The first round of 2022 Monster Energy Supercross is in the record books; Ken Roczen was the big winner in the 450SX division, but there were countless different stories littered throughout the premier division. Many of those are uncovered in this regular feature on MX Vice, which provides a much closer look at everything that transpired inside of Angel Stadium and some notes to consider moving into Oakland this coming weekend. Does anything jump off of the page below? Share your thoughts on social media (@motocrossvice on Twitter and @mxvice on Instagram).
- Ken Roczen was dominant at Anaheim 1 – he led from start to finish and was unchallenged after Chase Sexton fell. The result was a seven-second advantage when the chequered flag waved, which was the largest gap that a guy has had at the season opener since 2017. Roczen won by 16 seconds on that night, which was his first outing with Honda HRC.
- The victory that Roczen took was his fifth at Angel Stadium; Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey have the same number of Anaheim wins. Roczen has to garner three more victories inside of Angel Stadium to hit the current record of eight (Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Chad Reed and Jeremy McGrath share that Anaheim record). An elite group of athletes.
- Chase Sexton was impressive early on in the main event – he fought with Roczen and was seemingly quicker in the first half. The lap times below support that sentiment. Sexton was consistently ripping tenths out of his teammate and appeared set to make a pass before an untimely mistake. It is easy to forget what transpired early on but consider this a reason to be excited about the sophomore.
- Sexton recovered for fifth in the 450SX main event, despite an additional crash, so Anaheim 1 was an impressive outing for Honda HRC. This is actually the first time that the manufacturer has started the indoor season with two CRF450R riders inside of top five since 2013 Monster Energy Supercross. Trey Canard finished second that night, with Chad Reed (of TwoTwo Motorsports) in fourth. It has been a while!
- Cooper Webb tends to struggle at round one of Monster Energy Supercross. Webb has finished third, fifth, ninth and tenth twice at the season opener since moving up into the premier division. Finishing second on Saturday night was quite the statement and something that he was focussed on during the wintertime – he recognised that starting slow had become a concerning pattern.
- Defending champions rarely win at round one. Ryan Villopoto was the last reigning champion to take a victory at Anaheim 1, that being in 2012 Monster Energy Supercross. It has been ten seasons! Davi Millsaps, Ken Roczen, Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, and Justin Barcia have shared Anaheim 1 wins since then. There is not even a former champion on that list, let alone a defending champ.
- Take the above statistic even further. The last time that the reigning champion ended inside of the top two at Anaheim 1 was during 2017 Monster Energy Supercross! Ryan Dungey followed Roczen across the line that night. If nothing else, such information makes it quite clear that the season opener does not mean much at all in the grand scheme of things.
- Quiet yet effective would best describe the way that Webb performed on Saturday night. There is no hiding the fact that raw speed was not his greatest strength, but he rarely faltered and plugged away until the very end. Webb had the eighth-fastest lap time in the premier-class main event – outlined in the table below – and still went on to record the second-fastest average lap time.
- Justin Barcia jumped on the 450SX podium for the twenty-first time in his career – it was the seventh time that he has stood on the third step. Although his streak of victories at the opener came to an end at Anaheim, he did maintain his podium record at round one. Saturday night marked the fifth year in succession that he has stood on the box at Anaheim 1.
- Marvin Musquin raced Chase Sexton to the line for fourth in the main – he secured the spot by just 0.014. When was the last time that two riders were so close at the line in a 450SX main event? Broc Tickle and Jason Anderson were separated by just 0.001 in a fight for thirteenth at Atlanta 3 just last year. What a barn burner, huh?
- Eli Tomac struggles at the Monster Energy Supercross season opener. What is his average at round one in the 450SX division? Tenth. That figure does not even include his first outing aboard a CRF450R in the premier class, where he crashed out of his heat race and could not partake in the main. A sixth on Saturday night was actually a success, it seems.
- Sixth was the ranking that Tomac secured in the main event, but he only posted the tenth-fastest time. Tenth is more than likely where he would have finished, had he not benefitted from the mistakes that those around him made. Expect round two to be better for him – his average finish at the second stop is fourth. Tomac won round two in 2015 and 2021.
- Tomac has the longest active start streak of any current Monster Energy Supercross rider. Anaheim 1 marked his sixty-seventh main event in succession. The last time that he actually skipped a main event was at the second race of 2018 Monster Energy Supercross, Houston. Webb has the next longest streak – Anaheim 1 was his fifty-second start in a row.
- Malcolm Stewart has been a picture of consistency as of late, but that has flown underneath the radar somewhat. Anaheim 1 marked the thirty-fourth time that Stewart has finished inside of the top ten in 450SX – he has been inside the top ten in twenty-eight of the last thirty-five mains! Anaheim 1 was his sixty-eighth start in the premier class.
- When Stewart was shouting at Marvin Musquin after the race, he was pointing out that there was no need for such an aggressive move so early in the term. Musquin was clearly faster than Stewart in the laps before the incident – that supports the point that he could have made a clean move and continued to progress. The lap times prior to the move can be found below.
- Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing started the year in an impressive fashion, as Stewart put his FC 450 on top in timed qualifying. It was not too long ago that Husqvarna had a rider on top in the day – Jason Anderson was the quickest qualifier at the fifteenth round of 2021 Monster Energy Supercross. Anderson did not translate that into a podium finish, much like Stewart.
- Joey Savatgy slid into the top ten in a 450SX main event for the twentieth time in his career at Anaheim 1. Savatgy has finished eighth in nine of those top-ten appearances – that seems to be his spot! Savatgy has only finished in the top five at five events and has not climbed on the podium yet. It has been 528 days since Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS had a rider on the 450SX podium.
- Jason Anderson was the top Kawasaki rider on Saturday night, as he hit the chequered flag in tenth. It was just the second time in the last three seasons that there has not been a Kawasaki in the top nine in the premier-class main. When did it last happen? Well, that was at the penultimate round of 2021 Monster Energy Supercross. Eli Tomac was the best-placed rider aboard a KX450 in tenth.
- Anderson has now completed forty-five main events since he last reached the chequered flag first. When was the last time that he won? It was in Atlanta on March 03, 2018, which was 1411 days ago. It has been quite the drought for Anderson, but there were certainly encouraging signs in his Monster Energy Kawasaki debut.
- Anderson was one of just seven riders to improve on his result from round one last year. Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, Chase Sexton, Eli Tomac, Joey Savatgy, Jason Anderson, and Brandon Hartranft started stronger than they did in 2021 Monster Energy Supercross. It is surprising that more guys did not begin with more of a flash.