The unpredictable nature of round one ensures that the fans are gripped when Monster Energy Supercross starts, but there are regularities that those around the world can rely on. Ken Roczen always starts well, as does Justin Barcia. Eli Tomac does not have much joy at the opening round, on the other hand, and Saturday night was no different.
Sixth was a consistent start to the year and certainly not a disaster. Tomac rarely starts a season so well, as his average finish at the opening round sits at tenth. It was twelfth before 2022 Monster Energy Supercross started! There have been some exciting starts for him, as he finished third at Anaheim 1 three years ago. It has never gotten any better than that though. There is clearly no reason to worry, because this has become normality, but there were intriguing points to pull from his Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha debut.
“It was a little bit of a slower start than what we wanted this season,” Tomac said in a team statement. “It really came down to two things tonight: the starts and I was struggling a little bit with the whoops. It was a tough track – probably the toughest Anaheim 1 that we have had in quite some time. On a positive note, I had really good qualifying sessions all day. I know that I can be fast and be there. I just have to put it all together. It is always easier said than done, but it is possible. We are going to try to fix the little things and come back next week.”
The whoops really were an issue for Tomac, more so than he indicated in the statement above. The whoops that followed the finish line were the most treacherous and provided riders with options – some started to jump them from lap one and others skimmed until the very end. It was a set where a huge difference could be made. Tomac was one of the slowest through there though; he rarely nailed them with confidence.
Tomac had the fifteenth-quickest time in the first sector that spanned from the lip of the finish to the end of the whoops. Consistency was not his friend either – he had the sixteenth-quickest average time in that sector. There was not much to take from his performance in that sector and, with two sets of whoops on the Oakland track map, it will be interesting to see whether that becomes some sort of regular issue.
“Over the course of the premier-class main, Tomac lost nine seconds to Justin Barcia in the whoops alone. Barcia was not the strongest in that section, as he still only had the tenth-fastest time through the whoops.”
There is no need for more data on his starting prowess – it is well known that is a consistent problem. Sixth was his average-starting position last year and it was seventh in his title-winning season. Tomac never starts better than sixth, on average, which means that he cannot afford to struggle elsewhere on the track, like in the whoops. Place a microscope on that section on Saturday night.