By Billy Rainford
Someone told me it’s Monday today, so I’m inclined to believe them. We’ve had our heads down packing up and entire houseful of memories and dusty skeletons for the past few days here at my folks’ house on Lake Simcoe, so I really haven’t looked at any sort of calendar lately.
Because we were elbows up and staring at the front fender of all things Rainford Archives this week, I didn’t even have time to head to the first competitive race of the season in my neck of the woods with the AMO Ontario Provincial Championship round at Gopher Dunes. There were over 600 entries at the sand track outside of London, south of Woodstock and near Tillsonburg. Damn, I wasn’t happy to miss it!
The weather was perfect for racing, too. Not too hot with low humidity and sunny skies. Perfect.
Let’s have a look at a few results and see who was there…
Remember this first result and who got 9th for the future:
Damn, it feels great to look over some local results again!
Full results HERE.
Also, Canadian #43 Noah Viney was racing in Utah at the Midwest Regional for the 2020 Amateur Nationals at Loretta Lynn‘s.
Noah took wins in the Mini Sr. 1 and Mini Sr. 2 classes to punch his ticket to the dude ranch in Tennessee later this summer.
Congratulations, Noah, and good luck. He will now head to Florida for the summer to train with Tim Ferry.
Salt Lake City #5/Round 15 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series was back at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah (Go, Utes!) Sunday evening. Does it seem like we’re watching an awful lot of Supercross these days? That’s because we are! I feel like one race has just finished and we’re dropping the gate on another. I’m not complaining, at all, just mentioning it because I almost missed it yesterday!
Here’s a quick look at my “McThoughts“-ish from SLC#5:
#1W Dylan Ferrandis is the defending champion, qualified fastest, and is still the points leader with only one race left in the 250 West series, the East/West Showdown. I get the feeling he just did what he had to do in that main. No need to panic and no need to push for the win if it wasn’t going to come easily. He played it smart.
#52 Austin Forkner is in that position where you win a race and forget that the other rider knows he didn’t have to win. We’ve all been there, just not at this level.
These two have a pretty aggressive history and when you’re the guy out front in the points you try to stay away. However, when you’re the guy doing the chasing, you want to be close enough for something to “accidentally” happen to your competition. Truthfully, I’m surprised Austin didn’t wait for him and get into it more on Sunday.
Forkner has #29 Cameron McAdoo as a teammate and Cameron was the one who took things into his own hands for the team early in their heat race, taking Ferrandis off the track in turn 2.
Just before their heat, heat 1 had all kinds of chaos early. Forkner took 16-year-old Australian rookie #83 Jett Lawrence wide and out in turn 1. Lawrence got his chance later as his brother, #35 Hunter Lawrence, had an incident with Forkner, putting him behind Jett again.
Jett got his chance as he made an inside pass on Forker and pushed him off the track. If you watch the replay, Austin sort of came into oncoming traffic very briefly and there was actually a rider going by when he did. It could have been uglier.
Ferrandis got out front in the main and was looking great. Forkner slowly reeled him in and made a solid slam pass on Dylan before the finish line jump and held on for the win.
He’s still 7 points behind Ferrandis with just the Showdown to go, so you know Dylan knew the math and will do what he needs to do to repeat as champion next weekend.
#22 Chad Reed grabbed the holeshot in 450 Heat 1 but wasn’t able to run the pace of the leaders for long.
After staying at the top of qualifying until the very end when Eli Tomac took over, #50 Benny Bloss took advantage of some troubles for the other top riders and crossed the line for his first-ever 450 heat race win.
#15 Dean Wilson was fast early, too, and took 2nd ahead of #51 Justin Barcia, who has seemed to be off the pace in the mains lately.
Heat 2 was stacked and #94 Ken Roczen shut up his critics and took the win there, shingles be damned! Not sure if you heard, but Kenny has shingles…
I was interested in the close battle I saw on the live ticker between PRMX teammates, #280 Cade Clason and #86 Josh Cartwright.
They were in a great battle of their own until it looked like Cade went down with another rider.
I didn’t mention it above, but their 250 riders were in a crazy battle in the LCQ with #88 Logan Karnow managing to get by #118 Cheyenne Harmon. Logan jumping through the whoops looked to be a little faster in this fight.
They went to the 450 LCQ and Cade finished in that horrible 5th place spot, missing the main by just one position.
#1 Cooper Webb grabbed the holeshot in the main with Roczen right behind him. These two definitely have a history, so you didn’t know what was going to happen.
Points leader Tomac made things tough on himself after Webb sort of stood him up in the first turn, leaving him fighting from a poor start.
Roczen made a pass on Cooper with about 17 minutes still left and began to pull away from the field.
Kenny had a slight cushion to Cooper, Cooper had about 8 seconds over Tomac, but there were 3 great battles going on behind them.
#27 Malcolm Stewart and #16 Zach Osborne, Deano and #4 Blake Baggett, and #10 Justin Brayton and #7 Aaron Plessinger were all in dogfights.
Cooper started to close in on Kenny as the laps wound down, and you had the feeling Kenny was going to fade like before, but it never really happened.
Eli said he “got squirrelly in the whoops” and so “got conservative after the half.” He looked to sort of settle for 3rd behind the riders who are only in contention if Eli does something dumb, so he didn’t.
We move back to the 250 East this Wednesday and the top 450 riders only have 2 more rounds to try and force an error out of Tomac or else he will finally close the deal on a 450 SX title.
OK, I had my shot now here’s what the officials had to say:
Roczen Returns to Form with Big Win in 450SX Class in Utah
Forkner Tightens Title Chase with Western Regional 250SX Class Victory
Salt Lake City (June 14, 2020) With another emotional 2020 win in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship racing, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen railed into the lead early in the Main Event and took the 450SX Class win at Round 15, Presented by Discount Tire. Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb, the winner of the previous round, took second, losing a spot in the championship points to Roczen. Current points leader Eli Tomac of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team turned a first corner near-crash into a podium position; he retains a comfortable points lead with two rounds remaining.
In the second Utah-based round of Western Regional 250SX Class competition, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner battled past points leader Dylan Ferrandis of the Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing team to narrow the points gap to seven with only one round remaining in that division.
|Ken Roczen looked fast, healthy, and strong. His win kept him in the title fight with two rounds remaining. Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment, Inc.|
After Ken Roczen’s announcement earlier in the week that he’d been diagnosed with shingles, and how that compounds his other physical ailments, most were not expecting a strong ride from the German rider over the entire 20-minute plus one lap Main Event. When the gate dropped, Tomac reached the first corner ahead of the pack but Cooper had the inside line and gave Tomac a strong bump. Webb crossed the holeshot line first, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson right on his wheel and Roczen right behind. In the second corner, Roczen cut under Anderson and took the line, forcing a mistake that had Anderson jumping into the Tuff Blox and down hard.
Early on it seemed to be a race in which Webb would sprint away while Tomac marched his way into the runner-up position and then hunted him, but Roczen hounded defending-champion Webb for three minutes then slingshot around a technical inside rut to grab the lead. From there, the Honda rider was never contested, clicking off his first laps led in any of the Utah rounds of 2020 and nabbing a surprise win. It was his fourth win of the season and the 15th of his career. Tomac reached third place just over six minutes into the race but could never make up the six to seven second gap to Roczen or the three second gap to Webb. With about four minutes left on the race clock he eased back to hold onto a podium finish, the 65th of his career; it allowed his championship points lead to drop under one full race’s points. With two rounds to go, Tomac has a 24-point lead over Roczen and a 25-point lead over Webb, which means Tomac could wrap up the title with a win – or by earning two points on Roczen and one on Webb – at this Wednesday’s penultimate round.
On the podium, even with the quiet stadium that makes this season-ending racing possible, Roczen showed the emotion of the win that puts him back into second position in the championship points standings, “It’s a big, big turnaround; obviously after the last couple of races that’s not easy to do. But I had fun out here. We got the bike dialed and my physical conditions were a lot better today. So, won the heat race and won the main; it was an awesome battle. I really gelled with the track out here today and with the bike, so I’m so happy with what Factory Honda Racing has been doing with me this year, we got the bike super good. And I want to say thank you to all my sponsors that have come along with me on this ride.”
|Austin Forkner battled fiercely for every spot on the slick Utah track; his efforts netted him another win and closed the points gap down to seven. Photo Credit: Feld Entertainment, Inc.|
The racing in the Western Regional 250SX Class also defied expectations. A crash in his heat race put Dylan Ferrandis in a bad spot off the start; he still managed a holeshot around the slick, flat first corner just ahead of GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig, with Forkner in third. Three and a half minutes into the 15-minute plus one lap event, Forkner cut under Craig for the runner-up position and started to work down the 1.6 second gap to leader Ferrandis. With four and a half minutes on the race clock, Forkner put an aggressive contact-pass on Ferrandis, sending the Yamaha rider temporarily off the track. Behind them, GEICO Honda’s Jett Lawrence, a 16-year old rookie, carved his way forward, using lappers to his advantage, and reached his first ever Monster Energy Supercross podium.
The win narrows the gap between Forkner and Ferrandis to seven, and gives Forkner the mental edge going into a one round break – which only means one week with the 2020 accelerated race schedule – before the title is decided in the East/West Showdown, which pays standard race points as the top riders from each division race head-to-head for the only time this year.
On the podium Forkner was asked about his charge forward and past Ferrandis after two races earlier in the year when the Yamaha rider had caught and passed him, “The roles were reversed this time. I was behind this time. I was the chaser this time whereas it’s usually been him. So, he had all the pressure on him… I felt really good. Honestly, that race was one of the best races I’ve ever raced as far as Supercross goes. My speed was super good. I was really patient. The track was pretty easy to make a mistake on… those two tight little turns were glass, so it was easy to make a mistake. And I was patient and I waited for an opening. And it wasn’t much of an opening; I had to cut the turn pretty tight and make a pretty aggressive pass. But I mean, you know, he would’ve done the same thing – he’s done the same thing to me, so, you know, I mean all’s fair, it’s racing. And I rode – I’m really happy about that ride. I felt really good.”
The rapid-fire racing in Utah continues, with Round 16 held this Wednesday, June 17th, at 7:00 PM ET. The racing is carried live on NBCSN on cable or over the NBC Sports Gold app over an internet connection. The event will host the final standard-format Eastern Regional 250SX Class race before the season finale wraps up the full 17-round series, including the East/West Showdown, on Sunday, June 21st. That mid-day race will be split with live airings on NBCSN and NBC, or in its entirety live on the NBC Sports Gold app.
Meh, not bad.
Racing Preparations Continue
Finally, we had some motocross actions last weekend when MXGP World champion Tim Gajser made his return to racing at a local race in his country of Slovenia. The HRC rider posted some videos on his social media and as can be expected, many gathered to see the World Champion in action.
Of course, Gajser is excited to be back and speaking a little while ago, the HRC rider mentioned about the fact the MXGP riders will need to change their whole strategy as the FIM Motocross World Championship returns, running a number of Grand Prix’s back to back to make sure we can get the 2020 completed.
“I think it is good (normally) to have at least one weekend of break,” Gajser said. “Because the season is long, and we have 20 races. We start in March and end in September (normally), so we have three GPs in a row and then a weekend off, and it is good to have a weekend off to recharge the batteries. Right now, with this unusual situation, when we come back we will need to do many races in a row, I know that will be physically and mentally very tough, but we all want to race, so we will handle this.”
Of course, all around Europe training tracks are opening, and MXGP and MX2 riders can prepare for what is looking more and more like an August start. Former Grand Prix rider Marc De Reuver is happy that his F&H Kawasaki riders can now all train together.
“All training track in Holland open this week,” De Reuver said. “So, all my riders can train together. I have been spending some time in Belgium with some riders and Holland with other riders, but now we can all train together and that is great news. I remember when we first went into lockdown and I was sitting on the sofa and I was like, this is rather good you know. Get some rest, but then I realized I have no life without motocross. I am happy we are back training and it is a little like we are back to normal. My feeling is we will also find a way to go back to racing.”
The motocross world is without question excited as the lockdown period gets closer and closer to being completely over and we can not only get back into our normal lives, but also get the sport back on its feet and the wonderful sport of motocross can be run.
Riders like Jeffrey Herlings, Antonio Cairoli, Clement Desalle, Gautier Paulin and many more are preparing to battle each other again, and we all know that all will be doing their best to make sure when that first Grand Prix will be run again, they will all be prepared as well as possible.
Author: Geoff Meyer
Have a great week, everyone. Once I get this house up for sale it will be full speed ahead into this shortened summer of moto, and I can’t wait!