The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Championship Series is off to a mind-boggling start. The playing field is so level that the bubble is right in the middle of the spirit level. For those of us playing at RMFantasySX.com, it is a tough challenge. Let’s go over what has happened, and see what we can do for picks for Houston 3.
In two rounds, there have been six different riders on the podium. That’s the maximum, and it makes picking a podium a pronounced challenge.
In two rounds, there have been nine different riders in the Top 5. That’s nine out of a maximum of 10—a truly staggering statistic. The only rider to make the Top 5 twice is Ken Roczen, going 2-5. That number is even more remarkable when you consider that neither 2020 Top 5 regular Jason Anderson nor 2020 Main Event winner Zach Osborne has a Top 5 finish.
You can’t just look at the results because quite a few riders crashed out of the Top 5 at H2. It’s an impressive list— Adam Cianciarulo, Chase Sexton, Marvin Musquin, and Osborne. While you know those riders have the speed, you also have to consider that they didn’t accurately judge the limits. Osborne has crashed in both Main Events this year.
The flip side of the crashers is the riders who took advantage of it. Only Justin Brayton and Eli Tomac were Top 5 finishers in the Top 5 without other riders crashing. Dylan Ferrandis, Cooper Webb, and Roczen were clear beneficiaries of the carnage.
Setting aside the crashing, which is almost unavoidable, your Top 5 for Houston 3 comes into focus. Let’s start with Tomac is a must. He has gotten the disaster of the opening round out of the way, and grabbed a win when the overly enthusiastic youngsters in front of him faltered. You can’t necessarily go all-in on another Tomac win, but he is a likely Top 5.
Roczen is the only rider with two Top 5 finishes. Roczen benefited from the multitude of crashes to work his way up from a P14 start to P5—an impressive ride by any standard. He was docked four championship points for jumping on the red cross flag on the red-flagged first start, and Roczen is understandably not happy with the penalty—it dropped him from P1 to P4 in the standings. That will likely be motivation for H3, as if he needs any more, and it could put Roczen on the top of the box if he gets a good start.
Musquin and Justin Brayton both have a P3 and a P6 finish. That’s tantalizingly close to a pair of Top 5 finishes for both of them. Musquin’s crash cost him a Top 5 finish in H2, so he’s the better choice of these two. However, Brayton was in the Top 5 from start to finish at H2.
Picking the fifth possible Top 5 rider is a tough one. Ferrandis is looking strong after an injury-hampered preseason. Going 7-2, he is now P2 in the championship points. Malcolm Stewart’s 5-7 performance shows that he is in the Top 5 hunt. Webb seems to have righted his season, with a P4 at H2. He was a Top 5 regular last year, so counting him out is risky. Cianciarulo is always a gamble—he can come through, or crash; he has one of each this year. Osborne has shown the speed in both Houston rounds to land on the podium, yet he has gone 10-10. Justin Barcia was better at H2 than his P9 finish suggests—he broke his gearshifter on lap 22 of 29, restricting Barcia to 1st gear. All five of these riders are legit Top 5 contenders for H3.
Here are my picks, and they aren’t canonical. Usually, I’m confident—I’m not for Houston 3. At this point, I’m just hoping to get any of my picks into the Top 5. It’s not yet about fine-tuning the finishing order. The season will have to shake out a bit before I can make that transition.
P1: Ken Roczen—I believe the penalty (which I also think was unjust) will light a fire for Roczen.
P2: Eli Tomac—Tomac is an easily arguable P1 choice, though he only had back-to-back wins twice in 2020. It will likely come down to the start.
P3: Marvin Musquin—Musquin is looking good in two races, so why not a third?
P4: Zach Osborne—It’s hard to imagine Osborne crashing in three consecutive Mains.
P5: Dylan Ferrandis—He looked great at H2, and Ferrandis can come from behind when necessary.
The Wild Card this week is P7. Usually, that would be reasonably easy, especially compared to H2’s P15, which I happened to get right with Vince Friese. Stewart has gone 5-7, and he’s the only rider who has two races that close to P7, so Stewart gets the Wild Card nod.
Just as Houston 2 saved Tomac’s season, it helped my RMFantasySX standing. I was well into the bottom half after round one. Now, I’m in the top 12-percent, and my goal is to match last year’s finish in the top one-percent. Tomac went from P13 in the standings to P6—just six points behind series leader Barcia. Buckle your helmet on, and grab the grips for Houston 3.
We have the 2021 Supercross TV schedule.Photography by Ryne Swanberg, Align Media, Feld Entertainment, et al2021 Monster Energy Supercross Championship Series Standings (after 2 of 17 rounds)
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!