Features 8 May 2018

Countdown: Storylines of AMA Supercross

Eight talking points that made headlines in the 2018 championship.

The 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship concluded on Saturday night in Las Vegas, wrapping up 17 rounds that provided triumphs and defeats amongst a host of talking points. In this latest Countdown feature, we highlight eight storylines of the lengthy series.

Source: Supplied.

8. Australians display Aussie grit:
It was a mixed a season for Australian contenders Chad Reed (CR22 Husqvarna) and Hayden Mellross (51Fifty Yamaha), each experiencing highs and lows in the championship. For Reed, it was matter of playing catch up all season after an ankle injury essentially denied him of any pre-season, plus developing the Husqvarna FC 450 in a privately funded team only added to his challenges. Still, he was able to record a host of respectable finishes. A shoulder injury halfway through the 250SX West championship put a dent in Mellross’ momentum, but just like Reed, he pushed through the adversity to notch up a number of impressive showings.

7. Barcia rises as Millsaps retires:
Many had written off Justin Barcia prior to 2018, so much so that he didn’t even have a ride for the year. Fortunately for the number 51, he was granted an opportunity with Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing for the opening six rounds to fill-in for Davi Millsaps, which proved to be beneficial for both parties as he scored three podiums in the first four rounds. Millsaps eventually called time on his career, opening the door for Barcia to continue with the team for the remainder of the season. Unfortunately, he’d suffer an injury just after his contract extension was announced, sidelining him for multiple rounds.

6. Hill returns to racing:
When news came through that Josh Hill would be returning to racing, it came as a huge surprise to the industry. Initially retiring in 2015, Hill was called into the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing to fill-in for Barcia in a one-off appearance at Seattle, although after Cooper Webb suffered a leg injury, his services were utilised once again for the closing two stops of the series. Despite not contesting an AMA supercross event in three years, Hill qualified for all three main events where he positioned himself inside the top 20.

5. Brayton breaks through:
Age isn’t slowing down Justin Brayton, in fact, he’s in the prime of his career at the moment. Fresh off winning his second-consecutive Australian Supercross Championship, Brayton hit the ground running with Smartop Bullfrog Spas Honda as he displayed a selection of commanding performances. Brayton seemed to gel with the Triple Crown format that was hosted at select rounds, although despite recording race wins, he wasn’t able to put together three solid results. His fortunes turned at Daytona’s 10th round when he finally broke through to take his first main event victory in the traditional format. Overall, Brayton finished up fifth in the championship standings.

Source: Supplied.

4. Injuries take toll on premier class:
Supercross always lends itself to injuries, however this season seemed to take its toll more than ever on the premier class. There was obviously Millsaps who injured himself prior to the season commencing, while Ken Roczen (Honda HRC) was the first casualty on return from his list of serious injuries in 2017, as an error in judgement resulted being sidelined for much of the series with a hand injury. Joining him on the sidelines for a significant amount of time included heavy-hitters Cole Seely (Honda HRC), Barcia, Webb, Justin Bogle (Autotrader Yoshimura Suzuki) and Josh Grant (Monster Energy Kawasaki) amongst others.

3. Tomac and Musquin clash:
With just three rounds to go, both Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) and Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) were desperate to close the points deficit on leader Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing), which meant race wins were crucial. The pair went back and forth during Foxborough’s main event, however as Tomac took the lead and the white flag was out, Musquin dived under the number three in a desperate bid for the lead, successfully securing the position while taking down Tomac in the process. It was a controversial move that still has race fans divided!

2. Tickle provisionally suspended after anti-doping finding:
One of the biggest headlines of the series was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Broc Tickle being provisionally suspended by the Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) in relation to the FIM Anti-doping Code. According to the FIM, ‘5-methylhexan-2-amine’ – a specified substance under section six (stimulants) of the 2018 FIM prohibited list – has been found in a urine sample of Tickle. It came as a huge shock, and Tickle is fighting the allegations, releasing this statement last month.

1. Anderson earns maiden 450SX title:
Taking control of the championship at round two, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson led the points chase all the way to the finale in Las Vegas, earning his maiden premier class supercross crown while also awarding Husqvarna its first title in the division. Anderson remained cool and calm throughout the entire series, even when things didn’t go to plan at the penultimate round where he had an opportunity to seal the title, however he brushed it off and got the job done on Saturday night with a nine-point advantage.