In recent years, round three of the Monster Energy Supercross series has always been one of the best, for whatever reason. Strangely, that pattern continued this weekend, as Anaheim 2 was simply breathtaking; the 450SX class specifically was a hot topic of discussion. But whilst some guys are on top of the world at the moment, others struggled to meet expectations; as usual we look at these riders in this weekly feature.
Chad Reed: Well, there you have it! Prior to the start of the 2014 season, I was not sure that Chad Reed would win a single main event. But, he has already proved me (and many others) wrong. The Australian was certainly deserving of the victory, as he was seemingly the fastest rider on-track. Chad passed some of his toughest competitors whilst he was working his way up from the edge of the top ten, as well. There were two sections where Reed seemed to be a lot faster than his competition: the whoops and the tabletop section after the first whoops section, for instance.
Funnily enough, it had been twenty-two races since Chad last won a 450SX main event, and the last race he won was round three back in 2012; it was meant to be! Intriguingly, he also tied the all-time win record at Angel Stadium with eight wins to his name. Now, the biggest test for Reed will be to win again next week. However, after his performance at Anaheim 2, you would be a fool to doubt him.
Ken Roczen: Ken Roczen is the real deal, as he proved that he has the speed to battle for the lead again! In my opinion, his ride at A2 might have been more impressive than his victory at round one. The German was the fastest, in both practice sessions, and then passed Villopoto straight up in the main event. When was the last time that someone did that? Roczen is very confident, evidently, as he was not fazed by any of the guys. Ken has the red plate again too, so there are a lot of positives that he can take from this weekend. But, he tightened up, near the end of the main event, which meant that he dropped out of the battle for the lead.
Cole Seely: Finally, Cole topped the podium, and in a commanding fashion too. Interestingly, he still felt like he tightened up at the end of the race. But despite this, he got the job done! I am sure that this was a huge weight lifted from his shoulders. Cole may have the points lead, too, because [Jason] Anderson has reportedly been docked two positions, after jumping on a yellow flag. The AMA is going to further discuss the penalty today (Monday). But, I think that it will stick, which means that Seely will have a one-point lead heading into Oakland.
Cooper Webb: It really is not surprising at all that Cooper Webb finished on the podium this past weekend, as he has had the speed each week. Cooper looked very fast in practice, also; he was definitely deserving of a podium finish. In the main, he had a good start, which made things a little easier for him. But, he was clearly the third fastest guy, as he pulled away from the rest of the field, with ease. What is his ceiling? Well, it did not look like he had the speed to match the leaders. However, if Webb can continue to get out front and see what they are doing, he may be able to improve on his speed.
Ryan Villopoto: It was not a bad weekend for Ryan Villopoto, but he has thrown away a few potential race wins, because of these small tip overs. Now, in comparison to James Stewart, these points are relatively miniscule. But Ryan would be in a much better position, if he had not lost these points. In fact, the series might look a lot different; Villopoto could have been undefeated thus far. Intriguingly, once he got up from the minor fall, he backed it down and seemed to settle for a position on the outskirts of the top five. Perhaps this is championship mindset coming into play, but it is certainly peculiar that he did that at Anaheim 1, too.
Justin Barcia: The 2014 Monster Energy Supercross series is turning into a disaster for Justin Barcia – he finished eleventh on Saturday night, and showed no signs of matching the speed of the top six. Sure, he had a bad start, but he was quite disappointing all day. Admittedly, it was tough to pass out there. However, a guy with his skill-set should be able to pull through the pack. On the fourteenth lap, he had an issue, which dropped him down from seventh to eleventh. But, he still failed to make any progress, following that incident. It was bizarre; we all expect a lot more from him.
Jessy Nelson: Honestly, I expected to see more speed from Jessy Nelson this year. But, Jessy has failed to impress so far. It has not been a disastrous year for him – he has finished either ninth or tenth at each round. However, in my opinion, he should be finishing around the top five; he proved that he has the speed to do that in 2013! Jessy did miss the latter part of last with an elbow injury, so perhaps he is struggling with that still? Whatever is going on, he has to step it up soon.
Dean Wilson: Unfortunately, it is looking less likely that Dean Wilson is going to capture that elusive 250SX title this year; he is now twenty-two points down. Anaheim 2 was pretty awful for him, as he crashed through the first rhythm section mid-race and lost a lot of positions. It is very surprising that Dean has not finished on the podium yet. Perhaps he would have done that if he did not crash? Instead, he ended up in seventh. The Monster Energy Pro Circuit rider will need some luck on his side to catch up to Jason Anderson and Cole Seely now.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: James Lissimore