Well, here we are again, looking back on another great night of racing! Fortunately, we have been very lucky thus far this year; the action has been enthralling in both classes more often than not. Although the racing was superb, some riders left disappointed, whilst others had a more memorable time at Angel Stadium; as usual, we look at these guys here.
Chad Reed: Well, the old guy did it again! If you doubted him before Anaheim 3, you all surely believe that Chad will be in the 450SX title fight for the long haul. Prior to the start of the season, most fans doubted whether Chad would be able to finish on the podium consistently. However, here we are, five rounds in, and he has the most podiums, and is tied for the most main event wins! Interestingly, the way that the Australian won A3 was very different to what went on the last time that he won, as he got out front on lap one and managed to withstand the pressure for the duration.
In my opinion, a key point here is that Chad won both races convincingly, after battling with all of the best riders; neither win has been a gift. On Saturday night, RV could not hang with him, evidently, as he dropped off the pace on a handful of occasions. Now, Chad is just two points down on the series lead, and we are heading into San Diego this weekend, which is a race that has been very kind to Reed over the years. So, I would not be surprised at all if he leaves with the red plate; he has to be feeling good about his chances, too.
Dean Wilson: Finally! It took a lot longer than expected, but Dean Wilson stood atop the podium this past weekend, after a rocky start to his title campaign. Honestly, Dean should have won one week ago, which would actually make the title chase a lot closer than it is. But anyway, I digress. Wilson was the fastest rider all day long at Anaheim 3, so most presumed that he would eventually claim twenty-five points in the main event. However, Cole Seely seemed to have him covered in the main event, which was a bit peculiar, as Dean had been untouchable all day long.
Would he have won if Cole had not crashed? Honestly, I am not sure he would have. Wilson stated after the race that his plan was to push forward in the closing laps, so perhaps he would have been able to up his pace at the flick of a switch? Now, Dean is twelve points back in the series standings, so he is very much in the title fight. However, he will have to repeat his A3 success if he is going to claim the number one plate.
Ken Roczen: Well, Ken Roczen continues to impress! Following Anaheim 1, we all knew that he had the speed, but most fans expected him to slip up a handful of times. After all, he is a 450SX rookie. However, I am very confident that he is going to be a podium contender each week now. Why would you doubt him? Roczen looked like a veteran at Anaheim 3, as he kept close to Reed for the duration, but he did not try any stupid moves; he waited for the opportunity to present itself. It was another impressive ride, and one that further confirmed that Ken is for real!
Weston Peick: Weston Peick has had a brilliant year thus far; you cannot dispute that. Sure, he has had a few mechanical problems, but those are out of his control – it is not entirely true when people say that he has been inconsistent. It was not too long ago that Peick was struggling in supercross; he has come on leaps and bounds recently – that should not be overlooked. I am certain that no one expected him to finish in the top five this year, but he has already done it! Although many are stating that he needs to move onto a stronger program immediately, you have to understand that he has a lot of sponsors putting money into his current setup. So, he cannot just drop them and head over to a bigger team.
Ryan Dungey: In the past, round five has not been kind to Ryan Dungey. Sure, he won it last year, but before that he had a mechanical DNF in his heat race and almost did not make the main event! In 2011, he did not finish the main event at round five, as his chain snapped, so he must get a little nervous heading into the fifth round each year. Things were going well for him this past weekend, until he fell in the whoops. It was not the crash itself that knocked him out of the main event; it was the damage that his clutch took, which meant that he could not continue, unfortunately.
In the end, Ryan Dungey was rewarded with just one point for his efforts, so he has slipped to sixth in the series standings; twenty-eight points down on Ryan Villopoto. Obviously, this is going to be difficult for him to rebound from, especially when you consider that he has not proven that he can beat Villopoto straight up, yet.
Kyle Chisholm: Unfortunately, Kyle Chisholm had a mechanical issue in his semi at Anaheim 3, which stopped him from competing in the rest of the night, as it could not be fixed in time. Although it was a real shame that his motor gave up on him, it could have been much, much worse. If it had happened just a couple of seconds earlier, he would have been on the face of the triple, which could have resulted in some major injuries. But, Kyle will be back to fight another day, and continue to build on the progress he has made thus far.
Jason Anderson: Jason Anderson had his worst weekend this year, however it was not entirely his fault. Jason would have ended up on the podium, probably no higher than third, if he had not fallen with Malcolm Stewart, but instead he ended up fifth. Fifth is not an awful result, of course. In fact, it is quite good, all things considered. However, he has given up the advantage that he had in the series standings, as he is now tied on points with Cole Seely. Interestingly, the two will be battling it out this weekend, to see who will have the momentum going into the long break.
Matt Goerke: Matt Goerke has had a rough start to his season, especially in comparison to what he achieved last year. However, he is actually doing quite well, all things considered. It has been kept quite quiet, but Matt has been dealing with a broken finger since A1. Although it may seem like only a minor issue, it is obviously very difficult to deal with when riding. It is slowly getting better, but until then, he will continue to tough it out and salvage whatever result he can get.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: KTM Images/Simon Cudby