SLC SX #1 | Bigwave’s Thoughts on Round 16
By Billy Rainford
With only two rounds left to settle the championships in the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series, there was a lot on the line at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It’s amazing how small the track looked after all the outdoor SX races we’ve gotten used to the past few weeks. It was a normal SX track, and I think the fact that a lot of people were expressing their displeasure simply means we are all Motocross fans at heart. Soon enough…
I lived in SLC for about 8 months back in the fall of 1994 to the spring of 1995. I spent a lot of time up on the University of Utah campus, so watching these rounds always brings back fond memories for me. I watched football games, track and field meets, and Supercross in that stadium.
SLC1 also marked the first time for Daniel Blair to handle the official play-by-play duties for the broadcast. I would say he did a very good job. I think there will always be opening night jitters, but he’s full of racing knowledge and is also able to get all the official calls in, which is a huge part of that role. He will continue to get better.
They also brought in Jeremy Albrecht as the pit reporter. Obviously, J-Bone has a ton of experience and brought some much-needed technical detail to the calls down on the floor. He also came across as a little nervous, but that is to be expected. Hardcore fans have been very vocal in their desire for this type of thing, so as Jeremy works his way into this role he could have a long future in the broadcasts if he wants it.
Let’s have a closer look at the 250 East and 450 class.
There’s just no way to sugar coat it – the 250 East class was thought of as a little “weak” when the season kicked off and this round in SLC it was even more watered down. Whether it was the travel needed to get from the east to Utah or the fact that the payout just didn’t justify it, the class only had a few riders who were regular podium threats. Only 4 riders who showed up wouldn’t be going to the Main.
The East riders have been off for 10 weeks. That’s a long time and likely a lot of the riders have been sorting out their summer plans and getting out on Motocross tracks in their home areas.
It really takes nothing away from riders who had better-than-usual results because they showed up and took their gate drops. You can’t win if you don’t play, to steal a familiar lottery slogan.
Let’s have a look at the top 5:
1. #30 Jo Shimoda KAW – Jo is and always has been one of the nicest, most genuine riders you’re ever going to meet, so it was really cool to see him get his first-ever Pro Supercross win. He withstood pressure from the other top riders the entire 15-minute main and held on to finish the race with a memorable fender slap. He said he “practiced fender slaps all week” when I asked him at the Press Conference. Jo is really nothing but upside, so it will be fun to watch as his career unfolds in front of us.
2. #18 Jett Lawrence HON – Jett didn’t get the start he would have wanted. He said he kind of over-heated his bike before the gate dropped and it affected the bike’s power heading into turn 1. He was in a heated battle with #42 Michael Mosiman and even reached back and gave him the international symbol for “You’re #1” after he got past him and went over the next jump.
“Now you know why I went at him at H1“
“Shows how brainless he is.”
It looks like Jett will pass the injured #29 Christian Craig next week and take 3rd in this championship.
3. #64 Colt Nichols YAM – Colt “Careless Whisper” Nichols didn’t get off to a good start. In fact, he said he “botched the start.” He also said he had “no flow early” and wallowed a little before regrouping and heading toward the front where he obviously belongs. He’ll take this championship home next week at the final round which is the East/West Showdown…not Shootout…
4. #42 Michael Mosiman GasGas – Michael always seems to be a good dude and I’ve always hoped for his success. He pressured Jo for the lead repeatedly, but every time he tried to get around him he would end up losing time and have to remount his attack. He eventually messed up and fell back to 4th place. With the words said by Jett at the Press Conference, I’m looking forward to a week of social media battles and a good fight at the final round this Saturday.
5. #773 Thomas Do KTM – This was the best finish we’ve seen for the rider from France. He ended up 52 seconds behind Jo at the front but his best lap time puts him right in the mix and quite a bit ahead of that of the 6th place rider, #241 Joshua Varize. Thomas was also the last rider to not get lapped.
#29 Christian Craig was sitting 2nd in points heading into the round but a crash earlier in the day left him wondering if he’d even be able to line up. He rolled up to the start and took the gate drop for Heat 2 but the pain in his ankle was too much and he was forced off the track and back to the pits. He’ll likely fall to 4th in the series after next week, if Jett manages to score 8 points.
#95 Josh Osby was racing in some pain, having a broken navicular in his wrist. He was looking good in the Main and would have likely kept moving forward, but went down with another rider and was out of the race. He’s dropped to 6th place in the series. Hopefully, he’s OK.
The big news in the 450 class was the injury and subsequent retirement of #36 Martin Davalos. As he said, his plan was to announce his retirement after next week but the Press Day crash that left him with a broken collarbone and a concussion moved his plan up a week. I’m most upset that Jeff McConkey didn’t get the chance to see Martin in the 450 class full-time.
The title is almost a foregone conclusion with #2 Cooper Webb out front and all but named 2-time champion. However, #94 Ken Roczen was still in the hunt, mathematically, so off we went.
Here’s a look at the top 5:
1. #25 Marvin Musquin KTM – It’s actually become a bit of a thing in my race night text message group where I pick Marvin in my top 3 each week and each week he lets me down. I didn’t pick him this week and he goes out and wins. It figures. Marvin was heading onto his flight during the Press Conference but he was able to get out that he just wanted to get back in the mix after missing all of 2020 and then suffering that concussion a couple weeks ago. He’s still got speed to win races!
2. #2 Cooper Webb KTM – Cooper doesn’t have to win any more races this year to take home the title, but this guy is so tough mentally that it’s just what he does. He looked like he was going to settle for 4th but then he just started clicking off sub-50-second laps and headed to the front when his mechanic told him he could still win this one (Thanks for the info, J-Bone). I think we all expected him to make a pass on Marvin in the whoops (and so did he) but he crossed the line a very close second to his teammate.
3. #27 Malcolm Stewart YAM – I find it hard to believe that this was his first 450 podium. Malcolm said basically the same thing in the Press Conference and added that this is a huge weight off his shoulders. We always joke in our text thread that no matter what happens he ends up 5th or 6th. Well, he finally proved us wrong. He said he did everything he could to hang on to the rear wheel of Cooper, but that he couldn’t. Doing well makes doing well easier, so let’s see where he lands at Round 17.
4. #14 Dylan Ferrandis YAM – Around halfway through the Main, Dylan was back in 7th place fighting with #7 Aaron Plessinger and #1 Eli Tomac. I think it’s just a matter of time before Dylan sorts out the 450 class and ends up a consistent podium threat. Not that there’s a lot of room in that fight, but he should be added to that list very soon.
5. #23 Chase Sexton HON – With such perfect riding style, I’m always surprised when Chase ends up on the ground. Like Ferrandis, Chase will be a consistent threat in the future. The biggest upsides to Chase are his technique and the fact that this was only his rookie year in the 450 Supercross class. #23 will definitely be a champion, maybe several times.
Eli Tomac qualified first and went in as a lot of people’s choice for the win at SLC1. He went down a couple times and had a 1:06 lap on lap 19 and just never looked like a threat for what used to be his regular run-to-the-front move. He say’s it’s not true, but he really seems like a different rider this year. He crossed the line back in unfamiliar territory, 10th.
#94 Ken Roczen did it again. He led the first 14 laps of the Main and looked great. Unfortunately, once you throw away a lead once in front of the world, the world starts almost expecting it, and that’s what happened. He pushed the front end in a right-hand corner and went down, dropping back to 5th. He crossed the line back in 6th after getting passed by Ferrandis. On the upside, he looked genuinely happy in that post-race interview. He won’t be winning the title in 2021.
#51 Justin Barcia his the ground in turn 1, was dead last, and then fell again. Of course, I had him in my top 3… He crossed the line way back in 14th and said,
“The Main Event was difficult to say the least. I got pushed out off the start, somehow cross-jumped into the bails and ended up going down and the bike hit me in the back. I charged up to 11th and was still moving forward and then I ended up endo’ing and bending my bike up pretty good. It’s definitely super disappointing on my end but I’m going to regroup and do the best I can do next week to finish the season out strong.”
#17 Joey Savatgy keeps getting great starts. He did it again Saturday but then went down early and crossed the line in 11th. I’m always looking for the new Kyle Lewis and so far Joey is fitting that role.
One more round to go this weekend.