Photo by: Simon Cudby
Round six of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series, went back to California for the 2018 San Diego SX. In a year that has been nothing short of amazing, San Diego was nothing short of chaos. We’re not sure if it was the way the track was built or if it was just one of those nights, but there was more contact, crashes and injuries in San Diego than we have witnessed in a long time.
In the 450SX class, Rockstar Energy / Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson continued his winning ways. After stalking Team HRC / Honda’s Cole Seely for 13 laps, he made a pass stick and walked away with his second-straight win and his third for the year. Jason was joined on the podium by Red Bull / KTM’s Marvin Musquin and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC / KTM’s Blake Baggett—who scored his second-straight podium. After getting passed by Anderson, Seely faded to 4th on the night.
In the 250SX class, Energy / Pro Circuit / Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo led for the first 12 laps until being passed by Autotrader / JGR / Suzuki’s Justin Hill–who finally scored his first win on the #1 Suzuki. Cianciarulo held on for 2nd and was followed over the line by the GEICO / Honda rookie, Chase Sexton, who finished with the second podium of his young career.
After the races were over and the points were tallied, we gathered some quotes from riders to get their thoughts on the San Diego SX.
Jason Anderson: (1st in 450SX) “My starts saved me tonight. I felt great riding, but this track was hard to push on and make a pass. I had to be really patient, but I feel like I picked apart the lines and got by everyone. I felt pretty good.”
Justin Hill: (1st in 250SX) “Perfect days don’t come very often, so I’m basking in the goodness of going 1-1-1…fastest qualifier, heat win and main event win. Everything was clicking with the team and my RM-Z250. I was ripping the whoops and rhythms in practice, doing what I needed to do to get the top qualifying time. We watched film after practice and decided to leave the bike alone, because it was working really well. My strategy in the main event was to calculate everything around me. At one point I thought I could trail him [Adam Cianciarulo] and execute a wham-bam pass towards the end. Then I realized there were some people behind us that were riding well, and if we tangled it could jeopardize the win. I started increasing my intensity and pressing harder. I knew I had the speed. For the most part I was trying to be calm about picking up the pace and not do anything rash. I had good runs through the whoops and knew where I could gain. The pass was made before the whoops so I could pull away in the sand section. I had a couple ideas on accident avoidance in order to stay ahead. Once I got a small gap I tried to get back into a zone click away good laps.”
Marvin Musquin: (2nd in 450SX) “I was getting a little bit better throughout the main. Riding was maybe getting better. I was finding new lines and I was able to get pretty consistent in the whoops, which was not the case for the other guys. For example, [Justin] Barcia, I think he got me at the end of the whoops, but then he was making big mistakes. I was able to stay light in the whoops and pretty clean. I was surprised I was able to catch [Cole] Seely and [Jason] Anderson a little bit. I feel like I was in a good position for the main off the start. Barcia got me and that made me a little bit mad because I was in a good position and I was like, “no.” He got me and, not slow me down, but I had to pass him again. That’s what I did and it was a good thing for the end.”
Adam Cianciarulo: (2nd in 250SX) “I’m so pumped on my start. I’m more excited about the holeshot than I am the podium finish. I’ve been working so hard on my starts and to finally see a result means a lot. Overall, today was really good for us and I’m looking forward to the break as the East Coast guys start racing.”
Ken Roczen: (DNF Crash) I’m completely devastated with the outcome of tonight. The first thing I thought about on the ground was my team and all the hard work we’ve put in to get back to this point. I came into the corner with good speed, got on the gas, and then caught a ton of traction in the rut, lost my balance, and whisky-throttled the bike into [Cooper] Webb. My arm went in between his wheel and swingarm. We’ve already made the necessary calls to Dr. Viola and are going to get everything fixed up so I can get back out there as soon as possible.”
Blake Baggett: (3rd in 450) I couldn’t even remember [the main event]. It was chaos out there. The track was gnarly in a different way than last week. Last week it was super rutted and really technical and you had to be on your toes. This weekend it was super moist and slick, and you’re always getting wheelspin. Two super technical tracks and you had to be on your A game.
Chase Sexton: (3rd in 250) “I didn’t get off to the best start, some of the ruts in front of the gate were pretty messed up but I got a decent enough start,” explained Sexton, age 18. “These guys were riding good. I passed Joey [Savatgy] and got up behind these two They were battling pretty hard and I was trying to be there in case anything happened. But nothing happened and then I got held up by a lapper and they kind of dropped me. But it was a good race. Track got pretty tough at the end, so I’m just happy to get third.”
Cole Seely: (4th in 450) “It’s frustrating for sure, but I’m trying to take away the positives. I’ve got good speed, rode aggressive in the heat race, and my starts have been better, so I just need to put it all together. I just need to figure out that last missing piece that’s keeping me from winning races. I started making little mistakes; I’d start to feel the front end tuck and would have to back it down a little bit, and in all the spots that I had to back it down, those guys caught up with me and made passes. After that I got tight and just couldn’t keep going forward. I held on and pushed as long as I could but I wasn’t getting the traction I felt I needed. I didn’t predict that the track was going to get so slick. During our briefing after the heat race, I said I wanted to keep the bike the same and liked the way it handled. In hindsight, I should’ve made some adjustments, but I need to continue working on it and hopefully get a win soon.”
Joey Savatgy: (4th in 250SX) “I’m happy to leave here with a fourth-place finish. I had a pretty bad crash in practice, which left me banged up and bruised and I almost didn’t even race. So to leave here with a fourth-place finish is great. Thankfully we have a nice break now, which gives me time to heal and come back 100-percent.”
Broc Tickle: (5th in 450SX) Tickle: “I feel like we’re getting closer to where we need to be. I’ve been putting in the work during the week with the team and it’s finally starting to come together. I know what I’m capable of and I know that I tend to get stronger as the season goes on, so we’re going to take this top-five finish and keep building.”
Shane McElrath: (5th in 250SX) “The track was very tough as the night went on and I feel happy to be able to leave here with a solid result and healthy. It would have been nice to capitalize on the points leader having a bad night, but that’s how it went. We have some time now to regroup and come back to showcase a great final four races.”
Justin Brayton: (6th in 450SX) “Overall, it was okay. The end results with a 6th was okay. I’m a little disappointed with my night and my starts. I just didn’t put myself in a good position and didn’t execute from the beginning of the race which is a little bit frustrating. I felt like I could have been on the podium tonight with my speed. Overall, yeah, I’m happy with it. I’m still toed for 5th in the points. On a bad night, I’ll take a 6th.”
Mitchell Harrison: (9th in 250SX) “I had a pretty good qualifying session and great starts all around. I had a decent start in the Main, but my arms got tight. I can’t wait for the break and I’m looking forward to coming back strong.”
Weston Peick: (7th in 450SX) “San Diego was a bummer, plain and simple. I was feeling well all day. I was the sixth-fastest rider in practice, which was better than where I have typically been qualifying. I got off to a decent start in the heat race, made a few bobbles, and worked my way up to third. I was feeling solid in the main event. I probably would have come out of the first turn in the top five, but [Ken] Roczen went down and I fell. The bike got stuck on top of me. I got back going and riding really well, passing from 17th up to seventh place. I would have liked to pass [Justin] Brayton and [Broc] Tickle, but I’m happy with the progress I’m making. The Suzuki RM-Z450 is working really well.”
Dean Wilson: (9th in 450SX) “Today was definitely more progress. I was far outside gate in the Main Event and rode a steady race to end up ninth. It’s good, and my shoulder is slowly healing. I think I’m only going to get better from here. Tonight was a good night to build off.”
Christian Craig: (6th in 250SX) “”Honestly I don’t even know what to say at this point because I’m just sounding like a broken record. Felt awesome all day in San Diego. Really thought it was my night. Qualified third and was riding awesome–everyone on the team was pumped on how I was riding. I finished second in my heat and felt tight the entire time. In the main I got a terrible start and passed a few guys early on but just couldn’t get up where I should be and where I’m capable of being. Luckily we have a few weeks off so I can figure out whatever is going on right now and break this trend.”
Vince Friese: (10th in 450SX) “In the main event, I tried to run a good clean race and do my thing. Tony Alessi and Mike Genova talked to me about just riding my own race this week. I’ve had the speed. I’ve had the fitness. I’ve had the bike. It’s just little things that have kept me from getting results I’ve wanted to get. Those guys helped me through it this week and I changed my mindset. They said, “go out and do the best laps you can do and let the cards fall where they do. Let the position come.” Normally, I’m a guy that goes out there and tries too hard and tonight I just let it come to me.”
Alex Martin: (22nd in 250SX) “After last weekend being so positive, it was tough to have to bow out tonight but it was the best decision I could make for me. The track bit a lot of people today so I had to make sure I wasn’t putting myself in a spot where I could have gotten hurt worse.”
Malcolm Stewart: (17th in 450) I wasn’t feeling that good all day, until the main event came. I went down in the first turn, got back going, and climbed up to 12th place. Then I hit a tuff block and went down. Overall, I was riding well. I just need to clean the mistakes up and make it happen in order to get the results I feel I should be getting.”
Eli Tomac: (DNF Crash) “I felt great on the bike all through qualifying and into the heat race. I got off to a decent start in the main event and ended up catching my handlebar on another rider in the first corner, which caused us both to go down. It’s unfortunate that these things happen, but it could be worse.”
Phil Nicoletti: (11th in 250) “I finally rode well, even though the result doesn’t show it. The bike handled awesome through the whoops. I felt strong, despite being banged up from the previous race. I had a brain fart on the second lap of the main event and tucked the front end in the sand. I tried to put in clean laps after the crash and worked up to 11th place. My entire body hurts, so it will be nice to take a week off now that the 250 West series takes a break. I’m going to head back to North Carolina and spend my time there training and riding.”
Josh Grant: (11th in 450SX) “I was feeling really good and knew if I got a good start in the main event, I had a chance at the podium. After getting caught up in the first corner carnage, I was way back and just tried my best to charge for 20 straight minutes. 11th place isn’t terrible but I’m hungry for more. I’m looking forward to the east coast dirt.”