Down To The Wire: AMA Supercross Enters Home Stretch


6/12/2020

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With just three rounds remaining in the 2020 AMA Supercross Championship, the stadium sport’s top stars are still adjusting to the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.


Some are adapting better than others.

 

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“I’m in a really good head space,” said Husqvarna factory pilot Zach Osborne, who finished second to defending series champion Cooper Webb in Round 14 on Wednesday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.


“It’s been a real refresher for me,” the 30-year-old Virginian added. “I’m enjoying going to the races.”


Osborne’s results of late are on the upswing. Prior to the series shutdown in early March, the two-time 250cc Supercross East Champion produced, on average, 10th-place finishes, not including two events in which he did not start due to injury.


 

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Since he arrived in Utah, however, Osborne’s average placing across four starts is 3.5.  


These results have motivated the relative newcomer to the 450cc class, leading the father of two girls to make a bold prediction: “I feel like I can get a win before we leave here.”

 

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Webb has enjoyed even greater success since racing picked up again. With two victories, the factory KTM rider passed Ken Roczen for second overall in the points standings behind leader Eli Tomac.


“After the heat race, he was super fiery,” Webb said about Roczen, a FIM MX2 World Champion and a two-time AMA 450cc Motocross Champion. “We did 10 hard laps, so I thought maybe he had it all figured out for the main.”


Roczen nailed the start, but he ultimately slipped to fifth, which is an improvement from 10th in Round 13 on Sunday. On Friday, the 26-year-old German announced he tested positive for the varicella zoster virus, more commonly known as “Shingles.”

 

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Like Osborne, Webb has also adapted well to the unique empty-stadium environment, mentioning several times that he enjoys the condensed racing schedule.


The 2010 AMA Youth Motocrosser of the Year is enjoying his best results of the season, as many had predicted. Webb has a history of mental strength and has often displayed superior race craft when pressure is applied.


Prior to the break in early March, pundits suggested the defending series champ was suffering from illness, a concern to which he had alluded in earlier press conferences.

 

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Now, however, Webb appears to be at the top of his game, mentally and physically. 


“It feels really good to even be able to run with Eli,” he said. “He’s been really mentally tough—and he’s freakin’ ripping—so it’s not as easy [to mess with] him as maybe some of the other guys.”


Red plate holder Tomac has been slightly less consistent than Webb in Salt Lake City, but his ability to tear through a pack after a poor start hasn’t changed. 

 

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“The start was unacceptable,” Tomac admitted after Round 14. “I was buried, but the outcome was fine.”


“I was pretty stressed out when I saw Coop and Kenny up front,” he admitted, “but I kept digging and ended up third.”


Now with a 27-point advantage on Webb and two more over Roczen, Tomac can afford to risk less in the final three rounds. Question is, will he ease up?

 

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Wednesday’s fourth installment of the seven Salt Lake City rounds was the first race back for the 250cc Supercross West regional competitors. After roughly 180 days since their last gate drop, some competitors needed to blow out the cobwebs.

 

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French import Dylan Ferrandis, the points leader and defending class champion, cut straight to the chase.


“That was one of the hardest mains I’ve ever raced,” he said after finishing second. “I pushed really hard, but I couldn’t win. All day, I was not perfect. The elevation was hard, probably a little more than what I’d expected.”

 

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Main event winner Austin Forkner felt the break was good for him, as he had been recovering from a knee injury. 


He, too, suffered in the difficult conditions. “[The track] was really tough,” he said. “I was giving it all I had. I left it all out there.”

 

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West competitors once again will take to the track on Sunday night, when Ferrandis will have a 10-point gap over Forkner in the standings.


Round 15 of the AMA Supercross Championship is scheduled to be another evening race, with the action beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.


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