The Supercross field got a surprise off-week right out of the gate, due to the heavy rain experience in California, but mainly up north. DirtWurx barely broke ground with the floor plan before they packed up and left Oakland, with a rain date of Feburary 18th being set shortly thereafter. Round 3 of San Diego then became Round 2, setting up all three SoCal rounds to be run back-to-back-to-back.
No longer at PetCo Park, Feld has moved across the street from the site of Qualcomm Stadium, SnapDragon Stadium. There's been no shortage of rain there either, and not helping things was two straight weekends of Monster Jam shows, the latter two being complete mudders. With that said, a fresh sheet of dirt was brought in earlier in the week and it was clear skies on Saturday night.
In the shadow of the House that Chad Reed built, Eli Tomac and Jett Lawrence both looked to build upon great nights at Anaheim 1, and bring their respective red plates back to Angel Stadium. Those looking to turn things around included TLD/GasGas' Pierce Brown, who missed no time after his rough opener, as well as 450 riders such as Mookie Stewart, Justin Barcia, and Christian Craig, who all finished outside of the top 10 two weeks ago.
Look Good, Ride Good
The night before San Diego, Yamaha held an event with some of the biggest names they have in several series. Eli Tomac, Dylan Ferrandis, MXGP's Jeremy Seewer, and 2021 MotoGP World Champion Fabio Quartararo most notably of the group. Yamaha brought this group in to unveil a new universal livery/wrap to be run between Star Yamaha in the States, as well as Yamaha's Factory MXGP and MotoGP teams from this weekend onwards.
Not a major change from what Star Yamaha has been running the last several years with the primary black, but the addition of silver around the Monster Energy logo is the notable addition here. Big fan of how this looks on the MotoGP ride personally. The silver naturally shows up more and looks nicer. Would probably like to see a bit more blue, but not a bad setup for my taste.
Daytime Program/Injury Notes:
- Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin out for the weekend after suffering a midweek wrist injury.
- Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki tabs Carson Mumford as Austin Forkner's replacement. Will debut with the team in Oakland.
- Christian Craig qualifies outside of the top 10 for the second week in a row.
- Firepower Honda's Wilson Todd qualifies 10th in the second round of the season.
- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 18 Jett Lawrence (50.099 Seconds)
- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 27 Malcolm Stewart (50.008 Seconds)
Heat Racing Roundup
R.J. Hampshire and Enzo Lopes got out to a quick lead, swapping after some mistakes midway through. Further back, Max Vohland got tangled up in the first corner, while Cameron McAdoo and Derek Drake ran into some problems themselves later on in the early goings. Sadly, privateer GasGas rider Colby Copp took a good lick out of the final whoop section, and a red flag came out as a result. That would put Enzo Lopes back in the lead since the lap where he lost the lead was vacated. On the ensuing restart, Vohland went down again in the same spot, but this time did a stoppie straight off the bike. Hampshire got by Lopes again to secure the race win, with Lopes second, and Anthony Rodriguez in third.
Jett Lawrence picked up a good start, but not without some resistance from the Master Chef Levi Kitchen. Lawrence used him up right before the triple, which ended up forcing Kitchen back to third behind Pierce Brown. He made things tough on him as well, but couldn't get by the Utah native in this one. A fairly procedural affair in this one, outside of Mitchell Harrison crashing out of a transfer spot around midway.
Chase Sexton was the big story in the 450 class early into the night. After going down after the whoops, Aaron Plessinger nailed his stationary bike, and punctured a hole in Sexton's gas tank. That would force him straight to the LCQ. Can't recall the last time I've seen a gas tank get visibly ruptured via contact, but there's a first time for everything. Sexton appeared to be ok as well which was good to see.
Plessinger was luckily able to get into a transfer spot. Not so lucky was Shane McElrath, who stalled his RMZ machine and cost himself a transfer, benefiting Alex Ray, who got the ninth and final spot after getting passed by AP. Up at the front, it was Eli Tomac from start to finish, with Jason Anderson and Justin Barcia in tow. The latter two came together with just a few corners to go as well.
Speaking of kickstarts and Suzukis, Ken Roczen shot himself out of a cannon in 450 Heat 2, putting a quick buffer over Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo. Making moves to get into the mix was Malcolm Stewart, who qualified on top during the day. He picked off Ferrandis, then AC, then eventually Roczen with four corners to go. Dread it, run from it, Mookie Fever arrives all the same. This was career (Heat Race) win No. 5 for Stewart as well.
250 West Class Recap
1st - No. 18 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC)
Hard to spin it any other way, this was another dominant outing for the Jett in SoCal, picking up his ninth career 250 Supercross win. He was the fastest guy in the class from start to finish, and more importantly, continues to look untouchable. Felt a tad premature on the broadcast to start the calls for a "perfect season", but at this rate, that could be warranted by the time the West division goes on break. Especially if Lawrence can consistently get these good starts.
2nd - No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)
Even with Lawrence running as well as he has, I feel good about the early season runs of Hampshire, who is comfortably in striking distance going into A2. Assuming the points leader slips up, and based on past seasons he likely will even if slightly, the red plate will be in the Husqvarna rider's possession. This is also back-to-back rounds that Hampshire finishes second with starts of fourth or worse. A clutch late-race pass on Cameron McAdoo sealed things up on that front.
6th - No. 40 Stilez Robertson (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)
Robertson's run was the most impressive of the evening in totality. Off the gate drop, contact with teammate Levi Kitchen forced him to make a great save, but go very wide into the first corner. Scored in 12th going by the finish jump the first go around, Robertson dug deep and was able to make his way up to sixth in just over 15 minutes. Those spots he made up were likely the difference in potentially leaving San Diego sixth in points instead of 10th. If only he didn't get bottled up at the start.
10th - No. 83 Cole Thompson (Team Solitare Heartbeat Hot Sauce Yamaha)
Not a bad start to 2023 for the Canadian at all. Thompson, just past midnight on the east coast, picked up his first podium in exactly a year, which was also in San Diego, just a hop skip, and a jump away at Petco Park. Don't look now either, but Thompson is 10th in the points two rounds in. Not a bad pickup by Chris Elliott and co.
14th - No. 508 Hunter Yoder (Partzilla/PRMX Kawasaki)
How about Hunter Yoder on Saturday night? He finally makes his first career 250 Supercross Main Event, and not only that, cracks the top 15 with the PRMX boys. A great night and story for him, especially after Yoder qualified unspectacularly in 27th.
250 West Class San Diego Top 10
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence
2nd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire
3rd No. 48 Cameron McAdoo
4th No. 56 Enzo Lopes
5th No. 33 Pierce Brown
6th No. 40 Stilez Robertson
7th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg
8th No. 69 Phil Nicoletti
9th No. 41 Derek Kelley
10th No. 83 Cole Thompson
250 West Class Points after San Diego
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (52 Points)
2nd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (46 Points)
3rd No. 48 Cameron McAdoo (42 Points)
4th No. 56 Enzo Lopes (36 Points)
5th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg (35 Points)
6th No. 40 Stilez Robertson (31 Points)
7th No. 69 Phil Nicoletti (30 Points)
8th No. 41 Derek Kelley (27 Points)
9th No. 79 Dylan Walsh (24 Points)
10th No. 83 Cole Thompson (23 Points)
1st- No. 1 Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)
In Tomac's final year with Monster Energy Kawasaki, his average start was 6.7. That number dropped to 5.1 last year and is at 2.5 through two rounds this year. Again, only a two-round sample size, but if ET3 is simply just good at starts now, that is a massive problem for everyone else. Things got tighter at the end with some lap traffic playing a big part in both Mains, but from lap five on, this one wasn't in much doubt at all. Here's an interesting couple of stats/notes for you as well. Last year, Tomac led 69 laps for the entire season. He's already at 30 laps led through two rounds in 2023. Additionally, his 46th career Main Event win comes in the shadow of Qualcomm Stadium, where James Stewart (so good by the way) got his in 2014.
2nd - No. 2 Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM)
We are not officially at 'Cooper Webb is back' territory just yet, but one more run like this and we absolutely will be. Lap traffic certainly played a role in his late-race surge, but cutting a nearly four-second gap down by nearly 80 percent has to be a big confidence booster for Webb. If he can leave this SoCal swing within 10 points of Tomac, I'd call that a win for the former two-time Champion.
5th - No. 23 Chase Sexton (Honda HRC)
Another good day at the office appeared to be in the works for Sexton. Well, that was until he got Bam-Bam'd very early on in the same spot Anderson got him. That cost Sexton four spots, all of which he regained in the ensuing two dozen laps, but no more than that. Felt like he had some podium speed two weeks in a row, but he couldn't get by Ken Roczen ahead of him, but not for the lack of effort mind you. It would have been interesting to see how Sexton would have raced Barcia had he gotten back to him as well.
7th - No. 21 Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
El Hombre was another guy who had some podium speed, but for the second week in a row, unforced errors put him outside the top five, in seventh, two rounds straight. Not the most ideal start to the season for Anderson, but once he gets the miscues out of his system, the good results shouldn't be too far behind. The speed Anderson had last year on the KX450 hasn't gone anywhere.
15th - No. 27 Malcolm Stewart (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)
The Mookie Fever peak will have to wait at least one more week after Stewart had a rough night at SnapDragon Stadium. Multiple times in the Main Event did the Rockstar Husky rider go down, most notably just under two laps in, which put him from seventh to dead last in the blink of an eye. Then Stewart went down at the end of the whoops later on, undoing the progress he did make to that point. Sans a front number plate and fender, Stewart did what he could to leave San Diego with some points, although he is way behind the eight ball early on in 2023.
450 Class San Diego Top 10
1st No. 1 Eli Tomac
2nd No. 2 Cooper Webb
3rd No. 51 Justin Barcia
4th No. 94 Ken Roczen
5th No. 23 Chase Sexton
6th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis
7th No. 21 Jason Anderson
8th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo
9th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger
10th No. 17 Joey Savatgy
250 West Class Points after San Diego
1st No. 1 Eli Tomac (52 Points)
2nd No. 2 Cooper Webb (46 Points)
3rd No. 23 Chase Sexton (39 Points)
4th No. 94 Ken Roczen (37 Points)
5th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (36 Points)
6th No. 51 Justin Barcia (33 Points)
7th No. 21 Jason Anderson (32 Points)
8th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (29 Points)
9th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (29 Points)
10th No. 45 Colt Nichols (28 Points)
Anaheim 1 PulpMX Industry Idiots Fantasy Team
450 Class: Cooper Webb (All-Star +2 ), Malcolm Stewart (-1), Justin Hill (+7), Alex Ray (+16)
250 Class: Jett Lawrence (All-Star, No Handicap), Wilson Todd (+8), Dilan Schwartz (+10), Stilez Robertson (No Handicap)
FFL: None Selected
Points Total: 219
Next Up: Anaheim, California (Angel Stadium) (Triple Crown Round No. 1)
Main Image via KTM/Align Media