The Wasatch Mountains that form a great backdrop to the Rice-Eccles Stadium had received a fresh 50 mm of snow overnight which put a chill in the air and it was forecast that rain would likely fall during this 13th round of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Championship.
Earlier in the week competitors had raced here in temperatures approaching the mid-30s (Celsius), but today temperatures had only just struggled into the double digits with thermometers registering 12-degrees. The track itself was also very different, not only due to a change up in design, but recent rainfall had made some of the corners a little sloppy.
Eli Tomac took a 13-point lead over Ken Roczen into this round. After starting strongly the German had faded badly in the second half of the Main in the previous round and since then had made some comments on Instagram that he had been suffering breathing issues unrelated to the altitude, but lingering after-effects from a sickness he suffered late last year.
Previous round winner Cooper Webb scored the holeshot in the opening 450 Heat and was chased and then passed by Ken Roczen who managed to stave off a couple of late advances from Webb until the German lost pressure in his rear tyre two laps from the end, which gave Webb the upper hand and victory. Roczen had enough of a buffer over Justin Brayton to cruise home to second place ahead of his HRC team-mate Justin Brayton.
Zach Osborne led the field away in Heat Two and had clear air over Jason Anderson, Vince Friese and Aaron Plessinger in the early stages while Eli Tomac was down in tenth after getting caught up in the pack at the beginning of the race. Anderson got the better of his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team-mate Osborne in the middle of the race and romped away to his first Heat win in almost two years. Meanwhile Tomac had steadily worked his way up through the field to take third at the chequered flag.
By the Main Event the track had got quite messy and even the fastest riders were struggling to put together those sweet rhythms of perfect timing that we generally witness in Supercross. Instead it was a scrappy affair in very challenging conditions.
Zach Osborne scored the hole-shot ahead of Cooper Webb while Eli Tomac actually got a decent start for a change and was running just behind that pair on the opening lap. Webb was all over Osborne and eventually forced his way through, Tomac then added further insult by pushing Osborne back to third. Fourth on these opening laps was Jason Anderson ahead of Ken Roczen and Malcolm Stewart.
Roczen then moved up to fourth place and started to reel in Osborne. That pair though were five-seconds behind race leader Cooper Webb, who in turn had two-seconds on second placed Tomac.
It had looked as though Roczen would close in on and pass Osborne for third but instead the German made a couple of mistakes which allowed Jason Anderson to close in on him and make an aggressive pass to relegate Roczen back to fifth place. Anderson then pulled away from Roczen with ease before then reeling in and passing his Husqvarna team-mate Zach Osborne to move up to third.
Tomac had been shadowing Webb for some time and the Kawasaki man finally made his move through to the lead with 12-minutes remaining on the time clock. Webb came right back at him but Tomac held on to the position. Further back Malcolm Stewart relegated Roczen to sixth.
Once he had clear air Tomac pulled away from Webb and it looked as though he might run away with it. Lapped traffic though saw Tomac have to pull some punches and with seven-minutes remaining Webb was back in the fight for the win. Tomac then lost his rhythm through the whoops while putting Roczen a lap down, Webb was on a different line and sailed right past both of them to take the race lead.
With four-minutes remaining that leading duo had lapped three-quarters of the field. Tomac was right with Webb but his Kawasaki started to spit out a little coolant and steam which put some consternation on the faces of his pit crew.
Despite that Tomac took the lead with just over two-minutes left on the clock and then managed to stretch away from Webb to take the win despite a determined and exciting last lap charge by Webb.
Jason Anderson finished third more than 40-seconds behind the Tomac and Webb. His Husqvarna team-mate Zach Osborne scored fourth, a lap down on the leaders.
Ken Roczen eventually finished tenth, two laps down on the leaders and losing another 13-points in the championship chase to Tomac. The Kawasaki man now has a 26-point buffer over Roczen, while the German’s lead over third placed Webb has been trimmed to only six-points.
There are four rounds remaining in the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Championship in this COVID-19 induced quick-fire end to the season. Racers will be back on track this Wednesday, June 10, then again on June 14, June 17 ahead of the finale on June 21.
450 SX Results
Eli Tomac – Kawasaki
Cooper Webb – KTM +1.281s
Jason Anderson – Husqvarna +43.995s
Zach Osborne – Husqvarna +1 lap
Malcolm Stewart – Honda +1 lap
Dean Wilson – Husqvarna +1 lap
Justin Brayton – Honda +1 lap
Martin Davalos – KTM +1 lap
Justin Barcia – Yamaha +1 lap
Ken Roczen – Honda + 2 laps
Aaron Plessinger – Yamaha + 2 laps
Blake Baggett – KTM + 2 laps
Benny Bloss – KTM + 2 laps
Chad Reed – KTM + 2 laps
Justin Hill – Honda + 3 laps
450 SX Championship Points
Eli Tomac – 301
Ken Roczen – 275
Cooper Webb – 269
Justin Barcia – 239
Jason Anderson – 229
Malcolm Stewart – 198
Dean Wilson – 176
Justin Brayton – 173
Justin Hill – 169
Zach Osborne – 163
Aaron Plessinger – 159
Blake Baggett – 145
Martin Davalos – 136
Adam Cianciarulo – 129
Vince Friese – 127
Chad Reed 68
The issue whereby high-achievers in the 250 class then rule themselves out of the remaining rounds has reared its head again with Geico Honda’s Jeremy Martin not turning up for the final rounds of the 250 East series. This predicament arises due to series rules which dictate that when a rider achieves a certain level of results they must move out of the category the following season and up to the 450 class. With a dirth of paying 450 seats available in competitive teams, riders without such a deal the following season self-limit their ultimate results in the closing rounds so as not to rule themselves out of eligibility for the 250 category. Normally riders sand-bag their decision not to breach this results limit but Jeremy Martin and Geico Honda have been honest and up front with this following statement from the rider himself that he released prior this round.
“Unfortunately my season has come to an end for supercross in 2020. I’ve given it a lot of thought about how to publicly announce not racing the last three races of sx this year. Instead of covering it up with an injury The team and I decided to be completely honest about my current situation. I’ve reached the eligibility limit for points in the 250sx class, and any additional points would force me into the 450 class for 2021. There isn’t any opportunities nor openings for me in 2021 for the 450 class. Geico Honda doesn’t campaign the 450sx class. I haven’t won a race yet this year and feel that before making the step to the premier class I need an additional year to improve my performance and health in the quest to earn a factory 450 ride for 2022. I’m 27-years-old and I’d love to be in the 450 class racing but sometimes you have to take the longer path, which right now is licking my wounds and keep rebuilding myself in supercross so I can win races and championships for Geico Honda next year!”
Heading into this round of the 250 SX East Championship Shane McElrath and Chase Sexton were tied on 140-points apiece after McElrath’s victory mid-week.
Today McElrath got the holeshot and walked away from the field in his Heat while Chase Sexton did the same in his Heat race.
Come the Main it was Sexton with the hole-shot but McElrath then made an aggressive pass which sent his championship rival very wide and the Honda man lost a number of positions as a result. The rain then started falling as Chase Sexton clipped Enzo Lopes which sent both of them down on the entry in to a tight left-hander. That fall saw Sexton lose yet more positions, the 20-year-old defending champion had been shuffled back to ninth by the time he was up and running again. Meanwhile Shane McElrath was leading from Jo Shimoda and looking likely to score another win, that was until officials brought out the red flag so they could give an injured Garrett Marchbanks medical attention, the 18-year-old clutching at his back after a fall and obviously in plenty of pain.
After a short delay, during which much more rain fell, the field assembled on the gates again for a complete re-start, as they had not completed three laps before the red flag came out. Shane McElrath scored the hole-shot with Chase Sexton right behind. That pair quickly pulled away from the field. Then with ten-minutes remaining McElrath collided with Coty Schock while lapping him and went down, that tumble allowed Sexton through to the lead. McElrath rejoined the race still in second place but was now 13-seconds behind Sexton, two laps later that gap had blown out to 22-seconds.
After backing right off in the final laps Sexton eventually took the chequered flag eight-seconds ahead of McElrath who was joined on the podium by his Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha team-mate Colt Nichols.
That victory sees Sexton pull three-points clear of McElrath with two rounds left for 250 East competitors before a champion is crowned.
When Supercross reconvenes mid-week it will be the turn of the 250 West competitors to swing back into action which of course means the return of popular young Aussie Jett Lawrence after that sickening crash early in the season at Anaheim 2. Jett’s older brother Hunter will join him on track and taste the heat of Supercross competition for the first time this season. 250 West competitors will race on Wednesday June 10 and Sunday June 14 before a 250 East round on June 17 ahead of the 250 East-West showdown on Sunday, June 21.
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