2020 Anaheim One Supercross | Australian Invasion
There will be plenty of Australian storylines to watch at Anaheim One. The country’s love for Supercross is undeniable and this weekend, fans down under will have four riders to cheer on when they line up for the opening round of the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series. Four up and coming riders are entered in the 250 class, while a multi-time champion and national hero will start the final chapter of his storied career. Crack a Carlton and keep an eye on these blokes Saturday night…
22. Chad Reed
It could be argued that had Chad Reed not come to America in 2002, the other four riders might not be here now. His early success helped a number of his counterparts get attention from American teams, his championship and wins propelled the popularity of the sport in Australia, and his resilient attitude kept him on the track when most would have stopped. But all things must come to an end and at the 37 years old, Reed recently announced that the 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Series will be the last of his professional motorcycle career.
The last few months have been a blur for Reed and his crew, as they have put together a small independent effort with the support of dedicated sponsors that will allow the two-time Supercross champion to say goodbye to the sport and to add a few more Main Event races to his impressive record (should Reed make the 450 Main Event at Anaheim One, his total will be 250 feature starts). Race wins aren’t expected in this last hurrah, as Reed was injured for part of the offseason, spent an extended amount of time abroad, and missed the window for preseason prep. With that said, expect more memories to be made than trophies collected.
Anaheim has always been a special place for Reed and one can imagine how the crowd will react when it comes time for 22 to be announced in opening ceremonies. You can count on an emotional video tribute, an AC/DC song to play over the speakers, and a nac-nac over the triple.
86. Jett Lawrence
While one popular rider eyes his exit, another one eyes his entrance, as Jett Lawrence is poised to make his American Supercross debut this weekend with the GEICO Honda team in the 250 class. The teenager has been a topic of discussion since this past August, as he gained attention for his riding at the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National in Tennessee, lined up for the final three Nationals to mixed results, won the Amateur All-Star class at the Monster Energy Cup, and then announced that he would go pro in 2020.
Lawrence’s riding style is impressive, as he’s willing to try risky jump combinations and looks flawless everywhere else but his lack of pro race experience and the little room for error allowed in the 250 class make it difficult to set expectations for his first race. Some have him pegged for race wins or podium contention, while others think he will face a steep learning curve.
Personally, I think a top-10 finish and a problem-free day would be considered a success for Lawrence. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype of the opening round and the entire event will be a new experience for the young rider. Yes, he raced the AUS-X Open in November and has spent plenty of time at Honda’s test track, but there’s nothing that can replicate a true to scale Supercross track with 21 top-tier riders in close proximity. Lawrence saw first-hand how much amateur racing differs from the pro-level when he lined up at Unadilla-Budds Creek-Ironman, events he boldly expected to podium at. With that said, it’s fair to assume that he has slightly less lofty goals this time around and will make progress as the season goes on.
104. Luke Clout
Luke Clout made it clear during the final rounds of the Australian Supercross Championship that much of his motivation was the chance to race in the United States again. Injuries and team issues kept Clout from making the most of his prior opportunity in 2016, but he’s spent the past two years re-establishing himself as a front-runner in his homeland and recently signed a deal with the Penrite Honda team for 2020 that includes a six-race run in the 250 West Coast region before going back down under.
This is a unique situation for Clout. He battled Justin Brayton for the title in Australia and matched or beat Jason Anderson’s pace at two rounds, indications that he has the speed of factory-level riders and championship contenders. But that was in the 450 class on a totally different brand and size motorcycle (Clout spent 2019 with the CRD Yamaha team on a YZ450F) than what he’ll race in the US. So, it’s hard to say exactly where one should expect Clout to rank against a completely different roster of riders on Honda’s small-bore bike, but somewhere within the top-10 at Anaheim One would be stellar.
106. Jay Wilson
Jay Wilson might be an unknown name to most in the US, but in Australia, the Yamalube Yamaha Racing rider is an accomplished racer with the 2018 SX2 title to his credit. His championship defense in 2019 was marred by small issues and mixed results, as his only podium finish of the season came at the finale. Still, Wilson was often one of the front-runners in the 250 class and a deep look at the stats from each session in the AUS series will reveal what he’s capable of.
Wilson wasted no time getting ready for his five-round stint in the 250 West Coast region, as he was on a plane headed for the US a few weeks after the checkered flag flew at the AUS-X Open. With only the lap times from Australia to go off, where Wilson was on pace with guys like Mitchell Oldenburg and Chris Blose, he looks to have the speed needed to make the Main Event. But the first real measure will come in the afternoon’s qualifying practice, where Wilson should be in the unseeded group.
108. Aaron Tanti
Like Wilson, Tanti isn’t known by many outside of Oz. With three podium finishes, the Serco Yamaha rider a front-runner in the SX2 class of the Australian series until a big crash at the final round dropped him out of the running. So yeah, he is another one of the guys that kept close to Americans Blose, Oldenburg, and Osby on his home turf.
Tanti had a limited amount of time to recover from his crash in late November, but he sorted things out quickly and was riding in the United States by the middle of December. Keep an eye on his name and laps during Saturday afternoon’s qualifying practice, because Tanti could be slotted between guys you’ve followed for years in the final results.