“I really wanted to get in the lead fast, but I’ve grown up a bit, and rode a smart race. I’m extremely happy I got the win.”
Being a staple on the professional tour for close to a decade now, Justin Barcia, although still relatively young in age, has seen it all in regards to motorcycle racing. From the highest of high’s, accumulating a plethora of championships at every level, to seemingly losing his ride and being left on his own, Barcia has stood tall through it all, and persevered to the times of today. And his fight has reaped dividends, placing him aboard a Factory Yamaha and giving him all the tools needed, in order to succeed at the highest of levels. Knowing the true talent and grit he possessed, many in the industry inscribed his name as a heavy favorite to do damage in the 2019 season, but the question was, to what extent? The pendulum would begin to sway in his favor however, as reports of rain were forecasted over the ceiling of Anaheim Stadium. Being a New York native himself, Barcia has spent just as much time in the mud as anyone else on the roster, and with his hard-charging style, he was sure that he could be a serious threat by the time the checkered flag had flown. Placed in an absolutely stacked heat race, Barcia’s quick release of the clutch had him just behind Malcolm Stewart to begin. Hounding the number 27, he would make his way around after a miscalculation and stall of the Honda pilot; Barcia, being in the right place at the correct time, would go on to lay down flawless laps. In consecutive fashion, his lead would continue to grow, taking the heat race win and eager for the main event to begin. With the skies now opening up, Justin Barcia would embrace the moisture that would be falling from the sky, welcoming the rain with open arms. Fourth place on lap one, he would work his way around Jason Anderson shortly thereafter. It was an unexpected top three for a good portion of the moto, with Wilson out front, Stewart in tow, and Barcia, now third. With the top three staying sound for a large chunk of the outing, things would begin to tighten up around lap thirteen. It was here, where lap traffic, and a matter of treacherous conditions would begin to combine, creating a log-jam effect. Stewart would then try and pass Wilson, subsequently sliding out; Barcia would then inherit second. Dean, now trying to hold onto the win with all of his might, just couldn’t hold off the charge of the 51, and would relinquish the lead to JB, on lap fifteen. With Roczen now being his closest companion, Barcia would finagle his way through lap traffic, leaping through the double-double combination and blitzing the whoops to the best of his abilities. Spraying all behind with the tread of his rear wheel, he would smoke the clutch all the way to a race win, panic revving the bike over the finish line, in an assertive style.
“Today was pure survival. I couldn’t believe how sketchy this track was.”
Taking a look back at the races of the past, the grounds of Anaheim are a true spectacle in the realm of Supercross. Hosting the event for numerous decades, every great that has left a mark on this sport, has been a staple in the midst of battle on these particular grounds. And Ken Roczen is no different, being a threat for title contention, in every year of his career thus far. Overcoming tremendous adversity over the past few years, you could tell when hearing him speak, that he was truly thankful for a healthy off-season, and to come in prepared. With a strong team around, he was setting himself up to excel from the get-go, flourishing with his set up throughout the qualification rounds. Carrying the torch for the Honda team, many had questions about just how well the team would perform, with injuries riddling the roster for the past few years. But with Roczen’s adequate preparation and serious training regimen, many in his corner felt he had the capability to do extremely well. And he would prove them correct. Behind Dean Wilson to start, he would stalk the number fifteen for quite sometime, before making the move on lap three. Hitting the series of triples and quad(s) through the far rhythm section, everything would be going according to plan. Pushing the pace until he had a substantial gap, it was a solid win for Roczen, as he looked forward to the main event. Sixth place off the start, he would then begin to work his way up ever so steadily. Railing the ruts with very little dabbling of the inside leg, he was focused on riding mistake free, rather than getting out of control in this mud-ridden layout. He found Justin Barcia early, and would latch onto the back of the Yamaha rider, making sure to stay just out of the radius of his roost. Looking to penetrate into the top three, a position would be gained on Malcolm Stewart’s misfortune. He would then only trail Barcia, and by all means, you could tell he wanted victory. But a voice of composure would overtake him, telling him to make due with the ride he had. An exceptional second place would then be where he would place, finishing runner-up in the overall standings.
“It was patience in the beginning; these conditions, you can make mistakes so quick. I had to relax, keep my vision clear, and make moves.”
When coming into Anaheim One, as we’ve heard many times before, there are multiple trains of thought. Do you go above and beyond your respective comfort zone, vying for the win if it presents itself; even at the risk of crashing and losing it all? Or do you play the game a bit more reserved, laying low, and making sure to cross the line with every point possible. Many are forced to decipher and choose one or the other, however, there are those veterans who can seemingly toggle between the aforementioned ideas, making sure to give their best efforts, all the while crossing the checkered flag in a strong position. And that’s what Eli Tomac strived to do, starching the field throughout the particular episodes of practice. Flicking the machine over one of the signature “SX” triples, specifically the one just after the whoop section, he was nearly showing the crowd the drain plug, as he barreled into the following left handed bowl turn. There truly was very little that seemed to be stopping him, and he knew that if the stars could align, he could be sitting in a well-off position, by the nightcap. His heat race antics were ever apparent, as he yearned to get into the lead position and away from traffic. Nailing the double-double over the start straight, he was smooth as silk throughout the opening laps. The track, while awfully slick from the earlier rain, was something that he could figure out with each passing moment. Looking to make time on Justin Bogle who was in close proximity, the two were alphas amongst the pack around. He would charge until the absolute dyer end, taking the final lap in a respectable fifth place position. The fans would then begin to rise to their feet, in high anticipation of what was to come in the moments ahead. He would click into the gear, and shoot down the start straight with all of his might. Flicking and scrubbing the machine beneath to the best of his ability, he would end the first lap near tenth. It was then a game of attrition, a matter of realization to decipher what was at stake, and where he stood. With his manhandling style, he would begin to weed through the competition, picking off the best names in the sport one by one. Sliding the rear end of his 450 around this ultra-slick surface, he would have a hard time fighting his way through Aaron Plessinger. Yet, he would persist, finally breaking the rookie near the fifteen-lap mark. With Wilson just ahead, now somewhat wading in the water, Tomac would attack in the closing moments; grabbing a handful and moving forward past the Husqvarna. A third would be a solid foundation to begin the series, all things considered.
Walking onto the premises of Angel Stadium, a certain aura of unknown could be felt. Whether it was the vibe of the dull, grey clouds, or the eerie silence of 450’s waiting to be fired, there was a definitive variable in the air that everyone could sense. It would be easy to bow down and succumb to stepping away from the limelight, leaving the daunting amount of pressure to be shoved off on someone else. However, riders like Dean Wilson bask in this moment. He feeds off of the dismay others, relishing when competitors are seemingly fumbling their antics and moving around in an assortment of disarray. And the aforementioned would be the same in practice, as many would have a difficult time figure out this treacherous course, yet he could be seen thriving in the most complicated of sections. He had many particular places in mind to make passes, and gain time, if and when they were needed. Rocketing out of the gate for the heat race he would pull an incredible lead! Shooting up and over the tunnel jump, and could be seen actually shifting up before the following whoop section. Letting the chassis skip over each consecutive whoop, he would flourish, as the tops of the moguls would begin to decay. It would send him forward, where he could be found pacing the lead and looking to move ahead as the laps would continue to click off. Gleaming with confidence, each passing circuit, he could be seen nodding to his mechanic and reiterating the fact that he was on pace for a successful night. Coming across the line in second, he would be positioned very nicely for a strong start to the main event. Rolling onto the launch pad, he could be found giving a subtle nod to the referee who stood along the start straight; he was locked and eager to get things under way. The gate would fall, and it would be a storm of testosterone and raging machinery throughout the opening sequences. First place in the opening laps, the industry couldn’t believe what Wilson was doing! He would go on to lead for numerous laps, holding on for a remarkable fourteen circuits! With Stewart falling while trying to make the lead, it was now Barcia knocking at the door. A subtle combination of fatigue and adrenaline dump had Barcia moving around on lap fifteen. It was then a series of dominoes, in regards to riders moving around; with Roczen and Tomac following suit. Regardless, he would still end up with an outstanding fourth place overall, and stoked on well he rode!
As the 2019 Anaheim One round approached, more and more fans, industry members, and riders alike, began to view the weather forecast, with noteworthy regard. All though surrounded by palm trees, the stadium would have dark and overcast clouds looming just above throughout the course of the weekend, getting many in attendance worried, that we just may have a mud-race on our hands. Not too often does that occur, especially in the likes of southern California; however, Cooper Webb was prepared for whatever would be thrown his way, knowing that throughout his career, he’s tackled any obstacle placed in front of him. With a rather dry qualification course, he began to synchronize into an instant rhythm, hardly having any hiccups as the time began to dwindle away. Stopping briefly into the mechanics area, his mechanic would fine tune both the rebound of his machine, hoping to get a bit more pop, when preloading into a couple of these jaw-dropping timing sections. The change would pay off, as he jumped into a solid position on the leaderboard, and a boost of morale would overtake him, as he headed back to the semi. Refueling both bike and body, he would then head back to the starting line, ready for the gate to collapse. It would do so, shortly thereafter; attacking the track from the get go, he quickly found company with Justin Hill just beside. It was an all out war between the two, with both riders toying with different lines and combinations. He knew that he wasn’t making much headway when trailing the rear wheel of the opponent, so he would take a risk, setting sail to the wind and launching into a respective bowl turn on the far side. Nearly white-knuckling the bars as the rear pad would roast onto the rotor, he would then pivot on a dime, cutting underneath his foe, and into ninth place, where he would reside until the finish. As the gate would begin to fill for the main event, it was a matter of attrition and perseverance that would carry him to the front. Letting it all hang out, the bike would begin to squirm sideways in a few the exits, of these particular corners; he knew he would have to be smooth in order to gain time on Chad Reed; therefore his focus and control would remain imminent. Reed would then become an after thought, as he would absolutely slash through the field. It was as though each lap, was another positioned gained! It was an extraordinary effort! Squaring up the likes of Musquin and Plessinger in the closing moments, he knew he had to be near the top five. Looking at the “Monster Energy Tower” near midfield, he noticed his number now residing in fifth place position. It would be here, where the record books would insert his name. A solid outing with all things considered, had him feeling strong as the series would ride on.
With a flock of industry amassing at this 2019 Supercross opener, it can be easy for one to get caught up in the rumors and drama of pre-season buzz, so to speak. If one wants to style and attract oodles of attention with both on and off-track antics, it can be easy for one’s results to deter and suffer the subsequent consequences. In order to succeed, one must stay steadfast and headstrong, in order to rally and carry themselves to the light at the end of the tunnel, a.k.a., the final championship standing. Aaron Plessinger has been in this position before, one where he’s considered a serious contender and has aspirations of a serious title run; he hasn’t let the pre-season hype throw him off course in the past, and he damn sure wasn’t going to do it in regards to the present day racing matter. Scorching the track throughout practice, his lines could be some of the most unique presented throughout the realm of the field. Hitting the whoops on both the far inside and outside, he could be found railing the turn before on the outskirts, and squaring up in the midst of the apex, on any particular lap. He knew he must have a plethora of alternatives, as the main could provide a series of scenarios, that no one could honestly predict. The heat race was a pure mass of fume and blistering exhausts, as the field would be rubbing elbows for the opening sequences. Never one to back down from a fight, he quickly found that Joey Savatgy was adjacent to him, and the two would latch onto each other. Just behind his competitor through the over-under section, he looked to get out of the drafting lane and make a move in the following corners. Positioning himself wisely, he would do so, pushing himself into a finishing run of third place. Next up, was the highly-touted main event, where he would be willing to lay it all on the line. The field would duck into the opening left hander, with the sounds of accompanying 450’s nearly deafening the ears of all. Blitzing the whoops after the over-under section, he looked to blaze by the likes of Justin Barcia who was in front of him. It was an all out assault on this Anaheim one course, as he could feel the pressure from Ken Roczen amounting from behind, and Roczen would shortly takeover. But he wouldn’t rattle, never being shaken by the storm that was awaiting him. Leaping over the start straight away, he felt particularly fast on portions of the track where he could let the throttle loose. He would persist, lap after lap, holding off the number three of Eli Tomac for some time. When the rain began to ramp up, and traffic began to cluster, Plessinger would persist, pushing his way to a noteworthy sixth once all was said and done.
In today’s of society of Supercross racing, not only do you have to carry imminent speed and daunting results; but also teams generate a certain level of attraction to a rider that can carry a presence off of the racetrack, a spectacle of charisma that can have fans flocking to their respective pit area. Couple that with a social media following that’s substantial, and you all have the makings to be a successful racer in the era of 2019. Malcolm Stewart has all of the above, walking amongst the outsides of the stadium with a smile across his face, and a swagger like no other. With hoards of fans gathering around his bike, he’s the first to be out within the public, greeting and meeting fans with a positive attitude and a firm handshake. It generates an admirable buzz, as you can see the amounts of attendee’s in the stands sporting his jersey or team gear, all in all, making everyone associated happy. As he began to feel out the track for practice, he would look up into the thousands of seats just above, noticing those cheering and screaming his name. It would provide him with a bit of a boost, pushing him through the overwhelming pressure that his race could generate. As the gate would fall for the heat race, he would mesh with the track immediately, running the rim of the bowl turns whenever possible, all the while holding the lead. Jumping two, and three singles in to these particular rhythm sections, he could be seen landing on the back wheel with the throttle on, as he would launch again after a subtle millisecond on the ground. It would provide propulsion, large enough to stay in second, securing second place as the race would conclude. Once back at the semi, the heat race would be an afterthought, and all attention would be focused on the main event that waited. As the field would flock towards the opening flag, he would be positioned near the second place spot, looking to move ahead. With Dean Wilson leading, and setting a solid pace in the front of the pack, he would use his peripheral vision to gauge just how fast the field was closing up. It would serve as a monitor, as at times, he would be so caught up in the racing action in front of him, that he would forego glancing at the reading of the pit board. Finally, as lap fourteen approached, he would inch up on the back wheel of Wilson, eyeing to make a move after the gigantic double-double section over the straightaways. He would launch to the inside, nearly making the pass, but slide out in the process! Remounting as quickly as he could, he would salvage his efforts for the evening, accumulating in seventh; upset with the crash, but realizing the true speed he possessed.
With the amount of power the 450’s of today possess, it’s truly an admirable noting to just how much talent riders of this class carry. The power to weight ratio is truly absurd, and the bikes of 2019 are more nimble than ever. It takes an exceptional athlete to compete aboard one of these machines, and elite pilot to push the pace of modern times. Marvin Musquin acknowledges the skills he has generated within himself, yet has stayed humble enough to understand that he must keep working and bettering his craft, in order to stay at the top. He waited, albeit a bit anxiously prior to the green flag of practice, as he was beyond ready to display what he had been working on in the off-season. In an effort for the ages, his name and number could be seen hovering near the top of the leaderboard for the entirety of practice, providing a bit of reassurance to team and sponsors alike. After the series of laps, mechanics area tinkering, and sprint work would end; he would head back to the semi, ready to embark on a journey of racing qualification. The field would be dicing in an aggressive fashion to begin, with wheels being shown and racers being ran to the outskirts of racing boundaries. Pushing both mind and machine to the point of disaster, he would manage to hang on as the timer would begin to dwindle. Making the move on Vince Friese, he couldn’t tolerate the roost and taking of pellets anymore, forcing his way around near the halfway point. Eyeing the checkered flag with a salivating delight, he would beg for more laps to magically appear, as this short race would come to a conclusion. He knew that in the longer motos he would flourish, as more time for passing opportunities, and stamina of his competitors would emerge. Before he knew it, he would be placed behind the starting gate yet again, shifting into second, and watching the gate with furious intent; it would fall, and he would dart into the first turn, sandwiched with the best of the best around him. Seventh on lap one, he would let the pieces around fall into place, while he etched his way forward. Skying over the “SX” triple within the middle portion of raceway, he would float to the right, staying near the inside of the next corner; in hopes of setting up a pass on Jason Anderson. He would pay ever so close attention to the rear wheel of Anderson, waiting for the moment he saw the tread locking up, and began to skid; it would come about, and in that instant, he would power on the throttle. Making the move by the slimmest of margins, it would be enough to make the pass, helping him push into a position of eighth, where he would take the checkered flag.
With the industry seemingly planted in southern California, it’s hard for anyone to go unnoticed throughout the off-season. There’s little chance to complete any covert operation, as critics, fans, and industry members alike, always seem to be along the sidelines of testing grounds. Therefore, one must keep an open mind, and take the criticism with the praise, prior to the conclusion of the weekend’s racing matters. Luckily, Chad Reed is as strong as they come, both mentally and physically, ready to take on what outside variables are thrown his way. However, much to his delight, he would hear many murmurs and bits of chatter, regarding his name in the upper-echelon of riders. His raw sprint speed was apparent at any particular practice facility he carried out testing on, and all who surrounded him would feel his presence immediately. And when rolling to the start stretch, the mere blip of his throttle would have the engine revving to a high RPM, forcing heads to turn in his direction. His charisma could be felt with his riding of the track, throwing caution to the wind as he hurled his bike into the California air. His bike, reflecting the ray of sunlight off the slick chrome of his frame, was a relic among the cast of competitors launching through the sky. Leaving the stage of practice, he and mechanic would head back through the tunnel, a tandem ready to take on the field of play in the coming hours. With the grouping of riders being cut in two, his heat race would contain only half of the allotted main event contenders; therefore he knew he must take advantage, garnering the best position possible. Nearly banging bars with Cooper Webb for a good portion of the race, he knew he must conquer the track, and truly get a rhythm prior to the start of the main event; he would do so, taking a final position of tenth place, forcing him to the LCQ. In the last chance qualifier, it was a matter of just staying up, and putting the machine where it needed to be; he would conquer the task at hand, taking second. As the fans would rise to their feet, the gates would fall as twenty some-odd 450 competitors would dash into the first turn. Launching rhythm sections two and three wide, he knew once his line was chosen, he must reside in it. This would work for the first few circuits, but as the crowd dispersed, you could see his creativity relishing. Cutting down, swaying in horizontal fashion, he was using every inch of racing surface possible, in order to gain on Bogle and Seely in front of him. Each lap, the gap would close, resulting in a passing of the aforementioned in the closing moments respectively. As the white flag would come about, he would reside in ninth, staying here for the remainder of the race.
Following an abundance of long, drawn-out practice days, watching the stopwatch with dyer intent, the time of training matters has now been pushed aside. It’s a matter of flipping the switch, and letting it all hangout as the lining of gates will commence, and the seats will be filled with attendee’s. Cole Seely has been preparing for this, both mentally and physically, doing everything in his power to make sure he could compete to the best of his abilities. Once his tread imprinted on this California terrain that had been pushed into the circle of Angels stadium, he would slowly but surely begin to gel with this layout. Leaping onto the plethora of tabletop’s on the far side rhythm section, his multiplication of combinations had him planting on the ground a mere two or three times, over the course of a hundred yard stretch. He had no fear when flying through the California air, with his riding style seemingly oozing with confidence with every passing circuit. Landing in a solid position on the final leaderboard, he looked to load the starting grid in his heat race with poise. After a deep breath just prior to starting his engine, he would give a subtle nod to his mechanic, and then focus his attention on that of the thirty-second board. Within a flash, the pin would then unlatch this heap of a metal bracket, letting the steel frame flop to mother earth, and his 450 beeline down the start stretch. Neck and neck with the likes of Tyler Bowers, the two would begin to pace each other, as he would eye the over-under for an opportunity of passing. Jumping to the left, he would nearly clip the inside boundary of racing surface, but somehow manage to position his body in order to hug the narrowest of margins, fortunately resulting in a pass being made. With antics like this, he would continue to move forward, claiming a fourth place finish at the stripe. It was then a matter of shear will and guts, as the 450 main event were under way. With the field seemingly leaping and bounding over one another, he decided to lay low for just a short bit, letting chaos unfold around him. Landing in fourteenth on the first lap, he knew that this would be a race of attrition; therefore he tried his best to focus on the laptimes relayed on the pit board, trying his hardest to race the track, rather than the competitors in his foresight. It would yield a positive return, as he would begin to pull from the likes of Jason Anderson near the halfway point. Knowing that at any moment, someone could mount a charge from behind, he would dash to the checkered flag as the finale neared; landing in a spot of tenth place was something to build off of, and he was ready to repeat in the second round of the series.
“I was beyond excited. This is a big moment for me. I finally came into this season healthy, and we’ve been putting in a lot of work, both my team and I.”
“The last two years I’ve had big off-season injuries, and it’s kind-of been killing me.”
Plagued with injuries throughout the majority of his professional career, Colt Nichols is a puzzle that many in the industry can’t figure out. A superb rider from the state of Oklahoma, it’s a riddle of riding styles, when mirroring his ability on the bike, to his list of broken bones. He doesn’t ever seem to get out of character, and has tremendous talent aboard the Yamaha makes it seem as though he’s in complete control. However, when he’s hit the ground in the past, lady luck seems to have dealt him the “short end of the stick” so to speak, leaving him mangled and on the sidelines for months at a time. But as 2019’s opener seemed to approach, the stars would be aligning in the corner of the Yamaha pilot, and he looked to truly shock the world as the races commencement would quickly approach. All throughout practice, he could be seen in a precise manner, letting the track develop and open up with due time. Never one to force an issue or rhythmic combination, he would take the track section by section, and sync it together by the time the checkered flag would fly. Surging with confidence as the gate for the heat race was loaded, he would garner a sixth place for the opening lap. Looking to make moves through the field, he could see one of his biggest competitors, that of Adam Cianciarulo, making his way toward the front; and he knew he must keep the number 92 within a respectable distance. Working his way into second, he would close the gap substantially on the Kawasaki rider as the race came to a close; letting he know that he would be of serious challenge, once the main would begin. Jumping out to a spectacular lead, he would immediately set the tone of the moto, throwing down laptimes in the one minute, one second range. He wanted to get out and away from traffic as quickly as possible, trying to stretch a commanding lead on the field. Landing each and every rhythm section perfectly, he would nail the gigantic double-double combination perfectly, pulling from the likes of McElrath every lap. The lead would continue to grow, surging from a three second gap early on, to upward of sixteen seconds by the end of the race! Ecstatic as he crossed the line, he would deserve every bit of praise he received, taking an astonishing win!
“I managed to finish second tonight, despite some troubles early. We managed some good points for the overall championship, and I’m happy for my teammate on his win.”
“I tried to be aggressive, but with the lines of the track, not too dangerous.”
To chase one’s dream, one must be ready to sacrifice any and everything, in order to accomplish the task at hand. And Dylan Ferrandis has proven over the past few years, that no obstacle is too big, to deter his dreams. Displaying the courage to pack up, and leave everything he’s ever known in his homeland of France, he’s shown the ability to adapt to an entirely different culture with limited means of communication. He’s also been forced to accumulate serious injuries, having multiple fractures after a crash sustained in the Supercross season last year. Yet again, he’s rebounded and looked adversity square in the eye, overcoming what was in his way. Therefore, coming into the 2019 season prepared and ready to go, he simply felt that there was little that could stop him in his tale for success, as Anaheim One quickly approached. All throughout practice, you could visually see that he was a threat for podium contention, and a win was certainly in his favor. Hitting all the timing sections with perfect harmony, and displaying flawless corner speed, coupled with little to no mistakes, had him in a solid spot as the heat races approached. He displayed how he could remain calm in a matter of chaos, as the field skated and piled up around turn number one, to begin the ceremonies of the night. Fourteenth around the opening lap, he knew it was an urgent matter of getting to the front. Wasting no time, he could be seen hitting the “SX” triple, just after the over-under, and actually launching over riders below! With a subtle look down and flick of the chassis, he was demonstrating immaculate air traffic control, as he worked his way into the top five. It was here where he would reside, managing a fifth after his first lap trouble. The main event would quickly approach, and Ferrandis would display solid execution off the launch pad, blistering out of the gate. Pushing forward, he would settle into a rhythm of fourth place, just behind RJ Hampshire. By lap five, he couldn’t take the roost of the Floridian any more, and would vault around the Geico pilot, placing Shane McElrath in the next spot to devour. Hounding the savvy veteran, Ferrandis’ pressure would finally find a soft spot in McElrath’s armor, as they began to dig heavily into lap traffic. Moving into second on lap fourteen, Ferrandis would find his landing spot for the main event, finishing behind Colt Nichols.
“People have been telling me to make it three in a row. But the Lord has blessed me, I’ll take a third, and we are good!”
“This is A1; all the pressure is here.”
No stranger to the podium, especially in recent memory, North Carolina’s Shane McElrath has been on absolute tear the past couple of years. An amateur prospect that seemingly came out of nowhere, the guys at TLD have woven their faith into this ascending rider, knowing just what he can do with the right team around him. He’s been a contender in multiple Supercross seasons of the past; vying for wins and top threes at every round he enters. With arguably the pinnacle of his professional career coming this past off-season, at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm. Where he took on the likes of Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey, winning the event with flying colors! Surging with confidence after that event, and rightfully so, it translated into an abundance of quality training throughout the off-season. And as this weekend in January quickly approached, he was anxiously awaiting to show off the skills that he had acquired and developed. Placed in heat one, he would feverishly dig his way to the front, after a starting position around the fifth place spot. With numerous riders going down in the first corner, McElrath was thankful that he stayed up right, and would be able to press forward quick. Third by lap two, he could see RJ Hampshire off in the distance, looking to blitz away from the field. He was starting to become a little urgent with his decision-making on Jess Pettis, and would push around the fellow KTM Pilot on lap five. Making his way into second, he knew Hampshire would walk away with the win; therefore he would bring it home in the runner-up position smoothly. For the main event, he would have an excellent start, registering second when crossing the line. Colt Nichols, who was already out front, had established a lead in the early going, leaving Shane in a bit of no man’s land. He couldn’t get complacent though, as he knew the likes of Hampshire and Ferrandis would be keeping him honest, especially as the track deteriorated. Looking to keep moving forward, his number twelve KTM would stay as smooth as possible, launching over the double-double section perpendicular to the start straight. He felt solid, but would really receive a bit of company near lap thirteen, when Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis would be hounding him from behind. And although putting up a solid effort, the number thirty-four would work his way around, putting McElrath into third for the evening.
Although known for his ability to rip through the sands and sweltering heats of the outdoors, RJ Hampshire is blossoming into a Supercross specialist today as well. Sporting a number 31 Geico Honda, Hampshire has now identified himself as a serious player in the 2019 West Coast Supercross Championship. After suffering a serious injury a few years ago in the Red Bull Straight Rhythm off-season race, Hampshire has remounted and revitalized better than ever, looking to make his presence felt immediately. Ripping every corner in sight throughout practice, he was adding a bit of flare with every bit of air time he possessed; an all out assault on this Anaheim circuit, had his name flirting with the crest of the leaderboard for the majority of qualification. He would look to be on the pole again, as the heat race would conclude. Second behind Jess Pettis to begin, Hampshire would waste no time getting around the KTM rider. Knowing that he had an optimal chance to stretch his lead in the early going, Hampshire would lay the hammer down, sliding his back wheel with a pinning of the throttle. Letting the Honda dig into mother earth, he was one of the first to “quad” out of the furthest rhythm sections, jumping from the face of a respectable tabletop, over two more singles! He was truly firing on all cylinders, and never second-guessed himself, despite Shane McElrath closing in from a distance. He knew if he could duplicate this effort, he would succeed in the main event as well. Following a third place start to begin, he had only Colt Nichols and Shane McElrath in front to begin. Skating around some of these sharp ninety degree turns, he was beginning to find his lines as he would work his way back up the bowl turns, making sure to keep his speed prior to the commencement of any whoop or rhythm section. He was piecing the track together flawlessly, and seemed to be on the right track; when he would feel a bit of pressure from Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis. Proficient in the mud, Ferrandis would hound the Honda, never letting him slip away once his grip was established. Showing wheels in every corner imaginable, he would make the move on RJ on lap six, pushing the thirty-one to fourth. Slipping back to fifth for just a brief bit, Cianciarulo’s pass prior to the whoop section would be quickly reciprocated; taking no slack off of the 92 machine, Hampshire would follow back quickly, putting Adam to the ground, and inheriting fourth again! Staying here, Hampshire would be pleased with his efforts on the evening.
Barely into his early twenties, Adam Cianciarulo is a name that many associate with veteran-like status. Being cast into the limelight at the earliest of ages, many are quick to forget just how young AC92 really is, despite the vast amount of years he’s been on the professional tour. Never one to bow or collapse due to pressure, he’s been labeled as a serious contender for this year’s championship, and many feel it’s time for him to rise to the occasion. Doing the majority of his training in the heart of Florida, Cianciarulo has moved camp early to the west coast, hoping to become acclimated to the soil of California. However, he wasn’t expecting a soaking from the sky, and would be forced to change his aggressive mentality, as he figured the track out in practice. Although relatively smooth, his lanky frame allows him to ride the bike with a lot of movement and explosion, something that can hamper one’s momentum in conditions like these. A fourth place start to begin his heat race, saw him quickly work his way around the likes of Castelo and McAdoo. He wanted to begin the night on a good note, and all that stood between he and the heat race win, was that of Jacob Hayes. A rather unfamiliar competitor, Cianciarulo moved forward, approaching the Yamaha rider with a heap of aggressiveness. Figuring out the weaker points of his foe, he would decide to make a move on lap four, bursting by with a twist of the throttle, and never looking back. Continuing to build his lead, he would take the checkered flag, with Colt Nichols at bay for the final flag. Hoping to keep the momentum apparent, he would find a bit of trouble in the first turn of the main event, pushing him back to eleventh. Having a difficult time finding traction, it was as though the RPM’s of his Pro Circuit machine were to much for the tread of the tires to handle. Slipping and sliding every which way, he would eventually work his way up to the back of RJ Hampshire, vying for a top five spot. Running Hampshire a bit wide in the turn just before the longer whoop section, his power would begin to run out by section’s end, allowing RJ to be right back behind; leaving the door just a tad open, Hampshire would sneak through the inside, running AC high, and unfortunately leaving him on the ground. He would remount quickly, placing himself in the fifth spot, where he would stay until the end. He would look to build in the following week.
Although extremely young in regards to age, Garrett Marchbanks is one of the hottest prospects on the professional tour. With so many years left to groom, sculpt, and perfect his riding technique, Marchbanks was plucked from the amateur ranks early, by none other than Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Mitch Payton. Choosing to forego many of his final amateur years, Payton and crew felt that Marchbanks had all the right tools to be successful from his professional inception, and had no worries throwing him into the deepest of waters. Getting a year of professional motocross experience under his belt, Marchbanks has now embarked on his first tour of Supercross, a championship series that honestly can’t truly be prepared for. Long gone are the small confines of Arenacross, or the measly jumps and limited technicality of the amateur motocross circuit. Meanwhile now, his racing platform would consists of gigantic leaps, and obstacles never quite seen before, all in front of hundreds of thousands of fans. But Marchbanks felt ready, and you could sense it with his stoic demeanor aboard the line for practice. Hitting his marks with excellent craftsmanship, he would come into the mechanics area for a brief chat, discussing what needed to be tweaked. And with a quick change on the fly, he would push his time up the leaderboard, where he would easily transfer into the night show. For the heat race, an eighth place start would have him in the midst of practice and be forced to move forward in a quick fashion. Trying his best to follow the trail of teammate, Adam Cianciarulo, the two Kawasaki’s would blaze forward despite a sea of riders all around. Working his way in front of Michael Mosiman, Marchbanks would reside in a respectable sixth by the end of the moto. For the main event, Marchbanks would hover around the seventh place spot to begin. With the track really beginning to show it’s dampened roots, the dirt would present a slick base underneath and Garrett would be forced to adapt. With an upright stature, he began to sit a little bit further back on the seat, as he didn’t want to force the issue of washing the front end. It would work, as he would come to close proximity with RJ Hampshire. Following the savvy veteran, he would weasel his way through lap traffic, always sly in finding creative lines. He would reap the reward of staying relatively clean, going on to take a solid sixth to finish the night.
A staple in the American motocross scene for numerous years now, Jimmy Decotis has been successful in accumulating promising rides year after year. He embodies the true tale of what a professional represents, especially in the eyes of a team owner. The return on investment the Massachusetts native can provide is phenomenal, as he’s guaranteed to have a glimmer of television time with a promising start; his raw sprint speed is most certainly there, always attracting cameras and media attention; and his charisma both throughout the pits, and on social media, is something that fans of all ages gravitate towards. Therefore, when the team was contemplating on who to sign for the 2019 season, Decotis’ name was at the top of the list, and he sported a slick looking JGRMX, Suzuki backed 250f as the gate would be loaded. All throughout practice, he could be found inching towards the top of the leaderboard. Deep down, while others were hoping that the rain would somehow miss this particular open-roofed stadium, Decotis was hoping for that nastiest terrain one could create. Hitting every rhythm section with meticulous timing, all the while charging every bowl turn in sight, his 250f would be blazing with heat as he exited the stadium and headed back to the semi. A mishap off the start had Decotis scrounging for positioning on the opening lap of the heat race, only managing a fourteenth place on lap one. Never one to give up, he would be in a constant pull of rolloff’s, as he soared through the damp California air. Needing to creep within the top ten, on lap five, he would make his mark. Battling with riders like Martin Castelo, he would creep into the top nine on the final lap, taking the checkered flag in a transferring position. A tenth place start to begin the main event had him fighting with the likes of Blose and Canadian Jess Pettis. With the three in a constant array of shuffling, Decotis would begin to hop through the whoops, just after the tunnel jump. With the peaks of the moguls beginning to chip away, his sniper like vision allowed him to see a respective passage, even in the midst of battle. It would work, as he would move around Blose, and push him behind near lap six. Keeping the momentum chugging, he would continue to charge, making a last moment pass on that of Hayes on lap thirteen. A solid effort for all involved, he would reside in seventh by moto’s end.
With the Arenacross series now non-existent, many of the division’s top riders have been forced to look for rides and stable income elsewhere. Some choosing to go the conventional 9-5 route, others venturing overseas to Europe; however, there are few who have decided to take center stage on the bigger platform, and join the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series. Take for example, Jacob Hayes. A former Kawasaki Team Green amateur standout, he established a name in the realm of Arenacross, providing for himself job security and living wage that was comfortable. But when he was forced to cut ties with the hand that fed, he decided to embark on his biggest quest to date, leading him to the gate of Anaheim One for 2019. Pushing the pace throughout practice, you could tell that he was having a blast aboard his Yamaha machine, railing every possible inch of track available. Hitting the whoops in explosive fashion, there honestly weren’t too many obstacles, or variables of technicality he hadn’t faced before; he would just have to get used to the longer lap times, and duration of races. As the heat race approached, you could sense his confidence soaring, as he truly felt he could thrive amongst the best in the business. An early lead to begin his heat race, had the crowd on their feet and curious to see just who this three-digit rider was, who led the field. As there was no question to which heat was more competitive, he quickly found company in the likes of Adam Cianciarulo and Colt Nichols. The two series veteran’s would work their way around, and Cameron McAdoo would join the party shortly thereafter. With all three riders pushing the pace, Hayes would be pushed back to fourth, where he would finish; regardless, it was an exceptional ride. A sixth place start to begin, found him sliding and having to display an adequate sense of throttle control, as the track had began to dampen since his heat race departure. Being pushed back a little in the opening laps, he would take a deep breath in and recompose, as he would battle with familiar foe, Chris Blose. The two Arenacross natives would be in the heat of competition, never losing sight of the final flag. Hayes, looking rather explosive in the gigantic double-double combination across the start stretch, would leap his way back into eighth end the closing segments of competition. Just behind Jimmy Decotis at the stripe, the SX debut of Hayes would place him in eighth position.
It’s quick to get caught up in the likes of circuit times, segment leads, and last year’s statistics. Besides, in this sport, many will consider you only as good as your last race, and you can be forgotten as quickly as you once ascended. It’s a shame that so many riders can be pushed as an afterthought, when truly they are amongst the elite, and cream of the crop in their respective sport. Chris Blose, a vocal rider oozing with charisma and confidence, wasn’t going to let his notion and efforts be forgotten, as he looked locked and loaded throughout the practice sessions on this particular Saturday. Launching multiple rhythm sections to the best of his abilities, he wasn’t showing an ounce of fear as his bike was propelled into the stratosphere. Seat-hopping, wheel-tapping, and manualing wherever possible, he and the bike were working as a unit, ready to master this track with each passing lap. Once all was said and done, he felt satisfied with his practice efforts, and looked to duplicate as the show moved on. His pace was imminent throughout the heat race, with riders of brands littering the course around him. Hovering near the thirteenth spot to begin, it was a quest to the front in which he enjoyed. Getting creative, he could be found cutting from outside in, and vice versa, using every piece of soil he could, digging his knobbies in with a fury of intent. Never letting loose of the throttle, he would begin his march to the front, although he knew time was of the essence. Keeping his bike as wide as he could, he could feel pressure from that of Logan Karnow behind, but wouldn’t falter, as he concentrated his efforts forward to the finish line. The ninth place spot would be his. Shooting out of the starting gate for the main event, he could be found residing near the eight place position to begin; it was a matter of “boom or bust” so to speak, and he was simply going for it. Leaving it all on the line, he would make his way past Jess Pettis in the early going, and reach forward with all of his might. Never losing sight of the pack in front of him, he could be found stabbing the clutch as he leaped from table to table in the far rhythm lane. Anything in his power he could do to succeed, was being placed on the table. An applaud-worthy effort would conclude, and he would finish up in ninth overall.
With the divisions of the 250 class split into multiple coasts, the opportunity for privateers and lesser known riders is of abundance, when performing on the sport’s biggest stage of Supercross. Allowing riders from the west coast to compete amongst familiar territory, many riders will choose the side of the states in which they are the most comfortable, or that finances can allow. However, there are those who are ready and equipped to compete wherever, never once second guessing the tracks in which they race; and that includes the likes of Jess Pettis. A young man who is willing to lay down the gauntlet on any given day, and in any given place, he knows he can succeed regardless of the circumstances. He carried the same attitude all throughout practice, never letting a bit of rain hamper his hopes or fighting spirit. Blistering down the mechanics area straightaway, he would duck into the following right-hander, leaping over the finish line and doing his best to keep the throttle pinned. Every millisecond off the throttle, was another small bit lost to the leaders, and he realized that. So he was persistent with his speed and charging antics, knowing that a fast qualifying time could not only put him in an optimal gate position, but emerge into the head’s of the opposition as well. His heat race effort was noticeable from the start, where he could be seen showing a wheel and pushing the bike to it’s breaking point, when jockeying around the circuit. Launching off every single in sight, he was hitting the rev limiter in every possible moment, hoping to keep the bike running at a crisp RPM. Shifting through the gearbox, he would blitz by the likes of RJ Hampshire narrowly missing a scraping of shrouds in the process. He would carry this pace into the finish line, finishing up the moto in an astonishing fourth, after an early holeshot and strong pace toward the front. Looking to make moves quick throughout the main, he would be quick to find his way forward. Stabbing the clutch, and keeping his 250f machine on the throttle, he would be neck and neck with Chris Blose in the early going. With his shirttail flying in the wind, the breeze over some of these gigantic triples would relay a bit of relaxation to him, giving him a moment of breathing before heavy back on the throttle upon landing. It was antics like these that kept him near the top ten, and by the time the final flag had flown, tenth was exactly where he landed.