Following the 2014 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season opener, we have been left with more questions than answers going into Chase Field (Phoenix) this weekend. Obviously, one of the most popular points of debate is whether Ken Roczen can build off of his ride from Anaheim 1 and challenge for the championship in his rookie 450SX season.
Well, in order to garner a more educated answer to this question, I delved into the history of supercross. Overall, the winner of round one (in the premier division) has gone on to win the title fifteen times, which is a lower number than I had expected to find. Obviously, it is not of paramount importance for a rider to win Anaheim 1 – many guys have defied the odds in the past, and rebounded from disastrous results at the opening round. Just look at last year for a perfect example of that – Ryan Villopoto managed to clinch the title one round early, despite the fact that he finished sixteenth at the season opener.
Obviously, this means that James Stewart is not out of the title fight just yet. In fact, Stewart has fought his way back from an even worse result at round one to win the 450SX title. Back in 2009, he crashed out in the whoops at A1, as well, and finished nineteenth. So, James has rebounded from a deficit like this before – he knows what it takes. It is worth noting that the field was not as deep in that year, so it would have been even more difficult for him to close in on a very consistent Chad Reed in the series standings.
So, it is easier for the riders that did not have a great time at Anaheim 1 (James Stewart and Eli Tomac) to make up points in the series this year; it is likely that the results will vary quite a lot, which means that there will be larger points swings each week. Obviously this is going to depend on how each rider performs. Although the results will change a lot, it will make it even more difficult to top the podium. But we all know that Stewart has the speed to battle with the best of them – he proved that at A1.
Although it was a huge surprise that Ken Roczen won round one (as a 450SX rookie) – there have been a couple of guys that have done exactly that in their first full season on a 450f. In 2009, Josh Grant won a historic main event, so it does happen occasionally. It is really quite surprising that more often than not, the winner of round one does not win the title. Clearly, there are some unique factors that affect the results at A1. Ricky Carmichael never won the season opener (in the premier division), but that did not stop him from winning five titles!
So there you have it, a little look at how the season opener could affect the series standings. Although Ken Roczen has the ability to win the championship, the results do mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Of course, it is ideal for a guy to begin the title fight with a bit of an advantage, however there are sixteen more rounds for the riders that succeeded at A1 to falter, and vice versa. I am very excited to see how the rest of the series plays out!
Words: Lewis Phillips
Image: James Lissimore