2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Round 16 Salt Lake City 1 | Rice-Eccles Stadium
Report by Trevor Hedge – Images by Jeff Kardas
The 16th and penultimate round of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Championship was staged inside Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium overnight. Cooper Webb started the event with a 16-point buffer over Ken Roczen. Eli Tomac was a further 24-points behind Roczen and largely out of the championship chase. Thus it was coming down a two-man battle between Webb and Roczen, the German had held the upper hand over the first half of the season before Webb struck back with wins at round 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and last week at round 15 to move into a commanding position as we head towards next weekend’s finale.
Tomac had topped qualifying ahead of Webb while Roczen had set only the seventh quickest time. Webb won his heat race while Tomac won Heat Two with Roczen third.
Ken Roczen chose the inside line heading into turn one when the gates dropped and scored the hole-shot while Justin Barcia started the Main on the deck after the GasGas man went down early on. Musquin was second and Savatgy third for the majority of the opening lap before Savatgy went down which let Anderson through to third and championship leader Cooper Webb up to fourth just ahead of Malcolm Stewart, Chase Sexton, Eil Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis.
Roczen looked set for the win after pulling two-seconds out of the field over the first couple of minutes of the Main which grew to as much as four minutes before the ten-minute mark. As the second half of the 20-minute Main started though the gap was back down to under two-seconds as Cooper Webb took third place from Jason Anderson and was six-seconds behind Roczen.
Musquin continues to close on Roczen and with eight-minutes remaining the German succumbed to the pressure and folded the front. Roczen got back on his bike quickly but not before he had watched Cooper Webb, Malcolm Stewart and Chase Sexton fly by him. Another hugely costly mistake by the 26-year-old and one that sees his championship chances go out the window…
Marvin Musquin then went on to pull away to a three-second lead over Webb but Webb put his head down and with four-minutes remaining he was all over the back of his team-mate.
It looked almost certain that Webb would blow past Musquin to victory but the Frenchman knuckled down and managed to keep Webb at bay to take his first victory of the season.
That was also only the fourth podium on Musquin’s score-card this year in what has been a season where the Frenchman has really failed to fire quite as hard as most had expected. It was also more than two year’s since his last victory as the 31-year-old battled ongoing knee problems.
He might have come second tonight but 25-year-old Cooper Webb looks almost certain to capture his second 450 Supercross crown as supercross returns to Rice-Eccles Stadium again next weekend, May 1, for the grand finale. The KTM rider has a 22-point buffer over Ken Roczen and with more wins under his belt, Webb only needs to score four-points from a 19th place finish in order to lift the crown next weekend, even if Roczen takes the win.
It was somewhat of a breakthrough round for Malcolm Stewart as he scored his first 450 podium ahead of Dylan Ferrandis and Chase Sexton while Ken Roczen was left ruing what might have been after finishing sixth.
450 Video Highlights
Marvin Musquin – P1
“I can’t believe it right now – I’m standing on the top of the podium. I have had some struggles this season but my goal is to come back and keep getting better. There are so many good riders, so the start is super important and I was just trying to be consistent, those whoops were really tough. I’m so proud, I gave it my all tonight.”
“I didn’t get a great start tonight, which hindered me a little bit. Those whoops were super tricky, I finally found a good line and made a charge there at the end. I thought I was in a good position and Marvin picked it up a lot there at the end. Getting points is key but you want to win when you’re that close. We’ll come around next Saturday and see what we can do!”
Malcolm Stewart – P3
“It was a great day! I felt good and rode well all day and just let the race come to me. I didn’t have the best start in the Main Event, but we made it work the first couple of laps. Then Coop (Cooper Webb), (Jason) Anderson, and I had a pretty gnarly battle. I was really strong in the whoops tonight, and even the corner after the mechanics’ area, and kept gaining ground. I’m just so stoked to finally get on the box. It’s been hanging over my head for a long time, and we finally got it. We finally did it! It’s a dream come true. It’s one of those moments I’ll never forget. Everybody says that after your first one, it comes easy, so this is one of many. I’m looking to have some more fun next weekend and go out here for a repeat.”
Dylan Ferrandis – P4
“It was a tough day. We made some changes this week to improve the bike, and it didn’t really work in the first practice, so we had to keep working on more changes, which made it hard to get comfortable. In the heat, we went the wrong way, but we made another big change and the bike was really awesome in the main. I had a good start, then Anderson pushed me off the track, and I lost a couple of positions. It took me a few laps to learn the bike and to feel comfortable on it because it was a new setting that I had never tried before. Then when I felt comfortable, I pushed and gave everything that I had. I made some good passes on some strong riders and I came back to fourth. It’s a good result overall, and we look to come back next weekend and do better at the finale.”
Chase Sexton – P5
“Round one here in Salt Lake City started off rough. I had a big crash in qualifying, which could’ve ended my night; it was pretty gnarly. After the crash I was really sore and my heel, left shoulder and right hip were pretty banged up. We did some work and we got myself to where I was able to race. I had a pretty good heat race, coming from from a ways back. I didn’t get a good start in the main event, but like the heat race, I just tried to fight my way up. I feel like I was riding pretty good, but kind of lost it with about five minutes to go and got passed by [Dylan] Ferrandis. It was a good top-five after what could’ve been no race at all. It’s something to build off of and we have another race to go, so we’ll just try and get better.”
Ken Roczen – P6
“What a bummer, once again. I got the holeshot in the main and gapped the field, but just found myself on the ground after tucking the front before the whoops. I dropped back to sixth, and that’s where we finished as well. There’s not much that I can say about it, to be honest; it’s unfortunate. I’m finding myself on the ground lately in general, which normally is not my style. I’m just trying to put my team and myself on the top step and it just hasn’t been working out, so I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
Aaron Plessinger – P8
“The day started out a little slow, I wasn’t really gelling with the bike in practice. That was kind of how it went all day long; I was just struggling with the bike setup and trying to get going. I had a good heat race going but about ripped my shroud off and then couldn’t really turn right that well and finished fourth. In the main, I didn’t get a good start and was battling mid-pack. I made my way up to the back of Dylan, but I just couldn’t get around him. Then I made a few bonehead mistakes and finished eighth. The track was tough tonight. There was a bunch of crashes. Eli (Tomac) passed me and then jumped right into some hay bales right. A bunch of people went down tonight, so I’m glad to stay up, stay healthy and be back for next Saturday. We’re going to go back to California this week and try to get the bike a little bit better and finish out the season strong.”
Eli Tomac – P10
“Man, I was feeling so good on the bike all day long and I’ve been looking forward to coming back to Salt Lake City. I always enjoy riding here and felt confident heading into the main, especially after qualifying fastest and winning my heat race. Unfortunately, I made a few mistakes and ran out of time. I’m looking forward to coming back next weekend to finish out the season strong.”
Justin Barcia – P14
“I felt really good in practice and in the heat but unfortunately, I ended up going down and tearing my radiator. Thankfully the team got it repaired quickly and got me ready for the LCQ. The Main Event was difficult to say the least. I got pushed out off the start, somehow cross-jumped into the bails and ended up going down and the bike hit me in the back. I charged up to 11th and was still moving forward and then I ended up endo’ing and bending my bike up pretty good. It’s definitely super disappointing on my end but I’m going to regroup and do the best I can do next week to finish the season out strong.”
After a long 70-day hiatus the 250 East series recommenced for their penultimate round ahead of East-West showdown overnight in Utah.
Christian Craig had started this round only eight-points behind series leader Colt Nichols but a big crash early in the night meant that he took no part in the Main in what would be a big shake up in the championship chase.
“It’s hard to put into words, we’ve been working so hard this season. Things were going so well at the start of the day and then I was on the ground. I tried everything to race but just couldn’t put any pressure on my leg. As of now, it looks like I fractured my fibula and sprained my ankle. We’re going to get checked out at home and get ready for the outdoor season.”
Jo Shimoda scored the hole-shot ahead of Michael Mosiman and Thomas Do while Jett Lawrence was fifth and championship leader Colt Nichols seventh.
Mosiman chased Shimoda hard and got real close to the Kawasaki rider five-minutes into the Main but Shimoda then managed to stretch away again before the two came together again with eight-minutes left on the shot clock. Jett Lawrence was up to third by this stage and Colt Nichols fourth.
With four-minutes remaining Jett Lawrence joined Shimoda and Mosiman up front. Mosiman then made a mistake that allowed Lawrence through to second place. Lapped traffic was being encountered in almost every turn.
Mosiman then made a couple of mistakes that allowed Colt Nichols to close and pass Mosiman for third place.
Nichols got close to Lawrence over the final laps but could not get close enough to make a move and of course with a championship on the line the Yamaha man was not in the mood to take any silly risks.
Shimoda withstood the pressure of a chasing Jett Lawrence to take his maiden victory.
The American crowd gave the Japanese teenager a great reception as he took the top step on the rostrum.
Japan first, Australia second and USA third.
Michael Mosiman crossed the line in fourth well ahead of Thomas Do, Joshua Varize and Logan Karlow.
After suffering massive injuries early in the year that saw him have to sit out the majority of the season Australian privateer Geran Stapleton scored a brilliant eighth place finish on his return to the series.
27-year-old Colt Nichols is now on the cusp of winning his first Supercross Championship as he takes a 23-point lead into the East-West showdown finale.
Tonight’s victory has put Jo Shimoda in the box seat to take the #2 plate as the 18-year-old Japanese hotshot carries a six-point buffer over an injured Christian Craig into the finale.
17-year-old Jett Lawrence will finish no lower than fourth in his debut championship. The young Aussie will be ruing his major mistakes of the season that both took place at Indianapolis 2 where a sickening crash in the Heat saw him miss the Main and thus only take one point from that event. His points scorecard for the season is otherwise amazingly consistent for a rookie; 17-26-21-19-1-18-26-23. If some major misfortunes beset Shimoda and Craig at the finale and Jett really fires he could, potentially, finish his rookie season as high as second on the final championship points table.
The championship finale will take place on May 1.
250 Video Highlights
Jo Shimoda – P1
“I want to thank my Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for setting me up with the best bike and helping me get the win tonight. I also want to thank my family who is actually here from Japan tonight, it makes it even more special to get this win with them here watching. I moved out to the U.S. from Japan without most of my family and it’s been such a great opportunity racing here, but to get a win, it’s a dream come true. I went out there and rode my best all day long and I’m already looking forward to our last race next weekend for the East/West showdown.”
Jett Lawrence – P2
“I started the day off good, getting P4 in the first qualifier, and I was able to go fastest in the second one, putting me third overall on the qualifying side. In the second heat race I got a good start and won that, so I had first gate pick. In the main event I was a little slow out of the gate, which didn’t help. I was fourth on the first lap, and I was able to make a couple passes and get to second. I tried doing a little last-lap charge to Jo [Shimoda] but made a few mistakes in the rhythm, which didn’t help me. He nailed the long rhythm, so good job to him, but it would’ve been nice to have those points. Overall, it was a good race. I felt good to see everyone and get back to racing. I was happy with it and can’t wait till next weekend for the East/West shootout.”
Colt Nichols – P3
“I don’t even know what to say. It was a good night, getting on the podium, so that’s always awesome. It’s just been a roller coaster of emotions kind of day, we came into this battling my teammate and we were looking to have two really good races here in Salt Lake City, me and him going head-to-head with only eight points separating us, so it was unfortunate that he crashed out and ended up hurting his ankle. That just puts you in a weird spot. I needed to execute a little better in the main and I didn’t. I got a horrible start which made it hard on myself and I had to come through the pack. I felt like I didn’t start riding very well until about 10 minutes into that main and then I started to get going. I just waited around too much. In order to wrap it up tonight, the one guy I didn’t need to win was Jo (Shimoda), and he did. Looking at the big picture it’s good, though. If you would have told me I would have had a 23-point lead going into the final round, I’d be pumped. So overall, it’s awesome to be so close. We’ll try again next weekend.”
Michael Mosiman – P4
“It’s been a long time off the bike and a long time off racing but it felt great to get back into it today! I felt like I was the fastest guy out there today, I just crumbled on the race craft, trying to make passes in spots that weren’t ideal and it cost me the win. I believe I was the guy that should have been winning and it’s disappointing but I’m trying to learn from it. I will be better going forward.”
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