Moto Spy: Episode Five

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Ken Roczen evens up the supercross title chase with a 450SX class win in Atlanta, while Cooper Webb soldiers to a podium finish one week after the biggest crash of his season. In the 250SX class, TLD KTM rookie Pierce Brown takes on his first professional supercross while the reigning champ Chase Sexton prepares for the next step in his professional career. – Red Bull Motorsports

Video: Red Bull Motorsports | Lead Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Thomas on: Ken Roczen

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Arlington has come and gone! Eli Tomac extended his points lead and Ken Roczen had a solid weekend, while many others had a brutally tough weekend. Adam Cianciarulo ended his title chances with a collarbone injury and Cooper Webb took a setback of his own too. Luckily, Webb will rebound for Atlanta but it was still a tough blow to his 2020 season. Amongst all of that drama, I noticed an interesting racing approach from Ken Roczen that I think has developed in recent years. On tracks as treacherous as Arlington, that approach may end up being the difference in this championship.

Going back to Roczen’s huge injury at A2 in 2017, he has made motorcycle set-up decisions to prevent that from happening again. His ultra-stiff set up at A1 this year was directly attributed to soft dirt that could recreate a big endo like that 2017 crash. He was willing to sacrifice raw speed and ultimately a better result in order to ensure predictability in his bike’s handling. Staying upright and healthy was the priority versus an all-out A1 blitz. It’s certainly understandable after his string of injuries. Those incidents are now a part of his psyche, for better or worse. I think it both helps and hurts him depending on the situation, but the presence of caution in certain conditions is undeniable for me.

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Honda Racing

When the track is in great condition, Roczen is arguably the fastest supercross rider in the world. His Glendale performance, as well as the first main event this past weekend in Arlington, was impeccable. He was simply better than everyone when the track was pristine. As the track breaks down though, he seems to struggle a bit more. Whether that is a conscious decision to exercise caution or an involuntary reaction to his past injuries, I can’t be sure. It hasn’t been a terrible approach either. This is the most consistent he has been through eight rounds, sitting only seven points out of the lead.

I do wonder how that dynamic progresses as we move into some of these east-coast rounds notorious for ruts and deteriorating conditions though. Can he find a way to offset any of the hesitation he may be feeling? There will certainly be opportunities for him to win in the second half of the season. Capitalizing on those nights while also minimizing the damage on nights like San Diego or Anaheim 1 will be critical. Most of that battle will be internal for Roczen. That’s going to be for him and only him to sort out. This has been a great bounce back season for the #94 but as we continue to analyze each of these championship contenders, diagnosing their strengths as well as their weaknesses can be the difference in winning and losing.

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Honda Racing

MXGP Talk

The time has finally arrived! MXGP is back and better than ever. There are talking points and storylines throughout both classes. From Max Vohland joining EMX125 and a new champion on the horizon in MX2 to the deepest MXGP field ever. Every class has reason to be excited! For the MXGP boys, the battle at the front will be fierce. I believe that several of these riders are looking this championship as theirs for the taking. Tim Gajser is the defending champ, but naysayers will point to the rash of injuries to his competition in 2019. Both Antonio Cairoli and Jeffrey Herlings exited the season early, leaving Gajser to battle the likes of Romain Febvre, Gautier Paulin, Jeremy Seewer, Arnaud Tonus and Glenn Coldenhoff. The field will be back to full strength as we enter Matterley Basin, so how will Gajser repeat the feat?

Gajser was able to sprint away from the field in the mid-part of the last season, racking up eight wins in a row. That domination gave him a comfortable lead down the stretch, and more importantly allowed him to avoid the temptation of Jeffrey Herlings’ return and Glenn Coldenhoff’s improvement. He was able to battle when he felt great but also take a step back when things weren’t perfect. In 2020, that same dynamic is unlikely. Gajser will be forced to take the sharp end of the field head on. I am expecting a mental war between Gajser flexing his 2019 championship, Herlings believing himself to be the fastest rider on earth, Cairoli coming back fully rested, Coldenhoff finally believing in his ability and Febvre resetting his program at Monster Energy KRT.

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Honda Racing

Those are the title contenders in my mind and each of them have reason to believe they will win. The MXGP season is a marathon, spanning seven months. Out of the above group, who can maintain a calm through good weekends and bad? We have seen injury play such a role in this series, it’s almost a war of attrition versus an outright speed test. Winning early in the season is fantastic but ask Cairoli how that worked out for him in 2019. Finding form late in the season is also a strong way to finish but ask Coldenhoff how that plays out in the championship.

Finding a balance over time is the key. Win when wins are on the table but more importantly maximize whatever points are available. If the best finish up for grabs is a third on that particular day, take the podium and move on. Don’t refuse to take the third, send it to the moon attempting to win and end up laying in a heap alongside the track. More important than winning every week, being in the fight at EVERY round is paramount.

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KTM Images

As for rest of the field, the question is in who can step up and become a contender. Jeremy Seewer had a breakout season in 2019 but he will face stiffer competition this season. Jorge Prado is still recovering from a broken femur in December but will certainly want to make his mark at some point in this 2020 season. He is the future for DeCarli KTM and, while 2020 might be tough at times, they will certainly be eyeing 2021 as a title opportunity. I am curious as to how Pauls Jonass arrives to Matterley, as he was much better than I expected in 2019. If he can take another step, he might find himself fighting for wins on a given weekend.

I also wonder what we will see from Gautier Paulin. He is getting a bit long in the tooth and his competition has never been stronger. He will probably find himself around that top-five position when we arrive to September but when I look down the starting grid, I begin to wonder how he can pull it off. Besides the powerhouse list I have already mentioned riders like Clement Desalle, Arminas Jasikonas, Jeremy Van Horebeek, Calvin Vlaanderen, Mitch Evans, Shaun Simpson, Henry Jacobi, Julien Lieber, Thomas Covington, Alessandro Lupino, Ivo Monticelli, Brian Bogers and Evgeny Bobryshev will all be wanting to validate themselves. Some of those are more capable than others, of course, but it more speaks to the depth of this field. The veterans are healthy, the rookies are fired up and the gate is about to drop.

Words: Jason Thomas | Lead Image: Honda Racing

Updates: Cooper Webb

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February 24 (21:44).

Two days on from the crash at round eight of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing have confirmed that Cooper Webb will indeed try to race in Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend. The following press release was released.

Press Release.

The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team has confirmed that Cooper Webb plans to line up this Saturday, February 29 for the ninth round of the AMA Supercross Championship in Atlanta following a nasty crash last Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

The reigning 450SX Champion suffered the crash during the second main event of the Triple Crown when he lost drive going up the dragon’s back section and landed on the front wheel, flipping into the cement. After being transported to a local hospital in Texas, doctors assessed Webb’s injuries and reported a severe bone bruise on his left pelvis/hip and a hematoma on his sacrum/tailbone.

Team Manager, Ian Harrison: “Cooper is extremely lucky to have only sustained minor injuries from his crash on Saturday and he will be taking it easy this week to allow the swelling to subside. As we all know, Cooper is a very tough and determined rider so we know that he will do everything in his power to line up this Saturday in Atlanta.”

Webb and the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team are set to head to Atlanta, Georgia this weekend for the ninth round of the AMA Supercross Championship at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Simon Cudby

February 23 (12:34).

Cooper Webb was bitten by the same dragon’s back that claimed Adam Cianciarulo at the eighth round of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross, Arlington, and fell directly onto the concrete. It was a vicious crash that understandably had a lot of people worried. Thankfully, however, it seems as though no broken bones were sustained. Webb released the following statement on social media.

“Sometimes you ride the bull sometimes you get the horns. Just left medical examinations and I got very lucky with hematoma with deep bone bruising to my pelvis as well as my sacrum. Extremely lucky and blessed to only walk away with that. Thanks everyone for the support and prayers. Not quite done yet!”

There is no timeline on his recovery, but the fact that he said “not quite done yet” seems to indicate that he could even return in Atlanta next weekend. Webb still sits third in the premier-class standings. Twenty-six points separate him from the current series leader, Eli Tomac. Footage of his crash is below.

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Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Simon Cudby

The Big Quiz: Tampa

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Another exciting round of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross is in the rear-view mirror. What went on in the Sunshine State? Did you actually pay attention to everything that happened in the Raymond James Stadium? It is time to find out! The weekly MX Vice quiz has just been posted. Tackle the sixteen questions below and do not forget to share your score over on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter). Getting full marks is a real achievement!

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Honda Racing

Vice Poll: East Favourite

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The 250SX East division in 2020 Monster Energy Supercross is arguably the most exciting. There are four potential winners in the 250SX West class, whereas there are at least six on the east coast. It is particularly difficult to pick a title favourite, bearing that in mind, but who do you think is going to pull through and add a number-one plate to their trophy cabinet? Vote in the poll below and join the conversation on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter).

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Husqvarna/Simon Cudby

The Big Quiz: San Diego

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The west-coast swing of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross is complete! The sixth round of seventeen, San Diego, was run at Petco Park on Saturday night and the racing was phenomenal yet again. Do you even remember what happened on the rather short track though? How closely were you paying attention? Do you know more than your friends? All of those questions can be answered by taking the MX Vice quiz below. Remember to share your score on social media.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden

Vice Poll: Refresh Picks

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San Diego was a great race for fans of Monster Energy Supercross – the premier-class standings tightened up considerably and have given fans plenty of bench-racing ammo. Who is actually going to take this title? There is just a single point that sits between Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac at the head of the field, then Cooper Webb is just nine points down. What more could one want? Justin Barcia is just fourteen points back as well. Vote for your title favourite in the poll below. There’s a high chance that your predictions have changed again.

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden

Vice Poll: Fourth Winner

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Five rounds of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross are complete now and there have been three winners in the premier class. Where has the time gone? The best news for fans craving parity is that there are a handful of other riders who have shown that they can indeed win. Bearing that in mind, who is going to be the next rider to experience that sweet feeling of standing up on the top step of the podium? That’s the focus of the MX Vice poll this week. Vote below and then join the conversation over on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter).

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden

The Big Quiz: Oakland

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The 2020 Monster Energy Supercross series continues to deliver! The fifth round in Oakland, California, had fans on the edge of their seats once again. Whilst watching the battle for the win unfold, did you manage to pay attention to everything that took place in the 450SX and 250SX classes? It is time to find out. The latest MX Vice quiz is available below. Have a stab at it and then share your score on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter). Getting full marks is something to shout about!

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden

The Big Quiz: Glendale

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The fourth round of 2020 Monster Energy Supercross was insane! There were eight gate drops in the night show and five of those were 450SX main-event starts. It is almost impossible to remember everything that happened inside of the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, but how much do you actually know about what happened? Take the MX Vice quiz that is below and then share your score on social media (motocrossvice on Twitter).

Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: Sean Ogden