Wow. The first month of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series has flown by. In the time since we walked into Angel Stadium for Anaheim One to the last interview at the Glendale Supercross, we’ve seen and heard enough to make it feel like the season should be in its final stages. Thankfully, there’s a lot of racing left in the championships and even an entire 250 region still to start. Here’s Kickstart for the weekend, but this is far from our last bit of news from Arizona, so circle back over the next few days for more.
EARLY START TIME
For one reason or another (likely television), the opening ceremonies in Arizona started at 5:30 PM. Now that doesn’t sound like too big of an issue, but when you think how SX has almost always started at 7 PM, it seemed like the stands were far from full for the first few races and more fans filed in around 7 PM. This isn’t the only event on the schedule with an early start time (Oakland kicks off at 3 PM), so here’s hoping more people pay attention to the time on their tickets in the near future.
Tense moments in the 250 Main Event between Aaron Plessinger and Shane McElrath. Plessinger spent a few laps setting up a pass on McElrath and finally pulled the trigger in the bowl turn before the big triple, but the finishing move came in the next straightaway. As the two riders set-up for the next obstacle, Plessinger moved his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing bike over to block off McElrath and this seemed to startle the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider because he swapped side to side over the next two jumps. McElrath was clearly fired up by the move immediately after the fact, but as the two waited to go on the podium after the finish, they discussed what happened in detail and Plessinger admitted he didn’t realize how close to disaster it nearly was.
FINAL LAPS IN THE 450 MAIN EVENT
The last few laps of the 450 Main Event were exceptional. Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen chipped away at Eli Tomac’s lead in the middle of the moto and were within just under two seconds of the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider at one point. The three riders went all-out in the final stages until both decided to try new lines through the sand section, as the poor line choice broke their momentum and allowed Tomac to inch away from them a little more. Just when it seemed like all was over, Barcia put in a wild last-lap charge that put him just close enough to make things exciting but far enough to prevent a true pass attempt. On the podium and in the press conference it was clear that the three riders exerted plenty of effort on the track, with Tomac stating it was the most intense main event he could remember.
GET THE START, GET THE WIN
Sure, the long start straightaway offered an equal opportunity for everyone on the gate, but it seemed like most races were decided by the first turn. The wins in all four heat races, the 250 LCQ, and 450 Main Event went to the person that nabbed the holeshot, as they all slipped away from the field without much fight.
We told you Justin Brayton was going to be good this season and boom, there’s the heat race win to prove it. The SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda rider took advantage of the long start straightaway, stayed clear of the competition, and crossed the line 2.4 seconds ahead of Ken Roczen. While he might not be the flashiest rider on the track, Brayton can lay it down when needed and will send it off of the biggest obstacles without much hesitation.
We talked to Benny Tozzi at Bell Helmets regarding the amount of damage Adam Cianciarulo’s Moto 9 Flex received in his Anaheim Two crash. Tozzi told us that the interior energy management foam was all compromised and that the helmet was sent back to the company’s Santa Cruz headquarters for further inspection. There it will be cut in half with a saw so that every detail can be assessed.
450 MAIN EVENT TOP-TEN BATTLE
While Tomac took off with the win, much of our attention was further back in the field as a handful of riders fought for spots in the top-ten. With an eight-second gap at the checkered flag separating sixth-place finisher Weston Peick and eleventh-finisher Broc Tickle, there was a lot to watch as every guy did all they could to keep their rank. Bring on Oakland.