HRC Honda’s Ken Roczen has opened his 2022 Monster Energy Supercross campaign in perfect style, taking a wire-to-wire win as racing returned to its traditional season-opening venue of Anaheim on Saturday the 8th of January.
Rockstar Husqvarna’s Malcolm Stewart put the field on notice early when he topped the timesheets in qualifying, edging out Monster Energy Star Racing’s latest signing, Eli Tomac, with Jason Anderson in his first ride for the Monster Energy Kawasaki team putting in the third-fastest qualifying lap time.
In the opening heat, Rocky Mountain ATV KTM’s Shane McElrath led the field through the first turn ahead of HRC Honda’s Chase Sexton and reigning supercross champion Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb.
McElrath, showed poise to hold off Sexton for the opening three laps before the 22-year-old moved his way into the lead and cruised to his first heat win for 2022 ahead of McElrath.
Behind him, Webb made things tough on himself with a tiny tip over costing him a handful of positions and allowing Tomac to slip through to the third position, with Troy Lee Designs Gas Gas rider of Justin Barcia keeping his hopes of a fourth straight A1 victory insight with a 4th place finish ahead of Webb in 5th.
Heat two would prove to be a preview to the night’s main event, as Roczen powered to the lead out of the first turn and was never headed leading from start to finish.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Ciancarulo put a damaged shoulder behind him during the opening laps to hold down the second position before fading through the field, eventually finishing back in the 7th spot.
Elder statesman Justin Brayton showed his move back to the Motoconcepts Honda team was an excellent decision for both parties. The former race winner crossed the finish line in second position ahead of Malcolm Stewart. At the same time, Aaron Plessinger put a disappointing qualifying session where he finished 19th behind him to claim 4th in his heat just ahead of Monster Energy Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis.
With the field set for the night’s main event, it was once again Roczen who led the field through the first turn, with teammate Sexton in tow.
Sexton applied pressure to Roczen’s rear wheel for the opening eight laps as the Honda duo opened up a commanding lead over Cianciarulo in third.
Honda’s dream run of the possibility of a 1-2 finish ended on lap nine with the first of three mistakes from Sexton played out, with an error from the number 23 gifting Cianciarulo second spot.
Cianciarulo’s second position was short-lived; however, as first Barcia followed by Anderson, then Webb moved around the injured rider setting up a showdown for the second position. Anderson muscled Barcia out of the way to move into second place, but Barcia quickly made his presence felt and returned the favor, leaving Anderson no room in a following corner to reclaim the second position and leaving Anderson on the ground in the process.
Webb was next to take a shot at Barcia for the second position, doing it in style with a clean pass and quickly put a small gap between himself and the Gas Gas rider.
Out front Roczen backed things down and cruised to a 7-second win, leading home Webb and Barcia.
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin, who earlier put Stewart on the ground with an aggressive pass as he made his way through the field from a bad start, locked horns with Sexton in the final few laps, with the duo going back and forth on numerous occasions. In the end, the French rider proved he was not afraid to rub plastics to claim forth side by side with Sexton, who, despite two crashes in the main event, still managed to finish in 5th.
Tomac worked his way to a 6th place finish ahead of an irate Stewart who was quick to take aim at Musquin after his 7th place finish.
Rocky Mountain ATV KTM’s Joe Savatgy put in a quiet but impressive ride to hold down 8th spot ahead of Plessinger in 9th and Anderson, who rebounded to 9th place after his earlier run-in with Barcia.
250SX Class (Western Regional)
The West Coast 250 class proved to be a tough one for some pre-season favourites.
After losing both the 2021 West Coast champion and runner up in Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence to injury before the season even started, Coopers Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s teammate Colt Nichols and Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jacob Swoll both crashed out of the respective heats, putting an end to their nights racing and possible their seasons.
Nichols, the 2021 East Coast 250 champion, had just moved past Motoconepts Honda’s Vince Friese to capture the lead in the opening heat at A1 when he crashed heavily in the whoops, landing awkwardly with his bike on top of him.
The crash handed the lead to Troy Lee Designs Gas Gas rider Michael Mosiman, who went on to win the heat ahead of Monster Energy Pro Circuit’s Seth Hammaker, with Friese holding on for third.
Swolls crash early in the opening lap of the second 250 heat, bought out a red flag requiring a complete re-start.
Australia’s Hunter Lawerence took full advantage of the re-start after crashing himself before the red flag came out in the first race attempt, with the HRC Honda rider claiming the holeshot and leading the race early.
Lawrence led the opening three laps before Monster Energy Star Racings Christian Craig decided he wanted to lead the race, forcing the move to the lead and leaving Lawrence on the ground in the process.
After capturing the lead, Craig made light work of the remaining laps, taking the win ahead of Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda and ClubMX Yamaha’s Garrett Marchbanks.
Friese fired out of the gate in the main event, leading the way in the opening lap followed by Hammaker and Craig, but by lap three, Craig had taken control of the race, passing both riders, with Hammaker following him past Friese to settle into the second position.
While Craig stretched his legs out front, Marchbanks worked his way up to the back wheel of Hammaker, with the duo scrapping it out for the second position for the majority of the race.
With just two laps to go, Lawrence, who had worked his way back from 10th place at the end of the opening lap, to join Hammaker and Marchbanks in the battle for the podium.
On the final lap, Craig eased up to take a comfortable win while Lawrence moved his way into the third position, passing Marchbanks and setting his sights on Hammaker.
Racing all the way to the line, Lawrence made a move in the final turn with the two riders trading plastic; however, it was Hammaker who got himself straightened up the fastest, narrowly taking the second spot ahead of the Aussie.
Marchbanks rode home to 4th ahead of Friese in 5th.
Mosiman, who suffered a bad start and a crash in the main event, finished in 6th ahead of Shimoda, who himself was in salvage mode after getting caught up in the gates at the start of the race.
450SX Class Results
1. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda
2. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
3. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS
4. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM
5. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
6. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha
7. Malcolm Stewart, Murrieta, Calif., Husqvarna
8. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., KTM
9. Aaron Plessinger, Leesburg, Fla., KTM
10. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki
450SX Class Championship Standings
1. Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (26)
2. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (23)
3. Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (21)
4. Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., KTM (19)
5. Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (18)
6. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (17)
7. Malcolm Stewart, Murrieta, Calif., Husqvarna (16)
8. Joey Savatgy, Clermont, Fla., KTM (15)
9. Aaron Plessinger, Leesburg, Fla., KTM (14)
10. Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (13)
250SX Class Results (Western Regional)
1. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha
2. Seth Hammaker, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki
3. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda
4. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha
5. Vince Friese, Menifee, Calif., Honda
6. Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS
7. Jo Shimoda, Menifee, Calif., Kawasaki
8. Robbie Wageman, Newhall, Calif., Yamaha
9. Dominique Thury, Scheenberg, GER, Yamaha
10. Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Suzuki
250SX Class Championship Standings (Western Regional)
1. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (26)
2. Seth Hammaker, Temecula, Calif., Kawasaki (23)
3. Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (21)
4. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (19)
5. Vince Friese, Menifee, Calif., Honda (18)
6. Michael Mosiman, Minneaola, Fla., GASGAS (17)
7. Jo Shimoda, Menifee, Calif., Kawasaki (16)
8. Robbie Wageman, Newhall, Calif., Yamaha (15)
9. Dominique Thury, Scheenberg, GER, Yamaha (14)
10. Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Suzuki (13)