The 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season has proven to be one of the most competitive in the sports history, which is quite a claim considering we’re a mere five rounds into the 17 round series. However, the fact that, in the 450cc Class, we’re presented with 14 previous champions, and three different winners thus far, along with an action packed 250cc West Region class, all the ingredients are in front of us for ‘the perfect storm’.
Both Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen have been tipped by pundits endlessly the last few years to win the title, however for a multitude of reasons, which include injuries for Roczen and sheer inconsistency for Tomac, a premier Supercross crown has eluded them. As they sit right now, the top dogs sit one and two in the championship; with Roczen holding a slender three-point buffer over Tomac, and the rest of the field a further twelve in arrears of the #3.
Once again, we’re five rounds in. It can’t be overstated enough that anything can happen in a 17-round championship, although Tomac being three points out of the lead at the conclusion of January is too a big deal, as the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has typically dug his points hole by the first few rounds, and spends the remainder of the series reeling off wins in a bid to get himself back into championship contention.
For Roczen, his highlight reel of crazy injuries has been well documented. The German native’s story is nothing short of incredible, and mostly everyone in the pits were glad to see the HRC backed rider light the candles in St Louis, and then in Glendale the following weekend. Inside the top five are two previous champions – Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson, who need to put the hammer down in the coming rounds to establish their presence in the title race, and not concede too many points to Tomac and Roczen too early on. Justin ‘Bam Bam’ Barcia sits as a wedge in the top five in third, with the Yamaha rider’s results seemingly dependent on the comfort level he feels on his YZF 450 motorcycle.
The 250cc Class has been one of the most explosive championships ever, with Dylan Ferrandis, Austin Forkner and Justin Cooper dicing back and forth for the coveted red plate. Each have had a horror round to their name, which means that despite their 12th’s and 18th’s, the points gap is 10 between the three, with Ferrandis in charge of the points lead.
In amongst the chaos are a bunch of fast Australian’s, who’ve all featured at the pointy end of the field at various different moments, showcasing and representing the talent pool that the Southern Hemisphere has to offer. Luke Clout picked up a career first top five in Oakland, Aaron Tanti finished ninth and Jay Wilson picked up a career best at Anaheim 2, with 11th.
All this considered, we phoned CDR Monster Energy Yamaha’s newest signing, Hayden Mellross, to bench race over the first five rounds.
So, Tomac’s -3 in January, Roczen’s uncorked the bottle and got two wins, and Cooper is 22 points down. Talk to us about what you see.
Well, for this year it seems like Tomac’s come into the series with a different outlook this year; typically he struggles with that first half of the season, and I guess the best way to describe it is that he hits his peak when the tracks go to the East. This year, whether it be him or the team, he’s adapted well, however I still think that there’s a lot more in Tomac’s tank especially when we started getting towards Atlanta, Daytona – where the tracks get extremely rough. I do worry for guys like Kenny and Cooper right now considering Tomac’s only three out, because when they get to those tougher tracks, he’s going to be even more of a force to be reckoned with.
With Ken, honestly he’s where I expected him to be – towards the end of last year in the outdoors he got those wins in motocross, and he was riding exceptionally well. I noticed that he didn’t have much of an off-season this year; he started prepping nice and early, and this is his third year with that Honda HRC team. So their development plus the momentum from outdoors, I think it was expected for him to be where he is – plus as you can see, if he’s not winning, he’s still right up the front.
Then there’s Webb and Anderson who round out the top five, how do you rate their performance so far?
Cooper is off this year; he doesn’t look like the same guy that he was in 2019. I think he’ll need to make a lot more changes to get a win, and he really can’t afford to have too many bad rounds when you’re up against Roczen, Tomac and Anderson. Last weekend was better in Oakland, however the whoops weren’t as much of a factor, which is evidently his weakness. So he needs to figure things out for a chance at the #1 plate.
For Anderson, I think he and Osborne have a lot more to give, and most of the pieces of the puzzle are figured out, they’re just struggling with one aspect each weekend, and it seems to be different for the both of them. So once they figure that stuff out, they’ll be better, and AC also has been really good. He’s topped almost all the quali charts, and to be finishing where he has been each weekend is great for a rookie season.
For the 250’s, we’ve got Clout, Tanti and Wilson over there, and its something you’re familiar with having raced the series for a few years. Talk about some of the things they face being over there.
Well, the biggest thing I found is that you’re with a team you’ve only known a couple weeks, you’re in a different environment, eating different food and staying in hotels, not in your own bed, training at tracks you’ve never trained at before – you’re essentially just out of your comfort zone, and that was something that I struggled with big time. You’ve got no real family or close friends over there, and you’re rocking up to do a job that ads a whole lot of stress to your program, for me I found that really, really hard to adjust to. Flying out to a race, not really having my mum or dad their, it’s just a difficult thing to become accustomed to. With Clout, he’s spent some time in the U.S over the past couple years with the Suzuki team, so I think for him going over there, it’s a bit more comfortable compared to the other guys, and I think he’s training with the same trainer that he was with when he was last over there. So he’s got those connections and a pretty solid base over there, and I feel like that’s really helped his program in the United States.
Lastly, everyone’s talking about it, the Christian Craig and Dylan Ferrandis move. Where do you sit on that one?
(laughs) Yeah, that’s a pretty big talking point – and it will be for some time into the future I think too with it being all across the highlight reels. Look, at the end of the day, it’s a hard one – no doubt, Ferrandis is in the wrong; we’ll start there and say no doubt he’s in the wrong. But, when you’re on a motorcycle and you need to make split second decisions, sometimes the decision we make isn’t always the right one. I’ve had similar situations, not necessarily with others, but with myself. I’ve done something on track before that’s resulted in me crashing and getting seriously injured, due to just making the wrong decision and breaking my back.
So Ferrandis being a racer, he would’ve made that quick decisions and tried to go in for a pass. It was the wrong one I believe, and I’m sure he’d agree, but at the end of the day it was split second, he spoke to Christian the next weekend – apologized which you’d expect. Not a great situation, but it is what it is, and it’s definitely created a major talking point in the sport which is a good thing.