Since the inaugural Monster Energy Cup event in 2011, the event has been an undoubted success, which is not surprising at all. It takes place in the midst of October (when nothing else is going on), it has the backing of Monster Energy, and it has most of the top names in the sport – it is the perfect formula needed for an event to prosper!
Following an extremely successful edition of the Monster Energy Cup last year, most have forgotten that the event was not too exciting back in 2011. Although the plans were very much the same, an extremely long track, a depleted field and a dominant showing by Ryan Villopoto made it a bit of a snoozer. Despite the teething issues, the amount of people present in 2012 made it known that there was certainly room for a unique event like this on the calendar.
Of course, this has always been the understanding, as the Monster Energy Cup was put in place as a replacement for the now defunct US Open event, which also lured the best riders to Las Vegas with a healthy cash prize. However, the similarities stop there, as the US Open was held on a much smaller track and certainly did not have the same type of attention from people around the world. Interestingly, the Monster Energy Cup has strayed from the original concept, as it was supposed to be a hybrid track at first, one that would suit both motocross and supercross specialists, and also attract Europeans. But that idea has not panned out as expected, evidently.
In my opinion, the idea to get the top Europeans over was always a bit of a pipe dream, as uniting Europe and the USA has always been a mountainous task (with the exception of the Motocross des Nations, of course). Of course, the risk is too high for the Europeans, as racing inside of a stadium is hardly something that they are used to. Evidently, FELD Motorsports have realised that now, as the track layout in 2012 was very similar to what you would find at a stereotypical supercross, and it looks to be the same this year, also.
However, it is not a stereotypical supercross, which is exactly what makes the event so exciting. It is no secret that some people in the sport want change, as the format used in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross series has been in place for a number of years. So, the Monster Energy Cup is an ideal place for FELD Motorsports to try features such as the ‘Joker Lane’, among other things.
Although it has only been implemented once thus far, the ‘Joker Lane’ has proven to be a hit worldwide, as many fans are demanding that it finds a place in the actual Monster Energy AMA Supercross series. In fact, it is so popular that the promoters of the Bercy Supercross have included it in their event this year, also! The concept is like nothing seen before at a motocross race, as it basically eliminates the factor of someone running away from the field and leading every lap. Obviously, when a rider does that, the racing isn’t great – the ‘Joker Lane’ solved that problem.
It is undoubted that the ‘Joker Lane’ influenced the results last year, as the final moto specifically came down to what time the leading riders elected to enter the section that increased their lap time by around eight seconds. I am sure that the racing on Saturday night will be very exciting, because of these unique features and the stacked field. Basically, every top rider from the AMA series will be present, with the exception of Chad Reed. So, it is unlikely that a rider will win the ‘Monster Million’, as the level of competition is so high, but Ryan Villopoto has to be the favourite to lift the trophy.
Words by Lewis Phillips
Image courtesy of KTM Images/Hoppenworld.com