AMA SX 2019 RD1: BAM-BAM! YAMAHA DO THE DOUBLE AT ANAHEIM 1

With just two days to the Glendale SX, we thought we should review the action at round one, to see who’s going to come out swinging this Saturday night…

Thursday 10th January 2019

First round of a new season – always lots of anticipation for that. And it all looked very exciting, great talent in both classes and the heats, yeah they promised more to come – only then the rain came for the main events. So not quite the usual excitement, but plenty to entertain and get you thinking about the season ahead, that’s for sure.

Big news on the night was Yamaha winning both mains, thanks to Justin Barcia (450SX) and Colt Nichols (250SX), and if that wasn’t enough then taking the runner-up in the 250SX as well thanks to Dylan Ferrandis (no AMA season, no podium, can be complete without high-ranking French internationals). So the Blue Crew came out on top, by a good length.

So looking to this Saturday here’s RUST’s own assessment of who’s firing and who’s not.

 

450SX

1

Justin Barcia. Bam Bam is back. Of course he’s been back for over a season now. He was in good form throughout 2018, finishing up with a great win at the Ironman Raceway for the final round of the motocross season. So this form shouldn’t come as a surprise. Given the conditions this wasn’t a spectacular ride, instead a win based on consistently nailing speedy laps – a professional job. When his rivals started slipping and putting in duff laps at mid race, Barcia kept rocking, still knocking in a solid 1:06, even at lap 17, while rivals like Musquin, even Roczen, were a second slower and more. With teammate, and class Rookie, Aaron Plessinger very much in the fight, looking an exciting prospect for the season, and finishing 6th, the Yamahas looked very strong at Anaheim.

2

Ken Roczen. ‘Kenny’ is a different Kenny these days. Gone is the flashy brash cockiness, those arm operations seem to have put paid to that. Instead, while still a man of steely determination and superlative skills, it seems in transitioning from boy to man – via Alpha Dog – Roczen is now a thinking man’s pro. Minimizing risks, doing what’s necessary. He’ll take the wins when they come, he’s not hungering for them so veraciously, not reaching from them. So at Anaheim, in slick conditions he put in a solid night’s work, he’ll wait for the conditions to be more consistent, predictable – and when the time’s right – to really pull the pin.

3

Eli Tomac. Another rider who’s looking at the long game. So even when he started mired down in 10th, Tomac took his time to find his way forward, the conditions were simply too sketchy – it was way too slippery off-line – to make a rampant charge. He didn’t even look like a podium finish until the last lap when he put in a mini-burst to lap at a fast 1:05.862 to a fading Dean Wilson’s 1:11.899 – that’s ripping six seconds out of the Husqvarna privateer in one lap – to take that last podium step. Tomac at a dry race – he’ll be on it, for sure.

4

Dean Wilson. Hmm, Mattighofen’s best performance on the night came from a privateer, not their factory racers. If only he could have sustained his pace just that little longer he could have been a podium finish too. Still, an excellent performance, and at no point did Wilson look ragged. Question is, can he do the same when conditions are optimum?

5

Cooper Webb. On the deck in T1, restarting in 20th, Webb’s fight back to 5th was arguably the performance of the night. He hung it out all night, it wasn’t until lap 10 he put in his – and the race’s – fastest lap, a superb 1:02. Yep, the most aggressive 450SX rider on the night.

The others

Not a stellar night for the KTM/Husky camp. Champ Jason Anderson (Husky) was not on peak form at all. Nearly two-seconds off the pace (lap times) in his heat (he placed 5th), he was even slower in the main. The man simply did not engage. The official Husky PR for the night had to lead with his junior teammate’s 12th place in the 250SX class. Hmm, 14th, and not a word of explanation. Marvin Musquin fared little better, but 8th is not going to please a cheque-writing team manager. Both these guys have given their toughest rivals, Tomac and Roczen, a nice little points buffer for the season start. Anyway, how good was it to see Malcolm Stewart up there in the second spot for the first half of the race? A mid race bobble cost him dear, dropping him to 5th then he suffered a bad case of fade at the race end cost him two more places, but there’s promise there, and he looks comfortable. Aaron Plessinger certainly looked at home on the YZF450, and looked to be on for a top finish but his pace dropped for the last third of the race – gotta keep that intensity gate-to-flag…

RUST’s predictions for Glendale: Tomac to win, Roczen again second, then Bam Bam – but we expect to see Musquin and Anderson putting in a lot more work.

250SX

Colt Nichols simply dominated, leading every lap, extending his lead with every lap – even after he’d throttled-back at half-distance. Now in his fourth season in 250SX this was Nichols’ first win. Yamaha teammate Dylan Ferrandis had a more exciting race having to fight past RJ Hampshire and Shane McElrath to get to gain the runner-up – good work. McElrath rode with the style of a rider who’d instantly weighed-up the options and decided a steady ride and a solid result would be outweigh a risk-all attack in the dodgy conditions. Hampshire scored the people’s vote when having been block-passed by Adam Cianciarulo (a man on a charge) he clearly thought ‘hell-no!’ and barged his was back past ‘AC’ in the very next corner and then cleared off. Hampshire’s repass seemed to knock the wind out of AC’s sails who then settled for 5th after an exciting fight back from 12th – occasioned by his overshooting the first turn (he’d got a nasty kicker as he came in hot).

RUST’s predictions for Glendale: Cianciarulo, if he keeps on track, has the raw speed to win, but Nichols having now tasted victory will have more reassurance and self-belief that’s going to be worth at least a second a lap. But the 250s are more about the dogfights, so at Glendale, with fair weather predicted, chances are it’s going to get messy…

 

RESULTS

2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross

Round 1, Anaheim 1

 

450SX

1. Justin Barcia Yamaha (20 laps)

2. Ken Roczen Honda +3.053 sec

3. Eli Tomac Kawasaki +4.890

4. Dean Wilson Husqvarna +9.948

5. Cooper Webb KTM +17.107

6. Aaron Plessinger Yamaha +24.883

7. Malcolm Stewart Honda + 36.186

8. Marin Musquin KTM +47.621

9. Chad Reed Suzuki +58.144

10. Cole Seeley Honda +1:11.386

 

450SX standings

1. Justin Barcia 26 points

2. Ken Roczen 23

3. Eli Tomac 21

4. Dean Wilson 19


5. Cooper Webb 18

 

250SX

1. Colt Nichols Yamaha (16 laps)


2. Dylan Ferrandis Yamaha, +16.398

3. Shane McElrath KTM, +20.268

4. RJ Hampshire Honda +42.339

5. Adam Cianciarulo Kawasaki +48.964

 

 

250SX standings

1. Colt Nichols 26 points

2. Dylan Ferrandis 23

3. Shane McElrath 21

4. RJ Hampshire 19

5. Adam Cianciarulo 18

 

 

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