AMA SX 2018 RD14/15: HUSQVARNA'S CRUISE TO VICTORY?

Husqvarna's Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne have control as the AMA SX season approaches to its climax

Monday 23rd April 2018

HUSQVARNA’S CRUISE TO VICTORY?

After Minneapolis and Foxborough (rounds 14/15 of the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship), it’s the white, blue and yellow colours of Husqvarna that lead the 450 and 250East SX championships. Jason Anderson has done as Jason Anderson does, solidly maintaining control of the 450SX class as he looks to give Husqvarna their first AMA SX premier title since the very first SX season when Gary Semics took the 500cc class title in 1974. Meanwhile Zach Osbourne has extended his lead in the 250East title race, where with just the Las Vegas final left he holds a 15-point lead, poised to secure back-to-back titles, which means potentially Husky could secure two out of the three titles.

450

For the last few rounds Anderson has been at risk of being pigeonholed as Mr Consistency, while Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) has the title Mr Race Winner and Marvin Musquin is Mr Mercurial – blindingly fast when he’s in the mood. But at Minneapolis, the last triple-header round of the year, Ando fought back and finished the night just a whisker off the overall win. Importantly he again showed he’s more than willing to duel it out and when it comes to the end of the night, when everyone’s about done, he’s damn strong. In the final race of the night Ando lit the after burners and he scorched Tomac and Musquin real good.

Certainly the triple-header format mixes it up and it would seem it allows some of the, er, lower leaderboard riders a chance to shine. At Minneapolis certainly Justin Brayton, Justin Barcia (fresh back from injury) and Weston Pieck all mixed it up in the lead positions. However as always, the Top Guns have the ultimate firepower and by the end of the night they again stood on the podium. Tomac won and took the Triple Header crown (small consolation for a lost championship), Anderson took runner-up to push Musquin further away in the championship, while Musquin again confounded in third – super-fast in the qualifiers, then out of sorts in race one, only to blitz again in races two and three.

Foxborough provided a nice moment of friction among the rivals, as we should expect from SX. Musquin was on a fast day and out front in the Main. Tomac chased at a comfortable distance of 2-seconds, while Anderson had clear air in every direction as he circulated in third – again getting the championship job done. And then in the closing two laps, Tomac upped his pace and nipped past Musquin for the win. Only it turned Musquin was ready to lie down, and just a handful of corners from the end he came in for a block pass and cleaned Tomac out. It was a 50/50 move and given Tomac was using a unique line, where he overly squared off the corner, Musquin’s planned firm block became a straight-out Osborne-esque wipe-out.

Post race body language said much. Musquin was apologetic in actions if not words, clearly asking the crowd and Tomac for some forgiveness.

“That was for the win,” he said. “There were no ruts where he (Tomac) was going, he turned tight. It was going to be a block pass, but not that tough.”

Tomac replied by calling the manoeuvre a ‘cheap shot’, “actually that was a joke.” But this is SX, these passes are the norm, perhaps Tomac considered he’d maybe let his guard down too soon, for he explained quite evenly there’d be no retribution.

Anderson spoke of a quiet lonely race to third, probably quite happy to see his main rivals taking lumps out of each other and not him.

250 East

Zach Osborne is riding with an obvious feeling of confidence. He’s not beyond being beaten, but with three wins from eight rounds he’s capable of commanding his position and as the climax of his 2017 SX season showed he’s one tough mutha, how much his rivals will be prepared to throw axes at him come Vegas is debatable.

In Minneapolis it was typically even between the championship’s top three as Osborne duked it out with Jeremy Martin and Jordon Smith, and while Martin finished ahead it wasn’t by much.

At Foxborough, back to the conventional one main Osborne simply ripped his rivals to shreds. He took the holeshot and, as they say, checked out. Martin crashed out early and put in a stunning ride to pull back from dead last to fourth, but at this stage in the season such heroism doesn’t count for much – he gave away valuable points just when he least needed it. Now 23 points behind Osborne he’s virtually out of the running. And Smith’s not exactly strongly placed, 15 points is a lot when Osborne is so confident and so strong. But this is SX, anything can – and often does – happen…

Last word

Okay, Jason Anderson leads the 450SX championship by a fair 34 points, which by our lowly fourth-grade math(s) means he could win the title with a round to spare. If we see a repeat of Foxborough at Salt Lake City then that could be it Game Over.

2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship

 

450SX championship standings

1 Jason Anderson Husqvarna 332

2 Marvin Musquin KTM 298

3 Eli Tomac Kawasaki 269

4 Justin Brayton Honda 247

5 Blake Bagget KTM 243

6 Weston Peick Suzuki 219

7 Broc Tickle KTM 184

8 Dean Wilson Kawasaki 183

9 Cooper Webb Yamaha 181

10 Malcolm Stewart Suzuki 150

 

250SX East Coast championship standings

1 Zach Osbourne Husqvarna 180

2 Jordon Smith KTM 165

3 Jeremy Martin Honda 157

4 Austin Forkner Kawasaki 137

5 Luke Renzland Yamaha 109

6 Kyle Peters Suzuki 107

7 Sean Cantrell KTM 96

8 Brandon Hartranft Yamaha 89

9 Anthony Rodriguez KTM 72

10 John Short Yamaha 58

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