Last weekend was the start of the 250SX east region and wow do we ever have a stacked field. There isn’t that much that you can take out of the opener as pretty much all the riders admitted that they had jitters and rode awful, but despite the deep field I only see 4 championship contenders. Realistically that number may come down to 3 or 2 as we race the next few rounds. Here is my top 5 Rankings for the 250 east.
Joey Savatgy (Pro Circuit/Monster Energy Kawasaki)
A decent opener for Joey Savatgy as he takes the win and with it the red plate to Atlanta. I don’t think you can read too much into the first race, as this is the A1 to the east guys. One thing that I found quite strange was that Savatgy complained in multiple interviews about how he rode badly all day and in the main. First of all you won the race and have the points lead now, so I’m not a huge fan of the excuses because it is unneeded. However, if this is true, then the other guys better be ready for an even better Savatgy this Saturday in Atlanta. This could mean trouble for the rest of the field. Could this already be mind games? Maybe Savatgy is only saying this to throw off his competitors that he just beat? I’m not totally sure on this one, but he has the red plate and now we get to see who can challenge him this year in SX.
Zach Osborne (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna)
I was tempted to put Osborne in the top spot because of what I saw from him in Minneapolis. He was no doubt the fastest rider all day and he probably would have won that race if he didn’t have the tip over. He almost got Smith back at the end and was gaining on Savatgy again! However, I didn’t rank him first because he DID make that mistake and Osborne has been known to make the little mistakes and they cost him big time. He has also never won a SX race so I just can’t put him as the guy to beat this weekend. I will say that he looks closer to winning a race this year than ever before. Let us watch to see if Osborne can once again turn heads with his speed in Atlanta.
Adam Cianciarulo (Pro Circuit/Monster Energy Kawasaki)
Cianciarulo had a decent return to SX, but to be honest I was expecting slightly more flashes of speed. Don’t get me wrong, a 5th place is a good start to the season and it gives him something to build off of from here on out. He also got a bad start and had to work his way up through the pack and by the time he got to 5th he was really far behind of Hampshire. In practice he had a nasty crash after the end of the whoops and I am just glad that he is okay. Just stay healthy Adam! I really see him stepping it up this weekend in Atlanta and predict at least a podium finish.
Christian Craig (Geico Honda)
Craig has to be the biggest disappointment of the opener. He went down off the start and then made many mistakes going through the pack and he just wasn’t riding very well at all. He admitted after the race saying that he forgot how to ride his bike in the main. I liked his attitude and how he was able to brush it off. He knows that he is much better than that and his qualifying and heat races showed that he could run with these top guys. He now needs to move on and forget everything about that main event. He has got to rebound big this weekend and gain some of those 16 points that he lost at the opener. I expect a top 5 performance by Craig at Atlanta and if he can ride like he is capable of, he could win. (Fun fact: Craig also had an awful opener last year at A1, he finished 17th place, and so this year he actually had a step up!).
Jordon Smith (TLD/Red Bull KTM)
Jordon Smith was hands down the most surprising rider at Minneapolis. After a bad result in qualifying and just making it through his heat race, he rebounded big with a holeshot and leading about half the main! In the end he finished with his career best 2nd place. He actually rode great and I was impressed on how he kept charging and maintained his composure throughout the whole race. However, I just need to see more performances like this in order for me to believe that he is a real contender. Atlanta will be a big race for Smith to prove that his 2nd wasn’t a fluke.