2018 AMA SUPERCROSS, ROUND 8 REPORT.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship arrived in Tampa with great fanfare. It has been 19 years since the series last graced this part of Florida, and the Raymond James Stadium, with its superb track, was more than ready to welcome back the spectacular sport and its stars.
The night of racing brought about some tough battles and some feuds both on and off the track, and in the end it was a question of who was willing to push hardest for the win, and who could settle for a solid points finish. And, once again, more shock injury news.
In the second Heat race of the night, Team HRC Honda’s Cole Seely mistimed a jump, went over the bars, and was collected by the bike. The crash resulted in a broken pelvis for Seely, who required urgent surgery, and who will now miss the remainder of the season. This comes as a huge blow both for Cole Seely (for Honda, for this rules both their top riders out) and for the championship, as he had been enjoying a very strong and consistent season and was second in the standings.
2018 certainly isn’t letting up.
More history was made as the gate dropped for the 450 Main with Chad Reed clocking the most AMA Supercross starts ever – a super impressive 228! The Aussie veteran lives nearby, so his ‘home race’ of Tampa seemed a fitting location for him to break the record previously held by Mike LaRocco. And as he fought hard through the LCQ to get behind the gate there’s no doubt that ‘CR22’ still has plenty of passion left for this sport.
Meanwhile, Monster Energy Yamaha’s Cooper Webb seemed particularly keen in Florida and he made his way to the holeshot in front of a hard charging Eli Tomac (Monsdter Energy Kawasaki. But it didn’t last long and a mistake from Webb let Tomac, Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM), and Justin Hill (Yoshimura Suzuki) through. Hill, usually a 250 rider, was riding in his first 450cc race and seemed to adapt instantly to the fast pace and hard battles.
As is often the case, Tomac made a small error under pressure and Musquin needed no second invitation. Hill then followed the Frenchman and relegated Tomac to third. The leading duo then proceeded to have an excellent fight, with Hill desperate to win his first ever 450 main. But Musquin was on top form and he executed one of the most brilliant passes seen this season on his younger rival. Hill would later have a small fall and drop to sixth place.
Musquin and Tomac then had a classic battle, with neither willing to back down and both desperate to recoup points in the title fight. Musquin had been engaged in a heated exchange with Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) earlier in the night and seemed riled up and ready to win. But Tomac decided to pull the pin and show the rest of the field that his huge points deficit and inconsistent season was not going to keep him down, taking his fourth win of the season.
Behind the squabbling pair, Anderson did exactly what he needed to and had a very quiet and careful race for third place to keep his points lead at 39. With the unfortunate exit of Seely, Musquin moves into second in the standings, while Tomac’s victory allowed him to climb from 10th to seventh overall. It may be ‘boring’ for the fans to watch Anderson merely doing what’s necessary, but regularly staying out of intense exchanges on track and keeping the steady points coming in will stand him in good stead for the 2018 crown. But there will surely be more to come from the likes of Musquin, Baggett, Brayton, and Tomac as the season rolls on.