The opening round of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship series went to Houston, Texas’ NRG Stadium—first of three in a row in Houston—and we were treated to amazing racing in both classes to start the year. In the 450SX class, Justin Barcia (1st), Ken Roczen (2nd) and Marvin Musquin (3rd) grabbed the three spots on the podium, while Christian Craig (1st), Austin Forkner (2nd), and Colt Nichols (3rd) took the top three spots in the 250SX East main event.

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After the racing was over, we gathered quotes from many of the top riders in Houston. Check out what those riders had top say below.

Justin Barcia: (1st in 450SX) “I don’t know, I got a great start and rode my own race, Kenny pressured me so hard but I held it together. I can’t help my team, Mum and Dad and my girlfriend. I didn’t plan to do the three peat. That was an insane race. I want to be in the fight all year not just a one hit wonder. Kenny [Roczen] honestly pressured me so hard the whole race but I held it together, it was really awesome. I can’t thank the whole Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing team enough, that was an insane race! I’m glad I did the three-peat, that wasn’t the goal, but this is the first one of hopefully many more and I just want to be in the fight all year and not just a one-hit wonder.”

Christian Craig was emotional after his first win in a long time. Photo by: Octopi

Christian Craig: (1st in 250SX) “Tonight, was a dream come true. It’s something I’ve literally been daydreaming about during my drive to the track or on my way to the gym. This just shows that it pays off. I knew it would. I believed in the program that we have, in the bike that we have, and that if I put in the work and I believed in everything that this would come true. I always believed in myself but not to the extent that I do now. I’m just thankful for everything, all the ups and downs that I’ve been through. It does feel good to come out here and win and repay the team for just believing in me. It’s only round one. We’ve got a lot more rounds to go. Let’s keep this ball rolling.”


Ken Roczen: (2nd in 450SX) “It was a good race for both us of, clean and awesome. We did great, I had to make some passes at the beginning and to do it as a Dad with Griffin (his son) watching. I let it go near the end there and just picked my lines and sometimes went in with too steep an angle, but happy to get a podium.”


Marvin Musquin:  (3rd in 450SX) “My goal this year was to do some good training with no injuries and I have had a lot of injuries in the past, but I felt I had a good off season, but no overseas racing. The field is so deep and I had a bad gate pick, and got passes early, but came back. I am looking forward to racing Tuesday. It is good to have a stadium with race fans and thanks for everyone in France watching me racing. It’s good to be back. I had a great start in the Main Event, they were a little more aggressive than me right away, it’s been a long time since I’ve raced supercross, but we did everything we could to be ready for the first round. I knew the starts were going to be important and I’m super happy I made that happen and put myself in a good position to fight for a podium. I’m happy with the changes on the bike and I feel like the fitness will only get better and better with racing.”


Austin Forkner: (2nd in 250SX) “Honestly, I am pretty pumped with my riding today. Of course, I want to win, but it has been over 200 days since I have last lined up to race. My injury from the last round of supercross last year was pretty serious and took a big toll on my body, but I know that I put in the work to get back to this point. I am thankful to be back racing my dirt bike. In both the heat race and the main event, I didn’t do myself any favors with my starts and had to work my way towards the front. It was cool to see my teammate Jo (Shimoda) do well and fun to race in him in the heat race. In the main event, I had to work my way past some riders and then put on a charge towards the leader but at that point, it was a little too late. I know where I need to improve on and I am already looking forward to Tuesday’s race.”


Adam Cianciarulo: (4th in 450SX) “There is a lot of good takeaways from today, one being that we are just back racing and in front of fans. There is no better feeling than coming out to see them during opening ceremonies or hearing them cheer during the races. I would be lying if I said that today I was really feeling it, but to come away with a fourth place is something I can live with. I am a student of the game and I know that even on your bad days, you still have to be good. I’ll spend the next couple of days with my trainer Nick (Wey) and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team going over some film and working on fine-tuning the areas I can improve on so that we can get back on that podium on Tuesday night.”

450 overall podium. Photo by: GasGas

Colt Nichols: (3rd in 250SX) “I can’t really complain about a third place. I just have to get out of the gate a little better. I had really good speed but just struggled to pass some guys. The track was kind of one-lined and you were running into each other. So that made it difficult. It was literally a constant battle. At one point me and (Austin) Forkner were going at it really hard. Then he was able to get by RJ (Hampshire) pretty early and got a gap. I was kind of stuck battling RJ there for a little bit. Then Jett (Lawrence) caught up to me; it was just a freight train there for a minute. It made it pretty fun, honestly, but I would have loved to have just been out in front of that and get away from it. Overall, I’m happy being on the podium. Christian rode really well. He deserved it. He was the fastest guy all day. I’m hungry for a win. We’ll try again Tuesday to get off the gate a little better and hopefully win that one.”


Malcolm Stewart: (5th in 450SX) “I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous at the beginning of the day. A new team, new bike, new year, it was just the typical jitters. We went to the Main Event and I finally got the jitters out. I didn’t get the best start. I think I looked at the gate just a little too quick when the 30-second card went sideways. It’s about five to seven seconds typically when it drops. I was probably staring at that thing for seven seconds. I made a few mistakes in the beginning and got around some guys but just kind of gapped myself. I knew that it was going to be a long race, and it was. We did 28 laps. Third and fourth were right there. I did everything I could to try to get them. I was sitting in fifth and I felt like I was just kind of riding by myself in my own little zone, but I stayed charging. Adam Cianciarulo was dangling the carrot in front of me and it just kept me motivated. Honestly, going into this race, the first race, getting a top-five, and a top 10 for the whole Star Racing Yamaha team is awesome. I’m very happy with the team and the progress that everybody’s made. We had a pretty crazy off-season with this whole COVID thing but we made it work. The only thing we can do from here is to keep building. I’m very proud of the whole team.”


Dylan Ferrandis: (7th in 450SX) “My first 450 race was really, really difficult. It was what I expected though. When you’re on the gate with all the top guys and champions, it’s hard to find your place. The first few practices were really bad. I was struggling mentally to get the rhythm, and also with the bike a little bit in race conditions. But we just stayed focused with the team. We changed some stuff on the bike, really small things, and just tried to improve practice after practice. I had a so-so start in the Main Event, but I just gave everything I had and it paid off. I think seventh in my first 450 race is good and for sure, after having a small winter season and a small injury also. I’m really happy. I did the job and I’m really proud and happy to give that result to my team that works really hard.”


Jo Shimoda: (4th in 250SX) “Wow! Today was so much fun for me and I am just loving my KX250 right now. Tonight, I got my first career holeshot and led laps in the heat race and scored my best overall finish in supercross. I am just so excited right now and feel really comfortable on the bike. I am so thankful to the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team and Mitch Payton for giving me this opportunity. I have been working hard these past few months and I think I was able to show that today. The competition is really strong, but I know that I belong competing with these guys and will look to improve even more on Tuesday.”


Aaron Plessinger: (8th in 450SX) “Today started off kind of rough. I wasn’t really gelling with the bike. Went out in the first and second practice and I qualified really, really bad. I just needed to calm down and let my nerves just ease up a little bit. That’s what I did in the Heat race. I got off to a great start right behind Coop (Cooper Webb), and unfortunately, I made a few mistakes. I think without those mistakes I could have possibly had the win. I took that with me to the Main. I didn’t really get a good start, but I made the best of it. I just took it stride by stride. I was right there with (Justin) Brayton for a while and tried to push it in on him. Then I tightened up and Dylan ended up getting me at the end. Overall, it was a good day. Eighth place for the first race of the year. We’ll come back on Tuesday and rip it again.”

250 overall podium

Cooper Webb: (9th in 450SX) “The heat race went pretty good for me, I got the holeshot and led a majority of it and got second. In the Main Event, I got a really bad start and just struggled to come through. The track was really hard to gain time on tonight and I made a few passes but I struggled. We’ll look to get a lot better for Tuesday.”


RJ Hampshire: (5th in 250SX) “We felt good in the beginning and it just got worse as the day went on,” Hampshire said. “In the Main Event, I ripped a start and just did not ride very well at all. I lost my front with a couple laps to go and then jumped off the track on the last lap. I’ll regroup and recover over the next couple of days and be better on Tuesday.”


Zach Osborne: (10th in 450SX) “We had an unfortunate incident yesterday and I am really lucky to be riding today, so I was happy to start to feel like myself again in qualifying, get a heat win and have a decent Main Event. I would have obviously liked to have been a little better than 10th but to be down in the first turn, come back to 10th and get some valuable points is a positive takeaway for me after yesterday.”


Dean Wilson: (12th in 450SX) “My starts in both the heat and Main Event weren’t that great tonight but I feel like if I can get a good start, I can definitely be up there. I got a little bit of arm pump and I was maintaining, instead of pushing forward, which was disappointing. We’re healthy and we’ve got another chance to try on Tuesday, so we’re going to keep positive.”


Jett Lawrence: (6th in 250SX) “The first race day wasn’t too bad. There were a few mistakes that I wasn’t happy about, but I walked away without too much damage to my body. Practice ended up going really well; in the first qualifier I put a really good lap time down for P1, and then the second one I put another consistent one down, getting second behind [Christian] Craig. In the heat race I had a few small mistakes. I was excited for the first race and a little too energetic, but I ended up getting third. In the main event I was kind of playing it too safe and backed off too early and gave away what should’ve been a holeshot. I spent too much time behind another rider in the first half and had some other people pass me. I ended up finding a pretty good flow at the end and was fourth after RJ [Hampshire] went down. I tried to make another pass with a lot of charging, but that didn’t go as planned, as too much front brake and a wrong line in the turn ended up flicking me. I got up fairly quick, but then someone came and hit me again, knocking me back down. I ended up getting sixth, which isn’t terrible, but not what I wanted but I’m still fairly happy with it.”

Marvin Musquin was pumped with his return to racing and a return to the podium.

Eli Tomac: (13th in 450SX) “Man, the first race of the season is always an interesting one. To be honest, I had a really great offseason with my entire Kawasaki team, and have just been loving riding my KX450 lately, but today was just not my day. I had a good flow throughout the qualifying sessions today, but in the heat race and main event tonight I got decent starts but got shuffled back in the first turn. With the way the track broke down tonight it became very one-lined and difficult to make passes. The competition this year is deeper than ever and what we learned last year is that you have to be consistent every race to be in the hunt at the end. The good thing about this new schedule is that we get to line up again in a few days, so we will regroup and come out swinging at Round 2 on Tuesday.”


Chase Sexton: (14th in 450SX) “Things started off okay; I qualified fastest in practice, which was good for me. Then I went to the heat race and got a pretty bad start. I came from ninth to fourth and caught the lead group but just ran out of time. The main event was pretty much a disaster. I started off ninth or 10th and ended up getting together with Martin Davalos. From there it just kind of went downhill and I made a few more mistakes. It was just kind of a rough main event overall, but I’m looking forward to going racing again Tuesday. That’s one of the positives about being here in Houston. We have three races in a week, so hopefully I can redeem myself and get on the box.”


Jason Anderson: (15th in 450SX) “My night was not that good but we’re going into the next round and going to stay positive about it. I was up to seventh and then I got arm pump and kind of went backwards but all-in-all, we started the season and I’m happy to be back racing so let’s go from there.”


Michael Mosiman: (7th in 250SX) “Tonight wasn’t the results that I was hoping for but I learned a lot and I know what I need to improve on moving forward. Lucky for me, we are racing again on Tuesday and I’m excited to show everyone what I can do on my MC 250F this season!”


Max Vohland: (9th in 250SX) The first race went good. I made some mistakes but it’s a learning experience and we’ll make sure to come back on Tuesday to fix those little tweaks. The goal was top-10 and that’s what I achieved tonight, so we’re happy with that and we’ll pick up on a couple of those things and try to come back and get a better result on Tuesday.”


Dan Lamb is a 12+ year journalist and the owner of MotoXAddicts.