ended by Justin Hill. So, remember how at A1 we said anything can happen?  This is what we were talking about. See you guys next week at Phoenix.

photo-jan-24-6-50-37-am
The talk of the night in one picture.  A physically and emotionally broken Ken Roczen is carried away from his season ending crash.  Nothing but good vibes for the talented rider.  (Photo by Krystyn Slack | Freestyle Photocross)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s