At Round 2 of the 17-round series, Red Bull KTM’s Chase Sexton put in a near flawless ride under some of the most brutal race conditions ever seen at a Monster Energy AMA Supercross race. The win moves Sexton into the points lead.
Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac navigated the deteriorating track to earn second place inside Oracle Park; he jumped from ninth to being tied for third place in the point standings. Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen recovered from an early mistake to pass his way up to third place. The event kicks off the season-long Love Moto Stop Cancer text-to-donate campaign as well as Ken Roczen’s Kickstart for a Cause bike sweepstakes, both to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In the Western Regional 250SX Class, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Jordon Smith followed up last week’s second-place finish to earn the top spot at round two.
“Leading the race in a mud situation, it’s obviously where you want to be because you’re not getting roosted, but it also seems like it lasts forever,” said Sexton. “The first couple laps when I was by myself and I wasn’t dealing with lapped traffic it felt, not easy, but I had a good flow and was able to hit my lines. Then once we got into lapped traffic, that’s when the race kinda starts and being able to pick around those guys is key… It’s tough not to make a mistake out there but I was fairly consistent every lap and was pretty happy with how consistent I was.”
“It was tough,” said veteran rider Tomac. “It was like, it started out really thick, and then it stayed thick enough even with all that water. A lot of times when it’s just pure rain the whole time it’s not too bad because the ruts don’t get super deep and you’re kinda just spraying it around. But this one… I went in [an inside rut] one time and got stuck for like a second or two. It was one of those tracks where it was just heavy dirt, super deep ruts. And then there was another time in the second rhythm section I almost looped out because I grabbed a handful of throttle and hung off the back. But this was one of the tougher ones.”
“My mindset was [focused on] getting going,” said Roczen, describing his race after a mistake after the first turn set him well back in the field. “As soon as I got going I’m like, ‘Okay, this is 15 minutes, this is enough time, with people struggling going left and right… we can still make something happen.’ So I really just put my head down and charged forward. I was kinda blown away and really happy at the same time that I caught up to the field quick and was able to just pick people off left and right… I just wanted to go and go and kinda try to have fun with it.”
The Western Regional 250SX Class held its second round and Jordon Smith took over the red plate and a five point lead in the 10-round championship. Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Levi Kitchen landed on the podium again, this time moving up one spot to earn second place. Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha’s Garrett Marchbanks had to work hard for his third place finish after rounding the first lap in seventh place.
“I’ve been pretty bad in mud races in my pro career, especially lately,” said Smith. “At the mudder in New Jersey last year I did terrible, I think I got 18th. At High Point [motocross] in the mud I did not do good there, either. And we got here today and Bobby [Regan, the team owner] was like, “Jordon, I’ve seen you ride in the mud, you just need to try to survive today and get as many points as you can’. And I was like, ‘All right Bobby, I’m going to try to prove you wrong, but you’re kinda right.’ I do feel like I’ve gotten better in the mud… I think riding outdoors last year helped me.”
“The bike felt pretty good,” said Kitchen. “That was the first time it’s ever really seen any rain at all or water. I did really well. After practice I just basically stiffened my fork as much as it would go, dropped it in the clamps, just kinda made the front end light so I could kinda ride around that way and yeah, it felt really good.”
The day started with only one qualifying due to the conditions, putting Kitchen ninth. The rider from the damp Pacific Northwest looked comfortable on the track and finished his heat third, giving him a good gate pick for the main event. Once the gate dropped for the main, the skies opened up even more and it was all about survival. Kitchen got a good jump but played it smart and funneled into sixth. Several riders were unable to get past the first few laps, and that propelled Kitchen to second, where he settled in, without recognizing the rider in his sights was in the lead. When he realized it, Kitchen picked up the pace, but time ran out, and he enjoyed a hard-fought second-place finish.
“It was really all about survival out there,” said Kitchen. “I had a blast, and once you found a good pace that felt comfortable, it was fun. I didn’t realize that Jordon was the leader, and once I saw it on the big screen, I picked up the pace and tried to reel him in. I just didn’t have enough time. I’m thankful to be in a good place right now with two podium finishes and hope to keep it going next week.”
“I honestly didn’t know what position I was in the whole race,” said Marchbanks. “The first lap I fell over and was basically dead last. I was just covered and mud and didn’t know what was going on so I just basically pushed the whole way through and saw Phil [Nicoletti, a teammate] and didn’t know what position we were in, so I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll just try to get another guy and keep myself in the points hunt for a title…’ I was pretty happy for the third and yeah, it was exciting.”
250SX Class Western Regional Main Event Results – San Francisco
- Jordon Smith (Yamaha)
- Levi Kitchen (Kawasaki)
- Garrett Marchbanks (Yamaha)
- Phil Nicoletti (Yamaha)
- Carson Mumford (Honda)
- Anthony Bourdon (Suzuki)
- Joshua Varize (GasGas)
- Hunter Yoder (Kawasaki)
- RJ Hampshire (Husqvarna)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (Honda)
250SX Class Western Region Points Standings
- Jordon Smith (Yamaha), 47
- Levi Kitchen (Kawasaki), 42
- RJ Hampshire (Husqvarna), 38
- Garrett Marchbanks (Yamaha), 35
- Carson Mumford (Honda), 29
- Julien Beaumer (KTM), 27
- Anthony Bourdon (Suzuki), 27
- Mitchell Oldenburg (Honda), 26
- Hunter Yoder (Kawasaki), 23
- Joshua Varize (GasGas), 22
Round 2 kicked off the Love Moto Stop Cancer text-to-donate campaign which continues the sport’s partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Fans can text “SUPER” to 785-833 or click here to join racers and fans in supporting this great cause.
The series heads south to San Diego for Round 3 inside Snapdragon Stadium on January 20th. Each round pays championship points to both the 17-round Monster Energy Supercross series and the 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship. Doors open at 10:30AM local time. The racing starts earlier this year and opening ceremonies kick-off the San Diego action at 8:00 PM Eastern Time.
story, photos and video courtesy of Supercross and Kawasaki