2014 AMA Supercross Championship – The Race to Vegas – By Darren Smart

With the Daytona round done and dusted, the 2014 AMA Supercross Championships has seven rounds to go so let’s take a look at what has gone down so far and see how the ‘Race to Vegas’ is going to pan out.

450SX Class. When the gate dropped at Anaheim 1 we had Ryan Villopoto, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Justin Barcia as riders with a realistic chance of winning the championship while veteran Chad Reed along with rookies Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac were long shots at best.

When it was all said and done, Villopoto was the hot favourite to keep his championship win streak going.

Well, that theory all went pear shaped right from the get-go with Roczen winning the opening round at Anaheim ahead of Dungey, Reed, Villopoto and Barcia then at round two in Phoenix it was Justin Brayton who led for most of the main event before Villopoto managed to sneak by late in the race to take the win ahead of Brayton and Dungey.

Just Barcia knocked Roczen to the ground mid moto at Phoenix and this won’t be the last time Barcia does something dumb on his way to a series of mediocre finishes.

Anaheim 2 was a dead-set cracker and this time it was our own Chad Reed who rode from seventh place to take the win from James Stewart, Roczen, Brayton, Villopoto and Dungey and to back that result up Reed came home in third place at round four in Oakland behind Villopoto and Stewart but well ahead of Dungey, Brayton, Roczen and Barcia.

After four rounds Villopoto led the points ahead of Reed, Roczen, Dungey, Brayton, Stewart, Barcia, Andrew Short, Wil Hahn and Jake Weimer.

Anaheim 3 saw Reed take his second win of the year and put pay to any doubt that the veteran still had the hunger, talent and speed to be a true contender. Roczen came home in second ahead of Villopoto, Barcia, Weston Peick, Brayton and Stewart.

San Diego has been a good place for James Stewart and the Yoshimura Suzuki pilot finally got the job done to take his first win of the series ahead of Villopoto, Roczen, Dungey, Peick and Barcia.

The final lap at San Diego saw a huge battle between Roczen and Chad Reed but it all went pear shaped when they met up with lapped traffic through the whoop section forcing Roczen to move to the left just as Chad was looking to pass up the inside. Reed’s front wheel clipped Roczen’s rear wheel and the Aussie crashed hard into the next jump rfce causing injuries that would put Reed out till the AMA Motocross series.

Arlington, Texas saw Stewart come right back into championship contention with another main event win ahead of Dungey, Barcia, Villopoto, Brayton and Roczen but a week later in Atlanta Stewart did what he is famous for and crashed out of the lead and the championship chase while Ken Roczen actually passed Villopoto to take the win and Ryan Dungey rounded out the podium ahead of Wil Hahn and Brayton. Villopoto now led the championship by just nine points in front of Roczen, 26 points in front of Stewart and 30 points over Dungey.

The main event in Indianapolis saw Villopoto and Roczen sprawled out on their backs just 30 meters from the starting gate after they tangled and fell. Villopoto got up and charged forward while Roczen took a little longer to get going and just as he found some rhythm went over the bars to crash out of the race and lose a heap of points.

Out front Ryan Dungey took the lead and the eventual win ahead of class rookies Eli Tomac and Cole Seely while Villopoto got back up to fourth place with Stewart back in seventh so heading into Daytona RV’s points lead stretch out to 23 over Dungey with Roczen a further three points back from his teammate.

So now the supercross circus hits Daytona and this round is very important as far as the championship goes. Dungey and Roczen really needed to beat RV and when you see that of the 40 AMA Supercross Champions in the past, 20 of them won the Daytona round so now is not the time to hand Villopoto another main event win but that is exactly what happened, once RV blew by Dean Wilson (riding Reed’s KX) for the lead the defending champion simply took off for the win well ahead of Dungey, Broc Tickle, Andrew Short, Hahn, Wilson,  Matt Goerke and Brayton while Stewart finished back in 18th after having to pit with a damaged header pipe.

So, with seven rounds remaining Villopoto has a 28 point lead over Dungey with Roczen another point further back it would be a brave man to bet against a fourth supercross championship in a row for the Kawasaki stalwart.

And when you consider that in the first ten rounds Villopoto has won three mains and scored 5th place or better in the main events it shows the maturity of a champion who can still score good points when things don’t go exactly to plan or when struggling with the track and bike set-up.

BUT, if you are Dungey or Roczen you have to consider that there are 175 points up for grabs in main event race wins so all they can hope for is to find the speed to beat RV consistently and hope he has at least one non-point scoring round.

For mind, this is already Villopoto’s championship but the ‘Race To Vegas’ will still be a cracker.

450SX Championship Standings After Round 10 of 17: 1. Ryan Villopoto 209. 2. Ryan Dungey 181. 3. Ken Roczen 180. 4. James Stewart 157. 5. Justin Brayton 155. 6. Andrew Short 125. 7. Justin Barcia 118. 8. Chad Reed 111. 9. Broc Tickle 111. 10. Wil Hahn 108.

250SX – East Coast: The East Coast 250SX class is stacked with talent so we were all looking to this class for some sensational racing but no-one could prepare us for what went down at the opening round at Anaheim when Jason Anderson basically dive bombed race leader Cole Seely from ten bike lengths back and took over the lead with just two corners to go.

To Seely’s credit, he told anyone who would listen that he would have done the same thing if he was in that position but a week later in Phoenix, Seely and Anderson were again out front and by mid race had opened a comfortable lead on the rest of the field and the win looked to be within Seeley’s grasp but as they approached lappers Anderson moved to the rear wheel of Seely and on the final lap Seely made a slight mistake which allowed Anderson to make the pass with about a half lap remaining. Zach Osborne has scored third place in the opening two rounds.

Seely finally got to win a main event at Anaheim 2 ahead of Cooper Webb and Malcolm Stewart while Anderson came back from a crash to finish in fourth place. It must be noted that after three rounds of racing none of the Pro-Circuit Kawasaki riders had even come close to winning a race and considering that Dean Wilson and the highly touted Justin Hill are on those bikes, it shows how competitive this class is.

Jason Anderson took advantage of a mechanical problem Wilson had to take the win in Oakland a week later while Seeley could only manage a fourth behind Anderson, Wilson and Hill but a week later at Anaheim 3 Wilson finally gave the Pro-Circuit team a win ahead of Seely, Cooper Webb, Hill, Anderson and Malcolm Stewart.

San Diego was the final round for the 250SX East Coast riders until they re-join the series at Houston on April the 5th and this time it was Justin Hill who took the win ahead of championship leader Jason Anderson who in turn beat home Malcolm Stewart and Seely.

Anderson will take a narrow four point lead over Seely into the break and it won’t make him feel any better that Seely has been riding the 450SX class during the break AND scored a podium finish at Indianapolis for his troubles. 

With just three rounds remaining there is no championship favourite and it is down to just two riders in Anderson and Seely. If you back riders with plenty of ticker and hunks of bravery you put your money on Anderson but if you are looking at a rider who is cool under pressure and rides smooth and smart, your money is on Seely.

250SX West Regional Championship Standings After Round 6 of 9: 1. Jason Anderson – 131. 2. Cole Seely – 127. 3. Justin Hill – 107. 4. Dean Wilson – 98. 5. Cooper Webb – 92. 6. Malcolm Stewart – 89. 7. Jessy Nelson – 76. 8. Shane Mcelrath – 71. 9. Zach Osborne – 69. 10. Dean Ferris – 63.

250SX – West Coast: Heading into Arlington, all eyes were on the Pro-Circuit Kawasaki trio of Blake Baggett, Martin Davalos and Adam Cianciarulo while the likes of Justin Bogle, Alex Martin, Blake Wharton, Kyle Cunningham and Vince Friese we all on deck to try and get into championship contention.

But, it was Cianciarulo who took advantage of a crash by Davalos to take his maiden supercross win ahead of championship favourite Baggett who in turn snuck home ahead of Davalos, Cairo, Friese, Bogle, Cole Thompson and Wharton.

Atlanta was a very special night for Martin Davalos who finally took his first pro class supercross win and to back up his win the week before Cianciarulo came home in second place ahead of Bogle, Wharton, Baggett and Friese. Baggett started the main event in last place and his ride up to fifth place was a cracker.

Indianapolis loomed as an import round for the title contenders and once again Cianciarulo proved that he was the real deal by taking another win ahead of Davalos while Bogle scored his second podium ahead of Matthew Bisceglia, Baggett and Friese.

Baggett was looking to Daytona to score his first win of the year and that is exactly what he did by leading every lap while Cianciarulo scored an important second place after taking a few laps to get by Davalos who finished in third well ahead of Wharton, Bogle, Jeremy Martin, Biscelgia, Friese and Kyle Cunningham.

With five rounds remaining there is still plenty of racing to be done before this championship is decided and with Cianciarulo just seven points in front of Davalos and Baggett just eight points further back you can look for this championship to be decided in Vegas but my money is on Cianciarulo over Baggett by just a couple of points. The kid is hungey!

250SX East Regional Championship Standings After Round 4 of 9: 1. Adam Cianciarulo 94. 2. Martin Davalos 87. 3. Blake Baggett 79. 4. Justin Bogle 72. 5. Vince Friese 61. 6. Blake Wharton 51. 7. Cole Thompson 48. 8. Kyle Cunningham 45. 9. Jimmy Decotis 43. 10. Matt Lemoine 37.

The Winner’s Circle

Jan. 4. Anaheim I – Ken Roczen – 450SX – Round 1
Jan. 4. Anaheim I – Jason Anderson – 250SX – East Coast – Round 1
Jan. 11. Phoenix – Ryan Villopoto – 450SX – Round 2
Jan. 11. Phoenix – Jason Anderson – 250SX – East Coast – Round 2
Jan. 18. Anaheim II – Chad Reed – 450SX – Round 3
Jan. 18. Anaheim II – Cole Seely – 250SX – East Coast – Round 3
Jan. 25. Oakland – Ryan Villopoto – 450SX – Round 4
Jan. 25. Oakland – Jason Anderson – 250SX – East Coast – Round 4
Feb. 1. Anaheim III – Chad Reed – 450SX – Round 5
Feb. 1. Anaheim III – Dean Wilson – East coast – Round 5
Feb. 8. San Diego – James Stewart – 450SX – Round 6
Feb. 8. San Diego – Justin Hill – 250SX – East Coat – Round 6
Feb. 15. Dallas – James Stewart – 450SX – Round 7
Feb. 15. Dallas – Adam Cianciarulo – 250SX – West Coast – Round 1
Feb. 22. Atlanta – Ken Roczen – 450SX – Round 8
Feb. 22. Atlanta – Martin Davalos – 250SX – West Coast – Round 2
Mar. 1. Indianapolis – Ryan Dungey – 450SX – Round 9
Mar. 1. Indianapolis – Adam Cianciarulo – 250SX – West Coast – Round 3
Mar. 8. Daytona – Ryan Villpoto – 450SX – Round 10.
Mar. 8. Daytona Blake Baggett – 250SX – West Coast – Round 4

What’s Still To Come

Mar. 15. Detroit – 450SX – Round 11 and 250SX West Coast – Round 5
Mar. 22. Toronto – 450SX – Round 12 and 250SX West Coast – Round 6
Mar. 29. St. Louis – 450SX – Round 13 and 250SX West Coast – Round 7
Apr. 5. Houston – 450SX – Round 14 and 250SX East Coast – Round 7
Apr. 12. Seattle – 450SX – Round 15 and 250SX East Coast – Round 8
Apr. 26. New York – 450SX – Round 16 and 250SX West Coast – Round 8
May 3. Las Vegas – 450SX – Round 17 and 250SX East and West Coast – Round 9

450SX Class Start - Photo Credit: Simon Cudby
450SX Class Start – Photo Credit: Simon Cudby