Early questions answered from the 2016 US supercross series.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship is always exciting, there’s plenty happening and a tonne of topics to talk about – bench racing galore. In this latest edition of Q&A MotoOnline.com.au takes a look at the burning questions following three rounds of the 2016 season.
Q: Will Ryan Dungey run away with the title from here?
A: Dungey is arguably in the best form of his career at this point in time, the Red Bull KTM rider is looking dangerously comfortable aboard his KTM 450SX-F. He’s coming off the back of a successful 2015 season winning both indoor and outdoor premier class titles, and his indoor defence is going exactly to plan so far. Although Dungey has been branded ‘The Diesel’ in recent years, the Minnesota native is clearly trying his best to shed that nickname and just be straight-up fast. In saying that, do I feel he will run away with the title from here? No. The Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX field is stacked and it will be tough to run away with it at this stage, but if his competitors give him an inch, he will be sure to capitalise and build a larger buffer over the rest of the field.
Q: Is Chad Reed a legitimate title threat?
A: Reed is always a legitimate title threat, it all comes down to whether he feels comfortable and has his ‘mojo’ flowing, as Jeff Emig would say. The two-time champion has the raw speed and skills to match anyone in the world on a supercross track, nobody will argue that fact, it all comes down to that comfort factor. The Kurri Kurri local clearly has his mojo back aboard his all-new Monster Energy/360fly/Chaparral/Yamaha Factory Racing YZ450F and now sits second overall in the championship chase following two consecutive podiums. This has danger written all over it for his competitors, once he’s both comfortable and confident, the title is definitely in his reach.
Q: Can Cooper Webb sweep the 250SX class on the West Coast?
A: It has been done before and it can be done again, Cooper Webb is one rider that could definitely sweep the 250SX Monster Energy AMA Supercross Wester Regional Championship. Webb rides with maturity beyond his years, severe intensity and a tonne of good old raw speed, that is a combination that’s hard to beat and so far it hasn’t been. In saying that, the 250SX West Coast field is stacked, it’s filled with riders of a very high calibre and they surely don’t want to see the factory Yamaha rider win each and every round of this series. Take GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig for example, he made it clear at last weekend’s Anaheim 2 event that he wanted to mix it up with the defending champion. He may not have had to outright speed, but he, and many other riders, have the desire to take those wins and will surely be working their butts off to do that before the season ends.
Q: Did Luke Clout make the right decision?
A: A career in Australia was never Clout’s ideal situation, when a ride never opened up in the US following multiple years living at the Millsaps Training Facility in Georgia contesting various Amateur events, he chose to return home and see what was on offer. His Serco Yamaha fill-in ride for the injured Kirk Gibbs then turned into a full-time gig where he eventually clinched the 2014 MX Nationals MX2 title. However, he wouldn’t be satisfied unless he was in the US racing the best of the best. For the opportunity to be put on the table with the MAD Racing Dirt Candy Suzuki team, the option to decline was non-existent I feel. Now with a two-year deal being locked in after just one week on the AMA circuit, it was definitely a good decision to take the punt on that last-minute fill-in ride.
Q: Who else will win races in the coming weeks?
A: Reed will win a main event in the coming weeks, there’s no doubt about it, he just looks great on the bike right now. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac should come on strong as the rounds tick along, anyone else remember how fast he was riding last year? He’s bound to find that feeling again in the near future. Ken Roczen found himself on the podium last weekend and we all know he’s capable of winning 450SX main events, the guy is super talented and when he’s on, he’s on. In the 250SX class Christian Craig is one rider to keep an eye on, he’s probably the most smooth and technical rider out there, almost a new-age Kevin Windham if you will, and he might just find his way to the top step soon if everything falls into place. Zach Osborne is also someone to keep an eye on, he’s a veteran of the 250SX class and will surely capitalise on any mistakes by his fellow front-runners to ensure he lands himself on top of the box.
Q: Which rookie is standing out so far?
A: Australia’s very own Hayden Mellross stands out as an impressive rookie. The 250SX contender has very impressive aboard his 51FIFTY Energy Drink Yamaha YZ250F in his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross season. The New South Wales rider took an 11th place main event finish on debut and backed it up with a fourth place heat race finish in San Diego, that’s super impressive amongst such a stacked field of riders oozing with talent. Mellross has had some bad luck and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time since then, but that’s expected for a rookie and you’ll be sure to see his name pop up a lot more as the season pushes on.