What a barn burner the 2023 Anaheim One Supercross season kickoff was! Though the weather in the days preceding the event was certainly damp, that didn’t keep thousands of Supercross fans from filling Angel Stadium of Anaheim to the brim for a sold-out opener. The Dirt Wurx crew did an admirable job of first protecting the A1 track from the rain as best they could, then whipping the track surface into a very tricky and technical course that kept riders on their toes, yet still allowed for great racing action.
Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence got off to a slow start but found his usual speedy pace by main event time, then raced off with what will undoubtedly be the first of many victories in his bid to earn the Western Regional 250 Supercross Championship and complete his collection of 250-class titles. In the 450 division, defending champ Eli Tomac finally earned the first season opener win of his 450 career, coming back from a mid-race crash to chalk up one of the most impressive victories of his career.
As always, there is much more to the story that was Anaheim One than results alone can tell. Welcome to the first Kickstart installment of 2023. This is what we saw. heard, and learned, throughout the event that was A1.
We never tire of staring longingly at a factory Honda. From the magnesium case to the perfectly applied frame grip tape to the silicone-filled shifter tip... A factory bike looks brand new at the start of every race weekend and they are amazing. This one is Jordan Troxel's.
Firepower Honda's Max Anstie was slated to race the Western Regional 250 Supercross Championship, but the team made a race-day decision to move him East. "It just makes more sense," Anstie told us. "Otherwise, if WIlson Todd and I both rode West, Dean Wilson would be alone in the truck when the series heads East." We also chatted about Anstie's svelte appearance. "I've definitely lightened up a bit for the 250s," he said. "I was training for 450s before!"
Chase Sexton told us that the team has been testing extensively to get him ready for his run at the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship. He says that the bike he is racing this year is much better and that for the first time during his time on a Honda, he is looking forward to huge whoop sections.
It's not new for 2023 but the super-long Yoshimura headers on the factory Honda HRC CRF450Rs always catch our eye. The long and low header design provides great low-end power, according to the crew at Yoshimura.
Colt Nichols told us that the bike he showed up at Anaheim One with was a lot different than the first CRF450R he tested when signing with the team several weeks ago. Nichols finished sixth in his 450 Supercross debut and he was pleased. "It's something to build on," he said. "You never know where you're gonna stand until you go racing." For more with Nichols check out the How Was Your Weekend post elsewhere on the site!
The GET crew was in full force at A1. US Brand Manager Dan Truman was showing Athena CEO Erardo Ratzenbeck and Sales Manager Eduardo Maligno around the pits. GET electronicas are now being used by the Honda HRC team.
Apparently, Thomas Harris' Dunlop tire installation technique is so masterful that it is to be watched with awe by others. In all seriousness, the soft conditions at Angel Stadium were a perfect match for the Dunlop MX33 tire that most chose to run.
Chase Sexton's Alpinestars Supertech M10.
One of our favorite things about a new season is checking out the custom-painted helmets. This is Chase Sexton's Alpinestars Supertech M10.
Colt Nichols' Bell Moto 10 Spherical was painted by none other than Troy Lee Designs. This is the first helmet Colt has had as a professional that does not have a mandated team design.
Chase Sexton's Alpinestars Supertech M10.
Colt Nichols' Bell Moto 10 Spherical.
Colt Nichols' Bell Moto 10 Spherical.
Colt Nichols' Bell Moto 10 Spherical.
Jordan Troxel is one of the coolest mechanics in the pits. Paired with Colt Nichols for 450 Supercross, he told us that he and his new rider are working together quite nicely. We asked him if there was less pressure working with a class rookie compared to his previous "star" rider, and he aaid, "There's always pressure to do your best!"
Super sharp factory footpegs have been around forever, but we haven't looked at a set the same since Dean Wilson's butt-ripping incident of 2022.
After Chase Sexton had success with the Showa BFRC shock, several other riders including Colt Nichols and Jason Anderson have been using it too.
While local racers might top off their fuel tank before a moto, racing with extra weight just doesn't cut it at the pinnacle of our sport. Check out the fuel dipstick that Honda HRC uses to make sure the bikes have enough fuel, but not too much.
Another look at the Showa BFRC shock.
All the spares: Honda HRC has a very well-equipped pit cart in the mechanic's area. All of the top-level teams do...Honda's just looks extra trick with the four wheel mounts.
Last season, Maximus Vohland raced a 250 SX-F Factory Edition bike, but for 2023 KTM will not produce a FE as both the 250 and 450 Gas Gas bikes will be offered as Factory Edition machines. That said, the very trick #34 bike is based on a standard 2023 250 SX-F.
Maximus Vohland sure likes to grip his motorcycle. In addition to the aggressive grip tape on the sides of his motorcycle, the second-generation rider also has cut-up bits of mountain bike tires super glued to the insides of his Fox Instinct 2.0 boots!
Maximus Vohland's Fox V3.
Maximus Vohland's Fox V3.
Remember the shot of the extra-long header on the Honda HRC 450s? In stark contrast, check out the short header on the factory KTMs.
New team, same team. Paige and Jagger Craig joined Christian under the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rig at Anaheim One.
How's this for a throwback and recreation? swap shot this of Christian Craig on his dad's Honda of Troy CR125R in 1996...
...and this shot of his son Jagger on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna FC 450.
Malcolm Stewart's mechanic on the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team prepares a spare wheel with a different-size Pro Taper sprocket, in case the track conditions called for different gearing.
Christian Craig's Fox V3.
We like the way AP Designs utilized the unique eye port design of the Fox V3 to add the riders' names.
Notice the new required SMX branding on the numberplates of the bikes? The new three-race Supermotocross Championship schedule was announced at press day (9/9 at Z-Max Dragwat in North Carolina, 9/23 at Chicagoland Speedway in Illinois, and 10/14 at the LA Coliseum in California) and we're looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.
As always, all riders under the KTM group umbrella have different engine mounts to choose from. Malcolm Stewart prefers these aluminum mounts with a cutout as the allow the chassis to flex for comfort.
RJ Hampshire, meanwhile, likes a more rigid feel and thus, runs solid mounts on his FC 250.
Together again: Troy Lee/Red Bull/Gas Gas Team Trainer Wil Hahn and Michael Mosiman's mechanic Jay Burgess have been on GEICO Honda together, shared a home as roommates, and are now back together at "The Fun Team."
Last week, we installed a Pro Taper SELA starting device on our Yamaha YZ450F test bike and opted for the "most aggressive" 120mm positioning. That said, it's
We can not wait to get our hands on a new 2023 Gas Gas MC250F Factory Edition bike! Pierce Brown told us that he absolutely loves the new machine, and that the new chassis suits him and his riding style perfectly. Sadly, Brown went down in the first lap of his heat race and was asked by the team to sit out the rest of the evening as a precautionary measure when he mentioned that his neck hurt. He will be back this weekend at Oakland!
Justin Barcia and Pierce Brown's Troy Lee Designs SE5 Carbon.
The left side panel on the new Gas Gas MC250F is massive! Lots of room for air vents...
After spending the last couple of years wrenching for Justin Barcia, Ollie Stone has been promoted to the role of Crew Chief of the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/Gas Gas factory team. Stone is one of the coolest guys in the pit area, and definitely knows his way around a motorcycle. Here, he checks the mapping on Bam Bam's 450.
Both Barcia and Brown elect to remove the plastic frame guards from their bikes for a more connected feel with the motorcycle.
Justin Brayton was on hand solely as a spectator at Anaheim One. JB told us that he would join the television broadcast team at selected events this year, and he came to A1 to not only watch the race, but to watch the TV team at work and get a feel for what he's to be a part of in the coming weeks.
Did you check in on @swapmotolive on Instagram on race day? We post as many updates as possible.
It was good to see our friend Max Steffens at Anaheim One. Formerly the Director of Marketing at Fly Racing, Steffens is now working as the parts manager at Carl's Cycle Sales in Boise, Idaho, which obviously affords him plenty of time to smash the miles on his road bike. Looking great, Max!
Cooper Webb came prepared for the messy track walk conditions at Anaheim One. The track turned out amazingly well considering the weather in the days leading up to the season opener, and Webb rode an admirable race, coming from behind late in the race for second.
David Vuillemin continues to work with Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin. We wonder if he's also trying to offer some parenting device to the new dad...Marvin and his wife Mathilde welcomed their daughter Margot on December 19. Toutes nos félicitations!
Dr. H. Rey Gubernick has been a permanent fixture in pro motocross and Supercross circles for over two decades now. Doc G works at Natural Health Sports Therapy in Costa Mesa, California, during the week, but can be found at virtually every pro race on the weekends.
Shane McElrath was a late addition to the Twisted Tea/HEP Racing/Suzuki team and he is gelling quite nicely with the RM-Z450. McElrath was in a scary first-turn crash in the LCQ but according to his father-in-law, 3-N-1 Moto Ministry's Jeff Jetton, he is sore and banged up, but ready to race Oakland! Great news.
The Twisted Tea Suzukis look a lot different than the Progressive Insurance Suzukis at the next HEP Racing semi. Which do you prefer?
Shane McElrath's Fly Racing Formula helmet.
Like many racers, Ken Roczen uses a Ski ERG from Concept 2 to train on during the week, and also to warm up in the pits on race day.
Ken Roczen's Fox V3, along with a special motivational message for him from Kenny Day.
We love the Korn-themed artwork on the back of Kenny's helmet!
It seems like it came together in a flash, but the Alex Ray/Swapmoto Live effort was made possible by a lot of great companies and individuals. ARay narrowly missed the main event by one in the LCQ, but you can bet the 140 will be in them from here on out!
Alex Ray has a big year ahead of him in 2023. In addition to this being his final 450 Supercross Series, he will tie the knot with his fiancee Sam in November.
Sam models the SML Stacked Hoody - available on the MERCH tab on the web site! Support our content-creating team!
BarX Suzuki's Derek Drake had only six days on his Suzuki RM-Z250 before Anaheim One, and he was impressive as he raced to 12th in the main event. Look for Drake to improve drastically as the series wears on.
Derek Drake went with old-school construction boots for track walk.
Luxon MX clamps can again be found on all of the Club MX/Muc-Off/Yamaha bikes. Manufactured to precise specifications in San Diego, California, the clamps are absolute works of art. We ran a set on our 2022 Yamaha YZ450F all season long and loved the more-precise feel that they gave our test bike.
Benny Bloss got on his 2023 Yamaha YZ450F only a couple of days before Anaheim One. Though it has a distinctively different feel than the 2022 model, Bloss told us he was able to adapt quickly and really enjoys the new bike feel. Sadly, he crashed out of the program in his heat race and suffred a bruised tailbone. He will sit out the next couple of races to recover.
The Hill brothers have never raced on the same team. Until now! Both Josh and Justin can be found at the Team Tedder rig, where they are fielding a pair of very dialed-in 2022 KTM 450 SX-F bikes.
Both Josh and Justin Hill run enzo racing's KY spring conversion kit on their KTM 450 SX-F race bikes. "If I had to run air forks, I don't think I'd be racing with this team," said Josh Hill.
Justin Hill consults with enzo racing's Ross Maeda in between qualifying sessions.
Josh Hill's Fox Racing V3.
We've spent some time with German Dominique Thury this past off-season, and we're looking forward to seeing how he does on his Heartbeat Hot Sauce Yamaha. Unfortunately, crashes and bad luck kept him out of Anaheim One's main event.
Heartbeat Hot Sauce replaces Nuclear Blast Records as Team Solitaire's title sponsor for 2023. The team was handing out small sample bottles at Anaheim and we were lucky enough to score one. Tried it on our eggs Sunday morning and man...fire! So good!
We asked Anthony Rodriguez if juggling helped warm him up before taking to the track, and he replied, "Not really. It's just a ritual I have, like putting my left knee brace on first."
We like these radiator extensions on the Smartop bikes. When we enquired about them, we were surprised to hear that Oldenburg's mechanic Nathan Alexander paid $6000 to have six sets 3D printed up!
Hitch Hotel is one of the major sponsors of the Smartop/Motoconcepts Honda team. What is Hitch Hotel? It's a n "RV that can be towed by any vehicle in the world."
Mitchell Oldenburg's son Ryker, was on hand to support dad.
The Smartop/Motoconcepts Honda team had Mitchell Oldenburg and Anthony Rodriguez contesting the Western Regional 250 class. We spotted Vince Friese in the pits on crutches, and he told us he was sidelined with a ruptured acchiles tendon for the rest of the Monster Energy SX Series.
Colt Nichols looked right at home in the 450 class and it's hard to believe that Anaheim One was his first 450 Supercross. Nichols has spent a lot of time in the preseason testing and training at public SX tracks so he had an idea where he stood, speed-wise. "When I rode with Chase for the first time a few days ago," he said. "It was startling because he's just so fast." After finishing sixth in the main, Nichols was pleasantly satisfdied and looks forward to building on that score.
Chase Sexton's limited edition Alpinestars Acumen gear has an undeniable basketball theme, tied in with his number 23 and the legendary Michael Jordan. What do you think of the design? We like it!
Funny. We met this guy in the pits at A1. The photo he's carrying is of his buddy who has traditionally joined him at the races, but last weekend for some reason, he decided to go on vacation. So, he printed out this photo and had racers autograph it so his buddy would still be there in spirit. Haha!
Malcolm Stewart's Shoei VFX-R.
Just outside of the Rockstar Energy rig side doors was the headquarters for the Husqvarna Grit and Grind video series crew. Now that's some serious equipment!
Joshua Varize and his AEO Powersports teammate Derek Kelly have a new look this year. Shot Racewear from France is the team's new gear sponsor. We haven't seen Shot since the brand abandoned its first big Stateside push several years ago. We like the look of the latest Shot kit!
Malcolm Stewart had Korsace add a cool little tribute to the late Ken Block on his Shoei VFX-R.
During the off-season, we chatted about the Alex Ray effort that we were helping with, and on one episode the subject of ARay's helmet paint came up. @frostedpaintco immediately messages Alex and signed up to customize his HJC i40 helmets. What do you think? We like it!
Don't try to take photos of former Miss Supercross Brittney Millsaps. Davi doesn't like it.
What do you think of the look of Dean Wilson's Firepower Honda CRF450R?
One guess who's red gloves these are under the Firepower Honda semi.
Dean Wilson's Fly Formula helmet.
Dean Wilson's Firepower Honda CRF450R is equipped with an HGS Exhaust Systems pipe, which is produced in Belgium. HGS was founded by long-time MXGP mechanic Henri Gorthuis. We have never tested one, but have always heard good things.
It was good to bump into Cole Seely and his new wife, Skyllar. Cole is already looking forward to this year's World Supercross Championship and he told us that this time, he will race a 450 with the Smartop/Motoconcepts/Honda team. Good news for CS fans: he also plans to contest several rounds of this year's 450 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, too!
Quote of the night in the pits: Mitchell Oldenburg to his son Ryker. "I'm really glad that you're here, buddy!"
There must be something to starting blocks, as even Eli Tomac - who hardly needs them to reach the ground - utilizes a set.
Marvin Musquin got the day started off right by posting the fastest time in the first practice session. "I think that the technical conditions suit me best," he said. Unfortunately, the new father struggled in the main and finished well off his usual positions.
Letting the flow grow, Jade? Matching haircuts for a rider and mechanic would be quite a team-building exercise.
Joey Savatgy’s in for eight rounds of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship in the 450 Class with Rick Ware Racing and will be aboard Pro Circuit-built KX450. The plan allows Savatgy to join a factory team should they need a replacement and will also get him ready for the six-round FIM World Supercross Championship later this year.
Austin Politelli is part of the Overstock Vehicles/AJE Motorsports/GASGAS team alongside Jerry Robin and Mitchell Harrison during the 250 West Coast Region this year. AP has lined up for his share of 450 SX Main Events, including three in 2022, but the last time AP raced a 250 SX was Arlington 2016.
During the offseason, we heard the AMA would overhaul the metal grates to stop bikes from being lined up at an angle. A few new units, which are much narrower, were dropped onto the track for riders to try out during Saturday afternoon’s Free Practice, while the old 4x8 expanded metal sheets were in their place behind the starting line at Anaheim One.
You can always spot Leigh Diffey and Ricky Carmichael on the floor during at least one round of Timed Qualifying at every Supercross. The duo will call the broadcasts all year long during live showings on the Peacock app and airtimes on NBC, CNBC, and the USA Network.
Ready for the green flag. Look closely, and you’ll see that Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha has added Optima Batteries to their program for 2023. We’re putting together a list of non-endemic/out-of-industry sponsors that we saw at A1 because there were a lot.
Troy Lee Designs went with a comic book-inspired design for their SE5 helmets at A1 and let their riders have a little bit of input on the words in the “Boom-Pow” graphics. Justin Barcia’s had the usual “BamBam” painted in one of the explosions, while Pierce Brown asked if his could say “21 Savage.”
Adam Cianciarulo said that he’d undergone another procedure to correct the nerve issues in his arm during Friday’s press conference and is confidently hopefully it will alleviate the numbness he has struggled with through the past few seasons. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider looked good on the bike at the opening round, his first race in nearly a year, and stayed in the top ten all day.
Rockstar Energy has been a part of Dean Wilson’s program for a while and has followed the popular rider to his new spot at Fire Power Honda for a Supercross-only program. Froth is a brand started by team owner Yarrive Konsky that will produce cleaning-detailing chemicals for motorcycles and bicycles.
Custom bend? Freddie Noren caught the rear brake lever of his MADD Parts Kawasaki on a Tuff Block during the Free Practice session and twisted it all the way back to the footpeg. Freddie and his mechanic tried to kick it back into place, to no avail.
Someone spent plenty of time in the fabrication shop at Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing this offseason. This trick-looking stand folds up and can be easily stowed in the team’s trackside pit cart.
Austin Forkner shared his thoughts about the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki KX250 during our Friday News Break interview. “I feel like we made a lot of progress with the bike this year, probably the most progress in a while, especially motor-wise, probably since this newer bike came out with the electric start,” he said of a package that now includes an electric water pump. “This is the best the bike has felt, for sure. And that happens, usually in the last year of bike before another new one comes out that a bike feels the best, just because you continue to make progress.”
Another non-performance addition to the PC bikes this year will be a nod to the race location, like this Angels’ A under the rear fender.
A good mechanic’s pack includes assorted wrenches, screwdrivers, spare goggles and gloves, a water bottle, and a fresh roll of duct tape for the worst of emergency repairs.
AP, staying loose with a pre-ride stretch.
APdesigns painted a handful of Ken Block tribute helmets in time for Anaheim One, including this one for Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Levi Kitchen, which used the Big Drips livery Block had on his rally cars a few years ago. Jeremy Stenberg’s Moto10 (not shown but on IG) was based on the original design from UK artist Death Spray Custom.
Ty Masterpool was a late addition to BarX Suzuki for 2023, as the team needed a replacement for Carson Mumford for the 250 West Coast Region. Masterpool’s SX experience before A1 was limited to five Main Event finishes, all in 2021, and two small tip-overs in the LCQ kept him from making it a sixth.
Christian Craig’s head-to-toe, family-wide gear deal for 2023 includes a nod to his wife and kids in every kit, starting with this DAD patch that used the Anaheim A.
Here’s hoping the best for Austin Forkner. On Friday, the 24-year-old PC rider told us that he’s probably nearing the halfway point in his career and is doing everything possible to make the most of the next few years, which could include a move to the 450 Class as early as this summer.
One of Eli’s many “holeshots” on Saturday. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider aced every gate drop, from practice to the Main Event, at the opening round.
There was a lot of CANVAS MX apparel at the opening round. Kevin Moranz, AJE Motorsports, Joey Savatgy, and a few others wore new designs by the growing gear company, which now offers pre-designed and produced jerseys and pants, along with their fully customized kits.
Aaron Plessinger looked feisty on Saturday afternoon. The Red Bull KTM rider charged into the first turn as soon as the green flag waved/gate dropped in all three sessions and was the lead guy on the opening lap, a big change from his usual lackadaisical approach to practice. AP ended up tenth overall in the time sheets.
Autofocus with KR & ET.
Benny Bloss will have to miss a few rounds from a Heat Race crash that sent the Rock River Yamaha rider to the hospital for an overnight stay and evaluation for back pain. Bloss was released by the end of the weekend with a bruised tailbone. Heal up, BB.
Fresh blood for the beast. Justin Shantie finished his race prep of Adam Cianciarulo’s KX450SR by topping it off with Maxima oil, poured through a funnel made in-house by Kawasaki.
Showa’s BFRC is back on the green bikes in 2023, with Jason Anderson and Adam Cianciarulo using the shock on the KX450SRs. The innovative piece has had plenty of development and test riders over the years, dating back to Jake Weimer's time at Monster Energy Kawasaki.
Derek Dwyer checked the chain tension on Cameron McAdoo's KX250 a few times when we were under the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rig. A seasoned pro, DD took a rag and backed it into the sprocket to mimic tension on the chain.
We've seen Jordan Troxell go through his pre-ride routine a time or two. The Team Honda HRC mechanic took us through the entire procedure for a TWMX Tech Tip video back in the day during his time at TLD Honda. Almost a decade later, he still goes all the way around his bike in order with an assortment of t-handles on every visible bolt.
First 30-second card of the season. The split start used at A1 was certainly interesting, with six whoops placed between the two gates to separate riders a bit more as they barreled into the first turn, but it didn't seem to cause any issues during the night show. If anything, the tight left-hander and a soft spot by the Tuff Blocks had more of an impact. Dirt Wurx will use another split start at the Chicagoland SMX round.
Shoutout to our friend Alec Gaut, who shot on the floor for the first time at A1. Alec is a part of the track crew at every round of SX and MX, an all-day job that includes setup, maintenance, and teardown of the course and any additional infrastructure. Hit the Midweek Podcast tab up top to hear an hour-long talk with one of the hardest-working guys recorded over the summer.
Dylan Walsh is getting good at Supercross. The Brit/Kiwi is back for another year on the 250 West Coast Region with Revo Kawasaki, the team that's supported him during his international schedule, and some help from the Grindstone Compound crew. Walsh ran near the front in his Heat Race and ended the night eleventh in the 250 Main Event.
Another one of Eli's solid starts, this one from 450 Heat Race One.
Jared Lesher has joined the two-stroke revolution. The privateer, backed by FMF Racing and its The Drop merch package program, will "Bring Back The Smoke" with a YZ250 that has all the right parts for a pre-mix burner. Lesher didn't make the Main Event, but got plenty of cheers for the bike's retro look and crisp sound compared to the thumping four-strokes.
Four factory riders, just a few feet apart, battling for spots 2-5 in a 450 Heat Race. We're in for an excellent year of racing.
Cooper Webb's back to his usual tactics of staying low in corners and tracking down competitors in the late stages of a race, like he tried here on Ken Roczen in the last lap of their 450 Heat Race.
Hunter Yoder is part of the Partzilla/PRMX squad for 2023, an independent team that spends the winter racing SX in the US and the summer racing MX in Canada. Yoder, who has only a few SX results, finished eighth in his 250 Heat Race and seventeenth in the 250 Main Event.
We feel for Tony Archer right now, as the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki mechanic saw both his and rider Austin Forkner's season end no more than 10 seconds after the gate dropped in the 250 Main Event. While Forkner is on the mend, he will still be put to work by PC as a helping hand to the other mechanics and riders at the races.
A1 was Anthony Rodriguez's first SX since the East Rutherford round in 2019. The Venezuelan racer's speed and results on the South American circuit caught Tony Alessi's attention during the offseason, and he was given a spot on the MCR squad for 2023, which should include WSX in the SX2 category.
The first finish line shot of the season always catches us by surprise, and this year was no different, as Feld added a five-line flame thrower to their pyrotechnics package. We didn't know about the new piece until we watched Jett Lawrence claim the W through the camera's viewfinder.
Grail: A highly desired item that is difficult to attain due to rarity and/or price.
Or the Fox Racing Raceframe, which uses D30 materials to absorb energy and is also CE certified. Chest protectors aren't required in the US but are mandatory at FIM-managed events elsewhere in the world.
Chest protectors are better than ever, and we've noticed more riders are opting for full coverage under the jersey roost guard like the Revel Light by FLY Racing and its CE-certified plastic shell…
And finally, Eli's start in the 450 Main Event. Is this another positive attribute of the 2023 YZ450F?
French connection. The SX-crazed European country had two riders in the 450 Class, with Dylan Ferrandis finishing fourth and Marvin Musquin finishing twelfth in the Main Event, and Camronn Gautier's fifth-place result in the KTM JR SX Challenge, but no one in the 250 Class (Tom Vialle will be part of the East Coast Region with Red Bull KTM).
Bar-to-bar with ET and KR.
Time for one of our favorite SX photo games: How many 250 championships, MX and SX, are in this shot?
Grant Harlan told us his seventeenth-place finish in the 450 Main Event is one of the top three moments of his career, right there with tge fifth-place result in the 250 Main Event at the 2021 Indianapolis Two round and the 12-11 motos he put in for eleventh overall at the 2022 Fox Raceway Two outdoor national. The journeyman racer came to the SML Show this week to talk about his plan for the year, being a privateer, and, yes, what happened at the WSX finale in Australia. Be on the lookout for this episode in the next few weeks.
Chase Sexton was the only rider to put in a sub-one-minute lap time during the afternoon practice, won his Heat, and was one of four leaders during the 450 Main Event. The Team Honda HRC rider's block pass on Malcolm Stewart was calculated and well-executed, as he left Stewart no room to respond, but a botched run down third base rhythm lane a few minutes later unraveled the rest of his race. His lap times from lap seventeen on were 1:03-1:04s, two to three seconds slower compared to what he'd done early in the race and the competition.
The last mishap of Jason Anderson's eventful A1. Considering El Hombre's hard slam in practice, plus a weird spin-out later in the afternoon, a seventh-place result in the 450 Main Event is a decent finish to a difficult day.
Justin Hill looks good on the Monster Energy/Mountain Motorsports/Team Tedder KTM, but he says his comfort on the bike is all thanks to his brother, Josh. JR told us he tried out Benny Bloss' settings when he first got on the 450 SX-F but got lost trying to sort out the setup until Josh took it for a few laps and worked with Pro Circuit on the engines and enzo racing on the suspension. A1 was Hill's first SX in two and a half years, and he finished the 450 Main Event in fifteenth.
It was great to see a packed crowd for the opening round, and even better to hear their roars during the first five minutes of the 450 Main Event. Security at Angels Stadium told us the place hadn't been that full or loud in quite some time.
Malcolm Stewart's wicked flip in the 450 Main Event took a toll on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing FC 450, as it snapped the seat out of its mounting posts, twisted the front end, and ripped the transponder from its place on the forks. The missing transponder caused confusion for the AMA; Stewart was originally scored in twenty-second place until Tuesday when officials updated the results and credited him with a sixteenth place and seven championship points.
Eli Tomac's A1 win makes him the first defending champion to win the opening round since 2012 when Ryan Villopoto got the dub and started his run to a second 450 SX title. The win keeps Tomac fourth on the all-time 450 SX win list but breaks the tie with Chad Reed and pushes CR22 down to fifth.
This roost from Cooper Webb had to feel like salt in the wound for Chase Sexton after a last-lap battle for second place. Cutting it close through the tight left turn and rolling over the finish line was the best way riders could defend their spots at the checkered flag.
Tomac didn't seem fazed by the twenty-one-lap battle. He gave Dirt Shark a quick rev on his way off the track, caught his breath in front of the TV crew, and looked full of energy on the podium.
We overheard Sexton say he got tight to Team Honda HRC, but he seemed more concerned about a few mistakes in the closing stages of the moto than he was about his fitness or the performance of his CRF450R.
How many times will these three be side-by-side on the podium this year, and in what order?
Donn Maeda is a 30-year veteran in moto-journalism, having worked at Cycle News and Dirt Rider before launching MXracer Magazine and TransWorld Motocross Magazine. Maeda is the Editor-In-Chief at Swapmoto Live and you can catch him on a dirt bike or in the saddle of a mountain bike on most days.