Quick thoughts: Oakland supercross
Oakland was a shuffling of the pack to generate an unexpected podium that has blown the 2022 AMA supercross championship wide open. With no-one as yet really becoming the obvious man to beat and no-one able to take control either with blazing raw speed or consistency, it’s all to play for.
From a championship perspective Oakland was superb – even if the racing wasn’t as good as A1. But, with Jason Anderson winning his first race since 2018, Aaron Plessinger showing that he has adapted to the KTM following doubts at the opener and Justin Barcia the only man with consistent good finishes on the podium to give him the red plate, it’s all set for a barn-burner of a championship!
Ten points separate the top nine in the championship and even Ferrandis back in 11th, despite two bad starts so far is only 18 back of Barcia. Normally that wouldn’t be ideal but, given the latitude of the depth of class and lack of consistency aligned with the raw speed of Dylan – if he can start up front, you would have to add him to the list of possible title contenders. That makes it ten guys who probably in all reality will probably view themselves as having a chance at it this year as things stand,
But Jason Anderson was the biggest story. For the second weekend in a row he was fast on the Kawasaki, and if Barcia hadn’t knocked him down at A1, he more than likely would have had a podium there that would more accurately reflect his speed so far. This was was huge for him, and he looks like the rider that was crowned champ in 2018, and crucially, he has had two good starts, something that looks to be essential in 2022.
Anderson said he lost his grandmother last year and that made things tough for in in 2021, and you could see the emotion the win on Saturday night ignited. His grandparents always went to his races from a child and this was a big win for him on both a personal and professional level. Anderson said in the press conference he never doubted his talent but this surely will e a huge confidence booster, that he can still do it and can be champion again.
I asked Anderson if he expected the win to come so quickly given the adaption to a new frame ( plus a new team) and he said that he had had some very good days on the bike in the off-season but also some bad days, so it seems that while he was confident on the bike, he felt things weren’t totally perfected yet and there might be even more to come from Anderson despite this brilliant start to the year.
After a poor A1, Aaron Plessinger showed his real potential at Oakland on the KTM to take his second ever podium in the 450 and with Malcolm Stewart’s speed strong as well – Aldon Baker is probably feeling quite satisfied with his new duo after two rounds. Both are now fast and both have a shot at winning races and maybe even the title. Is he working his magic again?!
Cooper Webb said he wasn’t feeling well as Ken Roczen had a disastrous day thanks to two crashes in the whoops, but the 13th isn’t as costly as normal and he is just six points off Barcia, three off Webb and level with Tomac in fifth in the series. It’s a case of phew, bad day, regroup and move on for Roczen.
Eli Tomac was a lot better at Oakland and it feels he’s starting to build a platform to really unleash some speed. Fastest in qualifying, the starts killed him in the main but he moved forward better to get fourth. It was a Ismaili story for Dylan Ferrandis who suffered a terrible start but was really fast with a late race mistake halting his top five ambitions and the Frenchman ultimately taking sixth. But the 1-2 for Star in qualifying shows both have the raw pace to win races – and the title.
Once again Adam Cianciarulo was very impressive, leading the race and showing strong pace for the opening few laps. While he must be happy with 12th and 11th over the first two rounds under the circumstances, he must be thinking what might have been, if he was healthy because his speed and starts are on point.
Christian Craig right now looks a class apart in the 250 division. Hunter Lawrence, Seth Hammaker and the rest, although riding well themselves, are going to have to find a bit extra to get to Craig’s level – he looks unbeatable right now on raw pace.
Article: Jonathan McCready
Images: Feld Entertainment Inc.
Podcast! Jonathan McCready and Andy McKinstry look back at the surprise-filled second round of the AMA supercross championship at Oakland. Listen on iTunes or Spotify or YouTube below: