Oakland Supercross 450SX Commentary
While the racing wasn’t dramatic at the Oakland round of the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series at O.Co Coliseum—Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey won easily, and no podium battles to be seen—the drama that is any championship series continues to unfold. A couple of top riders have essentially been eliminated from championship contention, while others are watching it slowly slip away. Let’s take a look at who is on the Upside in Monster Energy Supercross and which riders are on the Downside.
1. Red Bull/KTM’s Ryan Dungey. What a year Dungey is having, and he completely dominated at Oakland. He qualified fastest. He won his Heat. He got the holeshot in the Main. He led all 20 laps in the Main. He increased his lead on each of the first seven laps, and then carefully managed the gap, never letting the competition within two seconds. Amazing.
2. Red Bull/KTM’s Marvin Musquin. Musquin’s podium ride at Oakland was a breakthrough ride for Dungey’s teammate, as the 26-year-old 450SX rookie (and two-time MX2 World Champion) struggled to find his way in the opening three rounds, never finishing above 9th place. It was starting to look like Musquin might not be made for 450s. However, at Oakland, Musquin parlayed a 2nd place at the start into a never-challenged 3rd at the end, as he let only Ken Roczen by the entire Main. The big question to be answered at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ is: Was Oakland a fluke or the beginning of a trend for Musquin?
3. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen. It was an uneventful, but fruitful ride for Roczen in Oakland. He got a good start, and rode consistently, even as Dungey gapped him. Roczen was over 10 seconds up on Musquin at the end, but fell as far as 6.6 seconds back of Dungey at the end of Lap 18. Roczen seems to have shaken off the early season blahs that kept him off the podium in the first two weeks, but can he find what it takes to challenge Dungey?
4. Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson. Here’s a trivia question for you to stump your Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX fan friends: Who is the only rider besides Dungey to finish in the top 5 at the first four rounds? Yes, it’s Anderson. That consistency has moved him back into 2nd place in the season standings (tied with Chad Reed, but ahead on the tiebreaker). Anderson is fast, no doubt, and knows how to work his way through the pack, but he needs to get his starts down. He was 11th off the line in Oakland, and that meant he had no chance of challenging for the podium. Right now, Anderson is he only rider to show Dungey the way to the checkered flag this season.
5. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Jake Weimer. Starting the season on the independent Team Tedder, the former Monster Energy Kawasaki racer looked to be on the downside of his career, just hanging on as long as he can at age 28. Weimer even started the season with a 12th at A1, and things didn’t look that promising. However, he managed to snag an early season team change, finding himself on a Suzuki factory ride on the same team as Roczen and Blake Baggett. His first race on a new bike (he switched from his longtime mount, a Kawasaki KX450F, to a Suzuki RM-Z450) was impressive, finishing 8th among the other factory riders and not topped by any satellite team riders. That’s a good start on a new team.
6. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Wil Hahn. Simply put, like Weimer before him, Hahn has not performed at the level you expect of a factory rider. The first three rounds were finishes of 17-16-11. While he was moving in the right direction, he needs to get single-digit finishes. Oakland wasn’t quite it, but Hahn did manage a 10th, making him the only rider left this year who has improved over the previous round at all the races. The only satellite rider to beat Hahn was BTO Sports KTM’s Justin Brayton, so getting in the exclusive company of factory riders is within reach.
Welcome To The Jungle. Congratulations to K1 Speed’s Cade Clason and fellow Honda CRF450R-mounted Adam Enticknap for making the Main for the first time in 2016. Impressively, Clason transferred from Semi 1 to earn his way onto the Main starting grid.
1. Red Bull/Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart. Stewart’s return from suspension has certainly not gone according to plan. Taken out with a concussion after a collision with Dungey, Stewart has been unable to mount a full return. Oakland was supposed to be the week Stewart was back, and he was. Stewart qualified out of his Heat race, and was 4th at the holeshot line. For four laps, Stewart held his position, fading in the next four laps before pulling off with what his team called “vision issues” on lap 9. Stewart will continue to be week-to-week, but he has scored just two championship points after four rounds.
2. Team Honda HRC’s Trey Canard. Perhaps the unluckiest man in motocross and supercross history, Canard’s woes continue. Although he qualified 10th in the afternoon, swelling of the hand injured last week caused a DNS for Canard when the sun went down. Canard’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross hopes for 2016 are done, as he’s down in 12th place, 68 points behind Dungey and 46 shy of Anderson and Reed.
3. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac. With a trio of 4ths from Tomac, he was nothing if not consistent. A win in his Heat in Oakland promised good things for the Main, despite Tomac sounding unsure in his post-Heat television interview. Tomac turned his excellent gate pick into a 12th when the pack crossed the holeshot line, and he was playing catch-up the rest of the night. Tomac worked his way up to 7th by lap 16, but finished nearly 40 seconds behind Dungey. For a rider expecting to challenge for wins, Tomac is disappointing with no podiums in the opening four rounds. He is already a race down on Dungey.
4. Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely. Seely started the year off in a promising manner, snagging a pair of podium finishes. He has followed that with two 6th places, and Seely has dropped to 5th in the standings, also over a race down on Dungey. Seely can’t blame a poor start, however, as he crossed the holeshot line in 5th, and held 4th place until he got into a rumble with Reed and Anderson, both of whom passed Seely on lap 18. It’s time for Seely to recapture that magic he had in the first round, or it’s going to be a long season for the last hope for Team Honda HRC.
5. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha Team’s Phil Nicoletti. Brought in to replace a suspended Peick for one round and now Justin Barcia for an unknown length of time, backup rider Nicoletti was promoted to full-time Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha Team member for 2016. Unfortunately, unlike last year when he grabbed holeshots and ran up front for a while, Nicoletti has been mired in the back. A pair of 21st finishes preceded a 19th in Oakland. For Nicoletti to fill in effectively, he needs to at least mix it up with the top privateer teams, rather than the backmarkers.
6. Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Chad Reed. Oakland wasn’t a huge downside for Reed, but after two 2nd place finishes in a row, dropping down to 5th had to be disappointing, especially as it also allowed Anderson to move ahead of him in the standings. Reed was passed by Anderson on lap 16, in a blitz that saw Anderson put in faster lap times than Reed from lap 13 to the end. Reed can point to his mediocre start—7th at the holeshot stripe—as a reason he wasn’t able to battle for the podium, and a late-race pass of Seely takes off some of the sting of Anderson surging past him at the end of the race, where Reed is typically strong.
Photography by Simon Cudby
2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Results – Round 4 – Oakland, O.co Coliseum
1. Ryan Dungey – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
2. Ken Roczen – Suzuki RM-Z450
3. Marvin Musquin – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
4. Jason Anderson – Husqvarna FC 450
5. Chad Reed – Yamaha YZ450F
6. Cole Seely – Honda CRF450R
7. Eli Tomac – Kawasaki KX450F
8. Jake Weimer – Suzuki RM-Z450
9. Justin Brayton – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
10. Wil Hahn – Kawasaki KX450F
11. Weston Peick – Yamaha YZ450F
12. Davi Millsaps – KTM 450 SX-F Factory Edition
13. Mike Alessi – Honda CRF450R
14. Christophe Pourcel – Husqvarna FC 450
15. Blake Baggett – Suzuki RM-Z450
16. Vince Friese – Honda CRF450R
17. Lawson Bopping – Yamaha YZ450F
18. Nick Schmidt – Suzuki RM-Z450
19. Phil Nicoletti – Yamaha YZ450F
20. Cade Clason – Honda CRF450R
21. Adam Enticknap – Honda CRF450R
22. James Stewart – Suzuki RM-Z450
2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Standings (after 4 of 17 rounds)
1. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 97 points (3 wins)
2. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.M., Husqvarna – 75 (1 win)
3. Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha – 75
4. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki – 73
5. Cole Seely, Sherman Oaks, Calif., Honda – 70
6. Eli Tomac, Cortez, CO., Kawasaki – 68
7. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM – 51
8. Justin Brayton, Mint Hill, N.C., KTM – 47
9. Jake Weimer, Wildomar, Calif., Suzuki – 46
10. Davi Millsaps, Murrieta, Calif., KTM – 45
Next Round: Glendale, Arizona; February 6, 2016