Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 1 | Winners and Losers
Anaheim 1 is in the books, so let’s take a look at the Winners and Losers on opening night of the 2014 Monster Energy Supercross opener.
Ken Roczen. Red Bull KTM. Roczen is a rookie in the 450 class, yet he is not new to winning, with World Motocross MX2 and AMA 250 West Supercross championships to his credit. He has stepped up his game this season and it showed with a win at Anaheim 1 to open his rookie season. Now working with Aldon Baker, Ryan Villopoto’s trainer, any previous concerns about Roczen’s less-than-hardcore attitude about fitness can be put to rest. Although Roczen had to go to the Semi to qualify, he didn’t let that stop him from getting a great start, which put him into the position to win.
Ryan Dungey. Red Bull KTM. Dungey’s titles have always had a mental asterisk next to them due to injuries to major foes. At Anaheim 1, Dungey followed his usual M.O. by getting a decent start and staying within striking distance of the podium. Reeling off laps, waiting for mistakes in front of him, Dungey was the beneficiary of Villopoto’s mid-race mistake, moving from 5th to 4th. He then moved past James Stewart when JS7 went down in the whoops. Finally, Dungey caught veteran Chad Reed with four laps to go, securing a second place finish and a great start to the season.
Chad Reed. Discount Tire Racing Kawasaki. Reed rounded out the podium, putting to rest the question about whether TwoTwo Motorsports should have hired a younger rider for 2014. Reed’s results last year had many wondering if it was time for the 2-time AMA Supercross Champion to retire. Reed made a statement with his podium finish. He looks fit and fast enough to contend with the top five this season.
Ryan Villopoto. Monster Energy Kawasaki. Villopoto had a bad night, but did great damage control, making him a winner. He stalled his KX450F in the Heat, and then crashed it in the last corner. Yet, he still qualified second, giving him a good gate pick. In the Main, he got the holeshot, only to make an unforced error and hit the dirt. Unlike last year’s A1, where his mistakes put him near the back of the pack, this year he still managed a 4th place finish.
Mike Alessi. MotoConcepts Suzuki. #800 pulled a massive holeshot in his Heat by perfectly timing the gate, rode hard enough to maintain his lead for six laps, and then outfoxed arch-rival Villopoto with some smart (and aggressive) riding in the final two 180-degree corners. That gave Alessi the first Heat race win of his 10-year career (and without any laser help from brother Jeff), and won over fans with his emotional post-race interview.
KTM. The Austrian manufacturer walks away with the top two spots in the 450 class (and a third bike in the Top 10 thanks to Andrew Short), as well as a win in the 250 SX West race with Jason Anderson’s win.
The Fans. There’s more elite-class racing action now that Semis are back. When only the Top 4 riders transfer directly to the Main from the 450 Heats, the intensity is kicked up several notches. Giving the Top 4 in the LCQ a transfer spot—the grid is increased to 22 riders—top riders can have two bad motos and still make it to the Main. It was a great night of action at A1, with the promise of more to come.
James Stewart. Yoshimura Suzuki. The two-time Supercross Champion (and former reality show star) was looking close to his winning 2013 Monster Energy Cup form, and was closing in on Roczen just six laps from the checkers. With the speed Stewart was running, it was clear he would put Roczen’s feet to the fire. However, when Stewart caught the rookie in the whoops, JS7 got out of shape. His RM-Z450 swapped violently, sending Stewart flying and his bike tumbling into the track workers. With severely bent bars, the shaken Stewart would not remount to finish the race, walking away from A1 with only four points to his credit.
Ivan Tedesco. Rockstar Energy KTM. Picked up by Rockstar Energy KTM when Davi Millsaps injured his knee in pre-season practice, A1 was a wasted an opportunity for Tedesco. Having sat out the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross series, he surely wanted to remind fans that he hadn’t retired. Step one was qualifying, which he did with a 3rd in his Semi. His ride in the Main was short, unfortunately, as he went down in the sand section on Lap 2 and did not finish the race. One point.
Eli Tomac. Geico Honda. It was a very brief night for Tomac in his rookie season debut. He went down on the first lap of his Heat, colliding with Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer, and ended up with a pinched nerve that left no feeling in one arm. Tomac felt he was unable to safely ride, so he was done. Zero points.
Justin Barcia. Muscle Milk Honda. With the fastest qualifying time, winning his Heat race, having first dibs on gate selection, and having two major competitors crash in front of him (Villopoto and Stewart), his result of 5th place is simply not good enough for a rider of his caliber. He needs to step it up when everything is going his way.
Mike Alessi. MotoConcepts Suzuki. Yes, I named him a Winner for his Heat win, but he as unable to capitalize on it when he mistimed the gate drop in the Main, getting caught up and going into the first turn in 22nd place. You don’t expect a Heat winner that beat Villopoto mano-a-mano to finish outside of the Top 10. Alessi needs to take advantage on his good night, but 12th was all he could manage.
Photography by Don Williams
Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450 Results – Anaheim 1
1. Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM
2. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Kawasaki
4. Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki
5. Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda
6. Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha
7. Josh Grant, Corona, Calif., Yamaha
8. Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki
9. Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM
10. Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki
2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450 Class Season Standings
Ken Roczen, Murrieta, Calif., KTM, 25
Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM, 22
Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Kawasaki, 20
Ryan Villopoto, Poulsbo, Wash., Kawasaki, 18
Justin Barcia, Pinetta, Fla., Honda, 16
Justin Brayton, Cornelius, N.C., Yamaha, 15
Josh Grant, Corona, Calif., Yamaha, 14
Broc Tickle, Holly, Mich., Suzuki, 13
Andrew Short, Smithville, Texas, KTM, 12
Jake Weimer, Rupert, Idaho, Kawasaki, 11