Bigwave’s Brainstorm | Houston 2 Supercross
By Billy Rainford
The 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series was back in action on Tuesday for Round 2. The track was basically run in the reverse direction after the first turn was cut sharper and riders flipped the track around.
Here’s what I thought about Night 2 in Houston:
250 East First Qualifier
Unfortunately, the incident #134 Jess Pettis had when he tweaked his knee on a tough block at Houston 1 has taken him out of action until further evaluation. #551 Guillaume St Cyr was holding up the Canadian flag for us on his own at Round 2.
Guillaume took 13th place in 250 B first qualifier with a time of 47.646. #216 Devin Harriman was quickest in the group with a 46.015, so Guillaume had some work to do heading into the final qualifier.
#29 Christian Craig came out and busted an impressive 42.368 lap and was joined by #18 Jett Lawrence, #24 RJ Hampshire, and #64 Colt Nichols in the sub-43 club.
450 First Qualifier
When the 450 Group A riders hit the track for their first timed qualifier, only #23 Chase Sexton had dipped below 43 seconds until #16 Zach Osborne put in the fastest time with a 42.138 time.
#40 Vince Friese had #9 Adam Cianciarulo clip his rear wheel in the first turn and almost go down. It was the start of a tough day for the former Canadian National competitor.
In all, there were 12 riders in 450 A that managed to clock a time in the 42’s.
#805 Carlen Gardner came out and put in the fastest time in 450 Group B with a 44.96 time. #280 Cade Clason was the top PRMX rider in 4th with a 45.157 best lap time.
250 East Second Qualifier
Guillaume was back on the track and managed to drop his time by a slim margin with a 47.552, putting him 12th in the session.
#87 Curren Thurman was quickest in this B qualifier with a 44.571.
Lawrence went into a tough block in the first turn when the gate dropped for the final 250 A qualifier. Teammates Nichols and Craig headed out front.
Craig would get in behind #38 Austin Forkner and seemed to force an error out of him when he tipped into a tough block.
Forkner seemed a bit out of sorts and would take a pretty hard header in the sand but get up and be OK.
450 Second Qualifier
#10 Justin Brayton (about to turn 37), Friese, and #51 Justin Barcia headed out front.
Sexton was the first to dip into the 41’s but was then topped by a heater lap by Cianciarulo with just over 3:00 left to go in the session.
Osborne joined them followed by #27 Malcolm Stewart, #94 Ken Roczen, #14 Dylan Ferrandis, #1 Eli Tomac, and #25 Marvin Musquin.
#43 Fredrik Noren topped the final 450 B qualifying session with a time of 43.950 followed by Clason with a 44.416.
250 Heat 1
When the gate dropped for the first heat of the night, there was carnage in the first turn as #86 Kevin Moranz would get forced wide and into Forker, putting them both at the back. The incident would also force St Cyr to go wide in the first turn and he headed out at the back of the pack, too.
The holeshot went to Nichols followed by #42 Michael Mosiman. St Cyr was 14th early on as Nichols went down in the sand, handing the lead over to Mosiman.
At the flag, Mosiman took the win with a 5-second lead on Nichols, followed by #49 Mitchell Oldenburg, Forkner (who had an amazing ride from the back of the pack), #76 Grant Harlan, and #773 Thomas Do.
250 Heat 2
Holeshot to Lawrence, followed by Craig, #115 Max Vohland, and Hampshire doing battle behind them.
Lawrence held on for the win ahead of Craig, who was about 5 seconds behind him.
450 Heat 1
Holeshot to Musquin, followed by Sexton and #21 Jason Anderson. #19 Justin Bogle and #447 Deven Raper were down hard in the first turn.
Because of the positioning of the first turn the race was red flagged as riders all came back towards the two downed riders and the crew tending to them.
450 Heat 1 Restart
Holeshot to Stewart, followed by Musquin and Ferrandis. Friese would have a strange get-off when he slipped off the back of his bike and let it go over the triple. His bike would cartwheel into oncoming riders and former teammate Brayton was forced to casually brush it off as it tried to take him out. Friese headed back to the pits.
Sexton got to the lead early ahead of Musquin, Ferrandis, and Brayton.
Ferrandis made an impressive outside pass on Musquin to take over 2nd place and made it rookie 450 riders, 1-2.
450 Heat 2
Holeshot to Barcia ahead of Osborne and #20 Broc Tickle.
Barcia held on for the win ahead of Osborne and gave a look-back across the line. Cianciarulo and Tomac had a good battle followed by Roczen in 5th.
St Cyr was 12th on the first lap and would make his way up to 8th place (he actually said he passed to 7th but then messed up in the whoops on the approach to the checkered flag), but not high enough to make his way to the Main.
PRMX rider #125 Luke Neese took the win and had a nice battle with his teammate #170 Devin Simonson.
Friese was all alone out front in this one and took an easy win ahead of #28 Brandon Hartranft.
Off the start, Cade Clason found himself stuck between the rear wheel and the fender of Noren. Cade calmly tapped him and pointed to the situation.
When the gate dropped it was Lawrence with the holeshot ahead of Hampshire and Forkner.
Craig was back in the pack and had to fight through the field from start to finish.
#30 Jo Shimoda and Vohland had a nice battle with Jo managing to separate from the other youngster.
Forkner tried an inside pass on Hampshire and both of them were down on the ground. RJ appeared to falter and cut down as Forkner had jumped into the corner and their lines came together.
Hampshire was back in 20 and Forkner got going in 6th.
At around the halfway mark, Lawrence was out to a 10-second lead and looking flawless. Craig and Nichols were next, followed by Mosiman, Shimoda, Forkner and Vohland.
Do, #95 Josh Osby, and #55 John Short were having a nice battle behind them.
At the flag, Lawrence took a comfortable win ahead of Nichols, Craig, Mosiman, and Shimoda.
Holeshot to Sexton, followed by AC, Tomac, and Brayton. When they crossed the line for the first time it was Sexton, AC, Tomac, Brayton, Osborne, and Stewart.
Barcia got squeezed in the first turn and was forced way back. He also found himself stuck in first gear and had to salvage what he could like that.
Ken Roczen got off to a bit of a slow jump and found himself fighting from a poor start.
AC would be another rider to fall victim to the sand section and he dropped back.
Coming out of the sand, Sexton would lose control and take an awkward fall over the bars and onto the back of his right shoulder. He took a while to get up and was done for the night.
Also down was #17 Joey Savatgy after he hit that same berm where Ferrandis got around Musquin earlier in the night. He left limping and was done for the night.
Just past the half, Tomac was out front followed by Brayton, Osborne, Musquin, Stewart, Webb, and Ferrandis.
#2 Cooper Webb and Ferrandis were in a nice battle. With their two personalities, I was really hoping for a tight, physical battle, but Dylan was able to make the pass and keep moving forward, seemingly without incident.
Musquin would aso go down in the sand and drop to 6th at the finish.
Osborne was closing on Tomac out front and we all expected to see a battle, but it never materialized as Tomac was able to manage the gap and keep Osborne in second and out of a position to make any kind of block pass.
Brayton, Roczen and Webb were in a great battle for 4th place. AC was still racing and was back in 9th place. He would finish back in 12th place.
With a couple laps to go, Osborne would go down in a rutted, right-hand corner, allowing Ferrandis to go by and take over 2nd spot.
At the flag, Tomac lit the candles, followed by Ferrandis and then around a 6-second gap to Brayton in 3rd then Webb, Roczen, and Musquin.
So, what did we learn?
In the 250 class, Jett Lawrence is going to be even more difficult to beat, now that he knows he can do it. He looked like a much more mature rider than we saw last year. He now looks completely at home going fast enough to win the mains. That’s going to be a problem for the rest of the field.
Colt Nichols is quietly going about his business. I don’t know why he wasn’t getting the attention of some of the other riders in the pre-season, but he’s proving he belongs in the conversation and may just take this title if he can get a few holeshots. On the podium he even said that Lawrence “got out front and kind of made us all look silly.”
Christian Craig is smoking fast in the whoops. It looked like he was in a higher gear than everyone else when he came up to pass them there. He said he “needs to pick it up in the later stages.”
Michael Mosiman is a rider who also doesn’t get a ton of hype, but he’s looking really good on his new ride. He’s a really good kid and I remember seeing him at Lake Elsinore when he went out of his way to thank me for being there and snapping photos and video of him and the others.
Jo Shimoda may actually be the nicest guy on the track. He’s been steadily improving but I don’t think I thought he was going to be this impressive. He seems to be gelling nicely with his new ride.
Austin Forkner has still got to clean up his racing craft at this level. He seems to be finding it difficult to go that fast and make wise racing decisions. We all know he should probably be winning, we’re just waiting to see it.
Max Vohland is supposed to be out there “gaining experience,” but I think they forgot to tell him that! He gets good starts and is giving more experienced riders fits out there.
In the 450 class, we all thought we’d have a whole slew of different winners in a field this deep, and we still might, but seeing Eli Tomac at the front and taking the checkers has got to have the rest of the field worried. Yes, the field is crazy deep, but Eli just did what is expected of him. It will be interesting to see if this is the start of a streak or not.
I was excited to see Ferrandis in the 450 class because I love his racing attitude. I’m not sure how he’s going to be welcomed in the premiere class, but he just showed them all that he’s for real at the very top level. I was expecting some fireworks when he came up on Cooper Webb, but things didn’t get weird.
Chase Sexton looks good going the pace at the front. I think his team will be more angry with the addition of a sand section than they are at him for going down. He landed hard on the back of his right shoulder and we’ll have to see what the result of that impact is. At this point, he’s waiting to see how bad it is.
Justin Brayton just keeps rolling! Good for him to snag a podium as he approaches his 37th birthday. I don’t actually know him but he seems like one of the most solid dudes out there.
Cooper Webb is closing in on getting this season sorted out. I think he’s a race or two away from taking a win.
Ken Roczen was my pick for the win at H2. He was one of the riders docked 4 points for jumping on a red cross flag. To be honest, I think the flagger should have been docked! That was not the best display of a calm and deliberate flag wave. Stand in your position, watch the downed rider and wave the flag with purpose. That’s all that’s required of you. The track crew will do the rest, that part is not on you.
Marvin made a rare mistake but is looking like he is here to stay up near the front. He’s getting great starts and will be a factor all season.
AC looked great until that fall in the sand. He’s coming back from surgery and will keep getting faster over the season.
Justin Barcia was stuck in first gear and still busted out a 9th place. I was almost ready to write him off until I learned of the bike issue. I said, almost.
And I was surprised to see a corner mistake by Zach Osborne as he was circling in on Tomac out front. Watching from home, I wasn’t sure if he went down as a result of a pass by Ferrandis, but he just went down on his own, I’m told.
Picking a winner at each round in the 450 class is a bit of a roll of the dice…unless Eli wins again at H3.
A guy could get used to seeing races every couple days! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the races…from my couch.