This week we saw another team sweep the 250 and 450 class mains. Luckily for us it was a different team than the one who has won the last three races in a row!
250SX Main Event
In the 250 class Musquin got a bad start, and came through the pack relatively easy until he got into third behind Joey Savatgy. Savatgy has been close to the podium all season, and put up a great fight holding off Musquin for another four laps, before Musquin finally made the pass. By this point, Musquin is now ready to chase down Bogle. That normally hasn’t been a problem, but on this Saturday in Detroit, Bogle was riding great out front stretching out a seven second lead, while Musquin spent half the race getting into second place. Musquin slowly inched his way closer all race long, but Bogle was quading in the first rhythm more consistently, which was just enough to keep him ahead.
This was Justin Bogle’s first win since last season at the New York round. But with only two rounds left I feel like Musquin knew a 13 point lead was a good place to be and he could accept second.
The track bit many riders all day long, this leads to new guys making mains that normally don’t. As the season wears on it becomes more of a game of survival. The 450 class probably won’t even have 40 riders this week at St. Louis so everyone who signs up will qualify. It feels like the mid 2000’s all over again.
450SX Main Event
In the 450 class, we witnessed something we don’t see very often. Ryan Dungey got out front only to be caught and passed by Eli Tomac. At this point in the season, Dungey doesn’t have much reason to push the limit on a track that bit a lot of riders, just to beat a rider that isn’t even close in the points standings. When Tomac is “on” and is mistake free, he seems unbeatable. Unfortunately, we haven't gotten to see that very much this season. When he does manage to put it together, it’s something special to watch. His fastest lap time of the night was over a half second faster than anyone, and he beat Dungey by almost 12 seconds. That is not only the biggest margin of victory all season, but it almost doubles the next biggest.
Cole Seely put in another great podium ride. After Anaheim 1 I think everyone (including myself) was quick to label Jason Anderson as the best rookie in the class, but since Daytona Cole has shown us what he is capable of, and it is impressive; meanwhile, Anderson’s season has gone off the rails.
Baggett is another rookie that has made a great impression this season. In my opinion, he was never a great supercross rider in the lites class, and he admitted he had never even ridden a 450 before moving up this year. That seems like a horrible combination, but with a great team behind him, and trainer Rick Johnson, he has have improved all season. He was one of the few to hit the quad consistently in the first rhythm lane and the quad in the second rhythm lane. Those two rhythm sections proved to be two of the best sections we have seen all season. There were so many options with high-risk high reward options also. For a rider to quad in both of those sections took extreme skill, consistency and confidence in their bike set up. A guy like Chad Reed may not have been the fastest guy out there, but I bet he was the most consistent in those sections all night long. I know I keep bringing it up, but I feel like this was one of the best tracks we’ve seen all season long. It really showed separation between the guys. Eli Tomac was 8 seconds a lap faster than the slowest guy in the main; that’s unheard of! The 250 class was very similar also, so it wasn’t a fluke. It did dry out in the mains and get slick, but it still rutted up in the turns and on a few jumps that is always good.
The Safety Issue
There has been a lot of debate lately about safety in our sport. I want to spend some time discussing the tracks and safety at the pro level. I don't believe you can talk about the amateur and pro levels with the same views. The only thing I will say about safety at the amateur level is that learning the proper technique can go a long way; you will eliminate a lot of crashes and dangerous situations. These pro riders are the best in the world; they chose this career. The top five guys have made enough money this year alone to retire, and live comfortably without working another day in their life. What I'm getting at is they signed up for these gnarly situations when they signed that 3 million dollar check. If you don't want to jump a 75ft quad in the middle of a rhythm section, just quit. There are 100 other riders at each race that would love to be in your position, because they are taking the same risks for free! Yes, I may sound bitter or jealous, but it seems ridiculous that they want to complain about the risks they have to take, when other riders are volunteering to take the same risks just to get their name and sponsors logos on national television for 5 seconds. When the NFL linebacker retired after one season because of head injuries, don't you think there were 10 linebackers just finishing at the NFL combine chomping at the bit thinking that was their spot to take? He didn’t like the danger that came with the game, so he walked away from half a million dollars without complaining. I would really hate to see our sport suffer (by taming it down), because the top riders are afraid to get hurt. You only have to do those jumps if you want to win, and if you dont want to, I’m sure factory Honda or whichever team you ride for will gladly stop paying you. Many riders got hurt this weekend and they mostly all occurred in the first two rhythm sections. Go back and really analyze why the riders crashed. Weston Peick crashed on a simple double into the turn, nothing gnarly about that double, he just made a mental error and grabbed a handful of throttle at the wrong time. Jason Anderson's foot came off on the takeoff of a jump and sent him flying through the air. DirtWurx didn't install arms that reach up and grab riders feet, it was rider error, not an unsafe jump.
Analyzing the Weimer - Canard Crash
The “Weimer and Canard crash” was a simple table to single; the easiest combination through the section. That was just a small mistake by Weimer at a bad time. It's hard to explain what the first lap of a supercross race is like without everyone experiencing it. Imagine going down the highway at 50 mph in bumper to bumper traffic, cars on either side of you and no painted lines to keep everyone in an orderly fashion; it's pretty hectic. Now throw some jumps in the mix, having to time a jump while going about half the speed you normally do because of the traffic jam. Did I mention the semi-truck behind you that may or may not be able to stop if you hit the brakes and roll the jump? This is what these riders go through multiple times a night week after week. It's nothing short of a miracle we don't have catastrophic crashes on the opening laps more often. Canard has been involved in many questionable crashes over the years that could be traced back to trying too hard, or simply just pushing too hard, but this was in no way his fault. Weimer clipped the landing of the previous jump and miss timed the next. When he came up short, he lost all momentum nearly coming to a stop. Meanwhile Canard was already in the air following directly behind with nowhere to go. Canard hit the ground pretty good and broke his left radius. He underwent surgery Tuesday to have carbon fiber plate applied that replaced a metal one from a previous injury, and received eight screws and a bone graft. Now that we know more about the injuries Weimer sustained, he wasn’t as lucky as I first thought, but Weimer was still pretty lucky, not only did Canard’s bike crush him between his own bike, he proceeded to slam into the face of the next jump, violently. His injuries include a broken humerus, a concussion, a collapsed lung, bruised vocal chords, and a broken Adams Apple. I’m not saying these aren't terrible injuries but with everything that has gone bad in our sport lately, it could have been much worse.
Back to my original points: yes, the big jumps they were doing may have been gnarly and scary, but the majority of the crashes were when the riders were choosing not to do them. I think if they would consistently build tracks this technical, riders would learn to be more patient and try to be more precise in these sections, instead of scrubbing them, clipping landings and still going for the gnarliest lines possible lap after lap. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and take a slower line one lap instead of still going for it and risking your season. That's exactly what a guy like Dungey does, the guy with nearly 80 point lead on the next healthy rider.
With Weimer and Canard not making it to the main, and then Anderson and Peick crashing out of the main, there were quite a few riders getting their best finishes of the season. Josh Grant got a sixth, Millsaps with fifth, Partridge in thirteenth and Chisholm in eleventh, all either matched or bested their best finish of the year. Peick will be back next weekend, as well as Alessi, but no word on Anderson yet.
Back to the GPs
We have the return of the GPs this weekend to look forward to. The series makes their way to Argentina this week, and for the first time of the season we will see a more outdoor style track. The first two rounds have been much tighter and jumpier than a normal GP like I’ve said before so even though Argentina is hosting on an all new track, it is very open and faster. The pictures looks awesome, I can’t wait to see how RV backs up his overall win.
It’s no secret SX is getting a little stale with all three titles almost already decided. St. Louis is another weekend, and another race, so hopefully we see something more interesting than what we have been seeing. I hope to everyone at St. Louis this weekend.