Wow, the season is just around the corner. At the beginning of January we will once again have our ears filled with the beautiful sounds of dirtbikes. The season begins as usual in Anaheim. However, there will be some names that have become a staple of professional racing that will be absent.
Will Hahn- After a career that has plagued him with both success and injury. Once 250 east coast champion Will Hahn has decided to hang up his boots and walk away from racing. Don’t worry, Will has taken a position as an amature support coordinator within the team and will still frequent races.
Andrew Short- This one doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The former BTO sports Ktm rider decided that the end of last years nationals would be his last endeavor into the racing world. Now that we are a few months removed from Short’s retirement we have learned that he is now KTM’s brand ambassador.
Amongst the two riders that are listed above there are several riders left without rides as of now.
James Stewart- James has been almost non-existent during this off-season. Surrounded by secrecy, we still have no idea what James or his brother are planning on doing in the 2017 Supercross season.
Dean Wilson- As the season draws near, Dean Wilson is finding himself without a ride. He has been spotted in the offseason riding several different makes of bikes. He has been quoted as saying that he is open to a fill in spot with a team during the season.
There are many more riders that are still wondering what next season will have in store for them. unfortunately there is just not enough spots for all of the talent that is looking for rides. This has become a product of the times in our sport. Is it fair? No. It’s just business.
The championship points format has been the same for Monster Energy Supercross has been the same since the sports conception in the mid 1970’s. 25 points for a win, 22 for second, 21 third, and so on. While the action on the track has always been exciting (for the most part), the season ending points battles are often times leaving us fans snoozing. Last year Ryan Dungey had the championship wrapped up two full races before the end of the season. Something needs to change. We have seen the introduction of a Chase format in other forms of racing. Most notably being NASCAR, who has moved to a Chase format for all three of their major racing series.
What is a Chase format? Well in NASCAR the chase is the Playoffs. When the series gets to the last ten races, the top 16 racers are moved into the chase for the championship. Meaning there points are reset with ten races to go. They are tied. The goal is to prevent a driver from running away with a championship and also prevent them from wrapping up a championship with multiple races left on the Schedule. Under the current system the NASCAR Championship is settled at the last race.
Supercross has had the same points structure for more years than I have been alive. There is no doubt that the chase format brings more excitement for the fans. That is why we have seen the top racing series in the U.S move to it. In my opinion Supercross needs to make the move as well. Supercross often times sees only three or four winners throughout the entire season. In a sport where there is so much domination, I believe that a reset like the Chase would benefit both fans, sponsors, and the riders.
Saturday night featured the first… or last (depending on how you look at it) Monster Energy AMA Supercross. This unique event once again did not disappoint as we saw nonstop on track action. So… what can us fans take from this race into next year? Well, HRC Honda’s Ken Roczen proved that he will not need much time to get used to his new bike and team, as he went victorious in two of the three main events of the evening. Roczen would have swept the three main events except for a costly mistake made in the second race sending him in a spectacular over the bars endo. He would walk away and win the next race.
Red bull KTM rider Ryan Dungey and Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Eli Tomac learned that they have work to do to keep up with Roczen in the upcoming Supercross season, finishing 2nd and 3rd overall respectively. Although Eli Tomac would capitalize off of the mistake made by Roczen in the second moto, passing the downed rider to take the victory. Ryan Dungey would have a night that we have come to expect from him. Consistent podium finishes in all three motos and making minimal mistakes remains Dungeys game plan going forward into the upcoming season.Personally, I thought the racing would have been a bit closer this weekend. Roczen hasn’t been riding his new Honda very long, and I thought that the Dungey and Tomac were going to have more for the HRC rider. The Monster Energy Cup gives us a great preview of the upcoming season, and what it may offer up to us fans. Of course we were missing a few riders such as James Stewart, Trey Canard, and several others. If we learned anything from the weekend it would be that HRC Honda rider Ken Roczen is bringing this momentum from his summer championship into the Supercross season. It looks like the other riders are going to have to utilize every single day of practice before the first gate drop of the Supercross season in January in order to keep pace with Roczen.
As we sit one week removed from the 2016 Motocross Of Nations (MXoN for short) team USA is once again left to ask themselves…What happened? The team of riders featuring Cooper Webb and Jason Anderson in the MX1 class, and Alex Martin riding in the MX2 class, seemed to have the odds stacked against them from the start by drawing the 15th gate position into the Saturday qualifiers. Through pure grit and determination team USA fought to qualify for the A main on Sunday. However, the effort would cost Factory Husqvarna rider Jason Anderson a broken left metatarsal bone in his left foot.
Sunday was perhaps one of the wackiest MXoN A mains that we have ever seen. Team USA entered the event Sunday poised to end the five year winless drought in what seemed to be Cinderella fashion. Jason Anderson would pull a holeshot and lead the whole second moto. However in one of the most bizarre events in MXoN history, Anderson was landed on by a lapped rider while celebrating his win as he crossed the finish line. The crash was a scary one. Anderson seemed to be instantly knocked unconscious as he fell to the ground off of his motorcycle.
As any fan of the sport knows, this unfortunate event eventually would be the main cause that would lead to the loss for team USA. MXoN is a unique event for our sport. It is as close to the olympics that our sport will ever get. The main spectacle of the event is that riders from all over the world are featured, and compete against each other to claim bragging rights for their countries. This spectacle however is also the sports downfall. When you put these riders from other countries that do not have the racing experience that the pros that race MXGP, and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. This vast difference in experience in the field not only makes it dramatic but also dangerous.
Knowing this, Jason Anderson should have never rolled the finish line jump. It is hard to place all of the blame on the Japanese rider that landed on him from behind. Personally I place the blame at 30% Anderson and 70% lapped rider. I will end on this note: If Anderson would have celebrated the win by whipping over the finish line, perhaps the MXoN would have been different this year…