With the beginning of the year, a new season of motorcycle racing kicked off over the weekend with the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross Series, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. And what a crazy kickoff it was.
Southern California is prone to early January rains, and true to form, the sky opened up over the city and stadium, dumping hours and inches of rainfall on the track and riders. This made an already technical course a slough of muck and mire.
Opening heats and qualifiers on Friday in both the 250cc and 450cc classes were filled with slide-outs, pileups, run-outs, and crashes as eager racers jockeyed for traction and position. Every racer was determined to make the Saturday Main Event in both classes, so the 2 heats and LCQs in each division were hotly contested in the mud and grit. It was thrilling to watch.
Saturday opened the 250 Main Event, with Colt Nichols jumping Shane McElrath in lap one and running away from the pack. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider never gave up the lead, widening his gap over McElrath, Dylan Ferrandis, RJ Hampshire and Adam Cianciarulo through each of the 16 laps of the race. By the checkered flag, Nichols had amassed an incredible 16-second lead over the field, a definite exclamation point on the opening round of the season, and his first career Main Event win.
The 450 Main Event saw the rains intensify, and track conditions worsen for the riders loading into the start gate. The next 25 minutes were chaotic, to say the least. The first turn was extremely slick, and toppled four riders. Dean Wilson on his independent Husqvarna jumped into the lead, ahead of Malcolm Stewart and the field, until Stewart slid out in the slop. This opened the door for Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing Justin Barcia, Team Honda HRC Ken Roczen, and Monster Energy Kawasaki Eli Tomac to jump in behind Wilson and give chase. The lone pass for the lead came on lap 14 when Barcia dove inside of Wilson in a turn, who by this time in the race was visually impeded, having lost his protective goggles across the laps. By race end, both Roczen and Tomac had passed the unfortunate Wilson as well, edging him off the podium to a 4th place finish. Red Bull KTM Cooper Webb recovered from a first lap crash and a nearly last place position to battle his way through the pack and claim the 5th spot. No small feat.
So concluded a wet, cold, messy Round 1 of the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in Anaheim. What a race weekend. This grueling series hosts 17 rounds total, and the next race weekend will run January 11-12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. For more Supercross info, check here: www.supercrosslive.com
*photos by Motocross Action
*first reported for our friends at BornToRide.com