Words/Type-Os: Scott Hoffman, Images: Kardy
Just when you think it's safe to start betting on your favorite rider, things get all discombobulated. Now four weeks into the series and we have four different winners in the premier Supercross/450 class. Crazy! Less than a week ago, the naysayers were telling James Stewart to put a fork in it--he's done. He is proving them wrong. By week one in the series we all realized top riders such as Davi Millsaps or Mike Alessi will be main event guys but it would take some strange stuff for a rider like them to win the title.
The Oakland track was very technical with several tricky sections that got a lot of riders in trouble and/or out of shape. The ruts got deep, jump faces had kickers on them and the whoops were cupped out. In the Lites main the track was tricky and got worse for the Supercross/450 class. There was a slew of Lites riders that either went off the track or had to pick themselves up off the ground.
Between Los Angeles and Oakland, JGR and crew went back to Florida to do further testing with Stewart at his house. You could see they made some progress as he and his motorcycle looked more confident in the main.
-A week can make a big difference, especially for James Stewart. Despite the tragic loss of "Tex" during the week, the team pulled through. They did some testing down in Florida at the Stewart compound. They must have figured something out because Stewart looked way more comfortable on his bike this week and it made it possible for him to charge with confidence.
-Ryan Dungey had to come from behind and was not even a threat to the podium. Dungey also lost the points lead (he is now tied for the lead).
Ryan Dungey rode another smart race but missed the podium by one spot. After four he is now tied for the championship with Chad Reed.>>>>
-Chad Reed was again chasing tire combinations until he found what worked for him. Reed lost the lead in the main because he said he rode too tight and it took too long to loosen up and by then he had been passed by Stewart. For a while had Ryan Villopoto on his butt but he was able to hold him off for second.
Following a poor start, it looked like Villopoto had the speed to ride his way right to the front and take over the lead. He made it up to Reed after Stewart made his way to the front and then kind of figured third was better than taking a chance and ending up on the ground.
-Ryan Villopoto, what can we say, if you watched the early part of the race on TV you would swear he was going to cut through the field like a warm knife through butter. RV was again off the main line looking for speed and places to pass, yet it seemed like he lost his drive once he made his way to the rear tire of Reed. After a nice dice, RV settled into the final podium position.
Chad Reed led part of the main but said he rode the first part of the race very tight and was kind of upset with himself that Stewart got by and took the win.
-Heading back to Anaheim, the points lead is a tie with Reed and Dungey both with 85. Reed should be riding with the red plate since his latest finish bested Dungey or they will share it. RV is right there with 83 and Stewart needs to kick it up a notch if he wants this title and trails Villopoto by 10.
There must be a serious disturbance in the Force--a Monster Energy Pro Circuit rider did not make the podium in Oakland. It was a bummer to hear Tyla Rattray went down hard in the heat and conked his head pretty hard and may have sustained a fracture to his back or neck. The severity of his injury was unknown as of Sunday night and it is undetermined when he will be back in action.
Here is a shot of Dean Wilson heading off the track. He was kicked a little sideways and he and his bike were headed in the wrong direction.>>>>
-The other PC rider, Dean Wilson, took a dirt sample early in the main and went from second to 19. The only other rider behind him in the second lap was A1 Lites main winner Cole Seely, he too went down on the second lap while running fourth. Wilson ended up 10th and Seely got 11th.
-So who is the big man on campus now? Hands down Eli Tomac and his Geico Honda. The kid is on fire and his lap times were fast enough to knock bars with the top dogs in the 450 class. Tomac's fastest time in the main was a 54.524. In the 450 class, Villopoto did a 54.040, Stewart a 54.299, Reed a 54.560, and Dungey a 54.734. The only other rider to make the 54s was Martin Davalos in the Lites with one lap in the 54s.
Thus far this seems to be Eli Tomac's year in Supercross Lites. He's fast enough to race against the 450 with regard to fast lap times and now has a nice lead in the point chase after winning back-to-back races. We will have to see if he can make it a three-peat at A2. Here he almost goes down after passing for the lead in Oakland.
-Tomac now has a commanding lead in the Lites West division with a 15-point lead over Wilson and 21 over Zach Osborne.
-Oakland was also another great week for Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin. After a terrible start Musquin worked his way from 9th after the first lap to second. Once in second, Tomac had the race in the bag despite Musquin's efforts.
-The Lites West is almost to the halfway point and if we had to make predictions, it would be for Tomac to take the title as long as he can keep it rubber side down and stay free of mechanical issues.
Here Marvin Musquin slices his way through the pack in Oakland en-route to finishing a remarkable second behind Eli Tomac. Musquin sits fourth in points with two podium finishes, yet his DNF in LA hurt his chance at the title.
The series as a whole is exciting, yet like every season, there is a price to pay to race at the top and we have already seen a host of racers sidelined, some before the season even started and those who were injured starting at A1. There are two more West events before the series makes its way back East. Then a new crop of Lites/250 racers will jump onboard. ###