The days prior to the first Triple Crown were fairly crazy, which is fitting in a way. There is not a clear leader in either division, 450SX or 250SX, entering round three of Monster Energy Supercross. Additional elements are being thrown into the mix now too, which will only add to that. It rained all week, which has created a surface that is really breaking down, and then there are three main events! Who knows what will happen?
Practice did not exactly offer too much clarity, although it is very clear that the big four are ready to turn it up a notch. Marvin Musquin, Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen and Jason Anderson tussled inside of the top five each time. It was the former who eventually set the quickest time in the premier class, which caught a couple of onlookers by surprise. Musquin faced a knee issue in the off-season, so was underprepared, then the circuit at A2 features two whoop sections, which is known as his Achilles heel. Is this a sign of drastic improvement for the Red Bull KTM pilot? Not exactly.
The first set of whoops, which are placed on the exit to turn two, were extremely big at the start of the day and gave even the greatest guys fits. Marvin Musquin particularly struggled to negotiate the section in their untimed session. The track crew got to work immediately following that, to the delight of some, and rolled the whoops to a point where even the B riders did not have any difficulties. Musquin came alive after that, although he did not jump to the top of the charts until the last qualifying session begun. It was actually Eli Tomac who controlled proceedings for an overwhelming majority of the day.
Eli Tomac was the fastest in the first session of the day, which was untimed so means very little, then replicated that in the first run of qualifying. Tomac also hopped to the top in the final session, then kept improving on his times as the session progressed. It seemed as though he had things under control and was prepared to serve notice to his competition heading into the night programme. Instead though, Marvin Musquin snuck through with a time that was a little over a tenth faster. This is interesting to consider though: The quickest qualifier in either class has not won a main event on the same night at all thus far this year.
Ken Roczen was a tick off of the quickest times in both sessions, but made his presence known at the front of the pack. Who else impressed? Cooper Webb was solid in both sessions, despite a fall in the final session that left him on the concrete. Joey Savatgy was quiet in eighth but acquiring that result just seven days on from round two, where he hit his head, is promising. If he was firing on all cylinders at one hundred percent, which may even be the case, then this format would play to his strengths. If the MEC is anything to go by, that is. Savatgy actually won the inaugural 250SX Triple Crown twelve months ago too.
Who is one to watch in the night show later? Well, taking the whole daytime programme into account and that statistic that was referenced earlier, Eli Tomac may be tough to beat. Starts are important at this event and he had those figured out in Monster Energy Supercross last year. The metal grates helped him, just as he admitted on many occasions. Although he did not make as much of an impression out of the gate during the first two rounds, it would not be surprising to see him figure things out at A2. Ken Roczen is typically a great starter too and is certainly due a win. #94 has been oh so close a few times!
A pattern is emerging in the 250SX West class: Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo are undoubtedly the strongest when it comes to throwing down a single heater in timed qualifying. The pair were separated by just a single tenth once again, with the former getting the nod and claiming pole position. Will that intensity serve them well this evening? It is difficult to bet against Cianciarulo, who was so dominant a week ago and faultless again in practice today, but can he keep it together in three different races? The same question is undoubtedly hovering over the head of his timed-practice rival, Ferrandis.
It is so easy to just harp on starts when it comes to the Triple-Crown events. The races are short, although not as short as a year ago, but it is still just as important considering the track could be one-lined in spots. There is an interesting split section in a corner before a hip jump, but it has not prompted too much creativity. Everyone was filtering over to the inside in the untimed session and now the popular line is the outside. It is unlikely that there will be too much passing there and, now that the whoops have been tamed down, there is not much to separate the guys. What does that mean? Intense racing lies ahead.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: ConwayMX