Was SMX a success?
The first SMX is in the books and, all in all, it probably exceeded expectations!
The track took a while to process while watching, trying to figure out if you are watching supercross or motocross and eventually coming to the conclusion it was both and neither all at the same time! Both classes were loaded with talent and the racing produced some interesting results with the previously dominant Lawrence brothers suffering with poor starts on a track that wasn’t easy to pass on.
A two day event may not be ideal for the riders an teams on the back of a 28 day season long run of supercross and motocross but it helps build the anticipation with two free practice sessions – Tom Vialle probably wishes he had that luxury in outdoors to learn the tracks!
Sexton, Shimoda and Vialle were the biggest winners with Chase taking the winning momentum away from Jett and his speed increase when he saw Jett got to third in race two and was on the charge, showed just how much he wanted to win and not have Jett catch and pass him again!
The 250 overall winner came down to a shootout between Vialle and Shimoda, both riders have had mixed seasons with a win each outdoors. But on this day they were the pace setters and Vialle looked really good on the hybrid track, without the whoops that cost him time in supercross! Shimoda though, had that little bit extra to finally making the pass but the joy from both was evident about their performance.
The same went for Ken Roczen who refused to let Jett have it in a hard and captivating battle for sixth in race one as the German climbed to third before showing that patented sprint speed to lead for a long time in moto two before the intensity of the Chase/Jett rivalry proved to much at the end.
And this is the thing about SMX, it gives riders a chance to end a tough season on a high, revenge for Sexton, confidence for Vialle in the stadiums, and Ryder DiFrancesco was another who was evidence of that boost with a great ride. This might just be the niche it has in the season, it gives people hope and the opportunity to end their year on a high in a different discipline.
Interestingly, the bike set-up was something a lot of riders struggled with, an interesting extra wrinkle in the new style racing format. With Chicago looking even more outdoors style this weekend, will the riders find themselves, like Jett Lawrence did going into race two, softening their supercross suspension even more?
Points will also double this weekend and then triple in LA so both series are all to play for which is great for the fans, but you still wonder if 31 races is too much for the riders and teams? Maybe an outdoor round will need dropped in the future to accommodate the SMX play-offs? 17 supercross 10 outdoors and 3 SMX for a 30 race season?
The series definitely adds some extra excitement to the end of a season with three short, sharp rounds bringing an immediate intensity to each moto with a title on the line, even if no-one knows just how big or prestigious the title could become in the future.
Article: Jonathan McCready
Images: Feld Entertainment Inc.