2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Round 15 – Atlanta 3 – Atlanta Motor Speedway
Report by Trevor Hedge – Images by Jeff Kardas
450 Race Report
Aaron Plessinger scored the holeshot from Ken Roczen and Dylan Ferrandis as Jason Anderson and Cooper Webb gave chase. Webb made short work of Anderson and Ferrandis and soon after he passed that duo they collided and both went down, promoting Martin Davalos up in to fourth position followed by Justin Barcia and Eli Tomac.
Ken Roczen then squeezed past Plessinger two-minutes into the race to put the #7 Yamaha between himself and Webb.
It took Webb more than five-minutes to get ahead of Plessinger and by that time Rozen had amassed a five-second lead. Roczen extended that lead from Webb to over ten-seconds at the halfway point of the moto. A couple of minutes later it was 12-seconds.
Only a few minutes later though Roczen made his first mistake with a tip-over at the end of the whoops section that saw his lead trimmed to six-seconds.
With four-minutes remaining Eli Tomac took third place from Aaron Plessinger. Tomac was only 1.5-seconds behind Webb who in-turn was now only four-seconds behind Roczen.
Then with less than 30-seconds left on the shot clock Webb caught and passed Roczen. The Honda man chased Webb’s KTM home but could not get back on terms with the series leader. Webb had built two-seconds over Roczen and despite a mistake on the final lap he still took victory by a full-second over Roczen.
Eli Tomac rounded out the podium a further three-seconds behind Roczen while Aaron Plessinger bagged 19-points for fourth ahead of Justin Barcia and Malcolm Stewart.
450 Video Highlights
That win extends Webb’s championship lead to 16-points over Roczen with two rounds remaining. Eli Tomac is a further 24-points behind in third with a 35-point buffer over fourth placed Barcia.
Cooper Webb – P1
“I have to give it up to my team, they gave me a competitive bike tonight – we went back and figured some things out. Honestly, I made so many mistakes and I really didn’t ride well at all but I dug deep. I saw Kenny out front and he was riding awesome. I was trying to do everything I can and when he made that mistake, I saw blood in the water and I went for it. I just wanted to win.”
Ken Roczen – P2
“Atlanta three was pretty good to us. The track was really, really tough, with the whoops being super long, big and cupped out. In the main event we did exactly what we needed to do–grabbed a good start and made the pass for the lead happen pretty quick. I put a 12-second gap between me and second, just to throw it away in the whoops when I got kicked sideways and then it bucked me. Afterwards my handlebar or my triple clamps were just a little bit tweaked, and it kind of took the wind out of my sails a bit and [Cooper] Webb made the pass happen with a couple of laps to go. I ended up second and lost three points, but the team and I did a great job and almost won. I want to hang onto the positive, meaning I rode really well, and am going to come in strong in Salt Lake City.”
Eli Tomac – P3
“I feel like I was riding a lot better in the main event than I was during the heat race or practice. This track layout had the longest whoops sections we’ve seen all year and it took me a while to get them dialed. Before the main event, I had the team make a last-minute change to the suspension and that slight change made a world of difference that showed in the main. I was cornering faster, skimming the whoops and able to make up time on the riders ahead. I’m satisfied with the podium today, but we’ll look to improve on this come next weekend.”
Aaron Plessinger – P4
“It started off a little hairy. I qualified thirteenth, but we made quite a few changes throughout the day, and we turned it around after practice. We went out for the heat race and got a good start, and ended up third. So that put me with a fifth-place gate pick for the main. I knew I had to get a really good start, and that’s what I did; I pulled the holeshot. Kenny (Roczen) got me after the first lap. Then at the end, I was right behind Eli (Tomac) in fourth. It sucks that I couldn’t get back up there for the podium, but I’m happy with my riding, and I’m happy with the way I started the race. The track was so rough, and the whoops were gnarly. There was one little rut, a little goat trail through the whole set that I was staying with during the race. It definitely was demanding, but my fitness is pretty good, and I stayed up there. I wish I could’ve got Eli in the end, but we can only build off of this and bring the momentum into Salt Lake City.”
Justin Barcia – P5
“I definitely missed out on the podium, which was a bummer, but all-in-all salvaged what I could. I just need to keep it on two wheels. I’m really looking forward to the last two rounds in Utah, I really want to get another win before the season’s out. Two wins would be even better, so we’re going to give it our all in Salt Lake, full GasGas!”
Malcolm Stewart – P6
“It was definitely a big improvement from Atlanta 2. We came into this race not really sure if we were even going to be able to race, just because I was in so much pain after my crash on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, I was like, ‘uh oh, we’re in some trouble.’ I just want to say hats off to Dr. G. for helping me get back in this race. So actually, I would say the day went great. We got to go back to the basics and just tried to have fun. Sometimes not feeling 100% can kind of take the pressure off of you, too. We had a good practice, and the heat race went well. The track was pretty tough, especially the whoops. It was really easy to make a mistake out there, so one of the key things tonight was definitely trying not to get too fatigued. I think Atlanta treated us fairly well. Again, we had some crashes, and we had some bad luck, but it’s good to leave here with a better result. Now we’ve got two races left in Salt Lake City, so let’s go out there and have some fun again and end this season on a high note.”
Dylan Ferrandis – P7
“I felt good all day. Having one more day to recover was great, so I felt better physically compared to Tuesday. The whoops were really difficult tonight. I kind of found some good solutions with the bike and on the track. I got the holeshot in my heat but had a small tip-over. In the main, I had a really good start from the outside, so I was really happy with that. On the first lap, Jason Anderson rolled one jump when I expected him to jump. I jumped behind him, and I hit his rear wheel, and we both crashed. That pretty much ruined my Main Event, but I came back and fought until the end to seventh. I felt that I had the pace and the bike tonight, so I’m really disappointed, but that’s the sport. The 450 class is very difficult. We will keep learning and working hard to get the result we are looking for.”
Dean Wilson – P8
“My day wasn’t too bad, I ended up with my best finish of the season. In the main, I didn’t execute the start like I should have but I made a few passes, got into seventh and Ferrandis got me with five laps to go, so I ended up eighth. It’s not a great finish but it was nice to be in the battle. I’m looking forward to Salt Lake and I’m ready to keep improving.”
Marvin Musquin – P9
“It was a very tough track; super high speed and I was losing a lot of time in the whoops. I had a bad gate pick in the main and I actually had a great jump but the bumps got me. I got into seventh and had a gap there with no one in front of me so I could ride a little bit better but I couldn’t catch up to the guys in front of me unfortunately and then got passed by two guys and got ninth.”
Chase Sexton – P10
“Atlanta 3 started off pretty good; I was P2 in qualifying, which was obviously not first, but I was still pretty happy with it. I felt good on the bike and felt like I was riding well, and then in the heat race I got a decent start and made some quick passes, made my way into first and actually rode really well. I thought I rode probably the best I have all year, so I felt comfortable going into the main event. However, I didn’t feel comfortable in the whoops on the sight lap, and it kind of went downhill from there. I didn’t get the best start, made a few quick passes, but then then got hung up on someone’s bike and went backward–ended up going off the track in the whoops. It wasn’t the main event I wanted, and I didn’t ride to my standards, but overall we had a really good showing in Atlanta and are looking to top that in Salt Lake City. We’re going to go back to work this week and get ready for the last two rounds.”
Justin Cooper scored the holeshot ahead of Hunter Lawrence in the first start but it was not long before the red flag came out. McAdoo was one of the unlucky ones again but coming off worst was Chris Blose who required medical attention on track.
Riders turned around for a complete re-start and were away again after a delay and it was Justin Cooper in the lead. This time around though he had Nate Thraser and Jalek Swoll for company.
Hunter Lawrence was sixth on lap one but clipped the back of McAdoo on the down-ramp of a jump which took the Aussie’s front wheel and sent him off track and down. McAdoo had changed lines while in the air over a jump after making a mistake through the whoops and Lawrence had nowhere to go. Lawrence rejoined the race way back in 18th place.
Meanwhile up front Justin Cooper had made a mistake which allowed Thrasher through to the lead.
Cameron McAdoo then caused another incident, where again he was the one that came out best. While running fifth he went up the back of Hammaker, Brown then had nowhere to go and cartwheeled over McAdoo and then Schock also got caught up in the melee.
Those two were still stuck while McAdoo again rejoined the race but this time around he had lost around six positions. In McAdoo’s defence a bobble in the whoops by Hammaker initially set off the chain reaction that time around.
Only a couple of laps later McAdoo was involved in yet another incident! This one though was not his fault, he was effectively centre-punched by Garrett Marchbanks, presumably as payback for some earlier slight as it was way too ambitious to be a genuine attempt to pass. The bikes were locked up together and the pair lost a heap of positions while trying to disentangle themselves.
With 11-minutes left on the clock Hunter Lawrence was still down in 14th place but two-minutes later he was up to eighth place. At the front Thrasher led Cooper by three-seconds and Hammaker was a further six-seconds behind in third.
Five-minutes remaining and Hunter Lawrence was up to sixth. It took him some time to pass and then dispense with Kyle Peters and then in the dying seconds chased down and passed Jalek Swoll to claim fourth and that is where he finished.
Nate Thrasher ended the winner over Justin Cooper while Seth Hammaker rounded out the podium.
250 Video Highlights
Cooper’s second place extended his lead over Hunter Lawrence to 20-points. Cameron McAdoo is still not completely out of the picture and is only two-points shy of Lawrence but for either of those men to win the 2021 250 West Championship Justin Cooper will have to finish lower than 18th place in the series finale.
While there are 17 rounds in this Monster Energy Supercross Championship, the 250 category is split into two separate championships, 250 East and 250 West. This was the eighth round of what will be a nine-round 250 West Championship. Next week the 250 East series will swing back into action ahead of the final East-West showdown.
Nate Thrasher – P1
“It was amazing! The LCQ wasn’t part of the plan, but I went down after the start of the heat race and just kept chugging away to get back into 11th to get me a good gate pick for the LCQ. I grabbed the holeshot and just tried to stay calm and cool because the LCQ is a little nerve-racking. I put some solid laps in and tried to keep myself from getting super tired because I knew I had a long Main Event coming up next. We had a red flag, but I ended up getting a great start both times. Then Justin made a little mistake, and I capitalized on it and tried to put in solid laps and ended up with the win. It feels so great. We have got to keep it going.”
Justin Cooper – P2
“The last one here in Atlanta went pretty good. The track was pretty tricky, especially the whoops. It challenged us all day, and it was hard to find my flow, so second place is awesome. I’m glad to get out of this one safe and that I was able to get two good starts tonight with that red flag to put myself in a good spot. I made that mistake early, so I was just riding behind Nate and didn’t really feel the need to push tonight. He was riding awesome, so hats off to him. It was a great night for us points-wise! We get a weekend off before the East-West Shootout. I’m excited for that and am looking to go to Salt Lake City in two weeks to try and wrap this thing up.”
Seth Hammaker – P3
““Man, it was absolute chaos out there tonight! I had a crash in practice that had me feeling a little banged up going into the main event. The track presented us with many challenges, but I’m glad I was able to end this three-race run in Atlanta on a high note and get myself another podium finish. We have a weekend off this next round, which will help me rest up and battle for a strong end to the season during the last round in Salt Lake City. I want to give a quick thank you to my entire team for always sticking by me and being a huge help.”
Hunter Lawrence – P4
“My weekend was bittersweet. I was looking very promising with P1 in both qualifying sessions and a heat-race win–looking really good for the main. On the first start I put myself in a great position and moved into second right behind [Justin] Cooper and was feeling really good, but then unfortunately we got red-flagged. After the restart, I came through the pack in fifth and then Cameron [McAdoo] nearly fell off his bike going into the sand section. I don’t think he was where he needed to be, mentally or physically. He swerved right in front of me, and my only options were to either land on him or try to scrub off the track and miss him, and that’s what I did and ended up landing in the Tuff Block. I’m pretty frustrated about that; with that crash, to finish two seconds behind third place, I think I could’ve won, considering how good I was in the whoops and how good I was feeling. I’m pretty bummed with how the night ended, but stoked with how the team and I operated during the day and how my riding is going, so I can’t wait for Salt Lake City.”
Jake Swoll – P6
“It was a mediocre day but it showed flashes. I feel good and healthy going into the last round – leaps and bounds better than last season – so I’m just going to keep my head down, get good training in and end the season on a solid note in Salt Lake. I’m ready to keep moving forward and hopefully get that good last race and full send into outdoors.”
Mitchell Harrison – P8
“Overall, I am happy with the last three rounds, but I do want to finish stronger. I didn’t ride to my full potential tonight and the crash I had in practice left me with a tweaked ankle so that made things a little tougher. It’s been a full on championship with many ups and downs and I think we have proven ourselves competitive against other factory teams.”
Cameron McAdoo – P13
“Today was a rough one. I came into the race still recovering from my crash on Tuesday and only made things harder with another get-off during qualifying that left me and my bike banged up. Crashing is never fun, but I accept it’s part of the sport. You can knock me down nine times and I’ll get back up 10. Overall, I’m proud of my entire team at Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki for getting my bike dialed to race and proud of myself for never giving up. We’ll regroup as a team during this short break and come ready to fight down to the last lap during the East/West shootout.”
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