Following the third round of Monster Energy Supercross, which featured the first Triple Crown of the season, there were a handful of questions that pundits desperately wanted an answer to. A lot of people were hoping that Glendale would deliver some closure, seeing as a lot of nerves had been worked out in the weeks prior, but did the event deliver?
The third round was not a great event for Ken Roczen, just as a lot of onlookers predicted. It even went slightly worse than most anticipated. So, following that mediocre showing, the common consensus was that Glendale would be a massive event for him, as he had to shake off the cobwebs and prove that is now firmly in the past. It is fair to say the Honda HRC pilot did exactly that, much to the delight of his legion of fans, as he ended in a respectable third and clearly had the pace to win.
The start that Ken Roczen had in that main event was far from disastrous, as he ended lap one inside of the top five, but that just will not get the job done when Eli Tomac is already out front. "I have the speed and fitness, but I just need to put myself up front in the beginning," Roczen said in a post-race statement. "I was in sixth off the start, made some passes, and got myself into third. I rode some solid laps and was inching up on Justin [Barcia], but unfortunately we ran out of time." Sixth is the average-starting position that he has had across the first four rounds.
There is no doubt that Roczen silenced critics and proved that he will be in the mix for wins more often than not. When will he finally land on the top step of the podium and complete this incredible comeback? Well, as soon as he can either start with or ahead of his main competitors. It is not going to work out for him every time, Houston is an example of that, but it will certainly allow him to make a run at the top step.
Another positive answer to a big question. Things fell apart for Marvin Musquin shortly after his triumph at the opener, which has obviously been well-documented, and then he did not exactly set the world alight at round three. It was a respectable ride, considering where he was just one week prior, but he gave up some precious points. Musquin got the train back on track in Glendale though and registered a solid fifth to keep his title hopes alive. There are just thirty-five points between him and the current series leader at this point in the season.
Marvin Musquin reaffirmed that in a post-race statement. "Given the last few weeks and all the rehab work I have put in to strengthen my shoulder, I am happy with fifth place tonight," he said. "I was able to get a reasonable start around eighth and just tried to put in solid laps until the end. I am happy to make good gains this week and I look forward to building from here." There were rumblings that he would need to bow out and get surgery. It seems as though we have an answer to that now too, as it is quite clear that he has sights set on the upcoming rounds.
There is no denying the fact that Cooper Webb has underperformed thus far this season. This is in line with what he achieved a year ago though, so should it be considered the new normal? Glendale was actually a step forward in the end, even though the end result may not scream that, as he managed to grab a season-best finish of eighth and was just nine seconds down on Marvin Musquin in fifth. Will that be enough to give him some confidence and help him surge forward? The fact that he is returning to Oakland should give him a much-needed boost too, because he landed on the premier-class podium for the first time at that event last year.
Of all the riders in the top fifteen in the points, Cooper Webb has one of the worst average-starting positions and worst average-qualifying position. There are clearly some holes in the programme that need to be addressed before charging towards the podium, which is where he is expected to be. The fact that both Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin are ahead of him in points says it all at this point. There is no doubt that he will get better though, but the same question will keep getting asked until then. What is wrong Cooper Webb?
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Racing Corporation