The fifth round of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Championship provided perhaps the most intense and exciting racing we’ve seen so far this season, keeping fans on the edge of their seats and providing unexpected plot twists. The physical and challenging track in Oakland’s Alameda City Coliseum left no margin for error and meant the riders had to keep maximum concentration throughout the Main.
By the end of the night the standings had been shaken up, and so had some of the sport’s top riders as title hopes seemed to slip away for Eli Tomac, while Jason Anderson proved he’s not going to take any nonsense from his rivals – no matter who they are or how hard they’re willing to push.
Oakland’s track layout was relentless; full of whoops and rhythm sections with no opportunities for the riders to take a breather. A heart rate monitor on Marvin Musquin revealed just how demanding the event was, as he consistently measured 175bpm. When the field lined up behind the gate it was impossible to predict a winner, with several riders looking promising and everyone keen to make their mark as the season reached its fifth round. Cole Seely (HRC Honda) made a superb start and snatched the holeshot, and he looked determined to pull an early lead. Right behind him Ken Roczen (HRC Honda) and Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) pushed through on Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain KTM).
Title hopeful Eli Tomac (monster Energy Kawasaki) made a poor start and found himself in the mid-pack where he was soon involved in a neck-and-neck battle with his team-mate, Josh Grant. The pair spent half a lap battling it out before Grant made a mistake and dropped the bike. What happened next would turn the entire championship on its head.
Justin Barcia (Monster Energy Yamaha) was making his way rapidly through the pack and pulled up level with Tomac in the battle for 7th. ‘Bam Bam’ Barcia, carrying a lot of pace, held a tight line through a sweeping corner, pushing Tomac to the top of the berm. Tomac tucked the front and hit the ground. Tomac returned to the track looking shocked, and found himself in second to last place. Would this be the end of the his title hopes? After a bad start to the season he had been under pressure, thanks to the supercross points system, to perform well in every remaining race in order to put himself back in contention. This latest set back certainly seemed to badly affect Tomac initially, as he rejoined the race and circulated slowly. As the laps ticked by he managed to salvage 13th place. It will take a lot of mental strength for Tomac to come back from this, especially after the relative disappointment of missing out on the 2017 crown. He will need to bring back the type of powerful winning form we saw at Anaheim II and Glendale if he stands any hope of salvaging something decent from this season.
More drama broke out, now at the front with race leader Seely getting messy on a rhythm section and hitting the ground. Next, a charging Jason Anderson (Rockstar Husqvarna) took out Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM). The Frenchman was left furious by the rough move, possibly a little shocked too given Anderson has long been his friend and training partner. But it soon became apparent that Anderson was in formidable form and he was not going to let something as trivial as friendship get in the way of a chance to extend his series lead.
Roczen seemed, in Oakland, to have finally put to bed the demons which have haunted him in the last few rounds and we finally saw a glimpse of the type of fight and fire we expect from him. He lead for almost half the race following Seely’s error, but still when it came to the crunch had no answer for Anderson. When the Husqvarna rider drew up alongside Roczen he did his best to hold back the attack and the pair swopped positions in a thrilling end to the race, but a few tiny errors was enough to hand the advantage to Anderson.
At the end of an exhilarating and surprising night of racing, Anderson prevailed. A nasty crash in practice had left him battered, bruised. But that, even coupled with a poor start in the Main, was not enough to deny him victory. Anderson proved emphatically that he has the credentials and determination to lift the crown.