Monster Energy Supercross Houston 2 450 Class Observationsby Jack Gaffney January 20, 2021 0 comments
The second round of the 2021 Supercross Season is now in the books and was certainly one for the books for both good and bad reasons.
Chase Sexton of Honda HRC had a phenomenal night going on Saturday. He won his heat race and then getting the holeshot in the main event, however as it seemed as if he was going to sail off in the night for his first 450 Main Event win, he committed a critical error. Chase ended up making a mistake in the sand turn section of the track, catapulting himself forwards off his bike and landed on his upper back/neck area on the face of the next jump. Luckily, he got up and walked away but was holding his wrist as shown on the TV broadcast, and his race ended in the early stages of the main event.
About right after Sexton walked off the track, Joey Savatgy of RMATV/MC-KTM WPS ended up losing rear grip coming across the starting gate area and fell awkwardly off his bike. He had a seemingly hard time getting up, also done for the night along with Sexton.
Injuries usually are kept close to the vest in the motocross industry. So unless either team or the riders themselves come out and say anything relating to an injury, I would be under the assumption at worst, both Savatgy and Sexton will at least give it a chance this upcoming Saturday to race. But be sure to check team and rider social profiles for any form of an update before then. And of course, I hope that both riders are ok considering neither of their incidents looked pleasant, more so Sexton, not to downplay Savatgy by any means.
The Arrival of The Jett:
In some better news relating to The Honda HRC squad, their 17-year-old Australian rider Jett Lawrence picked up his first career 250 class win in a rather dominating fashion. Lawrence started Tuesday by qualifying third in the 250 class, then went on to win his heat race over series points leader Christian Craig by a four-second margin. He then proceeded to get the 250 Main Event holeshot and then proceeded to put his CRF250 (Honda Bike Model Name) on cruise control.
There was a seven or eight-minute period in the middle of the main where it did not even look like he was trying hard but managed to gap the field, a statement ride if I have ever seen one. Jett joins the likes of icons James Stewart and Travis Pastrana to win a Lites class (250/125) main event at age-17.
It’s a feel-good story for Lawrence as well. His family gave up everything in Australia to move to Europe and get him along with his older brother Hunter, racing in The World Motocross Championship ranks at the EMX and MX2 levels. And then pack up again to get Jett and Hunter going in America. So, I cannot even begin to imagine what last night meant to not just him but his entire family as well. A lengthy tangent but well earned. Jett is going to be a force in the motocross world for a very long time.
Now then, let us get to the 450 Class and see how some title contenders faired on Tuesday.
1 Eli Tomac- Monster Energy Kawasaki (1st Place)
Well, I more-or-less said after Houston One that Tomac could do bad one week then come to the next race and make the rest of the field look amateur in comparison. While it was not a dominating performance for Supercross’s Premier Class Champion, a win after a dismal 13th on Saturday night must have felt like a godsend. Eli found himself at the front right away. This was a bit of a surprise, since he is not known as one of the better 450 starters. Chase Sexton wasn’t the only rider he passed via a sand section wreck. His teammate Adam Cianciarulo went down in that part of the track a few laps prior as well.
Although almost giving up a 4 second lead to Zach Osborne, Tomac was able to turn on the afterburners and make it to the finish for what was a milestone for himself. His win was the 35th of his career, breaking a tie with Four-Time Champion Ryan Dungey for sixth on the all-time 450 Supercross Wins List. However, there was one guy on the track who arguably looked better than Tomac. He only finished one spot behind him on top of that.
14 Dylan Ferrandis- Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (2nd Place)
For the final eight and a half minutes of the 450 Main Event, Ferrandis’ speed and skill that brought himself back-to-back 250 West Supercross Championships was on full display and then some. In the whoops section right before the finish line jump, he flirted on the edge of disaster for seemingly the entire race but happened to look better than anyone else in that section the whole night, especially when the track started to degrade.
He made a couple of rather impressive passes that made him jump off the screen in that final stretch. First on his teammate Mookie Stewart in the whoops where he came dangerously close to crashing, then on series veteran Justin Brayton coming out of the sand turn and into the rhythm section right after. Honestly, if the race lasted just a little longer, I think he would have caught and passed Tomac. Ferrandis looked that impressive and proved tonight to those that may have doubted him, that he belongs in the major leagues.
10 Justin Brayton- Muc-Off Honda (3rd Place)
The oldest active rider in the sport at age 36 found himself on the podium for the first time since late March of 2018. Despite his age, Brayton has seemingly hit his stride in recent years as he finds himself on his third different Honda team in as many years. A solid start put him in a good spot for the rest of the night and, while his third-place finish was more about guys around him making mistakes you could say, Brayton himself did what a decent number of riders could not. He kept his bike upright for the full 20 minutes + 1 lap. Brayton also gave the Australian-based Honda team a phenomenal result in just the second race of the season.
94 Ken Roczen- Honda HRC (5th Place)
Tuesday Night could have been an absolute disaster for Roczen as it relates to the points standings. A fifth-place finish does not encapsulate the full story of what was a great night for him. Roczen’s main event did not start well at all, finding himself at the back end of the top 15 at the start. However, he did not let this get to him as he was able to pick off riders ahead of him with great pace and got himself a very well-earned top 5 finish.
And his efforts did end up bearing fruit, as he left NRG Stadium with the 450 Points lead over Justin Barcia. This is the third year in a row where Roczen has the points lead after the second race of the season, neither of the previous two led to championships, but for now, I like where Roczen is at.
51 Justin Barcia- Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing (9th Place)
Before the gate drop for the main event, I told myself that the field could not let Barcia get a good start, as his three-race starts to this point have been near flawless, and he had two heat wins, and the main event victory a few nights ago. Well, either by sheer coincidence, Barcia ended up getting into a jam off the start and was essentially a non-factor for the win. While I can imagine that a finish nearly outside the top ten, and losing the red plate, (the points leader traditionally runs red number plates in both supercross and motocross) was not to the liking of neither Barcia nor his GasGas team, there appears to be a reason for his lack of success last night.
According to a former longtime mechanic who somewhat doubles as Motocross’ Adam Schefter Steve Matthes, Barcia had an issue where his shifter broke and was stuck in first gear. If that is the case, that was a very impressive result Barcia pulled out. While losing the points lead is a disappointment, he is only back of the points lead by a singular point. Barcia now gets the opportunity to prove he is not just the season opener specialist with a performance like Round 1 this Saturday.
Round 3 of Monster Energy Supercross can be viewed this upcoming Saturday live on NBCSN at 8:00 EST/5:00 EST from NRG Stadium in Houston for the 3rd and final time of the season. After that, the series shifts to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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