AMA SX 2018 rd9: ANDERSON IN CONTROL

Atlanta brought the second triple header of the Supercross season. It needs speed, stamina and consistency to win these – Jason Anderson had all three

Monday 5th March 2018

2018 AMA SUPERCROSS, ROUND 9 REPORT.
ATLANTA, GA. MARCH 3RD.

TRIPLE CROWN FORMAT.

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship’s arrival into Atlanta, Georgia, was met with excitement as the series welcomed its second Triple Crown format event of the season.

This all-out formula requires the riders to fight it out in not just one, but three mains! Aside from providing audiences with much more racing to get stuck into, it tests the riders to their physical and mental limits as they’re forced to focus even more on strategy, longevity, and consistency. On the other hand, if mistakes are made in one race, you have the option to give it everything in another gatedrop. Although this new format was only introduced earlier this year, it seems to have already been proved a success, especially after a thrilling night of close racing on prime dirt in Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium.

After several shock losses (or are they really a shock, this is SX after all?) to injury this year, including Ken Roczen, Cole Seely, Justin Bogle and Justin Barcia, the pressure was on the remaining riders to stay safe, squabble for top positions, and haul themselves up the championship standings as the series reached round nine.

Jason Anderson brought the fire he’d lacked one week earlier in Tampa, Eli Tomac seemed flustered and off-form, while plenty of others were ready to take on the series leader to make for intense racing from start to finish.


450 Main 1
The first of the night’s three main races set the tone for the evening with fantastically close racing from the gatedrop until the chequered flag. In the early laps it was impossible to pick a winner as Christian Craig, Justin Brayton, and Blake Baggett all made great starts and placed ahead of their biggest rivals. As the laps ticked by the leading group grew ever bigger with SX veteran Chad Reed, and top contenders Anderson, Tomac and Marvin Musquin all getting in the mix. All the way through the 13-lap dash the leading group hovered at around six to eight riders. Anderson battled hard but had no answer for an incredibly on form Brayton, the Honda rider flowed around Atlanta’s excellent track and seemed to be able to get the drive out of every corner to inch away from the title leader. Race 1 of this Triple Crown event was hailed the closest race all season.

450 Main 2
On the surface the second main seemed like a more sedate affair with points leader, Anderson, back to his usual smooth and precise style, making it very difficult for anyone else to stay with him. But by the end of the race the excitement level had ramped up a gear as Cooper Webb and Tomac tried desperately to beat the Rockstar Husqvarna man. With both the chasing riders having a reputation for close and aggressive passes the pressure was well and truly on Anderson to keep them at a safe distance. He made it to the finish line a nail-biting half-second ahead of Yamaha’s Webb and was clearly relieved to have kept his head ’til the end.

450 Main 3
Craig and Baggett once again made excellent starts and looked keen to fight for victory, but Red Bull KTM’s Musquin had a quiet confidence about him and the Frenchman was in hot pursuit of the leading duo, along with Anderson. The racing remained close and only a huge crash from Baggett in the rhythm section could distract the crowds. Musquin put in an absolutely perfect pass on race leader Craig, the type that you could watch over and over again on replay. An exhausted Anderson failed to fight it out with his energised rivals and before long Tomac moved into second place, taking vital points. Webb also fought it out with the series leader, snatching third place. But Musquin was on the sort of unstoppable form which we see from him every once in a while, and he celebrated the race win with his signature heel clicker.

So, the second Triple Crown of the year was won overall by Anderson, who performed consistently in all three races, but came across as humble and relieved in his post-race interview. These regular results, generally taken without fuss or fight, has been what has so far defined Anderson’s superb season. The Husqvarna rider was clearly exhausted and described the event as “intense and hard on the body” but said he was “really pleased and happy” to have come out on top. What can his rivals possibly do to stop him now? Tomac, who has won four events this season, seems determined to keep clawing back as many points as possible and has moved himself into fifth overall. Meanwhile, Musquin will need to pull out more flawless performances (as we saw in Anaheim and Atlanta) if he’s to close the 42-point deficit to Anderson. And increasingly impressive results from the likes of Baggett and Brayton add an air of unpredictability to the coming rounds.

250 East Mains 1,2,3

In the small class the action was marred early on by the monster crash of Dylan Ferrandis. The Frenchman had finished second in the first race, but suffered nasty injuries after clipping a Tuffblock in the second race. A broken arm, broken teeth, and suspected broken jaw put the Yamaha rider out of action for the rest of the night (and probably a great deal longer).

Martin Davalos took an early lead in the opening race but over jumped and ended up off the track, handing the lead to Zach Osborne. The Husqvarna man went on to win and celebrated with a Musquin-esque heel clicker. The start of the second main was intense as Austin Forkner and Davalos fought hard with Osborne, with Jordon Smith closely following the top three. The battle got more and more fierce after Ferrandis went down, with Osborne seemingly frustrated by Forkner’s pace. The series leader lost his patience and hit the back of the Kawasaki man, a move which was detrimental to Osborne’s challenge as he hit the deck and Forkner continued on. Team-mates Davalos and Forkner then fought it out for the win, with the former taking the chequered by a small margin. Osborne rejoined for third, but the Husky man had a bloodied nose from the contact with Forkner’s rear mudguard, and he appeared to be blaming the Kawasaki rider for the incident as he immediately went over to speak with him after the flag.

In the final Main of the night Osborne had a bad start and was forced to fight through as his rivals charged away. A pile-up then caught Osborne unawares and he ran over a fallen Rodriguez before dropping the bike himself. More and more drama happened in the 250’s final race as Davalos went over the bars and out of second place. Back in the pack Osborne had to work hard to keep himself in contention for the overall win on the night but it was in vain as Forkner secured third place in the final race, and the overall victory, crucial to his title charge as he now places just two points behind Osborne. Jeremy Martin impressed to take the win in the third main.

Osborne’s frenetic and aggressive riding style is in stark contrast to that of Jason Anderson. Although both lead their respective championships, Osborne always looks on the limit and on edge whereas Anderson seems to have everything under control no matter the circumstances. Which will turn out to be the winning formula?

2018 AMA SUPERCROSS

450SX Championship Standings

1. Jason Anderson Husqvarna 207

2. Marvin Musquin KTM 165

3. Blake Baggett KTM 150

4. Justin Brayton Honda 144

5. Eli Tomac Kawasaki 137

6. Weston Pieck Suzuki 136

7. Cooper Webb Yamaha 125

8. Cole Seeley Honda 124

9. Broc Tickle KTM 118

10. Justin Barcia Yamaha 113


250SX Eastern Region Championship Standings.

1. Zach Osborne Husqvarna         70
2. Austin Forkner Kawasaki         68
3. RJ Hampshire Honda               57
4. Jordon Smith KTM                   55
5. Colt Nichols Yamaha               54
6. James Decotis Suzuki             47
7. Jeremy Martin Honda             47
8. Luke Renzland Yamaha         42
9. Dylan Ferrandis Yamaha        34
10. Martin Davalos Kawasaki       34

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