Oakland Supercross | Align with Us photo

Bigwave’s Briefs | 2023 Oakland Supercross – The Canadians

By Billy Rainford

We finally made it to Oakland, California, on Saturday for what was supposed to be Round 2 of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series at Ringcentral Stadium. Unfortunately, while I was out there the weather was so bad and they got so much rain that they were actually under a state of emergency and were unable to hold the race. That meant our numbering sequence was all out of whack and it seemed to upset some people who were reading reports on a weekly basis. Well, we can all relax now because next week Round 7 in Arlington, Texas, will actually be Round 7.

250 West

250 West Main holeshot | Align with Us photo

The Canadians

250 West round 3 meant Canadians #83 Cole Thompson and #500 Julien Benek were back in action. Cole has been a top 10 threat and spent the east rounds racing his 250 in the 450 class. Julien took some much needed time to get his body back in tip top shape. He’s been fighting a shoulder issue after an early season crash and definitely benefited from the break.

I’d been speaking with Kyle Springman leading up to the Oakland round and he said he was doing what he could to get 2022 Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross Champion #518 Parker Eales and Kevin Urqhart rounded up for action, but said that he was unsuccessful in his attempts. It looks like we’ll have to wait until the Seattle, WA round March 25th at Lumen Field to see Parker back in action.

#83 Cole Thompson | Bigwave photo

Cole Thompson: In the first qualifier, Cole managed 14th fastest in Group A with a lap of 1:11.094 on lap 8. In the second qualifier, he went faster and did a best lap time of 1:09.139 for 8th in the final A session. That lap time put him in 10th spot combined heading to the night show.

Cole was in Heat 1 and had 5th gate pick. He got out to a good start and was up in 8th spot at the end of the first lap after getting off the gate in around 6th place.

He had #43 Levi Kitchen and his old nemesis #41 Derek Kelley behind him late in the race. Kitchen got by with just over a lap to go and then Kelley got by on the last lap, putting Cole in 8th place, but headed directly to the Main.

In the Main, Cole went to the line with 16th gate pick and was in the middle of the inside section of gates. He was 16th off the start and is listed 14th at the completion of the first lap.

He made passes throughout the 15-minute Main and found himself behind Canadian Triple Crown Series 250 champion #84 Mitchell Harrison on lap 4. He made the pass and worked his way up to 9th place at the checkered flag.

Cole now sits 11th in 250 West point, 1 ahead of Kelley.

#500 Julien Benek makes his first-ever AMA Supercross Main | Bigwave photo

Julien Benek: Julien had been getting his shoulder back in shape over the break and was looking forward to getting back in action in Oakland.

With two full sets of whoops, the track was one that played into Julien’s strong suit. The tall rider from BC grew up racing indoors in the Future West Moto Canadian Arenacross Championship series since he was little.

He finished the first qualifying session in 9th place (1:14.523) in Group B. With only 43 riders on the Oakland entry list, the concern wasn’t to simply make it into the night show, but to qualify as high as he could to secure a decent gate pick.

He went for the big quad in the straight before the corner that led to the finish line and took a hard hit after coming up short. Fortunately, nothing was injured and he was OK to continue with the day.

In the final qualifying session, Julien knocked a few seconds off his time and ended up 6th in his group with a best lap of 1:11.852. That time put him 23rd in combined 250 West qualifying.

He headed into Heat 2 with 15th gate pick. He was up in 8th place off the start and was 13th at the end of the first lap. He dropped a spot to 14th and then worked his way up to 11th at the checkered flag. With only 9 making it directly to the Main, he was headed to the LCQ.

In the LCQ, Julien had 3rd gate pick and blasted out to take the lead on the first lap with #79 Dylan Walsh behind and pressuring him. Walsh would get by through the whoops on lap 2, but Julien didn’t let him go and returned the favour by showing Walsh a wheel in several corners before seeming to settle for 2nd spot and a trip to the Main, his first ever!

He went to the line with 20th gate pick. He’s listed as 20th at the end of the first lap. We have a podcast interview scheduled with Julien today and will get his thoughts on the entire day/night and let him take us through exactly what happened in the Main.

He crossed the line in 19th place and earned his first AMA Supercross points, scoring 4. He’s now listed as 30th in 250 West.

The series now heads back to 250 East competition with rounds in Arlington, Daytona, Indianapolis, and Detroit, before heading to Seattle, WA for the next 250 West round on March 25th.

The plan was for Julien to line up in the 450 class at some of the east rounds, so we’ll have to wait and see if that happens. It’s likely the same with Cole.

My next round will be at Daytona International Speedway during Bike Week, so watch for more up-to-the-minute coverage of our guys from that round.