The opening round of AMA Supercross for 2019, the famed Anaheim 1 event, was staged in uncharacteristically muddy conditions at the Californian venue on the weekend.
Chad Reed took second place in the LCQ in order to move through to the main, but was caught up in a turn one incident in the main event that left the 36-year-old Aussie legend with plenty of work to do. Reed was down around 16th place after the incident, but steadily plugged his way through the field in the trying conditions to take 14-points from his ninth place finish, ahead of Cole Seely and Justin Brayton.
Reigning AMA Supercross Champion Jason Anderson had conversely started well, but then drifted back through the field, looking increasingly uncomfortable as the race wore on before eventually finishing in 14th place.
Another top runner that failed to fire to his potential was KTM’s Marvin Musquin. The 29-year-old was inside the top ten throughout the event, but never looked likely to threaten the front runners. The Frenchman still took eighth place to get a good first score on the board and 15 points.
“The riding was not too bad but physically it was not an easy day as I didn’t have much time on the bike this off-season. But we knew it coming in, so the goal was to score some points and I ended up eighth in the Main Event. I had a great start and Cooper did too, but we almost got into each other and he went down. I avoided him but I lost a lot of ground. It would have been a little bit easier on me to get out front – I was right there in second place behind Cooper, it was pretty cool – but almost both of us crashing. My goal, once again, was to be consistent and score points and that’s what I did. Eighth is not too bad considering and now we can move on and get better from there.”
Cooper Webb was caught up in the same lap one melee that had troubled Reed but recovered strongly and, at times, was the fastest man on the track as he pushed his way forward all the way to fifth place at the flag. One was left with the impression that if the race went longer, Webb would have made up even more places as the 21-year-old really did look stronger than the others in the late stages of the main and set the fastest lap of the race.
“Anaheim I is in the books and overall it was a really good day. We started with free practice just getting the hang of the track and I was able to qualify seventh. In the heat race, I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts and I didn’t ride to my potential, so I had a bad gate pick in the Main Event. I had a pretty outside gate but I nailed the start and I was first in the first turn but unfortunately, I fell over. It was slicker than I thought but I was able to get up and really put my head down and charge really hard to come back to fifth. I guess I had the fastest lap of the race, so that was really cool and I’m feeling confident and good with that result, so I’m ready to go to Phoenix next weekend!”
Dean Wilson was another rider that looked very strong in the trying conditions, but unlike Webb, Wilson started really strongly and looked likely to win the event before he made a mistake, and then seemed to lose his speed. Wilson was eventually chased down by Justin Barcia, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac but still bagged a highly creditable fourth place in the season opener. That performance from the privateer certainly raised plenty of eyebrows.
Malcolm Stewart had started strongly with Wilson, the pair running in close company up front for most of the early laps and it looked as though it would be a battle between the two for a win.
Stewart though lost the rear on a corner entry and went down, he rejoined the race quickly but did not look like a challenger again as he drifted back to seventh place by the chequered flag, 12-seconds behind sixth place finish behind 450 debutante Aaron Plessinger.
“Anaheim 1 went pretty well. I got better and better every time I went out on the track. The heat race went awesome. I started out about fifth or sixth, got past some guys and finished third. I was pretty amped on that and I went into the main event pretty happy with myself. I got a great start and just maintained it. There were sometimes where I felt a little winded, but I couldn’t back down and pushed on to the finish and got sixth. I’d say Anaheim I, my first 450 race, was pretty good in my eyes. We’ll keep making improvements and head into Phoenix hot on the ball.”
It was Plessinger’s team-mate Justin Barcia though that took the major price and the $12,000 USD prize money for the win, let alone his contingency bonuses from a very happy Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team and other sponsors.
Jim Perry – Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“Today at Anaheim, the Monster Energy AMA Supercross kick off was a great day for the bLUcRU. Justin Barcia took the main event win which was awesome. The new YZ450F has been a great bike for Justin. The team’s been working hard in the off season. He’s been working hard in the off season; and it showed tonight. He was fast in practice and was fast in his heat race. It kind of came together in the main event. Justin enjoys the mud and it was starting to rain pretty heavy. Definitely a great night for him and awesome to see the YZ450F in the winner’s circle. It was also a great night for Aaron Plessinger, the rookie, as he starts his career in the 450SX class. He got a great Heat race finish in third and went on to the Main Event, started towards the front, put in a solid moto and finished sixth. Great results for both guys and looking forward to next weekend.”
Barcia had also won his heat race to qualify for the main, but was in seemingly no hurry to make his way to the front of the pack in the main event. The 26-year-old just plugged away smoothly as he saw those in front eventually flail, allowing the New Yorker to avoid any incidents and go on to take what in the end was a fairly dominant win.
“Anaheim 1 was an awesome day. I had a lot of fun in practice, then going into the heat race it started to sprinkling a little. I didn’t get the best start but made some good passes and got into the lead and won my heat race which was awesome, and it felt really good to get that first one out of the way at the first race. The main event it was really pouring down. It was looking tricky watching the 250 start so I definitely got a little excited and nervous and all those feelings you get at the first race. I got off to a pretty decent start and worked my way up to third by a little over half the race. I played it smart and tried to make no mistakes. One of the guys went down in front of me and then I was able to charge harder and catch the leader, make the pass and ride a smooth race to the win. For me this is incredible, I haven’t won a 450 race in over six years so it’s a pretty awesome feeling. I couldn’t be much happier, I’m really excited to go to Phoenix. I just want to stay, smart, smooth, fast, consistent and focus on the championship plate.”
Likewise Ken Roczen, rode smart but looked strong and in the final laps closed down markedly on Barcia. The Yamaha man likely had speed left in his toolkit as he buttoned off in the closing laps, but after Roczen’s horrific injuries and considering the very tough conditions, it was heartening to see the German looking strong and confident.
2018 AMA Motocross Champion Eli Tomac also started the season steadily and strong. Racing again for Monster Energy Kawasaki, the 26-year-old (why does it always seem he is so much older than that?), showed that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with. Tomac confidently marched his way through the field after being caught out by the same lap one incident that troubled Reed and Webb.
“There were tricky track conditions due to the unusual amount of rain for Anaheim, but I managed to stay in good enough condition to keep jumping most of the lanes and pushing forward. I remained patient and controlled my pace throughout the Main Event, and although we’re always shooting for the top spot, I’m happy to kick off the season on the podium. The team and I are already looking forward to Glendale, let’s get this season rolling!”
Tomac dominated the latter half of the 2018 Supercross season, and pretty much decimated the competition in the 2018 AMA Pro Motocross Championship. My money is on Tomac for the 2019 AMA SX Title.
AMA Supercross 2019
450 Round One Main Event Results
Justin Barcia – Yamaha
Ken Roczen – Honda +3.053
Eli Tomac – Kawasaki +4.890
Dean Wilson – Husqvarna +9.948
Cooper Webb – KTM +17.107
Aaron Plessinger – Yamaha +24.833
Malcolm Stewart – Honda +36.186
Marvin Musquin – KTM +47.621
Chad Reed – Suzuki +58.144
Cole Seely – Honda +71.386
Justin Brayton – Honda +1 lap
Blake Baggett – KTM +1 lap
Vince Friese – Honda +1 lap
Jason Anderson – Husqvarna +1 lap
Justin Hill – Suzuki +1 lap
Joey Savatgy – Kawasaki +1 lap
Carlen Gardner – Honda +2 laps
Ben Lamay – Honda +2 laps
Justin Bogle – KTM +2 laps
Ryan Breece – Yamaha +3 laps
AMA Supercross 2019 Championship Points
Justin Barcia – Yamaha 26
Ken Roczen – Honda 23
Eli Tomac – Kawasaki 21
Dean Wilson – Husqvarna 19
Cooper Webb – KTM 18
Aaron Plessinger – Yamaha 17
Malcolm Stewart – Honda 16
Marvin Musquin – KTM 15
Chad Reed – Suzuki 14
Cole Seely – Honda 13
Justin Brayton – Honda 12
Blake Baggett – KTM 11
Vince Friese – Honda 10
Jason Anderson – Husqvarna 9
Justin Hill – Suzuki 8
Joey Savatgy – Kawasaki 7
Carlen Gardner – Honda 6
Ben Lamay – Honda 5
Justin Bogle – KTM 4
Ryan Breece – Yamaha 3
Colt Nichols got the new year off to a sensational start tonight, taking his first career Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250SX win at the season opener at Angels Stadium of Anaheim. It was great night for Monster Energy/Star/ Yamaha Racing with teammate Dylan Ferrandis joining the Oklahoma native on the podium in second-place.
Nichols started the night looking poised for a top result with his solid second-place finish in his Heat race. When the gate dropped for the Main Event, he was ready. He got a good start and went on to lead every lap of the race in spite of worsening weather conditions. The result was an impressive win for the 24yr old and a stunning debut for the all-new 2019 Yamaha YZ250F.
“It’s really an indescribable feeling to win at A1. The conditions were far from perfect but I was able to stay focused, ride my laps to take the win. That was the longest race of my life, it felt like. My mechanic gave me five to go, four to go, three to go… You’re kind of talking to yourself a little bit to get through it. I just tried to stay consistent. I really didn’t know how big of a lead I had and who was in second at the time, so just tried to keep the focus forward. I knew if I tried to relax a little too much I’d probably make a big mistake and crashed. So I just kind of tried to keep it moving and it ended up working out for me. The off-season was great this year. I was really, really pumped on how everything went. This is really what it was for. You can’t describe the feeling I had jumping that finish line in first. That’s why we all do this. For me to cross that off my list was a really, really big deal. That made all the suffering, all the pain of the past two years completely worth it.”
Victorian privateer Tomas Ravenhorst contested the A1 series opener on his privately entered KTM 250 SX-F. The 23-year-old finished a creditable 12th place in his Heat Race then went on to finish eighth in the LCQ but missed out on joining the main event this time around.
AMA Supercross 2019
250 Western Round One Main Event Results
Colt Nichols (Yamaha)
Dylan Ferrandis (Yamaha) +16.398
Shane McElrath (KTM) +20.268
RJ Hampshire (Honda) +42.339
Adam Cianciarulo (Kawasaki) +48.964
Garrett Marchbanks (Kawasaki) +59.254
Jimmy Decotis (Suzuki) +1 lap
Jacob Hayes (Yamaha) +1 lap
Chris Blose (Husqvarna) +1 lap
Jess Pettis (KTM) +1 lap
AMA Supercross 2019 250 Western Championship Points
Colt Nichols (Yamaha), 26
Dylan Ferrandis (Yamaha), 23
Shane McElrath (KTM), 21
RJ Hampshire (Honda), 19
Adam Cianciarulo (Kawasaki), 18
Garrett Marchbanks (Kawasaki), 17
Jimmy Decotis (Suzuki), 16
Jacob Hayes (Yamaha), 15
Chris Blose (Husqvarna), 14
Jess Pettis (KTM), 13
Monster Energy Supercross next heads to Glendale, Arizona, next Saturday, January 12, for Round 2 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship at State Farm Stadium.
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