Four rounds down in the Monster Energy Supercross series and thirteen to go. After having a bit of a downer to start the series with two frontrunners going down with injuries at the first two rounds, both riders (Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin) have returned and look either as good as ever (Tomac) or like they are getting there (Musquin).
The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, Eli Tomac, has put himself in a sticky situation with him scoring one point at the first two rounds. The margin of error is not zero yet, as there are all those rounds left, but it is not much higher. Forty-eight points down after Houston and now it’s thirty-six, the road to the greatest comeback in supercross history is long. Much like James Stewart later in his career, you cannot throw points away because it takes weeks to make them up. Just when Stew would get close, he would have some crash and throw away a month of progress on Ryan Villopoto.
“That’s all I can do [win], then kind of have to wait for a mistake from someone else and then, at the same time, I cannot make another one,” Tomac told me after the main in Glendale. “That’s just my boat.”
Not making a mistake is tough to do but, hey, the dude won nine races last year, so he certainly knows what he is doing. I have been getting some crap for saying that he can’t win this title, because look at all those points he made up on Ryan Dungey last year. That is true but two things; it was around thirty percent less points than it is now and Ryan Dungey wasn’t “Ryan Dungey” last year. He was very good, but not great.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson is the current red plate holder and Honda’s Ken Roczen is not far behind. Tomac has to jump both of these guys, not to mention Yamaha’s Justin Barcia, so it is not like he is thirty-six back of one guy. He has got the same issues as Stewart had those years. Super fast guys and he cannot make a mistake. I think it is clear after four rounds that Anderson isn’t the Anderson of the past (like Dungey was not the Dungey of old). He’s much improved, calm with his riding and is going to be very formidable the rest of the way.
A series that started with some big blows looks like it is going to heat up in a big way real soon.
If there is a wizard on a mountaintop in the pits, it would be Pro Circuit’s Mitch Payton. Since 1991, Payton has been beating the factories at their game with his little shop in Corona, California. So much so that nowadays, the big five don’t run their 250F programs anymore. They just farm it out because Payton showed them how it was done!
I like talking to Mitch about the various issues in the sport – he has been there and done that. He has got financial stake in the sport, but he’s a business owner who can’t just throw tons of money at a problem like an OEM can. Since so many of the sports movers and shakers seek his council, I thought what better guy to ask about the recently completed Triple Crown?
“I thought it was great for the fans, because they got to see everybody three times and I think they really enjoyed that. I think we need a little bit more time in-between just in case,” says Payton. “By the time they took the guys that won, did the podium, they came back… You only have an hour. So if they’re down there for ten to fifteen minutes, then you are a little bit maybe stretched. If you had a bike problem, I don’t know if you could always get it done. It would be nice to have a little more there.”
Most at the race or watching on TV would assert that there was too much time but, then again, they don’t run a race team with athletes and machines to look after. Couple other changes for Payton would be an increase in purse money since you’re asking more of the racers and a bonus point for each individual main event won.
That all makes sense to me and, generally speaking, Payton’s a traditionalist of the sport so when he can embrace three main events in a night, maybe that’s going down the right track. I just don’t know about MORE times between the mains. Yikes – that is a lot of downtime.
Words: Steve Matthes | Lead Image: Monster Energy Media/Octopi