Preview of Monster Energy Supercross Round 4, Oakland, CA

tomac and roczen

Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen. Photo: Hoppenworld

In a small, selfish effort to both lure ET listeners into dirt bike sports and dirt bike fans into Elevation Trail’s community, here are some things I’ve written up for you to watch and be engaged in tonight’s race.

Overview:
This is the 4th round of the 2015 AMA Supercross season (Rd 1 Anaheim, Rd 2 Phoenix, Rd 3 Anaheim). Today’s race takes place in the Coliseum in Oakland CA (lock your car doors if you’re attending! 😉
Race coverage begins live tonight (Jan 24) on Fox Sports 1 at 7pm PT – 10pm ET.

Things to keep an eye on:
The murmurs that the season is early and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s Factory Suzuki’s Ken Roczen may not stay as hot and fast as he was in round 1 are quieting and fading. After the first three rounds he owns two first places and a second place, has led 52 of the 60 laps raced, and holds a 12 point lead in the standings over 2nd place Ryan Dungey. The rest of the field simply cannot let this guy get an early lead because he may not always have the fastest qualifying lap times but he’s consistent with his speed and will check out and say bye-bye if he gets a gap on everyone.

Ryan Dungey absolutely has the ability to win but it seems he can’t do it on his own terms, meaning that whoever is in front of him will need to slip up. Dungey NEEDS to get more aggressive. Listening to Red Bull KTM’s manager, Roger DeCoster, in interviews, you’d expect him to be thrilled with his rider sitting in 2nd overall but he knows Dungey’s talent and work ethic and knows he is capable of owning these races. He simply rides too conservatively.

Meanwhile, Coloradan, Eli Tomac (son of one of the greatest mountain bike racers ever, John Tomac) sits in 3rd overall after his win in Phoenix, where he controlled Roczen, and his 3rd last week in Anaheim. Tomac has the ability and aggressiveness to win every week. I’m guessing we’ll see him on the podium several times over the next 14 rounds. The only question is, does he have the consistency of Dungey and the speed and drive of Roczen to stand on the top step of that podium?

Speaking of aggressiveness, the big talk over the week following last Saturday’s race was Chad Reed getting black flagged after intentionally running into Trey Canard after Canard basically landed on top of him in the previous turn, causing both of them to go down hard. Most opinions I’ve heard and read feel the black flag was uncalled for. The AMA race official (John Gallagher) was standing right in front of the incident when Reed crossed the track and ran into Canard (who was riding one handed while clearing his goggles), causing him to endo and somersault over the tough block barriers. Gallagher almost immediately called for the black flag on Reed, which means “get off the track, your racing night is over”. Reed was stunned and words were exchanged between all three parties after the race.

Most seem to feel that they should’ve just let everyone finish the race, then evaluate possible penalties and fines. Comments have also voiced concern that this ruling may set precedence and influence aggressive riding in the future races. I personally am on the fence with the black flag. I’ve watched the incident (the whole thing from the previous lap through Reed’s black flag) a few times and feel that it could’ve gone either way (flagged or not). I don’t believe it’s going to influence anyone’s riding style or aggressive racing and I don’t think it will set a precedence for future flagging. In fact, I think it may have the opposite effect, where we see a reluctance to flag riders because of the heat they received over this one. We shall see.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see how Canard and especially Reed bounce back from this. Reed really suffered a hit with the black flag with him being the team owner and rider of 22 Motorsports Discount Tire. The loss of any points essentially knocked him out of the the overall running in the standings (he sits 15th now). Just to rub salt in the wound, Reed’s team rider, Josh Grant, DNF’d, so the team went home with some things to think about.

I won’t cover the 250cc class but Cooper Webb is on a tear, Tyler Bowers is a classy, aggressive rider who’s ready to mix it up for the championship, and Malcolm Stewart (James Stewart’s little brother) is really fun to watch.

So, that’s it from a novice fan of the sport. Let me know if you watch the race and what you thought of it.

Here’s the Trey Canard / Chad Reed incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uidvHFB2jf4

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