Although the off-season events create a lot of hype and garner attention, most are reluctant to put too much stock in what transpires at each location. The winner of the Paris SX rarely goes on to win the opening round of Monster Energy Supercross, of course, but there are still conclusions that can be drawn from the results.
If there is one thing that the events in Australia and Paris have reminded fans of, it is that there will be many capable riders on the starting line at Anaheim 1. Both the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series and Monster Energy Cup revolved around Marvin Musquin and Eli Tomac, so it is hardly surprising that those two have dominated off-season discussions. Musquin especially has hogged headlines with three consecutive victories in Las Vegas, Southern California and then Paris. It is most likely that he will add a fourth triumph to that list when he tackles Switzerland at the beginning of December.
Musquin was faultless at both American events, whilst some of his main competitors faltered, but looked flustered in Paris and made a handful of mistakes. The fact that he still won may make that victory the most impressive, but one would think his rivals were happy to see some chinks in his armour. It arguably came at just the right time too, as conversations about Musquin being the heavy favourite for the 450SX title were starting to ramp up on social media and message boards. The fact that Eli Tomac, who crashed out of the Monster Energy Cup in an explosive fashion, has been hiding away in Colorado obviously prompted those too.
Jason Anderson was in a similar position over the summer, as an injury forced him to miss the final six rounds of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. A lingering foot injury, which was sustained at the Motocross of Nations, actually prompted an underwhelming campaign in Monster Energy Supercross too. The AUS-X Open served as a nice reminder of what he is truly capable of though, as he was seemingly on another level. Even Dean Wilson admitted that! That event alone made his stock rise and catapulted him back into the public eye, so one would presume that he will not be overlooked ahead of A1.
Geneva is the only high-profile event left on the agenda for this year, but may actually be the most interesting. Admittedly the entry list is fairly weak, especially in comparison to some of its counterparts, but an interesting duel could materialise. Marvin Musquin will headline the event once again and sit alongside Jason Anderson on the Swiss starting line. Musquin had Anderson covered when they last raced at the Monster Energy Cup, so it is going to be most interesting to see how the pair have developed in recent weeks. The event may actually offer a realistic glimpse of what is to come.
Is there anything else that has stood out in the last two months? Dean Wilson was at his lowest at this point last year, but has achieved a substantial amount in these off-season races. Even the Motocross of Nations was a successful exercise for him! Although Wilson flew under the radar in Monster Energy Supercross, there were actually some impressive finishes in Arlington and Las Vegas. Perhaps his recent run of podium finishes is a sign that he is on the verge of finally fulfilling his potential aboard a 450F indoors? That is yet another story to dissect through these cold winter months, where most will latch onto whatever topic of discussion crops up.
There is always a lot of debate when it comes to these races, as there is a certain level of risk involved. There have been cases in the past where a high-profile talent has sustained an injury at an event that is ultimately meaningless, but there are also years when each event delivers and the level of excitement for the upcoming season skyrockets. Thankfully, the races that have been run this year fall into the latter category. How long do we have to wait for the gates to drop at Anaheim 1?
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna/Simon Cudby