It was a great night of racing at the seventh round of the Monster Energy Supercross series, as there were many different storylines that were captivating. Of course, Arlington marked the beginning of the 250SX East division also, which certainly injected a lot of the excitement into the event.
Adam Cianciarulo: Obviously, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Adam Cianciarulo, as his long awaited Monster Energy Supercross debut is a popular talking point. Finally, the day arrived on Saturday, as Adam took to the track for the first time during the practice sessions. Unsurprisingly, Cianciarulo was an immediate threat, as he finished in the top two in all three of the practice sessions. So, this gave him a massive confidence boost heading into the night show. Overall, his debut could not have gone much better, as he also won his heat race from his accomplished teammate, Blake Baggett.
Of course, it was in the main event where he really shone through, as he took the holeshot. The first lap was a little hectic for him – he lost the lead to Martin Davalos early on and then came up really short on the triple. However, he regrouped and stayed strong in second until he was handed the lead when Davalos fell. At no point could he relax in the main event, as Baggett was right behind him for the duration, and actually passed him momentarily. But, Adam maintained his composure and claimed twenty-five points in his Monster Energy Supercross debut.
Overall, his ride was very impressive, as he did not look like a rookie out there. Adam did not get swept up in the hype and excitement of it all – he just focused on pounding out his laps. Following the race, Cianciarulo revealed that he came into the race sick and actually started to get tired around the tenth lap. It was a brilliant ride, and one that will stay engraved in his mind forever.
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki: The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team has had a difficult time of it in recent years, as the great results that they have grown accustomed to have not materialised. However, they have rebounded in a big way in recent weeks, as they have won the last three 250SX rounds, and they swept the podium in Arlington. It used to be a regular occurrence for them to sweep the podium, but it has not happened since Anaheim 1 in 2011!
The dominant team seems to have the 2014 250SX East division on lockdown, as their three riders (Cianciarulo, Baggett and Davalos) appear to be the fastest guys; they separated themselves from the field with ease on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see how this battle develops over the course of a season.
James Stewart: James Stewart has made huge strides in recent weeks, as he is now just fourteen points down on Ryan Villopoto in the series standings. James is back in this folks! Intriguingly, the race was very similar to San Diego, as he started second and moved into the lead very early on. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider controlled the race from that moment, as he was seemingly the fastest; his practice times further support that. It will be interesting to see what he can do with this momentum, as we are heading to some domes that have been very good to him in the past.
Ryan Dungey: This has been one of the most difficult starts to a season that Ryan Dungey has had. However, he rebounded in Arlington, and seemed like a race win contender for the first time this year. Unfortunately, he was unable to capitalise on his great start. But, second was a solid finish nonetheless; he can certainly extract plenty of positives from the round. It seems that his steel frame Red Bull KTM really excels on the hard-pack that we saw in Arlington, which surely had something to do with his success.
Ryan Villopoto: Ryan Villopoto has not won a 450SX main event since Oakland. Interestingly, he has not gone this long without winning a Monster Energy Supercross round since the start of the 2012 season, which is quite incredible. In my opinion, he has not looked like the same dominant guy in recent weeks. Whether this is because of his rivals stepping up, or him losing a little something remains to be seen. Of course, there is nothing wrong with him at the moment; he just isn’t clearly faster than his competition.
Eli Tomac: Obviously, we have to allow Eli Tomac time to adjust to the 450SX class, as he missed some valuable time at the beginning of the year, because of injury. However, I presumed that he would have more of an impact on the results by now; he finished in a lowly eleventh in Arlington. He only started fourteenth too, so he really did not move forward at all. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that the track was hard to pass on, with a lot of ninety-degree corners.
Blake Wharton: Blake Wharton was handed a lifeline earlier this year when the Geico Honda team offered him a supercross-only contract. Blake is one of the most experienced riders in the 250SX East class, and he is one of the most successful, also. So, things were certainly looking good for him heading in. However, he failed to deliver in the main event, as he started mid-pack and stayed there. Sure, he moved up to seventh, but he should have done much better, in reality. Of course, seventh is not a disastrous result to start the season with, but he will be looking to do a lot more in the coming weeks.
Jeremy Martin: In my opinion, Jeremy Martin was one of the favourites for the 250SX East title, and understandably so; he was a consistent podium threat last year. However, the younger Martin brother is already out of the title chase, as he shockingly failed to qualify on Saturday night. Jeremy crashed twice in his heat race, and then got taken out in the first turn in the LCQ. Of course, that came down to bad luck. But, he also struggled to match the pace of the leaders in practice. Jeremy clearly has some work to do this week.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: James Lissimore