There’s lots of fun to be had in predicting results. Coming into Glendale we predicted Tomac, Roczen, Barcia – well only Roczen made the podium, with third, and now he leads the championship.
Baggett bags his first. Who knew? We certainly didn’t. But we should have. Baggett scored five podiums in 2018 to go fourth in the championship, and he placed fourth overall in the outdoors too. But has he looked like a probable winner? Probably not and 12th at Anaheim I didn’t exactly signal this kind of form. But the nearly 27-year-old was strong and when he got scent of Jason Anderson’s back wheel he always looked all the stronger. “I was being patient, trying to find a spot (to pass). You were fighting for traction, it was like concrete out there, so I was just waited for (Anderson to make) a mistake.” Big question now is can Baggett repeat his performance. His was also Rocky Mountain ATC/MCs first SX win too. Nice to see.
Jason Anderson. El Hombre was terrible at Anaheim I. He admitted as much, “Last weekend I had a lot going on, a horrible heat race, obligations, I just wasn’t in the right head space to be racing.” This week he was – evidenced by his hard pass on Roczen for the lead; it was a long lunge, but as Ricky Carmichael said, “I’ve seen dirtier”. Anderson looked set for the win, but then Baggett got on his case and we could all see Baggett was stronger, andhe slipped cleanly past in the smallest of gaps and then struck off for home. Good to Anderson to be back to top form, though.
Ken Roczen. Roczen had a good night. Holeshot and away. Well it looked that way, but by the time on lap five when Malcolm Stewart crashed heavily in the whoops (sadly breaking his femur) Anderson had closed on the German. The staggered re-start meant a thoroughly closed-up field and Anderson took advantage, as did Baggett. When challenged Roczen did not fight back (not typical). Yep, Roczen’s different now, “I’m just trying to stay super-neutral,” he said in a post-race interview. “Not trying to let my highs get too high or lows too low. I’m staying focused, it’s a waiting game, so we’re keeping cool, doing our thing.” Two podiums has given Roczen the championship lead by 1-point over Justin Barcia. As Roczen said, in the past two seasons he hasn’t made it past round five. It’s the long game in 2019…
Eli Tomac. Tomac’s been a big win man in past. Two races into 2019 he’s now playing the patient game too. Mired at the start he made steady progress back to 4th. There was some excitement mid race when Roczen, Musquin and Tomac were nose-to-tail but this early in the season, they were playing clean.
Marvin Musquin. Another man back on form, well, sort of. A heat win and first pick of the gate suggested podium potential. Tucked behind Roczen off the start, Musquin put in some decent lap times throughout but simply didn’t have the fight when challenged. KTM explained this away saying Musquin has a nagging knee injury…
Did Malcolm Stewart try too hard? Possibly, he was going lightning speed through the whoops when it all got away from him. He went in hard, too, poor guy. We wish him a full and speedy recovery, and we’ll miss him in the coming races for sure. Justin Barcia’s 6th was a start to finish thing – nothing wrong just nothing special. Likewise Cooper Webb – decent lap times, but 11th after lap one he just didn’t make any ground back – maybe it was that kind of track. A one-liner? …
RUST’s predictions for Anaheim II: Okay, it’s a triple-crown and that mixes it up big time. So Baggett for his second win of the season, from Bam Bam with Roczen third. With Tomac, Anderson and Musquin close by… This championship needs to mature more before we see any patterns.