Practice Report: Oakland

An hour and a half remains.

Saturday 4th February 2017
10:19pm GMT

An hour and a half remains.

Mother Nature tends to treat Monster Energy Supercross well, but it seems that luck has finally run out. Consistent rainfall has put a dampener on Oakland, the fifth stop on the Monster Energy Supercross schedule, but thankfully the track is holding up well.

The dirt in Oakland is soft anyway, as we mentioned in our pre-race report, so the fact that the rain is falling almost guarantees that a technical circuit lies ahead this evening. If that turns out to be the case, it will obviously suit some riders more than others. Marvin Musquin and Aaron Plessinger are recognised for how they perform in sloppy conditions, for instance, and fared well in the practice sessions. Could a pair of new winners be on the horizon?

Perhaps, although certain riders will stand in their way. Although the track was arguably worse than it was in the first session, Justin Hill and Cooper Webb laid down some awe-inspiring times in the final qualifying sessions. What are they doing differently, I hear you ask? You cannot do too much, as there are not as many long rhythm sections as there were in Phoenix. The section after the sand will make a difference though, as a lot of riders are struggling to double off of the second jump.

Cooper Webb enters this evening as the favourite for the 450SX win (Sean Ogden)

Marvin Musquin was the next in line after Webb, but almost two seconds adrift. The Frenchman may actually be poised to make more of a run at the win, however, as starts are going to a major part of the main event. Although we say that a lot, it rings true in muddy conditions. Musquin gets out of the gate well more often than not, hence why he has an average-starting position of fifth, whereas Webb has started ninth on average. This looks like the perfect opportunity for Musquin to get a win when you take the various elements into account.

A lot of talk has revolved around Ryan Dungey, as he looked mediocre in practice for the third-consecutive week. It is worth acknowledging the fact that he has never been exceptional in wet weather, but the conditions today did not exactly resemble a quagmire. Taking it easy on a slippery surface may have been the priority there but, whatever the issue was, he has managed to turn it around when the gate has dropped in recent weeks.

Before we move onto the 250SX West division, a tip of the hat to Dean Wilson. Wilson matched his career-best qualifying position, a sixth, despite having just two days on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. If he can churn out consistent laps at that speed and use the additional power to get a good start, he should achieve his goal of a top ten first time out.

Shane McElrath desperately needs to steal some points from Justin Hill (Sean Ogden)

Onto the 250SX class then, where Hill was just as dominant as Webb. If the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rider can win again tonight, no matter if it is from the front or behind, then he’ll take all of the momentum into Arlington next weekend. McElrath must rebound and remind everyone of why he has that red plate bolted onto his KTM. Practice was not the best for him, however, as he was seventh overall.

Seeing AJ Catanzaro in second may be a surprise, but the weather aided him massively. Catanzaro was in the 250SX C session, which took place in much drier conditions, so he was able to sneak a competitive time in before the rain fell. To post a time such as that is still extremely impressive, but it would be wise to temper expectations.

Martin Davalos may be better than his qualifying time indicates, as he looked set to move up a position or two before a crash on the final lap. I am sceptical about Austin Forkner, on the other hand, as he appeared to struggle in the whoops all day. That section has been his kryptonite through the first four rounds too.

There you have it, some thoughts and analysis from the fifth Monster Energy Supercross round. It has rained on and off whilst I have been typing this, but it is currently dry with opening ceremonies an hour and a half away. If you are an international fan and fancy waiting up to watch the action live, click this link.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden


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