Dirty South, indeed. The 2021 Atlanta One Supercross had everything one could ask for in a round of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series. There was a massive track, challenging track conditions, a first-time winner, new blood at the front of the pack, and an even tighter championship chase in both classes. We’ve got a lot to cover in a short amount of time, because the bikes will fire up again in just hours, so here’s Kickstart from our first few days in Georgia…
It sounds like Red Bull KTM is getting their 2022 team roster in order. Cooper Webb and Max Vohland are all good thanks to their multi-year deals, but Marvin Musquin is in the final term of his current deal and coming to a career crossroads. Word is KTM and Musquin will sign a one-year contract, which would allow them to have a proper send-off through 2022, and that the OEM has considered fielding three riders in the 450 Class next season.
Friday chores. After the pre-race build on Marvin Musquin's KTM 450 SX-F was complete, mechanic Frankie Latham went to work covering extra radiator louvers with mesh mudguards.
Pro Tip: during a brake bleed, periodically tap the master cylinder and lines with a small weighted tool to free any trapped bubbles and air.
This is quite the track. We had the chance to check it out on Friday afternoon and were blown away by the overall length, size of the jumps, and the different elements used (shipping containers for jumps and as the backside of a berm, the over-under bridge, sand). Is this a sign of things to come in SX?
We had a phone call with the Track Management department at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Monday morning to discuss the SX event on their infield. The property has been put to good use over the last year and has hosted everything from marathons to drive-in concerts. The next few months will be packed with Supercross, Monster Jam, American Flat Track, high school graduations, and a pair of NASCAR events. Check back later this week for a write-up on the arrangement between AMS and Feld.
Custom paint isn't dead. Here are a handful of one-off helmets that riders debuted at Atlanta One, starting with this Alpinestars SM10 painted by Tagger Designs for Hunter Lawrence.
CMS ART WORX covered this Shoei VFX-EVO in CLUB MX logos for Garrett Marchbanks.
Another Tagger Designs piece, this time on a FLY Racing Formula for Muc-Off Honda's Mitchell Oldenburg.
AP Designs is Monster Energy's preferred painter for SX-MX, so they've handled all of Eli Tomac's helmets for the last few years. Eli has a thing for eagles, and this piece covered the entire back portion of the Bell Moto 10.
Purple and Gold. AP Designs matched this Shoei VFX-EVO to the Seven-Ethika Lakers tribute kit that Malcolm Stewart wore on Saturday. Yes, it sounds like this gear will be sold to the public.
Looks like AirTrix got some inspiration from the original Beast From The East for Cooper Webb's Bell Moto 10.
Robbie Wageman had a hell of a day. The Nuclear Blast/Team Solitare/Yamaha rider was near the front of the pack in his Heat Race but was docked by the AMA for cutting a part of the track, then DNF'd the LCQ. Keep an eye on this team Tuesday, when they will run a Leatt gear set that's been designed by metal band Slayer.
Kyle Peters is on a roll. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider was solid throughout Saturday's race and ended the 250 Main Event in fifth place, his fourth top-ten and second top-five this season. KP is currently in the middle of a three-way battle with Nate Thrasher and Chris Blose for seventh in the 250 West Coast championship, a position he'd most likely have if he didn't skip Daytona; a perfect AX season was a bigger priority.
Yes, they found each other on the starting line again. We're not sure what to make of this; is it coincidence, or is it a tactic? Webb was the first to the staging area this time, and Roczen rolled up beside him a few moments later and waited for the start of the single practice session.
Take notes from Martin Davalos' form in this practice start. His weight is centered on the bike, his legs are tucked in tightly, his chin is just over the handlebars, the front-end is locked down, and both wheels are level and driving forward.
Justin Barcia could have been a factor on Saturday if not for that crash in 450 Heat Race One. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider was riding off with the win in that short moto until his bike slid out on the face of a fast double and sent him to the ground. Barcia smacked his face on the bike in the incident but remounted, finished the short moto in seventh place, and got stitches after the qualifier. The crash seemed to have an understandably impact on Barcia, and he ended the 450 Main Event in tenth place.
We like how often CLUB MX changes the appearance of their YZ250F race bikes. Saturday's baby blue plastics stood out in a field of standard-issue Yamaha fenders.
Mud prep in the pits. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki wrapped their rear tires in plastic to prevent mud from packing into the knobs on the way to the starting gate...
Phoenix Racing Honda applied strips of red duct tape under their fenders so that their mechanics could easily rip away the heavy mud after the Heat Races...
And Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha kept their grips covered with Zip-Loc bags. Whatever it takes to stay clean and dry in the mud.
Justin Bogle was questionable going into Atlanta One. The Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider is still dealing with a damaged shoulder from his Arlington crash, and Saturday's rushed practice session wasn't an ideal time to both learn the track and nurse an injury. Bogle didn't log a top-40 lap time but told us that he wasn't in good enough condition to race anyway. He will miss the Tuesday race.
DBK. FXR. 6D. CM39. KYB. UFO.
It turns out Seth Hammaker is a good mud rider. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider told us he'd done his share of wet laps growing up on the East Coast, and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider's run to the win 250 Heat Race One was proof of that. Style points for matching the hand towels to the Monster Energy M claws.
It's cool to see helmet brands add small accessories to their product lines, like this one-piece extension from Leatt that riders can clip onto the visor of their 8.5 helmet during wet or rainy conditions. The part, plus a pair of Velocity goggles, comes in the box with all-brand new Leatt lids.
Given the weather conditions and afternoon race time, we'd say the crowd turnout at Atlanta One was pretty good. The front straightaway grandstands weren't packed, of course, but thousands of fans showed up to watch riders cut through the muck and click off laps around the track. Tuesday night will undoubtedly have fewer spectators, but the following Saturday race is expected to have a much bigger turnout.
Jerry Robin's got a new deal. The popular independent rider will run the remaining 250 West Coast Region races with the Motul/AJE Motorsports/GASGAS team alongside Chris Blose, Derek Kelley, and Cedric Soubeyras, a deal that came together right before Atlanta One. Robin made it directly into the 250 Main Event but hit a soft spot on the track and crashed out; he'll be back for Tuesday.
Justin Cooper's 250 Heat Race One ride deserves some praise. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was body slammed in the opening lap but regrouped and pushed his way back to second place in the short moto.
Roll-offs and solid brake rotors. Hunter Lawrence tapped into his GP experience during 250 Heat Race Two, stayed out of trouble, and scored the win on his Team Honda HRC machine. Like many people, we were eager to see what he would do during the 250 Main Event, but an incident with another rider in the first turn put him on the ground. Lawrence remounted at the back of the pack and charged back to a seventh-place finish.
Give Malcolm Stewart's GoPro footage from 450 Heat Race One a watch when you get done with Kickstart; his throttle control, low RPMs, and line choices are precisely how one is supposed to ride in the mud. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider had an undeniable drop-off during the last half of the 450 Main Event, something he said was due to arm pump and a tight riding on the technical course, and he went from fourth to eleventh in a handful of laps. Stewart didn't seem too troubled over the result and said he's looking forward to getting another chance on Tuesday.
One of these bikes is not like the other. Kevin Moranz has been unreal at the start of races this year, and the Kansas privateer was even with factory riders Roczen and Plessinger going into the first jumps in 450 Heat Race Two. Has Moranz done enough to earn an increase in support from a team or OEM next year?
Ken Roczen was admittedly out of sorts on Saturday. The Team Honda HRC rider was on pace with rivals Webb and Tomac during the dry Timed Qualifying session, but when the rain came, Roczen could not keep up (a close call with Max Anstie at the start didn't help), and he finished the 450 Main Event in ninth place. Roczen has to finish on the podium in the next two races because if Webb puts a few more points between himself and Roczen, the championship could be awarded at Salt Lake City One.
Loose is fast. Jason Anderson's results have continued to improve over the last few rounds, something the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider half-jokingly said is due to "caring a little bit more right now." El Hombre got Plessinger for the win in 450 Heat Race Two and was on the gas during the 450 Main Event. The fourth-place finish is good on paper, but the fact that Anderson went the whole moto with a broken shift lever makes it even more impressive.
We'll be honest, when we watched Nate Thrasher lead the 250 LCQ from the side of the track, we didn't think he'd be a contender for the win in the 250 Main Event. Nothing against the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider, but it's just highly unlikely that a rookie would go from barely making the cut to taking the checkered flag. After watching the 250 Heat Race and LCQ race again on TV and seeing the lap times, we understand what he and the Star Racing team were talking about. Thrasher's 1:57.818 was the fastest lap of the Heat Race, five seconds quicker than race winner Hunter Lawrence's 2:02.320.
Ryan Sipes was back for a second Supercross stint in his "race everything on a GASGAS world tour." Sipes was the big surprise of the afternoon qualifying session, and his 1:41.477 was the fourth fastest of the entire 250 Class. Not bad for a guy that's literally twice as old as some of the competition.
It's good to see Josh Hill back at the track. The fan-favorite is in for the three Atlanta races in the 450 Class (the track builds look like it something he comes up with playing the Supercross video game) and looks like he has the potential to make a Main Event. Hill was 21st overall in Timed Qualifying, but minor crashes in the Heat Race and LCQ kept him out of contention and brought his night to an early end.
Summer riding gear is here. FLY Racing's extensive roster of riders debuted the company's latest Kinetic Mesh collection on Saturday afternoon, including this red-black-white setup worn by Jalek Swoll. Don't assume that "vented" means fragile; FLY Racing's mesh material is just as durable as it is breathable. It'll be at WPS dealers and retailers in the next few days.
Calm down, conspiracy theorists; the Monster Jam backflip was not why the race durations were cut short. The quick stunt happened while track work was being completed before the 250 Main Event (this is usually when the Stacyc kids race runs on the starting line) and lasted no more than two minutes. You can't hate on Feld for using the downtime to promote their other racing program, one that will take over Atlanta Motor Speedway immediately after Supercross leaves.
Cameron McAdoo's third-place finish didn't come easy. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider had his share of wild rides, including a tumble off the tunnel jump in 250 Heat Race Two and a detour out of the whoops in the 250 Main Event, but he eventually settled into a comfortable pace, took a spot on the podium, and kept the championship close.
Garrett Marchbanks was a few laps away from his second podium of the season. The CLUB MX rider trailed Thrasher for most of the feature race and closed the gap a bit until a mistake in the whoops spat him off the YZ250F. Marchbanks got up quickly and tried to rejoin the race, but his bike had issues refiring (electric starters can't fix everything) and was dropped back to 14th place. He'll be one to watch on Tuesday.
Red Riders engaged in battle. The long laps made it a strange race to follow because we'd only see riders for a few seconds before they sped off to the other side of the track. This Peters-Harrison battle was one we only caught a few glimpses of late in the race.
Coty Schock has been a standout in the 250 West Coast Region. The FXR/Chaparral/Honda rider posted his second top-10 finish of the season at Atlanta One (a hard-fought tenth place against factory riders Pierce Brown and Stilez Robertson). Schock will step up to the 450 Class during the summer's Pro Motocross championship.
Nate Thrasher's win was unexpected, but it sure was popular. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider is from Livingston, Tennessee, roughly four hours from Atlanta, and one section of the grandstands erupted every time he went by.
Thrasher's 11-20-10-9-9 results to start to the season were fair, especially after his unexpected signing to Star Racing, a move out of the amateur ranks, and a rush to race Supercross late last year, and this win shows that the rider and team were on the right path all along.
Yeah, Justin Cooper really gave Thrasher some cork popping advice...
Random sights on the starting line.
Here's an idea of how close the top-four were early in the 450 Main Event. Tomac told us that he thought his odds of the win were dwindling at this point, but Plessinger's tip-over changed everything and was played a part in the late-race push.
This was quite the battle. Webb, Sexton, and Tomac have unique riding styles and appearances, and seeing the three of them click off laps within feet of each other really showed how different they ride a bike.
Mitchell Oldenburg is getting the hang of the 450 Class. The Muc-Off Honda rider continues to fill in for Justin Brayton on the big bike (we don't expect JB10 to be back on the bike this season) and spent the last part of the 450 Main Event in a battle for 13th place with Broc Tickle. Just because it was outside of the top-10 doesn't mean it wasn't worth watching; Freckle and Tick were going all-out for the spot.
Will we get a few Eli-Cooper duels in Atlanta? It's always good to see the top guys square up on the track and their brief battle at Atlanta One was a thriller; Tomac held the throttle on longer, went wide into the turn, and passed Webb going up the face of the tunnel jump.
Dylan Ferrandis deserves the hard charger award. A mistake put the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider on the ground in the first turn, in last place on the opening lap, and down a substantial amount of time to the competition. Ferrandis went on an absolute tear after that (his lap times were third-fastest of the class), and he fought back to finish the race in fifth place. Yes, these last few races have been rough for the rookie, but we would not be surprised to see him on the podium in the next few days.
Eli might really win all three Atlanta races. We've all talked about how the big track benefits the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, and he proved that's more than just a talking point with his fourth to first push in the 450 Main Event. The championship is really out of the question, but second place overall isn't.
For the second race in a row, agents from USADA were on-site and randomly collected samples from riders after the Main Events. We should hear the results of these tests in the coming weeks.
Put another bottle of bubbly on ice because we'll be back at the track on Tuesday for round fourteen. Thanks for reading Kickstart.
Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.
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