Well, it’s that time of year again… the pre-season is underway for Monster Energy Supercross, and with that comes prestigious events, such as the Monster Energy Cup, Red Bull Straight Rhythm, Aus-X Open, Bercy SX, etc… This weekend, the Monster Energy Cup (MEC) returns to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV, granting riders the chance to win a mighty 1 MILLION DOLLARS.
There’s a lot to be excited about this year for the MEC. I’m gonna detail a few of these here.
Tim Gajser Makes his U.S. Debut
Technically, he has raced in the U.S. at MXGP events, but this will be the first time the fast European will make his mark on American riders at a supercross-like event.
Gajser has been wanting to race this event for a few years now, but injuries have plagued him from actually attending. October 2017 rolls around though, and he’s finally injury free! We will finally get to see how he compares against the best Supercross riders.
It has been an exciting year for drawing AMA vs. MXGP comparisons… Herlings FINALLY raced an AMA motocross race here, and now Gajser is FINALLY racing an AMA supercross race. In my opinion, this will be one of the most exciting things to watch throughout the day. We’ve all seen the MEC lots before, with your typical riders: Tomac, Barcia, Anderson, etc., but now we get to see how one of the best European riders compares to our elite athletes. My guess: I think he will podium at the very least; this guy is fast!
A Fast Joker Lane
For the first time since it’s debut, the Joker Lane will be a faster option for riders. Honestly, I don’t know what to expect from this… I would think that most riders will opt to take it in the opening laps, because why would you not want to get that advantage as soon as possible? Besides, no one is going to want to risk a rider behind them taking it and passing them… as a result, everyone is going to be defensive and take it right away (my two cents at least). Just like we saw a slow Joker Lane being used at the very end, we will see a fast Joker Lane being used at the very beginning.
One thing to note with the Joker Lane, is that it converges back on the track in a seemingly scary part: at the end of a long fast rhythm section that opens up to the outside part of the track. WHY?!?! I’m so scared that riders will collide here, which could be super ugly. (Chances are this won’t happen. These guys will most likely be watching for that, but as a track designer, why even risk it? Our sport is already dangerous enough).
Can Eli Tomac Repeat?
This is a big question because no rider has EVER won the MEC twice! Crazy right? In a sport that has seen a handful of main event winners in the past few years, we’ve never seen someone win this race twice. It goes to show how unpredictable this race truly is, and should only amp you up when you think about this! Who it will it this year?
Well, despite statistics, I truly believe that Eli Tomac has the best chance of winning it this year. He had an amazing 2017 in which he really figured out both supercross and motocross, and with minimum bike changes, I think he is clearly the favorite to win this weekend. He will definitely have competition though (I think his biggest competitors will be Gajser and Musquin), and with this race being so unpredictable, you just never know.
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Cover photo from Twitter (@SupercrossLIVE)