Two rounds completed, fifteen more to go! San Diego provided great racing in the 450 class and we can only hope we get to see that type of racing every weekend! Round 3 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series heads back to Anaheim for the 2nd time in 3 weeks.
Heading into this weekend, I really see a clear division in race speed in many of the riders. At the top we of course have Dungey and Roczen. In the second group I see Musquin, Anderson, Seely and Tomac. Following them is Peick, Reed, Millsaps and Baggett to round off the top 10. Now of course, this could change by a weekly basis and just because you show speed, doesn’t mean you will get the results (ahem, Baggett). Here are my top ten riders heading into Anaheim 2.
Ken Roczen (Honda HRC)
So far, Kenny is 2 for 2 on the brand new Honda and it would be a reasonable bet to have him pegged to go 3 for 3 this Saturday in Anaheim. I mean why wouldn’t he? He has been the fastest rider so far and that is why he has won. This last race showed a different kind of Roczen and one could argue that it made a even bigger statement than his 16-second win at A1. This was the first we’ve seen Roczen pass Dungey and then hold off the Champ who was chomping at his feet for the entire race. Maybe 2016 Roczen would have collapsed under the pressure, but not the new and approved 2017 Roczen. He looks great out there and it is going to be fun to watch him and Dungey battle all year long because Roczen is in it for the long run.
Ryan Dungey (Red Bull KTM)
I considered giving Dungey the top spot on my rankings list for this week because of his amazing improvement from A1, but I just couldn’t because Roczen still won at San Diego. If there ever was such a thing as winning 2nd place, Dungey did exactly that last weekend. Once Roczen got by Dungey, I was worried we were in for another boring race, but oh my, Dungey was all over Roczen! It really seemed like he was just waiting for the right time to pounce and demolish Roczen’s dreams of going perfect this season (we all know that is what Kenny dreams of). However, it just wasn’t to be. Dungey made a mistake on the last lap while making a charge and Roczen could keep the dream alive. If Dungey can match Roczen’s speed every weekend like that, his consistency will win him the title.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM)
Marv almost died on the first lap of the main so a 3rd place finish is fantastic compared to what could have been. Marv seems to be happy with two podiums to start of the season, but you could sense a little bit of disappointment from his interviews with his race pace; that is, he finished 21 seconds behind the two leaders. He, like many people on this list, are going to get real tired of being that far off the lead pace. His training partner somehow found 16 seconds in one week so we will see if Marv can do the same this weekend. I think he will be closer to the top two, but I don’t expect him to battle for a win this weekend.
Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
El Hombre has had a decent start to 2017 with 4-4 races. I know he wants to win races and championships and a 4-4 start is okay in that sense, but as mentioned, the problem is the top two guys are just killing it right now. At San Diego, he had flashes of speed by battling Tomac in the heat and actually matching Roczen’s lap times from the other heat. I would put him equal with Musquin right now in terms of speed, the only difference is Musquin is getting the start and Anderson just isn’t. This is something he struggled with all year in 2016, and until he can figure that out he won’t contend for wins.
Cole Seely (Honda HRC)
I really had high hopes for Seely coming into 2017 and I thought he could be a real threat to win. So far that just hasn’t been the case. He’s good, just not where I expected him to be, and like many of these guys from 3rd-7th, I think he expects and wants to be faster. He got 5th in San Diego, improving his result by one spot; so that is a plus. I guess it is still early to lose all hopes on Seely so far. We will see if he can keep improving week after week starting at A2 on Saturday.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Yikes, It looks like arm pump struck again for Tomac and that is no good. He faded late in the race again and this time it was a totally different scenario. He got a mid pack start before working his way up to 4th place and it appeared like maybe he has got it figured out and then Anderson goes by… and then Seely… and Peick was even all over him by the end. Him and Monster Energy Kawasaki have got to figure this thing out soon otherwise Tomac is in for a long struggling series and that wont be any fun. For that reason, I have to drop Tomac down to my 6th spot on my list.
Chad Reed (Monster Energy Yamaha)
This marks my third straight week having Reed at the 7th spot on my list. He got 9th at San Diego after a horrible start and was 14th at the end of lap 1. This is a decent position to get to, as all the guys in front of him started inside the top 10. I still believe that Reed can podium races this year and POSSIBLY sneak a win in, but everything has to go his way. He has to get the start and have some top riders buried deep down in order for that to happen. He is going to be looking to improve his results this weekend as Reed came in to 2017 thinking he could win this title.
Weston Peick (JGR Suzuki)
I consider an 8-7 start to the series as fantastic results for Peick. Take into the fact the JGR was scrambling a bit to get a good race bike after the switch to Suzuki’s and that many guys who he is finishing ahead of were talked about waaaaaayy more than him (Webb, Baggett, etc.). I don’t see why he wouldn’t continue these types of rides so look for Peick to be in the top 10 every week.
Davi Millsaps (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
This veteran of the class certainly knows how to ride a dirt bike; the problem has been injuries and more injuries. Every year it seems like he is dealing with some type of injury. He came into the season not 100 percent and was feeling sick, but he still surprisingly managed two top tens. It looks like he is happy with these results and wants to slowly build his way up to the front. I think it is likely he will make his way up to the top 5 sometime this year. For Davi it’s just a matter of staying healthy and building week after week.
Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM)
I know it may seem ridiculous to have a rider that has yet to even get a top 10 included on my list, but trust me guys, Baggett is fast this year! Two weekends in a row he was the 7th fastest rider out there, but two crashes have kept Baggett from getting the results that he’s capable of. This is my last week for Baggett to show his speed in the form of results. The fact is that you have to get good results in this sport so eventually Baggett must put in a good clean ride. Hopefully for him, that eventually is sooner rather than later.
Photo from Transworld Motocross