Anaheim one thoughts
Anaheim one is the place to be if you like dirt bikes in January, the media day builds the hype and allows the riders to get out and show their speed before the real thing the day after, wetting the appetite even more for the round one of the AMA supercross championship.
It’s essentially a two day event with media day for factory 450 stars and on Saturday it is basically a 12 hour day for the riders with track walk at 8.30 and then press duties for the podium guys after the main event 12 hours later. In between all that and the their three practice sessions they have signings in the packed pits with Jett Lawrence line huge as was Yamaha with Tomac and Webb. It’s a busy and stressful day!
A sold out crowd then descends on the stadium, the sky gets dark and the lights go on. It’s showtime!
The hype and the expectation was all on Jett Lawrence and despite tip over chasing Cooper Webb in the heat, Jett delivered in the main event in style. Holeshot, control win.
Jett did it again and his 450 career in America at this point is outstanding, his rivals had the chance to try and quell the momentum he has and yet, despite Jett admitting his nerves, no-one could stop the young Aussie in his first ever 450 supercross. He has won already, the confidence is sky high and his ambition to beat Jeremy McGrath’s 72 wins might just be realistic, the kid is simply outstanding from style to technique to mentality, he has it all.
The technique of Stefan Everts, the cold mind and great decision of McGrath in the heat of battle and the cold ruthlessness of Ricky Carmichael. Jett Lawrence is the ultimate combination of the greatest of all time – and they haven’t even got the bike right yet according to his dad (watch the interview below).
Hunter Lawrence was super unlucky and the biggest shock of the night with a DNQ, yet again circumstances AKA Vince Friese, hurting the eldest Lawrence but better days like ahead – he is fast!
Jorge Prado was impressive. Ninth fastest and straight into the main event out of the heat taking 13th in one of the deepest supercross field’s in history with six weeks supercross experience is nothing short of ridiculous. It shows just how talented Prado is, and only the whoops stopped a top ten, he was that good everywhere else. Smooth and smart and didn’t risk it all for one more spot, Prado learnt a lot and with time he could be a legit top five guy. The skill is there.
Eli Tomac was the biggest question mark at the end of the night! A very low key eighth place and only better than Prado in the whoops, Tomac admitted himself it wasn’t his best, and maybe we all expected too much after the achilles injury. He has this one under his belt but with Jett winning he doesn’t have time to ease into the season anymore. Tomac looked good on press day and free practice but when it really counted, Eli couldn’t find beast mode. He needs to find it fast.
In contrast, Chase Sexton was the biggest question mark coming in but not at the end of the night! Sexton admitted two weeks ago things didn’t look good, but a week before A1 he found comfort in the bike and, while he wasn’t at his very best, a third place seemed like a big relief and important foundation step for Sexton. He knows the bike is in the ballpark now. Confidence raised!
Cooper Webb was possibly the biggest positive surprise of the night. He said to Gatedrop he felt a bit counted out on media day and yet again he proved the doubters wrong. Not known for raw speed in qualifying, Webb was on the board all day and then passed Jett in the heat race to win, and looked on for a podium, possibly second if he had got around Jason Anderson and not had that big crash. Luckily Cooper is okay and a sixth was a good salvage. He knows the speed is there, and he has shown he isn’t afraid to go for Jett Lawrence either! Webb is one to watch over the next few rounds. He looks back to his best and he is one rider who won’t be intimidated by Jett Lawrence if he gets a shot at him.
RJ Hampshire was awesome in the 250s, totally dominant but Jo Shimoda showed great pace on the Honda, he just had to come from behind in the heat and then the main. Both Levi Kitchen and Max Vohland showed great speed on their PC Kawi’s.
But the biggest injection of adrenalin was from Julien Beaumer, who was on fire all day and night, leading his first ever supercross before eventually finishing sixth, but what a debut for the Red Bull KTM rider who Ian Harrison told us on Friday, was great in testing and KTM couldn’t believe he was available they could snap him out – keep and eye on this kid, he might just be the real deal.
Get our interviews from the night below:
Words: Jonathan McCready
Images: Feld Entertainment Inc.