Although the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross didn’t go down to the last race, there was still plenty of competition. For instance, there were six different manufacturers in the top six positions in the final 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Championship standings. Seven riders scored podiums positions, and they were the top 7 riders in points. Some riders did better than expected, and quite a few didn’t meet expectations. Here they are, the Upside and Downside riders of the 2016 Supercross season.UPSIDE
1. Ryan Dungey. Red Bull/KTM. There’s hardly any more to say about Dungey this year. He defended his title, scored nine wins (and lost one by absent-mindedly jumping on a red cross flag), broke Chad Reed’s record for consecutive podiums (ending it on the night he clinched the 2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Championship), and punctuated his season by winning big in Vegas. Congratulations to three-time Supercross Champion Ryan Dungey, and he is going to be tough to beat in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series starting May 21 at the Hangtown Classic in Sacramento.
Jason Anderson. Rockstar Energy/ Husqvarna Factory Racing. Last year, Anderson finished 7th in the MonsterEnergy Supercross series standings, 190 points shy of Dungey—he had two podiums. In 2016, Anderson took two wins and seven podiums on his way to 3rd for the season, 76 behind Dungey. Only Dungey had more top 5 finishes than Anderson in 2016. Without any question, Anderson is the most improved rider of 2016.
Chad Reed. Monster Energy/Factory Yamaha. Three rounds in, Reed was exceeding all expectations, except, perhaps, his own. He had a pair of 2nds after three rounds, and was 2nd in the standing behind Dungey. Reed would only visit the podium once more in 2016, and finished outside of the top 10 three times. Regardless, he was in the top 5 seven times in 2016 Monster Energy Supercross season, and never missed a Main Event—and that was enough for him to finish the year in 5th, and fully justify his unexpected Yamaha factory ride.
Marvin Musquin. Red Bull/KTM. It was an amazing rookie start for Musquin, stringing together five podiums (including one near-win) and ten top 10 finishes in the first 11 rounds. He sat in 5th place in the standings, but then injury struck. Musquin never returned to the top 5 after the Round 11 in Detroit, and he was knocked from 6th in the standings by Seely in Vegas. Still, 7th in the 2016 Monster Energy Standing makes Musquin the Rookie of the Year, but he’ll need some momentum going into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series.
Mike Alessi. Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing. While Alessi’s 450SX career never came close to matching the hype when he graduated from the amateur ranks, he has hung in the professional ranks for a long time. Just eight riders made every Main Event (up from five in 2015), and Alessi was one of them. All things considered, 12th in the standings at the end of the year was impressive.
Red Bull/KTM. What a year for the orange bikes. Dungey won the Championship for KTM. KTM was the only brand to have two riders on the podium after any of the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross 450SX Main Events. Also, KTM took three of the top 8 spots in the final standings. Some of us remember how long KTM struggled to get a 450SX win—those days are long gone. Congratulations to Roger DeCoster and company.
James Stewart. Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing. After getting taken out by Dungey at A1 and suffering a concussion, Stewart never got things going again, despite some flashes of speed. Various injuries dogged Stewart throughout the year, only finished one 2016 Monster Energy Supercross Main in 2016—a sad 14th in Arlington. Stewart finished 32nd in the standings.
Justin Barcia. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha. Barcia serves as an example of why it does not pay to come back from an injury too soon. Starting the season with a damaged wrist, Barcia struggled to two Main finishes outside of the top 10. When he returned at Round 12 in Santa Clara, thinks didn’t get any better, and he didn’t crack the top 10 until the mudfest in Vegas. Barcia was 21st in the standings, having ridden eight of 17 rounds.
Weston Peick. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Yamaha. In 2015, Peick made the podium in Las Vegas. In 2016, he didn’t even qualify for the Vegas Main. It was an unfortunately fitting bookend to the start of the season where he missed two Mains due to a suspension by the AMA/FIM. In between, it wasn’t pretty, as Peick had just five top 10 finishes and nothing better than a 7th in Detroit—in 2015 he had six top 5s, and he missed four rounds due to injury that year. With the points tallied at the end of the 2016 season, he was one point behind Mike Alessi, in unlucky 13th place.
Broc Tickle. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing. Tickle was injured early in the year, but in the two races before that, he finished no better than 11th. Returning from injury at Indianapolis, Ticket didn’t crack the top 10 until he finished 6th in the Vegas mud. In 2015, Tickle had two top 5 finishes and was a reliably in the top 10.
Wil Hahn. Monster Energy/Kawasaki. Although Hahn has a 250SX East championship to his credit, his Kawasaki factory career in the 450SX class has been terrible. A brutal pre-race practice crash at A1 in 2015 kept him out the entire year. In 2016, Hahn only made the first seven Monster Energy rounds due to injury, but never did better than a pair of 10th in Oakland and Glendale.
Eli Tomac. Monster Energy/Kawasaki. Although 4th in the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross standings, he was 2nd in 2015 and expected to challenge for the championship. Instead, Tomac was a relatively rare visitor to the podium, not making the top 3 until Round 5 in Glendale. All total, Tomac had just one win and just five podiums. On the Upside, he finished the year with three consecutive podiums and was the 450SX top scorer over the last three rounds. That should give Tomac some much-needed momentum going into the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series.
Ken Roczen. Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s/Suzuki Factory Racing. Roczen had the speed and five wins, but he had two bad stretches that must have him thinking “What if?” He expected to challenge for the title, but ended up 60 points short after crashing out while in the lead in Las Vegas. His 5-6-3 opening run put him 19 points behind Dungey before the series had even left California. A mid-season slump from Atlanta to Detroit, 6-5-1-6, finished it off for Roczen, as Dungey was never off the podium. It’s not a big Downside, but you could see the disappointment in Roczen’s face all year.
Autotrader/Monster Energy/JGR. Of all the major teams in the Supercross 450SX class, the one that just cannot catch a break over the years is the JGR effort, and it was no different in 2016. With Barcia expected to challenge for the championship after a strong 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, and Peick looking to join him on the podium now and then, a 7th was the best either rider finished. It was a strong team on paper, but it didn’t pan out in the stadium dirt.Photography by Simon Cudby
2016 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Final Standings
Ryan Dungey (KTM) , 391 (9 wins, 16 podiums)
Ken Roczen (Suzuki) , 331 (5 wins, 11 podiums)
Jason Anderson (Husqvarna) , 315 (2 wins, 7 podiums)
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.