The 2014 Monster Energy Supercross west-coast swing has been completed, following the San Diego round of the series on Saturday. Interestingly, there were some surprises (good and bad) at Qualcomm Stadium, as two riders won their first main event of the year and an established veteran took a trip to the hospital. Of course, we look at the guys that had some success and the riders that struggled in this weekly feature.
Justin Hill: I am sure that Mitch Payton let out a huge sigh of relief when Justin Hill crossed the finish line on Saturday night – the gamble that he took on Justin last year finally paid off. It was clear that he could win a race this year, if everything fell into place, and it did in San Diego! If you compare his ride to Oakland, where he first led a race, he seemed a lot more controlled and comfortable in the position. I think that this could have been because Malcolm Stewart was the man chasing him at first, rather than a title contender – he knew that he could beat him.
Unfortunately for Hill, there is a long break for the west series now, so he will not be able to capitalise on that momentum immediately. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out and wins again when the 250SX West title fight resumes in Houston in April – this confidence will do wonders for him.
James Stewart: When James Stewart was firing through the field at Anaheim 1, I would have bet that he would win a race early on, rather than have to wait until San Diego before he can stand atop the podium. But, James has finally done it; he should be able to build on this, and start chipping away at the gap in the standings. The fact that he was able to get out front on lap one was key in his success, as the track was hard to pass on, and there was not a lot of variation in the rhythm sections. So, from there, it was all about pounding out consistent laps, which he was able to do.
Jason Anderson: Although he finished second, which is not where he wants to be, San Diego was very good to Jason Anderson. Jason had to beat [Cole] Seely, in order to regain sole possession of the series lead, and also go into the break with momentum on his side. Whilst Seely will be looking to figure out how to close the gap, Jason will know that he has the upper hand when the series resumes in April. Although four points is not a huge gap on paper, I am certain that it is a big deal to both riders.
Weston Peick: Well, he did it again, and in an impressive fashion too! When Weston Peick finished in the top five for the first time last week, we were all quite surprised. Although some argued that he was handed the position, as a few riders dropped out of the race, there is no denying the fact that he earned his fifth place in San Diego. After starting in fourteenth, Weston worked his way through the field and passed some established frontrunners (like Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia) before finally finishing in the top five again.
Peick has also moved into the top ten in points now, despite the fact that he crashed out of Phoenix. Of course, this means that he gets to go out in opening ceremonies next week, which is a big deal for him and his privateer setup.
Ryan Dungey: At first, I was not going to put Ryan Dungey in this column, as he has not been awful in recent weeks. However, it then dawned on me that he has not finished on the podium since Phoenix, which is disastrous for him. Usually, Dungey is not the fastest rider, but he is in a position to challenge for the title, because he is so consistent. But, now that he is not climbing onto the podium each week, this thing is not looking good for him. If he is going to get back into the title fight, he will need to reel off some wins. However, I just do not see that happening.
Cole Seely: Although a fourth is not a bad finish for Cole Seely, he needed a much stronger finish, as he now has points to make up on Anderson again. At first, I presumed that his average finish was a result of the red plate. Cole has had the red plate at one other round this year (Oakland), and he struggled there. So, perhaps the pressure of the series lead gets to him a little bit? It turns out that he had food poisoning earlier in the week, so he was not one-hundred-percent healthy in San Diego. Anyway, being four points down is not disastrous; it will not take much for him to overcome that.
Chad Reed: It was going so well for Chad Reed, prior to San Diego. But, unfortunately, his season may be in tatters now, as he crashed in the whoops on the final lap and took a hard hit to his wrist and shoulder. Although it may seem like the fall was Ken Roczen’s fault (Roczen is a class act for checking on Chad straight after the race, by the way), both Red Bull KTM and Discount Tire Racing have stated that it was just an unavoidable racing incident.
Chad has now updated us all on his concussion; he has broken his scapula, collarbone and T1. However, it sounds like he has not completely given up on Dallas yet. Stay tuned to this page for updates on Chad.
Dean Wilson: When Dean Wilson got out to the early lead in the main event, it looked like he could potentially make up a lot of ground on the two series leaders, as they were a little further back on the cusp of the top five. However, things turned disastrous in a hurry when he crashed at the end of lap one, and then had to pull into the mechanics area on lap four for repairs to his front wheel and brake. Eventually, he got back out on-track three laps down and salvaged a twenty-first. However, his title hopes have now gone up in smoke, it would seem.
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: KTM Images/Simon Cudby