Double 250SX Red Plates Charge Into San Diego for Round 6


2/11/2016

Story and photos by Jeff Kardas

supercross_military_appreciati_0_1452811919.jpg

Already heading into Round 6, the 2016 AMA Supercross Championship is now really rolling along, with the primary players distancing themselves from the pack in both classes. Last weekend's premier event at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., made for more great racing on a unique track. This weekend, the special event is Military Appreciation in a city that's home to one of the largest concentrations of military personnel on the planet: San Diego's Petco Park.

M_S_16_14_10746.JPG

Back to the dual red plates in the 250SX West Region, let's analyze one of the more exciting (and newest) rivalries in the class: Cooper Webb vs. Christian Craig. Webb, who's on his final season in the class, is defending his first championship title in any class for his entire career. Craig, who's been through 250SX, moved to 450SX, retired, started a family, and returned to 250SX, couldn't be more different from Webb. Speed-wise, though, they're pretty similar, with Webb typically quicker on every lap. It's getting around the more experienced veteran that has proven tough for Webb, as Craig is a master manipulator on the track, and his prowess on a motorcycle allows him to put his Honda anywhere he wants to – and that's often directly in the path of Webb. While the two have had several great battles (both in their heats and main events), it has been Webb coming out on top.

O_S_16_14_10516.JPG

Not so in Glendale. After a superb pursuit by Webb to run down the No.38 out front, and equally superb defensive maneuvers by Craig to keep the champ at bay, a small mistake in a corner put Webb on the ground, allowing the Honda rider to achieve his career first win in AMA Supercross. Overcome with emotion, and joined by his wife and father-in-law on the podium, Craig admitted he had expected Webb to eventually make it by. What amounted to buying time out front paid off though, and that one tip-over by the No.1 is all it took for Craig's victory.

37_S_16_14_10604.JPG

Following close behind for the duration was points leader Joey Savatgy on the No.37 Kawasaki. Last week's winner, Savatgy was just ever so slightly off the pace and, despite making up time and nearly capitalizing on Webb's mistake in the corner, Joey settled in for a solid third-place finish. Now tied in points with Webb, this means that both bikes will run a red background on their plates for this weekend in San Diego, which is unusual, but not unheard of, in AMA Supercross.

17_S_16_14_10712.JPG

Cooper Webb has all of the tools and skills to defend his championship plate, yet a few bobbles here and there appear to be frustrating him at this stage. Two losses in a row after just five rounds is probably not how Webb and his Star Racing Yamaha crew had envisioned this season going. But, then again, to be tied for the points lead beyond the halfway point can't be construed as failure. From the outside looking in, it seems that Webb needs to relax a bit, settle into his role as a future superstar of the sport, and let the races come to him. The West Region, after San Diego 2, has three rounds remaining so there's plenty of time to ease back into the driver's seat for Webb.

94_S_16_14_10345.JPG

RCH Racing Suzuki's Ken Roczen finally made it up onto the top step of the podium in Glendale. For many (including, probably, Roczen himself) this was long overdue, as he is no doubt considered a title favorite. But along the lines of unpredictable results this season, add to the mix that Eli Tomac just finally got his first trip to the podium, and it's easy to see how just past the winner's spot, this season has been tough to predict. Roczen's win was a beauty, too, as he got out front immediately and put in 20 nearly perfect laps to keep a nice gap over Ryan Dungey and Tomac, who themselves had moved up from not-so-great starts in the main event.

5_S_16_14_10394.JPG

At this point, though, if Dungey doesn't find himself straight-away into the lead at the start, as long as he gets on the podium, he's fairly safe. With a 21-point lead over Roczen at about the one-third point of the series, Dungey can afford to back it down just a bit and still be in a great position heading into Vegas. Will he actually back it down though? That's doubtful. What's more likely is he'll keep trying to perfect his starts, so he can gap the field like he has the first several rounds and be safe and comfortable out front while maximizing his points every weekend.

3_S_16_14_10378.JPG

Tomac's long-awaited 450SX podium was a pleasant development, as the much-loved and hyped factory Kawasaki rider was certainly long overdue. Admittedly racing into shape after an off-season re-injury of an MX season injury, Tomac's also been getting used to a completely new ride and team. He showed flashes of his blazing speed in Glendale for sure and will likely start improving dramatically from here on out. For San Diego this weekend, expect at the least for Tomac to re-visit the podium, and don't be surprised if he's at the top of it. Eli may finally be back.

M_S_16_14_10459.JPG

With such superstars as those mentioned above, it's easy to forget what's happening just beyond the top few positions in either class. Case in point, the photo above. Shown here going wide open through the Glendale sand section in pursuit of holeshot artist Mike Alessi are Cole Seely, Chad Reed, Justin Brayton, Tomac, Tommy Hahn, Jason Anderson, Weston Peick and Dungey. That's a stacked group of riders to try to dispatch, if a favorite (like Dungey, above) doesn't quite get the start he was hoping for. Mixed in with former champs and veterans are hungry young guns full of talent and passion, willing to do whatever it takes to prove themselves. Any move from outside the Top 10 into the Top 3 is almost an amazing accomplishment this year, which makes rides like Dungey's this past weekend all the more impressive.
12716971_1089168707800454_1367757301_n.jpg
Back to Petco Park this weekend, the track is already taking shape. As if it's not enough to have an event at such an amazing facility and city as this one, the superb racing and added attraction of unique looks on the bikes and riders for Military Appreciation Day will make this Saturday one to remember. Let's not forget too that the next round leaves the deep west and heads eastward to Arlington, Texas. About to begin the long winter eastward swing, AMA Supercross is really starting to get it's legs for the 2016 season.

Round 6 of the 2016 AMA Supercross Series should see further "character development" of the top riders as they sort out their positions for the long haul to Las Vegas in May. Look for complete coverage on our Facebook page AMA Supercross Championship, Instagram @AMASupercross and AMASupercross.com for Live Timing & Scoring. If you're a SUPER Supercross fan, download our $0.99 smartphone app: "AMA SX" on iTunes and the Google Play store. TV schedules are available at Supercrossonline.com.



Recent News

All News
American Motorcyclist Association New Member Benefit Announcement