Deep freeze. The 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series completed its cold, three-race run at Lucas Oil Stadium with the 2021 Indianapolis Three Supercross. From a look at the results, this might have been the most uneventful night of the six races run thus far. Both Main Events were runaway wins, the same handful of guys hoisted trophies on the podium, and there weren’t too many season-defining acts on the track.
But trust us, it was another wild day, and we cannot believe that we’re a third of the way through the season.
Give Kickstart a read while we thaw out, then come back later for more content from Indy and some Orlando pre-race hype.
The trackside cart is a necessity nowadays. Teams load their wagons with spare parts like wheels, batteries, levers, exhausts, well-stocked toolboxes, signal boards, and so on. Here's Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing's cart, complete with a bright red paint job...
The Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM setup...
Red Bull KTM's...
But the best rig belongs to Monster Energy Kawasaki. Made in-house by fabricator Kiyoshi Bansho, it's equal parts function and appearance.
Has side mounts for impact guns and a hanger for a back-up exhaust system...
The two-wheeled cart is outfitted with disc brakes, which are separate from each other and operated by levers on the handlebar...
Separate spare wheels for Tomac and Cianciarulo...
And, finally, a toolbox that's filled with spanners from new team sponsor GearWrench, slots for the pit boards, and finally, a foldable stand made from sheet metal.
John Short was another rider that got caught up in the chaos of Indianapolis Two. A hard crash at the start of the 250 Main Event left the BARX/Chaparral/ECSTAR/Suzuki rider with a sore shoulder, and he didn't complete a lap of the feature race. That, combined with the Lawrence-Oldenburg-23-man gate issue, caused the AMA to not award him any championship points in their initial results. Fortunately for Short, they corrected the problem on Wednesday morning, and he was given one-point for being in the race. Some ongoing pain from Tuesday's crash forced Short to sit out Saturday's race.
Looks like there's some shared insight under the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rig. Last year we noticed how Dylan Ferrandis opted to have the lower portion of the two-piece side panel removed from his Yamaha (something he has carried over to the YZ450F). At Indianapolis Three, we saw the same piece missing from Christian Craig's bike. This is a personal preference, as it's right where the top of their boots make contact with the bike.
Sure, they got the win, but it was not an easy day for the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha team. The problems started in the afternoon when Christian Craig pulled into the work area to sort out issues with his clutch during Free Practice and continued when his bike wouldn't start before the first round of Timed Qualifying. Craig missed the session entirely, then returned unfazed for the final practice.
Colt Nichols had a few spills during the Indy Three race, including this tumble through the whoops in practice and his bigger get-off on the opening lap of the 250 Main Event. Nichols didn't seem too rattled by either incident, and that's important as he inches closer to the title.
Josh Osby has been solid through the start of the season. The Phoenix Racing Honda rider has avoided the major issues that have claimed others in the field, lined up for every 250 Main Event, and has posted 10-10-7-9-8-6 finished through the six rounds. With the way things are going, both for Osby and the rest of the field, he could end the season ranked fifth overall in the championship.
AC and POD. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has signed an endorsement deal with POD Active to run their knee braces through 2021. This is a significant pairing for the rider and company, as Cianciarulo had some knee issues early in his career, and POD's logos have been added to the outside of Fox Racing pants.
Who did it better: Justin Bogle...
Or Marvin Musquin?
Add Michael Mosiman to the injured list. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing rider collided with another rider late in the final Timed Qualifying session and resulted in three fractures to his right hand. It sounds like surgery will be necessary to repair the damage, so Mosiman is out for Orlando One. The question now is if he will return for the last two races in Salt Lake City or wait until the Nationals.
The way riders hit the same point of the 90-degree right-hand kink next to the start straightaway caused the berm to develop a gnarly curb. Most used the hole turn it as their chance to hit the gas and align the bike for the next section.
While others, like Ken Roczen, blasted off the top of the turn and jumped into the flat.
Jason Anderson bounced back from his dislocated finger-DNS on Tuesday and scored a sixth-place finish in Saturday's Main Event. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has been lowkey this season, something that's likely a little intentional, but has acknowledged that he's less than thrilled with his results (15-8-8-7-DNS-6). Now back in Florida and riding with the Lawrence brothers, we'd keep an eye on JA21 over the next few rounds.
Broc Tickle's adaption to the CRF450R continues. BT20 has ridden a handful of bikes in past seasons (offseason work on independent KTM-Husqvarna 450s, testing the TLD KTM 250, racing the JGR Suzuki 450 and factory Yamaha 450), but didn't have much experience on the Honda until late last year. The rider and team have honed in on the setup from race to race, and Tickle feels their small efforts will result in a big jump. He ended the time in Indianapolis with a 13th place finish in the 450 Main Event.
The Buca De Beppo logos on the Rides Unlimited KTM bikes got some attention lately. Is this some big outside sponsorship money? Not quite. Racer Chad Saultz is the son of Rich Saultz, CEO of the Buca brand and Earl Enterprises, and the company has extended some support to the team. Next time you go out to eat, support moto.
Have you noticed how Kevin Moranz and Lane Shaw keep coming around turn one at the front of the pack? The KTM-mounted privateers have aced their starts all season and been bar-to-bar with factory riders when they crossed the holeshot stripes.
Monster Energy and Bell Helmets are cool with Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha riders adding personal details to their helmets. Christian Craig had a memorial sticker for close friend and adidas executive Al Van Noy on his visor...
While Colt Nichols kept a Pax X EMH sticker on the crown of his carbon-fiber lid.
When we talked to Mitchell Oldenburg in the preseason, the Muc-Off Honda rider told us that he planned to race in the 450 Class at the Arlington Supercross rounds. It sounds like Freckle has scrapped that idea, a rational decision considering the field, and will instead use the time to rest up and get ready for a push at the end of the season.
The red light was back on Christian Craig's bike at Indianapolis Three. The part showed up at Indianapolis One and caused some immediate concern, as one team reportedly went to the AMA and the race officials had a look at the light.
Per our talk with the team, the light is not hooked up to the bike; it's a reminder for Craig to breathe and not abuse the clutch.
Whatever they talked about must have been gnarly because it got Barcia and Malcolm to raise an eyebrow.
There were serious questions about Star Racing's program going into 2021. A massive 250 Class roster required more bikes and parts, two things that were heavily impacted by supply chain issues, but they've avoided any sort of problems and are almost assured the East Coast championship. The team will have Jeremy Martin, Justin Cooper, Nate Thrasher, and Jarrett Frye on the West Coast region, with Martin and Cooper expected to contend for the title.
Checkered flags and whips. Shoutout to the riders for throwing style over the finish line this season.
Protect the inside line.
There was a lot of title contention talk about Zach Osborne in the preseason (how could you not mention the 2020 450 MX champion?). From our short conversations with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider, he had more modest expectations coming into 2021. Another 10th place finish at Indy Three took away Osborne's vague chance at the championship, but he could still make things very interesting, especially at rounds like Daytona and Atlanta.
It's been good to see these two go head to head this season. Roczen and Tomac have entirely different riding styles, which you could see in action during 450 Heat Race One when they ran 1-2 from start to finish. Is this the start of the golden era to the long-delayed friendly rivalry?
The immortal wild card. Justin Barcia's speed and skill on the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GASGAS Factory Racing bike has been remarkable and probably added a few years onto his career. His win in 450 Heat Race Two was backed up by a stable ride in the Main Event, only to have that run-in with Vince Friese ruin his night and championship hopes.
Like Osborne, we're very interested to see how Barcia does at Daytona and Atlanta; these races are essentially a preview for the summer ahead.
Give Malcolm Stewart's GoPro footage from 450 Heat Race One when you get down with Kickstart. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider had every rider's worst fear when he made a mistake going up the triple's face and only cleared 65-feet of the 70-foot leap. Luckily, he had factory KYB suspension to cushion the blow.
You can always count on a Justin Bogle holeshot. After a rough start to the season, the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM rider is coming around and is riding better than 16-16-16 finishes would lead you to believe.
Perfect form, seconds apart, demonstrated by Martin Davalos...
And Brandon Hartranft.
Dylan Ferrandis was relatively quiet through the Indianapolis races, but that's actually a good thing. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider went 6-9-8, reliable finishes for a rookie, and is now sixth in the championship standings.
KTM JR SX field trip. The mini riders and their parents were among the few allowed into the stadium to watch the Free Practice sessions on Saturday afternoon. The program has been part of Supercross for decades, and admittedly, we pay it little attention during the night show. But we decided to stay on the floor for the exhibition moto on Saturday...
This year's KTM JR SX races are run exclusively on the all-new electric SX-E 5. Gone is the high-pitched cry from the two-stroke engine; instead, we hear a faint whine from the motor, the chain run over the sprockets, and the clack of the suspension.
Indy Three's race came down to the last turn when Bensyn LeVan bumped Rylen Hofmaster (yes, Tommy Hofmaster's kid) for the win.
The Indianapolis dirt was much rockier than what it looked like on TV. Maybe skipping the race in 2020 made us forget what the terrain was like, but we were surprised to see that many big rocks on the track's top layer.
FLY Racing and Yarrive Konsky came up with something special for Muc-Off Honda's Justin Brayton and Mitchell Oldenburg. The last few letters on the rider's jerseys were complete with photos of the rider's families.
Shoutout to Bubba Pauli and Joan Cros. The TXS Productions/Jonesboro Cycle/International SX riders have been a mainstay on the circuit for years and were close to making the Main Events in Indianapolis. One of the two riders will inevitably make the cut for a feature race before the year is over.
Stacyc was back with their two-lap dash. There was a little confusion about the last turn; some of the leaders decided to go straight instead of going right, which allowed this youngster to steal the win.
This guy crashed in the last turn and remounted in such a hurry that his bars were backward. Someone get him the Ryan Hughes at Steel City determination award or, at the very least, an ice cream.
Yamaha had these stickers made up for Mike Bell, as he won the 1980 SX champ as part of their factory team. "Too Tall" passed away while on a mountain bike ride in January, and there were numerous tributes paid to him during the Indianapolis races. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.
Devin Simonson put in a season-best result at Indianapolis Three. The PR MX rider ran to a solid third-place finish in 250 Heat Race Two and backed it up with an eighth-place score in the 250 Main Event. Yeah, it's a depleted field, but this is still a solid result for an SX rookie.
The wheel speed sensor remains on Jett Lawrence's CRF250R. The small squares near the hub are important; they are what the sensor tracks as the wheel spins.
For reference, here is Ken Roczen's rear wheel, which does not have the same sensor setup.
It took a little while, but Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki has taken delivery of their machined clutch covers. The color, milling marks, and logos really make the KX250 look like a race engine.
What matters more: suspension or an exhaust? Thomas Do made his decision.
Did you read our recent Moto Tip with Zach Osborne? The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider explained why he uses starting blocks, how they help on the grates of Supercross, and what he was looked for during the initial setup. If you're looking for an advantage at the start, a set of steps could be a wise choice.
One thing Osborne explained about the starting blocks really stuck with us: once you know what you like, you shouldn't have to change the height or placement.
Bonus points to Rankin for the correct spelling.
The back and forth between Jett Lawrence and Colt Nichols added some much-needed excitement to the 250 Main Event.
Lawrence did everything he could to keep Nichols behind, only to make a late mistake that let Nichols get the last spot on the podium.
The two recapped the action before the podium presentation.
Thomas Do has done well in the 250 East Coast region. We've watched the French rider in the SX Tour for years, where he's a multi-time SX2 champion, and it's been nice to see him adjust to the bigger tracks of the US series.
Do's original plan was to go back to France following the Orlando race, but with his results and support from sponsors, he's decided to stay here and finish out the East Coast region.
What win was bigger for Christian Craig: Houston One or Indianapolis Three? Things could have easily gone awry for the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider after the Indianapolis One incident with Lawrence. Still, he bounced back to finish on the podium on Tuesday and dominated the 250 Main Event on Saturday. Craig is very much in title contention for the first time in his career.
Colt Nichols might not be happy with his Main Event results, but his push from last place to third and the points scored kept him at the top of the standings.
Nichols holds a six-point lead with three rounds left in the 250 East Coast region.
You earned this one, Jo.
Maybe it was where we were standing, but Justin Barcia's bump and run on Adam Cianciarulo was a good one. It was enough to knock the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider out of contention for the holeshot and kept him from being part of the lead pack action in the opening laps.
Cooper Webb is doing all that he can to keep Ken Roczen in check. The Red Bull KTM rider tried the starting line psych-out with a red plate pit board message at Indianapolis Two, then went for a last-lap charge at Indianapolis Three.
Webb trails Roczen by 16-points going into the Orlando-Daytona stretch. The time in Florida should be beneficial for the Red Bull KTM rider because he'll be able to practice and test more with the team at the Baker's Factory. Should he cue up "The Last Dance" like last year?
Malcolm Stewart is going to get a podium this year. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was in the mix for career-best results at Indy Two and Indy Three, only to see the positions slip away following late-race issues (a crash at Indy Two, Musquin pass at Indy Three).
Stewart is riding better than ever, and if everything goes right in one race, he'll walk away with some hardware.
Red plate, red gloves.
Scene of the crime. We know you're all charged up from the Barcia-Friese fracas, and nothing we can say will change your mind.
But ask yourself this: would you want to make a last-second line change up the face of this triple?
Give a hoot, don't pollute. 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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