Features 24 Oct 2013

The US Report: 42

Pulpmx's Steve Matthes checks in direct from the US every Thursday, presented by Fox.

Well that was quite a race, eh? The 2013 Monster Energy Cup was something to see. It had a little bit of everything – two gate malfunctions, some bad crashes, a quad that was busted out in the middle of the race, not one but two Joker Lane misses and a rider that won the whole thing after finishing eighth in the first main event.

There wasn’t anyone who left Sam Boyd Stadium after the race who wanted anything but more racing.

The changes and additions that the folks at Feld Entertainment did all worked out great (well, except for that split start that failed twice when the gate wouldn’t drop. And this on the heels of it failing last year as well. Everything that happened after that sort of made the malfunction moot though. Much to the relief of those in charge) and I hope that the people in charge take a look at some of the ME Cup changes and put them into supercross.

Seriously, how great was the racing in the each of the three 10-lap main events? The longer you run the races the more that the top riders can pull away. Their speed, bikes and fitness allow them to open up good sized gaps on each other and shortening the mains keeps things close, adds in another start (which is always exciting) and with three mains, heck a guy can get eighth and win the overall. So whatever you want to do, Joker Lane, three mains, a ferris wheel, whatever man, I’m down for it.

James Stewart won a thrilling Monster Energy Cup last weekend.

James Stewart won a thrilling Monster Energy Cup last weekend.

So does Yoshirmura Suzuki’s James Stewart winning the race mean anything when to comes to the 2014 supercross series that kicks off in January? Certainly Stewart rode great and passing Ryan Villopoto back a couple of times was something that was unexpected and a nice surprise for James and his fans but what does it really mean?

Well, not much in my opinion. There’s no such thing as momentum in something like winning an October race and even though Villopoto crashed out in the the second main, it doesn’t mean that all of a sudden we’ll see Stewart re-take his supercross crown in 2014.

There’s never been, in the thirty-year history of supercross any rider win the supercross title with more than one year break of not winning the title. Stewart is now going on four years so he is facing an uphill battle.

“I’ve got to see the guy in a couple months. I don’t think he expected me to go back around him, because he went outside, and I was like, alright. I go on the inside and then when he got me again he probably thought it was over,” said Stewart to me after the race.

“I went back around and then he got me again. I went back around him. I was just here to race and keep it clean. Those are the things that through the outdoor season and I think not racing, being hurt for the outdoors, and not being on the supercross only contract, now I’m starting to see what I missed on all that.

Will Stewart carry the form he displayed at MEC into 2014?

Will Stewart carry the form he displayed at MEC into 2014?

“It’s the starts. It’s racing against 40 guys in the first corner. It’s being aggressive when you don’t have a good jump. To get through the outdoor season and to get better on that aspect I think is what helped me out here. I took the month off after supercross and I was ready to go back racing and it worked out.”

So clearly James is telling himself that he’s learned some things from racing almost the whole year in 2013. And he showed some great moves and speed all night long. The shorter main events would seem to favor Stewart as no matter how many wins Villopoto racked up this past season, Stewart would seem to be able to win many heat races. Perhaps the shorter laps and the shorter focus needed works towards Stewart’s strengths.

There’s no doubt that all the changes put in for this race worked to a degree that most did not think they would. It was exciting, it was exhilarating and the results show that. Now the bigger question is, can we learn from this?

For more of my thoughts on this race, check out Racer X’s Observations column on the MEC here.