In the blink of an eye, the 2022 FIM World Supercross has come and gone. The championship that consisted of two rounds offered a glimpse at what the future could look like, but was it enough to quell doubts? Who knows. It was by no means a slam dunk – there is no way that can be disputed – and a handful of oversights opened the door for criticism. I feel well versed in WSX, having attended round one and watched the full television broadcast of the next, so here are some thoughts that are bouncing around in my head.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Supplied
I was completely out on the format after Cardiff. The Principality Stadium was full of confusion – there was not a single person inside of the stadium who had any idea what was going on. Imagine being sat at Angel Stadium and not having a clue who is leading? Yeah, that does not work. It worked much better on television, admittedly, because there was more communication with the fans (not enough, but I will get to that).
I think that a full season of that format would become tiresome though. Monster Energy Supercross utilise the Triple Crown on three weekends, so can WSX not do something similar to that? How about we do it at the start and end of each season to add suspense to those all-important rounds? The rest of the races could have a two-moto format, similar to motocross, with fifteen-lap races for each class. Although I enjoyed the format more in Melbourne, I still felt short changed. Imagine if the fight between Shane McElrath and Max Anstie had gone on for longer in the final moto?
I call it a moto, but jeez… How hard is it to just pick a name? The official documentation has them listed as finals, which is fine, but then the commentators called them GPs. How the hell can an individual race be a GP? “The riders are getting ready for the three GPs” was mentioned a few times. Excuse me? Huh? It is just wrong in so many ways, especially considering that the television graphics had them listed as races. Getting staff on the same page has been a recurring problem in the FIM World Supercross Championship. It is time to tighten it up!
I really like the little arrows that indicate times that have been posted in each sector. I feel like sector times need to be analysed more in the sport, because those tell the tale, so this addition made me smile. Utilising the graphic was especially important in ‘Super Pole’ – it was the only way to decipher who was en route to a good time. There were other graphics, sure, but this one went down as a win in my book. It really put the emphasis on the on-track action, which is exactly what I want!
SX Global fixed one of my greatest gripes and put the SX2 main events after the intermission, meaning that the 250F class played a bigger role in the night programme. I’m still not sure who that in-stadium entertainment – that being the music – benefits though. It leaves such a long break in the programme that the event loses all momentum, both in person and on television. The commentators were desperately reaching for content to fill that time. Ralph Sheheen and Jeff Emig had an awkward discussion with Chad Reed that had naturally ended, but they just kept dragging it out. It was painful.
I know that having major artists at a motocross race is revolutionary and can attract new fans, but this is a round of a world championship and not an exhibition race. The FIM World Supercross Championship should carry a certain level of prestige and the racing should always do the talking – nothing else really matters. It felt like the AJ Tracy concert was the priority in Cardiff, so I worry about that. Pull the entertainment and the programme would be too short though, so I do not know what the middle ground is. This makes you realise that the last-chance qualifiers have a lot of value.
Supercross tracks have long been a source of debate, as people yearn for designs from the early 2000s and believe that there is some room for improvement. Introducing Dream Traxx to lead the department was an inspired decision and claims in their press release that there would be “unique adjustments to conventional supercross design and geometry” had me excited. There was nothing special about the tracks in Cardiff or Melbourne though and what irritated me more than anything is the fact that the basic layout was the same at both rounds, with the exception that they crossed the start line in Australia. I just wanted more.
The 2023 FIM World Supercross Championship schedule should be released in November and, officially, it has been stated that it’ll feature either nine or ten rounds. WSX’s sponsorship brochure mentions that they are hoping to have fourteen events in 2024, then fifteen in 2025 and sixteen in 2026. Rumours suggest that South Africa is going to feature on the schedule next term, plus the Middle East. Melbourne is locked in as the finale for years to come and one would presume that Cardiff is not going anywhere either.
What could the new schedule actually look like? The United States, Canada, Sweden, France, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Indonesia have been mentioned to teams too. I wonder if actually pulling the pin on some of the nations could be difficult, similar to how Oman has not quite come to fruition for the FIM Motocross World Championship. Time will tell! It is going to be quite interesting to see how the provisional calendar looks in a couple of weeks.
It is obvious what lies ahead for the FIM World Supercross Championship. WSX is never going to have a list of riders that’ll challenge Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross or the FIM Motocross World Championship and therefore it will not carry the same prestige. That is fine though, right? No one expected this new championship to come in and operate at the same level as those established organisations. WSX is going to be a secondary series that gives more riders an opportunity to make good money. There is nothing wrong with that at all, huh?
There are some people who take this so personally though, like they hear any criticism about the FIM World Supercross Championship and just lose their mind about how negative the person is being. Casting a critical eye on a series is just bench racing though, right? It happens in all sports. There are people who are pushing for SX Global to be shielded from all criticism, but this is a professional sport and it comes with the territory. The FIM World Supercross Championship can operate below those aforementioned series in the unofficial hierarchy and contribute positively to the sport. That is just fine, in my eyes.