A Matthes Report: Atlanta

PulpMX's Steve Matthes checks in

· 4 min read

The second Triple Crown is in the books and the Monster Energy Supercross Series returns to its normal procedures this Saturday. Well, kind of. Daytona Supercross is next and definitely a difference race from the other sixteen in the series. Its grass base gets rough, the jumps get square edges in them and it is a real test of man and machine.

It is also nothing like it used to be. Like all things, Daytona has evolved over the years and closer to a regular supercross than it has ever been. In fact this year the metal grates will be there like a normal supercross and it’ll be a timed main event, just like the other ones.

Back in the day teams and riders prepped for Daytona unlike any other race. Special suspension settings, hybrid motocross and supercross used with different clamps and races. There used to be Daytona-specific test weeks by the factories. I’ve been a part of these more times than I care to think of.

Eli Tomac has enjoyed some success at Daytona in the past (Monster Energy Media/Octopi)

You see, almost without fail you would be back to your regular supercross stuff (with clickers opened up) almost right away. The plushness and movement of the suspension was too weird for the riders to deal with on race day.  So much time and money wasted by the teams over and over. Now though, in talking to the teams, there is not much done different. The jumps are shaped better than they used to be and, as stated, it is more of a regular round than ever before. There are braking bumps that form and that is where you’ll need to soften up your suspension a bit from a regular supercross. Other than that? It’s same old, same old for this race.

Here are a few other thoughts as I empty my head from the week that was…

– "We" need to, as a sport, decide quickly what we are calling these "mains" for the Triple Crown races. The commentators go on about three mains and which riders had not won mains before but, of course, capturing the win in one of these "mains" does no count as a "main," you know? I think we need to call them heats, just so we all know the difference. In a sport that once called the class "supercross," this is not that bad. Let’s just all get on the same page, yeah?

There are still tweaks to be made to the Triple Crown format (KTM Images/Simon Cudby)

– Now, outside of Vince Friese getting disqualified for trying to use another bike last week (his race bike needed repairs that were not able to be done in time for the next main) and the team getting busted, it has been a bit of a turnaround for the MCR Honda team. Once the black hat topped team in the pits with the aggressive Friese and the much maligned Mike Alessi, they have secured Honda support, hired Justin Brayton last year and are trying to build a programme to match others.

The team perhaps reached its pinnacle with Brayton capturing the first main heat race win in Atlanta and currently sits fourth. For team manager Tony Alessi, this is another step in the right direction.

This win is another box in our category that we have been trying to click off. The first one was obviously to put our team on the podium, which we did. We wanted to get two guys in the opening ceremonies. We got that. Obviously the next big move is to win. We’ve won a heat race. Checked that box off," Alessi said after Atlanta. “The next obvious one was to podium or a win a race. We actually got the podium at Anaheim 2 and then won the race tonight. So, basically, all the boxes that we had for this season, we have checked them all off. Obviously we won a heat race. We got two podiums at A2 and podiumed a main event, and two guys in opening ceremonies."

Justin Barcia has his sights set on a Monster Energy Supercross return (Monster Energy Media/Octopi)

– Monster Energy Yamaha’s Justin Barcia joined the injured list a few weeks ago but in checking with him, he is hoping to be back in about a month. This will leave about three or four supercrosses for him to get back to his old level and then onto the outdoors. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get back to his old level.

– With Honda not having any of its original line-up, they announced this week that Christian Craig will remain on the 450F for the rest of the supercross series. It is not a surprise, Craig’s 250SX West series is not going as well as he would’ve liked. He’s ridden for the factory team before, he fits in nicely and, hey, he got fifth at his first race! What will be interesting to see is if he stays on Big Red for the 450MX series as well. Honda expects Ken Roczen to be back for then, but I would not look for Cole Seely by then. GEICO Honda has five riders (including Craig) and most teams would prefer just four to work with in motocross. I think if the GEICO team gets an injury, Craig would go back down, but if not he’s 450 all year long.

Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi

Play and win prizes