More questions than answers coming into Hangtown!
As the second round of the AMA Nationals gets ready to blast off on Saturday there are more questions than answers in the 450 class.
The Honda duo of Chase Sexton and Ken Roczen have proved their speed with their 1-2 performance but can their form last? Sexton is known to have a crash but looked superb at Pala and not even on the edge, but was this a dream day scenario or the level he can repeat for the next eleven rounds?
Ken Roczen showed he still had the speed after time off in supercross but will his health be okay in the high humidity races?
Will Christian Craig maintain his podium level speed and Eli Tomac will surely only improve from here are after somewhat medorce debut on his Star Racing Yamaha…or will his knee hold him back?
Ryan Dungey was fantastic and any doubts about his ability to run close to the front are over – the question now is can he up his pace to the level of Sexton and Roczen?
Then there is the Cairoli question. The Italian is only contracted to ride the next round at Hangtown but he didn’t rule out doing the full series either in our interview with him here. But Cairoli certainly didn’t look himself at Pala and, as he explained after a lack of training and not being comfortable on the US bike that had a different frame all combined to produce a level that is certainly lower than an on-song Cairoli can produce – but will he find that in Hangtown and then race the whole series? His performance this Saturday might be crucial to the rest of his US plans.
I personally don’t think he will want a repeat of those results, especially with Dungey’s success, who Cairoli was faster than in practice. We might see Cairoli back on form in Hangtown if he can sort the bike out.
Jason Anderson had the pace at round one, but his results thanks to coming from the back of the pack in both motos, didn’t reflect the speed – so can he run with the Hondas if he gets a start? He could be low key a title contender if the raw speed at the opener in anything to go by.
From a British perspective, Josh Gilbert scored more points in one round of the US Nationals than he did in the all the MXGP races he competed in combined last year – can he top ten at Hangtown?!
Pala is of course a unique track as well and not a regular US National track even if a lot of the riders are very familair with that track. Hangtown might be the first indication of any patterns in the 450 class.
But those patterns are already developed in the 250 series and with the news that Austin Forkner is out with injury for Hangtown it looked like it’s Lawrence v Lawrence for the title with maybe Shimoda, Hampshire, Mosiman or one of the young Americans popping up here or there and running the speed.
Let’s see if Hangtown can answer any of the 450 questions above!
See the awesome gallery by Niek Kamper below:
Article: Jonathan McCready
Image: Niek Kamper