It may have seemed unlikely at first. However, the 250SX East title fight in the 2013 Monster Energy AMA Supercross series has turned into a two-horse race. Prior to the opening round, almost everyone had tipped Dean Wilson as the favourite for the title. Hence why, it is even more surprising that the Scotsman is no longer in contention for the championship.
Right now, it is almost certain that either Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) or Wil Hahn (Geico Honda) will leave the Las Vegas series finale with the number one plate. This scenario is oddly similar to what we have seen transpire over on the West Coast thus far; it is a tense time for those two teams stated above. The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series still has five locations left to visit, but the 250SX East series has just three rounds remaining: Houston, Minneapolis and Las Vegas.
Surprisingly, neither rider (Hahn or Musquin) had won a main event before this year; now that we are six rounds into the series, both riders are multi-time winners. Some may argue that this is a result of the weak field over on the East Coast (we will touch on that topic in an upcoming column). However, it is undoubted that these two have been the class of the field; even before Wilson bowed out with his injuries, Hahn and Musquin were capable of fighting with him straight up each week. There is no doubt that either one of these two riders are deserving of the title.
So with three rounds remaining, who is the favourite for the 250SX East title? At this point, I would not bet against Wil Hahn. With a six-point advantage in the series, I just can’t see him giving those points up. But, Hahn has given up eleven points in the last three weeks. So, this proves that Marvin could potentially make up six points in the final three rounds. Currently, Wil has not won a race in three weeks; but this is not because he is slower than his rival. He actually had a faster lap time than the Frenchman in the Toronto main event on Saturday night, for example.
In a recent edition of AMA Supercross Thoughts, I covered the influence that momentum has on a riders’ performance; this could be the biggest thing that works in Musquin’s favour. Wil may have more raw speed, I believe. But, the Frenchman has so much more confidence now than he had at the beginning of the year; this could prove to be instrumental. I do think that we have seen a change in attitude for both riders since they started winning main events. At round one, Wil Hahn was very happy to finish on the podium in third. But in Toronto he was visibly upset with his second place finish. The change in mindset has been quite interesting to witness; this has happened in such a short space of time also.
It is quite strange that thus far, we have not seen the two title contenders battling it out. It seems that they never start together; the closest we have come to seeing the two fight it out is in Indianapolis when they both crashed in the first turn. But even then, Marvin got away ahead of Wil. When the two riders do come together on-track, it could be telling as to what rider is the real favourite for this title. Wil Hahn may have more raw speed, but when it comes to a technical track Musquin is practically perfect.
Perhaps it is worth considering that Marvin Musquin does have previous experience battling for a championship, whereas this is the first time that Wil Hahn has been in this position at a professional level. Of course, the titles that the Frenchman has are quite different to that of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross campaign. Contesting two forty-minute motos in the deep sands of Lierop is not really comparable to a fifteen-lap sprint on a slick, man-made track in Sam Boyd Stadium.
One thing is certain, both riders are deserving of the 250SX title. Not only are they some of the greatest personalities in this sport, both riders have had to overcome some adversity in recent years. With three rounds remaining, a lot could change in the coming weeks. Seeing as there is no race this weekend, most of the riders will begin testing for the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross series. Therefore, the rider that thrives in the coming weeks will be the one that can handle transitioning from indoors to outdoors without any issues.
It was not too long ago that these riders were fighting for their first main event win. Now, they are vying for the first AMA title of their career. In recent weeks a lot has changed; there is really nothing to separate the two at the moment, apart from momentum. But even that could change in the blink of an eye.
Words by Lewis Phillips