Roczen back on top in St. Louis


1/16/2020

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St. Louis made its re-appearance in the AMA Supercross Championship schedule after a one-year hiatus. It was a welcome re-addition, as the perfect soil and unbridled enthusiasm of the Midwest crowd always brings out the best in the racing. While the weather outside was frightful and put a bit of a damper on things for attendance, the track and riders delivered as advertised.

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The event marked Ken Roczen’s dominant return to the top step of the podium after more than two years of injury recovery and uncharacteristically poor results. Roczen quickly worked around Zach Osborne on Lap 1 and never looked back. His perfect execution lap after lap showed that he’s clearly back in the zone and ready to do damage the rest of the season. While Anaheim hasn’t been one of his strongest venues in the past, this weekend’s Round 3 should give good insight into the rest of the season and whether he’ll be a legit title favorite. This may be the Roczen 2.0 that we’ve been waiting for.

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It’ll once again be Justin Barcia running the red points leader plate heading into A2 this weekend. The Yamaha rider came out of the gate sprinting at Anaheim 1 a couple weeks ago and was the only rider to keep Roczen in sight at St. Louis. While speed has never been a problem for Justin, consistency and staying off the ground (and uninjured) has been. This wouldn’t be the first time that we’ve heard he has a new lease on life after bike changes, setup adjustments and the like. However, this is the first time he’s carried the red plate for more than one round and that may have finally gotten the consistency monkey off his back. At this early stage of the season, Barcia’s has a 6-point lead over Roczen and is 10 points ahead of third place Cianciarulo. This weekend will be important to all three riders, as everyone gets their stride for the title chase and no one wants yet to be counted out.

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Jason Anderson finally made another trip to the podium after missing most of the 2019 AMA Supercross season while defending his AMA No. 1 plate. The 2018 champ was just about on-pace all evening in St. Louis and looked at home on the podium. He was able to keep Tomac, teammate Zach Osborne and Cianciarulo at bay to the checkers. Anderson’s used to not being the fastest, but he is fast “enough”, consistent and plugs away at title runs. He’s also not afraid to push the limits of aggression and rules in making his way around rivals when things get touchy. So, never count him out. He’ll be a podium regular from here on on.

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Eli Tomac may have turned a corner on his 2020 season in St. Louis, and that could spell disaster for everyone else. Always a slow starter to a new season, once Tomac gets a whiff of the front, it usually spells disaster for everyone else. His run from about 14th place to fourth (with a last lap pass on Osborne) was more than remarkable: it was a harbinger of things to come. Tomac needs a good start, that’s all. Once he’s out front, he either crashes or wins. Our money is on Tomac doing a lot of start practice before A2.

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The 250 West region is getting spicy as well, as the top riders are sorting themselves out speed-wise. Local boy Austin Forkner was able to snag the main event holeshot and get away for the win but it wasn’t easy, at least at first.

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It was 16 year old Australian phenom Jett Lawrence (#83 above) who pushed the pace on the heir-apparent Forkner for several laps before pulling off in the mechanics’ area for a quick adjustment that ended his run. Lawrence was touted as a future star and while his performance in Round 1 was unremarkable, it’s clear now that he may just be a threat for wins if things go his way (and not Forkner’s or Ferrandis’ or Cooper’s). Forkner is the fairly clear pick for the title based on what we’ve seen thus far, but that’s very much open for debate with the aforementioned crew. Anaheim 2 will be incredibly important in laying the groundwork for the rest of their season.

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With such a fast group in the 250 West it’s easy to forget about the underdogs. Brandon Hartranft would like to remind us that he may be every bit as quick as the others, after a great podium ride in St. Louis. It was the mid-westerner’s first time on a Supercross podium, and he has all the pieces of the puzzle to give the more seasoned vets some fits. He may even be fast enough to eek out a win if they aren’t careful.

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One word can describe Dylan Ferrandis’ first attempt at defending an AMA Supercross 250 title: frustrating. Crashes and poor starts have highlighted the first two rounds for the fast Frenchman. He needs to turn it around this weekend with a convincing victory if he’s to have any hope of defending that No. 1 plate he’s running. Already 15 points out of the lead, it’ll take perfection from here on for him--and some mistakes by riders not known for making mistakes. It’s do or die at Anaheim 2 for Ferrandis, that much is for sure.

The weather looks like it should be good for the return to Angel Stadium, though a bit on the cool side for the night show. This will bring the moisture out in the already fairly damp soil and will probably mean another rutted, technically challenging track for the world’s best Supercross racers to compete on. Because of this, it seem the results may closely match what we saw from Round 1 at the same venue and dirt. Check out our coverage here on www.amasupercross.com for live timing and scoring and schedules. Also check out our social media feeds on Facebook and Instagram for photos throughout the day.


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