One done in Indianapolis. We’re on location for rounds four, five, and six of the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Rust Belt race has always been an important part of the SX schedule, for reasons on and off the track, and this year’s set of motos will be the ultimate test for the competition as they face changing track conditions, have to avoid crashes while pushing the pace, and put in consistent results day after day.
The short turnaround time between Indy One and Indy Two leaves us little time, so this Monday Kick is only 90 something photos. Read on…
We'll start this one off with one of the weekend's bigger details: this section of the track and the start. The original track plan called for another first-turn intersection on the opening lap, but after a similar design in Houston proved unwise, the officials decided to re-route riders through an altered turn two, over the straightaway into a flat corner that the came after the landing of tunnel jump.
They sent riders out the 450 A Group Free Practice on this design, then threw the red flag unexpectedly, and assembled the riders to hear their feedback. Then they sent them out for another practice start, this time through the tunnel, and that idea that was eventually scrapped.
It was a little, uh, confusing and the big bowl turned was later flattened out for the night's racing.
Nick Wey and Oscar Wirdeman are Adam Cianciarulo's go-to guys at the races. We had a short, socially-distanced chat with the crew during the track viewing, which covered everything from AC's plan for the long rhythm lane, NYK's attempts to be a two-stroke holdout when four-strokes first took over, and Oscar's experience as a wrench.
This long rhythm lane proved to be the biggest challenge of the night. Riders tried every sort of combination to get through, but flat turn before it, some jumps' height, and the soft dirt made doing it consistently a difficult task. To be honest, we're surprised that no serious crashes here; riders that shorted the jumps either came to an abrupt stop or flew off the track entirely.
This is the earliest that the series has ever been to Indy, and the winter weather is a factor in the pits. Some teams worried that Saturday night's snowstorm would cause damage to their rig canopies, so a few contacted local party supply rental places and had temporary tents, complete with heaters and hook-ups, erected in their pits.
... or Axell Hodges?
You can always count on some Free Practice style from Christian Craig. See the red reflection on his jersey? That's from a small light on his Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha handlebars, a new addition that got the attention of a competing team and the AMA. Craig is the only rider with the part, which we've learned is actually a red flashing light from the Specialized bike catalog that's been repurposed to warn him when he's over-riding the engine, but we cannot figure out if it's been wired into the team's data package or is just there as a visual reminder. This makes sense, considering Craig's recent comments about clutch issues late in the Main Events. As for everyone assuming it's traction control: if a team was running a part that's loosely forbidden in the rule book, why they blatantly reveal it with a light on the handlebars? Come on now...
Duffe, keeping it casual in the Mongrel Boots...
We're keeping an eye on Aaron Plessinger during this Indianapolis run, as this is the Ohio native's "home" race, and the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha tends to do well in the rutted conditions.
Plessinger has been good through the first four rounds and with 8-16-7-9 finishes, is 11th in the championship standings.
Get a grip. Ken Roczen runs a piece of rubbery traction tape on the frame and a piece of high-grit clear vinyl on the side panel of his Team Honda HRC CRF450R. Respect the attention to detail in the grip tape's straight lines and application.
Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda has signed GoPro to be a new team sponsor, and all four riders will run the Hero 9 camera this season. The footage shot by Vince Friese has become a must-watch; it offered a new angle of his H1 run-in with Eli Tomac and a few other "oh shit" moments. Hopefully, the clips of his Indy Heat Race eject get posted online this week.
Another apdesigns painted lid for Eli. The flat grey really makes the gold lettering and neon accents pop.
And one by OCD for Marvin. The French artist has a knack with chrome paint.
Adam Cianciarulo doesn't have to look far to find a benchmark– Eli Tomac is on the other side of the Monster Energy Kawasaki pit area. Mechanic Justin Shantie let AC know how small the difference in lap times was between the two in Timed Qualifying.
Dean Wilson had a hellacious week. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider was under constant fire online for his role in the Houston Three Main Event, then had a hard crash during a practice session on Wednesday and received a list of moderate injuries from the resulting cartwheel. Wilson tried to grit out a broken big toe-sprained ankle-bruised knee during qualifying, but the pain was too much for him to do it all night. Wilson will be out for the next few races so that the swelling and pain can subside.
Max Vohland was set to match the KTM JR SX riders with his blue and orange gear on Saturday night. At 17 years old, the Red Bull KTM rider is closer in age to the little factory mini riders than he is to some of the competitors of the 250 Class. Maximus had a tough time in the whoops during the 2021 Indianapolis One Supercross, and a final mistake in Timed Qualifying resulted in a hard crash and hip dislocation. "Fortunately for Vohland, the X-Ray showed no bone damage and doctors were able to perform a 'closed reduction' to put his hip back in place, allowing him to be released from the hospital on Saturday evening," explained the team's post-race statement. Recovery for hip dislocations varies and emphasizes the need for rest and immobility in the days immediately after; Vohland will be out for Indianapolis's remaining races.
Donn, can you get one of the girls to translate Jo's patch?
Big doubles and nearly vertical walls. The Indy One layout had some of the most daunting obstacles we've seen so far this year. Riders told us that they had to be precise through the section, but they could let loose for a little bit when they got things right.
We wish they could mic up racers and mechanics on the starting line, sort of like how the NFL has with key players. Some of the banter we hear between guys is a mix of lighthearted trash talk, old stories, comments about the track or other riders, or each other's bikes.
Groovin'. We noticed some interesting cuts to the knobs on Justin Barcia's Dunlop, a trick that alters the tire's grip and is common in car racing but used by very few motocross teams. We looked at all of the bikes on the line, and BamBam's Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS bike was the only one like this; Star Racing does something similar from time to time.
Soak in the details of the rear wheel on Adam Cianciarulo's Monster Energy Kawasaki. Did you see the Science of Supercross feature? Here's that small rubber axle plug Kawasaki made in action.
The Indianapolis One track didn't get as rutted as some of us expected, thanks in part to a mostly dry winter here in the Midwest, but it still got chewed up when bikes hit the track. Riders commented that dirt wasn't what they've come to know of Indy, and although the ruts developed in the jumps and turns, the track's surface felt somewhat slippery.
Message from the spotter.
Like Houston, we'll be interested to see how the dirt will shape up with additional time in a climate-controlled building and multiple build days.
Weekly shoutout to the working class heroes, starting with Josh Greco (976)...
Jeremy Smith (309)...
Devin Simonson (170)...
Bobby Piazza (637)...
Hunter Schlosser (193)...
Austin Cozadd (512) and Devin Harriman (216)...
Jeremy Hand (122)...
Justin Starling (81)...
Bubba Pauli (282)...
Carter Stephenson (824)...
Austin Politelli (981).
It was good to be back in Indy. The cancelation of last year's race was part of the start to the strange times that we're all going through, so it's cool to see the popular venue get three rounds in this year's schedule. Damn shame that we won't have time for a trip to St. Elmo's or the Red Garter...
Mitchell Oldenburg has been good this year. The Muc-Off Honda rider has become known for bursts of speed and untimely crashes, but he's managed to find a balance this year and has held his own with the title contenders a few times.
Freckle is currently eighth overall in the 250 East Coast Region championship after 8-7-20-6, a clear line of progression that was interrupted by issues at Houston Three.
Jonah Geistler paid tribute to Mike Bell with a special "Too Tall" patch on the bottom of his Seven MX pants. Bell's sudden passing last week touched many people in the industry, and he's been memorialized through an outpouring of stories and memories.
Indianapolis is Josh Osby's home race: the Phoenix Honda rider is from Valparaiso, which is about two and a half hours from the front gate at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Osby has been part of the 250 Class for some time, has ridden for a mix of teams, and continually improves each season. Osby has finished 10-10-7-9 through the first four rounds and is sixth overall in the championship, the highest-ranked non-factory rider.
The battle for 250 East Coast supremacy is between these two, and honestly, it couldn't be a better match-up. Christian Craig and Colt Nichols are completely even in terms of prep (Swannie's program) and equipment (Star Racing YZ250F), so the outcome of this championship will truly come down to the best rider. Their Heat Race's ending was great, and Craig nabbed the win by a 0.458-second margin.
We've got to give Alex Nagy some props. The Illinois privateer has followed the pro tour for years, doing what it takes to get from race to race, and he always lines up for the motos, even when the odds are against him or requires him to be a racer and mechanic.
A hard crash at the start of 250 Heat Race One snapped the seat and rear fender off his KTM, but he came back for the LCQ.
Hunter Sayles is another independent racer that deserves some credit. Getting an assigned number from the AMA is something every pro wants, and Sayles has been given 99 for his results in 2020.
A great start put Sayles near the front early in 250 Heat Race One, and he was urged on by his girlfriend/mechanic and another woman we saw cheering loudly in the stands by the finish line.
Michael Mosiman has been very good this year, evident in multiple Heat Race wins throughout the season and a Main Event podium at Indy One, and that's a sign of steady progress for the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider. Mosiman has said he likes the setup of the GASGAS, especially the engine character created by the Akrapovic exhaust system, and that he bodes well with everyone at the TLD rig.
Words of encouragement in the LCQ.
Indy One offered plenty of excellent battles. Here are a few snaps from the action, starting with Lane Shaw (124) and John Short (55)...
Zach Osborne (16) and Eli Tomac (1)...
Jett Lawrence (18) and Jo Shimoda (30)...
Michael Mosiman (42), Lawrence & Shimoda...
Adam Cianciarulo (9), Ken Roczen (94), and Eli Tomac (1)...
Two excellent battles between old rivals in the same Main Event?
2021 has delivered in terms of action, and we spent the last few laps following the Webb-Cianciarulo match-up for third place.
The Alex Ray-Vince Friese Heat Race crash was brutal. Friese cross-rutted up the face of the second big double and ditched his bike, which left Alex Ray nowhere to go when he was in the air. Friese's CRF450R was mangled and MCR had to get some spare parts from Team Honda HRC to get it back on the line for the LCQ. There's no fixing ARay's frame, though, and the skid plate saved the damage from being much worse.
We learned a lot from Zach Osborne's comments in the post-race debrief on Sunday. Although the season has started off a little tough for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider, he feels that he's not out of the fight for podiums or race wins. A terrible start (he hit the gate) in the Main Event put him at the very tail of the field, and he charged for the full duration of the race to take an impressive fifth-place finish. The championship is looking a little slim for Osborne, but it's not something that he's too terribly worried about. He could be a factor in the next few rounds.
Feet off of the pegs while going through the whoops? Sacrebleu, Thomas Do.
Colt Nichols celebrated his second Main Event win of the season in style. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider has controlled the championship before, 2019 to be exact, but he's a much different person than he was then, and a start-to-finish run at the front makes it clear that he's ready for the challenges that come with the red plate.
Jett Lawrence runs on emotion. That's not a knock on the Team Honda HRC rider, he's still a teenager after all, but we've noticed that he's very hard on himself when it comes to results, and anything short of his goal gets considered to be a failure.
A podium finish was in sight until the last-lap run-in with Craig, and he let it out when he exited the stadium. Knowing that he was one of the stories of the 250 Class, the TV team wisely brought him to the stage after the race, where he was given a massive round of applause by the crowd.
Okay, so now that these two are even, will they find each other on the track again? Mosiman has made it clear that he doesn't want to be bullied around, but Lawrence isn't afraid to run it in on guys when making passes. We'll find out on Tuesday...
"Once it hits your lips, it's so good!"
Jo Shimoda was excited about the first podium finish in his Supercross career, but the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider is adamant that he wants to earn one the hard way, not through a last-lap crash by other riders. Shimoda is arguably one of the best motocross riders to ever come from Japan and will be a factor in the 250 Class over the next few seasons.
Joey Savatgy's Main Event start was incredible. The Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider blasted off the grid and left us a bit awestruck by the bike-lengths he put on others going into the first turn.
What was the secret? Savatgy said that he noticed other riders using the "rolling technique" recently and aimed to try it himself at Indy One, but admitted that Cianciarulo and Osborne's false starts triggered him to dump the clutch just as the gate dropped.
While we're on the topic of starts, this speed-check single was a cool way to keep the pack close and the wheels on the ground. It'd be nice to see it used again, but as we learned this weekend, the second turn's routing is equally as important.
GoPro already put out the footage from Adam Cianciarulo's Heat Race win, so hit the home page to watch it when you're done reading to give it a watch. Here's hoping the Main Event clips are uploaded soon because we'd love to see what it was like for the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider to lead laps and battle for position with Roczen, Tomac, and Webb.
It wasn't an ideal day for Jason Anderson. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider got caught up in an issue during his Heat Race and failed to finish in the top-nine, which required a tense trip to the LCQ so that he could get a spot in the Main Event. Anderson seemed to have things sorted out in the final race, as he battled with the big pack and brought it home to a season-best seventh-place finish.
Quiet night for Dylan Ferrandis. A sixth-place finish for the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider might not seem like much, but a look at the lap times reveals that he was on pace with the podium finishers. Another podium finish doesn't seem out of the question, especially at Indianapolis.
Adam Enticknap is a Main Event guy, and yeah, that's a cool thing to say for the Seven Deuce Deuce. The Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports/Suzuki rider told us that he's followed more advice from close friend Weston Peick, refined his program, and is doing everything it takes to progress up the ranks in the 450 Class.
These last few weeks have not been kind to Vince Friese. The Smartop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts/Honda rider feels the effects of hard crashes in Houston, mostly pain in his hip from the round three slam in the whoops, and Saturday's bail-out hurt him even more. Remarkably, Friese got through the LCQ and went the full pull in the Main Event to finish 17th. Impressive.
Marvin Musquin did not have a great Main Event. The Red Bull KTM rider had a crash in the moto's opening laps and dropped to the back of the pack, but Musquin remounted and put in some of the fastest laps of the 450 Class to finish the race in 10th. Aside from this crash, Musquin was solid at Indy One and could totally bounce back to a podium finish over the next few days.
True to his word, Roger had another new Seven kit for Malcolm Stewart. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider had nowhere to go but into Justin Barcia's crash during the opening lap of the Main Event, and with some help from Barcia's right boot, was able to get back on the bike and climb back to 11th. The run of 5-7-6-11 results has Malcolm ranked seventh in the championship.
"Zen" is the ability to stand on the pegs through a flat turn, hook into the rut, and power over the whoops in one fluid motion.
At last, a win. Ken Roczen's run to the checkered flag on Saturday might be one of the Team Honda HRC rider's best ever. Up front and in the mix early, he hounded Cianciarulo for the lead while Tomac increased the pressure, made the most of the mistakes by the competition, had a slip-up of his own and gave up the lead, re-passed Tomac, and charged to the finish line for the first victory of the season. Roczen has repeatedly noted his new outlook on life and that he's not dwelling on the negative things around him, a concept that was successfully used against the Houston penalty and last-lap issue.
Is this the version of Ken that becomes champion? He's now up by six points in the standings.
Pick a line. This is the face of the finish line after the 27-lap 450 Main Event.
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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