From the outside looking in, the 250SX West and 250SX East series seem quite similar; in the two we are privy to a great battle for the title between a Geico Honda rider and a rider from the Red Bull KTM team. So, why is it that the two coasts are considered to be so different? In comparison the 250SX East class does lack some depth, evidently. Some are referring to it as one of the weakest 250SX fields that we have ever seen.
Who has been labeling the class this? Of course, the fans and the media have conveyed this feeling in various different places. But most surprisingly, some of the riders that contest the 250SX West class have taken to Twitter to project their thoughts on the visibly easier 250SX East Coast:
Jason Anderson (@JAnderson_21): Man, I wish I raced the East Coast.
Joey Savatgy (@JoeySavatgy176): “@JAnderson_21: Man wish I raced east coast” haha don’t we both.
Cole Seely (@ColeSeely43): Just watched Indy 250. Hmm.
This is to take nothing away from Wil Hahn, Marvin Musquin or Blake Wharton. Whilst most have been moaning about the class, there is no question that these three riders would be in a similar position if they were racing the West coast. Interestingly, the tweets that are quoted above were all posted following the Indianapolis round of the series; this round took place just a couple of weeks ago. It was this round specifically, which really put the spotlight on just how weak the field is.
Although the usual suspects were upfront, the way that they got there highlighted just how much depth the field lacks. If Ken Roczen or Eli Tomac were to crash in the first corner in the 250SX West series, I very much doubt that they would climb back onto the podium. Sure, Eli or Ken could maybe fight back into the top five. But, the field is so stacked that finishing any further up than that would be quite unrealistic. Whereas in Indianapolis, both Wil Hahn and Marvin Musquin got caught up in the first turn and caught back up to third (Hahn) and first (Musquin) respectively.
On that night, two privateers (Kyle Peters and AJ Catanzaro) finished second and fourth; this was the tipping point for most. I would argue that on the West Coast, these two riders would struggle to finish inside of the top ten. However, it is not their fault that they have ended up racing on the coast that has the least frontrunners. It is not as if they do some research prior to signing up, next year the East Coast could have the toughest field. It really is just luck.
There is one factor that usually means that the West Coast has the stronger field; there are a handful of teams that do not contest the 250SX East class (namely Troy Lee Designs Lucas Oil Honda and JDR J-Star KTM) therefore their riders end up racing on the West no matter what. In the case of these two teams, that is an extra six riders capable of battling for podiums and race wins. Also, a lot of the riders and teams would rather be on the West Coast as it close to where most sponsors and team bases are located. The 250SX West opener (Anaheim 1) does have a lot more hype surrounding it then the 250SX East opener (Arlington) also. All of these factors end up playing a role in the decision that is made by either the rider or team.
If there is one positive that has come out of having a weak field on the East Coast, it is that a number of privateers have had the chance to jump into the spotlight and get their name out there. Both Vince Friese and Kyle Peters have opened some eyes so far this year, which could help them find a better ride for the 2014 season.
Recently the AMA altered a rule so that the points earned in the 250SX regional series would count towards the national number that they earn for the following year. This has disturbed some; based on the results earned in the 250SX East series this year, Vince Friese should end up with quite a low national number for next year. These numbers are prestigious; the riders do tend to care about what number they end up with, as it shows how well they performed in the previous year. Whether Friese actually deserves a number around twenty remains to be seen. However, do not be surprised if some unknown riders end up with quite a low number next year.
However as I have mentioned previously, it is not the riders’ fault that they ended up on the coast that has the weakest field. Therefore, rather then criticizing a rider because they didn’t earn their position in the top ten, perhaps we should be celebrating the fact that some new names are mixing it up at the front of the pack.
Words by Lewis Phillips