Just as things were starting to look a little predictable in the 250SX class, the Eastern Regional of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series got underway at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, bringing fresh faces and energy to the mix. Several riders who were MIA last year due to injury showed the resiliency of youth, returning as if they hadn’t missed a beat, with only the same first-race-of-the-season nerves as everyone else. Let’s see who starts out the year on the Upside, and who starts from below.UpsideMarvin Musquin – Red Bull KTM: The likeable French rider got the holeshot and pulled smoothly away from the field, showing no signs of having missed last year’s 250SX season due to a torn ACL. Musquin had the race in hand early on and rode his 250 SX-F to a four-second finish over Justin Bogle, throwing in his signature heel clicker as he passed over the Monster Energy Supercross finish line. The win meant a lot to Musquin, who said from the podium: “I feel this year is the year. Two years ago was supposed to be the year, also, I’m 25 years old, those guys are like 18 to 20 years old, but I don’t mind!”
Justin Bogle – GEICO Honda: Picking up just about where he left off last season, the reigning 250SX Eastern Regional champion easily won his Heat, then got off in 2nd place behind Musquin and was not challenged before bringing his CRF250R to a 2nd place finish. “I got tight with the first-race jitters and that affected my performance in the Main just a little bit,” Bogle said. “I’m past that now and ready to get a win. I didn’t see any mistakes from Marvin, and I didn’t feel like I made any, so it should be a great battle all year.”Joey Savatgy – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki: Returning to Supercross after missing the 2014 season due to a broken scaphoid and punctured lungs (suffered in pre-season practice), Savatgy looked fast and aggressive at AT&T Stadium. Riding behind Anthony Rodriguez for more than half the race, he finally made a move around the Yamaha rider on Lap 10, taking his KX250F to a 2nd place result, a huge jump from his previous career best 6th place finish. With a quicker start, he’s going to be right in the thick of things. “I’m really excited to be on the podium,” said Savatgy. “After the heat race I was a little more confident, and when I got a good start in the main event I just kept pushing to get on the podium.”Anthony Rodriguez – Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha: Before the red flag was thrown, Rodriguez had a great race going. His YZ250F was running in 3rd behind Bogle, and the Venezuelan rider was doing an impressive job of holding off Savatgy before the red flag was thrown. Unfortunately, the staggered restart didn’t do him any favors. He was passed by Savatgy, Jeremy Martin, and Matt Lemoine in the blink of an eye, and by the end of the race had been chased down by another handful of riders. Still, Rodriguez is looking faster and stronger, and rode with gumption, and the 8 points he earned in Arlington are a career best. DownsideMartin Davalos – Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna: He looked great in his Heat, obviously has the speed, and managed to claw back from 18th (he went down in 1st turn by getting too close to Bogle) to a 10th place finish. Let’s hope this isn’t going to be a repeat of last year where almost every race Davalos looked great in his Heat, but went down in the Main.Arnaud Tonus – Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki: Looking rather like a Kawasaki rider exchange program since Ryan Villopoto has gone to Europe to compete in MXGP aboard his KX450F, Swiss MX2 rider Tonus made his U.S. racing debut in Arlington and looked promising right off the bat. He had the second fastest qualifying time in practice, and transferred straight to the Main with a 4th place finish in his Heat. Bad luck left Tonus stuck on a Tuff Block as he tried to avoid the pile up caused by Davalos going down, so he was happy when the Red Flag came out, and was able to regroup and finish in 8th place. “I am happy with how I was able to ride today,” said Tonus. “In the main event, I didn’t get a good start but when the red flag came out, it gave me an advantage. I was able to charge hard the last half of the race and make up some positions. With my first race over, I’m feeling more comfortable and I’m ready to get back to racing in Atlanta.”Kyle Cunningham – AG Motorsports/Gurrnaid Energy Racing Honda: Not the way you want to start the first race of the season, Cunningham had a big crash on Lap 8, resulting in a Red Flag being thrown as he lay face down on the top of the jump he high sided into. Luckily, the Texas native was not seriously injured, and we hope to see him next weekend in Atlanta.Nick Gaines – Traders Racing Kawasaki: Georgia native Gaines had a rocky start to his Supercross professional debut at Arlington, crashing in his Heat, then rebounding to get the holeshot in the LCQ, and finally going down in the whoops after leading half the race. He showed the speed that got him his Monster Energy Kawasaki Team Green ride as an amateur, so we look forward to seeing what Gaines can do next weekend at the Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.Vicki Golden – HRT Racing/Suzuki: It’s hard for anyone to live up to the unrealistic expectations that accompany hype, and it usually leaves a bad taste – just ask Mike Alessi. Attempting to be the first woman to qualify for a Monster Energy Supercross race, Golden has received an inordinate amount of attention, and it appears her speed is not quite ready for prime time. While I wish her the best and would like to see her succeed, the first goal should be qualifying, rather than entertaining talk of transferring to the Main. “Today was good and bad,” said Golden. “Unfortunately, I did not qualify, but all week, I have been saying that if I don’t qualify, I want to be as close as possible.” There were 13 riders faster than Golden who also did not qualify, and she was nearly four seconds short of posting a qualifying lap.Photograph by Simon Cudby
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.