Eli Tomac’s healed fast and returned fast – but Jason Anderson has his number

Monday 22nd January 2018

The third round of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship saw the introduction of the triple crown format, which replaces the traditional Main with three separate finals the first race being 8 minutes + 1 lap, the second 12 minutes + 1 lap, and the third 15 minutes + 1 lap. (In fact there will be three triple crown events this season, at Anaheim II, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.)

Big news on the night was the return of Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki), who after a steady first final really got on the pace, his injury surely behind him. He’s got a mission ahead of him, though, for Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) is on a roll – and he rolled right over Tomac in the third final. In this business you can’t allow a competitor to get momentum, and Anderson has momentum. That’s more than can be said for Europeans Ken Roczen (Team Honda HRC) and Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM). Roczen said Anaheim holds no demons for him (for it was this meeting in 2017 that he had The Big One) yet he struggled to find form. Meanwhile Musquin’s injury clearly wore him down as the evening progressed, so much that he pulled out of the last final.

450 Main #1
The first main was all about Cole Seely (Team Honda HRC) who got out in front early – and stayed there for his first win in 33 races. None of the fancied top riders had a good race, Off the start they placed Tomac 6th, Barcia 7th, Roczen 8th, Musquin 11th and Anderson 12th. Tomac made up one place, Barcia lost one(!), Roczen dropped three (!!!), Musquin made up two – but best of the lot, Anderson picked up five to place 7th at the flag. Weird stuff, for sure.

450 Main #2
In the second main Tomac took an early lead and was clearly determined to make up for the relative disappointment of race one – his injury woes behind him. Roczen and Musquin again failed to make an impact or even stay within the top-10. At the front Tomac came under pressure from the supercharged Seely, the Honda HRC rider ready to repeat his race one victory, but he bungled his attack and there wasn't enough time for a second go. Anderson again made a bad start and needed to charge through the pack, and in so doing made the ride of the night picking off something like 12 riders to grab the final podium place.

450 Main #3
Tomac holeshoted the last race, this time with Anderson hot on his heels. There was disappointment for Musquin, having to pull out as his recent shoulder injury caught up with him. Roczen began the final race with a lot more of the fire and managed to place 4th – but still not a podium result. Anderson was in the groove and passed Tomac in fine style at third race distance – and the Kawasaki man clearly had no answer for him. Justin Brayton (SmarTop/MotoConcepts Honda) finished off a strong night for him in 3rd place.

250 Main #1, 2, 3

It was the usual suspects in the 250SX (West) finals. Despite a huge crash for Adam Cianciarulo in practice, the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider came out fighting in the first race. But teammate Joey Savatgy took to the front and never looked back, despite the best efforts of Christian Craig (Geico Honda) and Mitchell Oldenburg (TLD Red Bull KTM). A crash in race one had cost Shane McElrath dearly, but the TLD KTM rider fought back for a dominant win in race two, Savatgy and Craig rounding out the top three. In the 250’s final race it was the Monster Energy Kawasaki pair of Savatgy and Cianciarulo who looked strongest and they took a 1-2, followed by an improving Chase Sexton (Geico Honda). Shane McElrath recovered from a poor start to take 4th. The overall result was: Savatgy, McElrath, Craig. So it couldn’t be any closer in the points with Savatgy and McElrath ties on 68 points with Aaron Plessinger just two behind. Anyone in the top-five, top-seven even could have this…

RUSTs analysis: 

Tomacs back
Anaheim II had plenty of surprises and the triple crown format certainly mixed up the field. Tomac has to be delighted to have taken the overall win on the night. Certainly he’s in a psychologically stronger position than either Musquin or Roczen. But all of them know they now have a major problem with Anderson who’s riding like he owns the track. As the American commentators suggested, he’s reaching flow-state and once a rider gets into that groove nothing short of a disaster will stop them.

After our comment on the team’s second riders (last week) those guys came back fighting, the short-sharp racing suited them. Seely rode confident and aggressive and certainly had traded places with his team’s No.1 Roczen. Justin Brayton – not a second rider so much as a privateer – so nearly got on the podium given a 2-6-3 showing. Well done, too, to Weston Peick for placing the Suzuki up there in the top-five.

Pass of the night: Justin ‘Bam Bam’ Barcia, trying to make up places, trying to pass Chad Reed, over-jumps a triple landing on the flat and spearing off-track, looks to bounce off about three cameramen plus a scaffold, dives back between the tuff blocks, then nails Reed with a block pass in the very next corner!

The chase

So the chase is on, Anderson has taken maximum advantage of the situation and built himself a handy 11-point advantage at the top of the standings, more significantly he’s a whopping 44 points ahead of Tomac. Roczen is closer at 16 points behind, but we’ve yet to see him fire. 


450SX Championship Standings

1. Jason Anderson Husqvarna  70

2. Cole Seely Honda  59

3. Justin Barcia Yamaha  57

4. Ken Roczen Honda  56

5. Weston Peick Suzuki  54

6. Justin Brayton Honda  52

7. Joshua Grant Kawasaki  45

8. Blake Baggett KTM 43

9. Broc Tickle KTM 37

10. Cooper Webb Yamaha  37                

250SX Western Regional Championship Standings

1. Joey Savatgy  Kawasaki  68

2. Shane McElrath  KTM  68

3. Aaron Plessinger Yamaha  66

4. Christian Craig Honda  57

5. Adam Cianciarulo Kawasaki  56

6. Mitchell Oldenburg Yamaha  52

7. Chase Sexton Honda  51

8. Justin Hill Suzuki   42

9. Kyle Chisholm Yamaha  39

10. Hayden Mellross Yamaha  34

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