After spending many years as a mechanic, for both privateer and factory riders, Steve Matthes moved into journalism with a unique perspective thanks to the relationship he already had with teams and riders. Matthes then found international success with the PulpMX Show and his podcasts, which now makes him one of the more respected scribes in the industry. Whilst we focus on the British and MXGP scene, he'll be bringing a fresh perspective from the USA each week.
“I wish I was fast enough, I would park him" an anonymous main event rider texted me after the recent St Louis Supercross. “Him" meaning Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson who was, yet again, the source of some anger by some riders in the pits. Anderson’s having a great sophomore year in the 450SX class with two wins and a bunch of podiums. He’s established himself as a star in the class, but in the process he’s also established some anger in the pits with aggressive, some say dirty, moves.
Whatever side you come down on, as in whether you think Anderson is out for blood or just aggressive, there’s no doubt that in all his moves it’s been because he’s moving forward towards the front. To me, he’s had the second most impressive raw speed this year behind Ryan Dungey. When Kenny Roczen, Trey Canard, Chad Reed get a bad start they don’t move to the front nearly as fast as Jason. The #21 Husky rider doesn’t seem to care all that much on other rider's feelings either.
“The typical is getting really old. It’s just stupid. He doesn’t know how to race and that’s what makes me so mad" said BTOSports KTM’s Justin Brayton after getting pushed off the track in St Louis. “He’s done it to me a few times now. He’s done it to other people. I’ve had enough. I don’t know if I speak for everybody else. It’s right before a triple. If you come inside… he clearly just rammed me completely off the track. What if I go for the jump? It’s so frustrating. And I’m not the type of guy that’s going to sit there and just hold somebody up, if I know clearly he’s faster."
There’s been a few passes by Anderson this year that have left riders crying foul that this reporter thought were nothing but some aggressive passes that had to be made. There have been others though, including this weekend’s pass that left Brayton upset, that I thought went a little too far. Last year Jason carried out a week-to-week slam fest with Yoshimura Suzuki’s Blake Baggett that was downright silly as well as a takeout on Jake Weimer that left me shaking my head.
One thing about the 450SX class is there’s way more respect given out than in the 250SX class. There’s a pecking order and riders are pretty respectful of one another. This isn’t always a good thing, as I think back to a pass made by Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey on GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle. I thought the rookie basically gave the champ all the room he needed while they were fighting for position.
Anderson doesn’t seem to care all that much about any pecking order or respecting the vets, however. Riding behind someone for more than a lap or two becomes something that’s dangerous for your race pace and Jason doesn’t seem to want to do that. He’s acknowledged that he’s crossed the line a few times and, in my talks with his trainer Aldon Baker, there have been attempts to have Jason back it down a bit and control his anger.
I heard that the move on Brayton was something that even KTM boss Roger DeCoster had to get involved with, in that it was KTM on Husky crime. The two OEM’s have an alliance with Anderson’s bike basically being a KTM. Then if the talks don’t work, there is the other option of some frontier justice on Jason dished out by other riders that I’ve heard about for a long time but have yet to see it dished out.
Like that rider that texted me last Saturday night, you’ve got to be his speed to try and extract some revenge. There are only two riders that seem to be able to do that at the moment though. Until then, keep your head on a swivel when the #21 is lurking.
Words: Steve Matthes | Image: Husqvarna/Simon Cudby