Race reflections: SMX Cup
1. A brand new race and a brand new concept – so did it work?
Yes, despite what the naysayers said about the track, it turned out to be pretty difficult and was more of an indoor motocross than most people expected – and it worked. The track was cool and it was nice to see the circuit cut up with bumps and ruts forcing the riders to think and take new lines compared to a regular jump, jump, turn supercross circuit. It was something different and it means everyone from motocross specialist to supercross experts can race and have a good chance at doing well.
We also all got the unique showdown we wanted with the MXGP champ and the supercross champion in race one and Gajser came out on top. Race two looked like Gajser’s again until he crashed handing the victory to Romain Febvre then in race three Jeffrey Herlings showed yet again just how good he is by coming from sixth and running down the supercross champ Dungey to win race three. The line-up was stacked with talent, six world champions, a 250 supercross champ and British champ all added to the depth of talent.
2.Dungey shows his class again
If there was a ever a race that summed up Ryan Dungey’s strengths – and why he wins so many championships this was it. Yes he wasn’t the fastest – that was Herlings and Gajser but he got three good starts, barely made a mistake while the guys faster than him all crashed or in Febvre’s case blew the start in race three. Dungey is a machine, he will rarely beat the best riders on raw speed but he is never far away and he usually gets them on consistency. And that’s exactly how he won the SMX cup. His experience beat the young speedsters of Gajser and Herlings.
3. MXGP riders show their speed again to America
All three motos where won by the champions of the world motocross championship, the track was the perfect compromise between outdoor motocross and supercross and provided everyone an even playing field. Gajser’s speed along with Herlings was very impressive and even Romain Febvre not known for his indoor speed showed some good speed to win race two – even if his start let him down in race three which took him out of the overall victory scenario. While Dungey won, the speed was there for the MXGP boys – and Honda, Yamaha and KTM all got an individual moto victory.
4. Who was the biggest surprise?
Zach Osborne was really good on the 450 but Jordi Tixier was even better. The Frenchman never got to show his true speed in MXGP this year but was very quick on Saturday. He stayed right with Marvin Musquin in race three and proved that – with some more self-belief – he has the ability to ride at the level Musquin does on a regular basis. Tixier’s rides were the main reason Kawasaki made the podium along with a solid performance from Britain’s Tommy Searle.
5. Herlings v Gajser in 2017!
In just two big races on the 450 Herlings has taken some big names already. He was the fastest man on track at the MXON, winning the final moto against Cairoli then came from sixth to pass Musquin, Gajser and Dungey in his first indoor race on the big machine – there wasn’t too many times Dungey was ran down like that in the supercross season. Herlings was also the only KTM rider to win a moto all night – it was another big statement from the Dutchman.
Gajser too, coming off a heavy crash before the MXON showed just how quick he can go and could’ve should’ve won the first two motos. Gajser looked motivated to beat both Dungey and Herlings and put down a marker for 2017. Gajser has won both his titles without Herlings in contention – now the test will be to see which one of the two is the best on the 450 – if they can both stay healthy!
6. This race matters!
Despite the predicted negativity from certain quarters in the US media, just because the race was run by Youthstream and not in the USA, it was a pretty big deal. All the manufacturers carry a big weight and they were all there to see their riders and team’s to compete. The event was on TV around the world which means more than the disappointing attendance figures and with supercross promoters Feld there and Youthstream now helping promote the Bercy supercross, you can tell something is brewing for the future.