Orange Bang: Anderson and Roczen Take Anaheim One Supercross 2014

Photos: Lutes

The 2014 Monster Energy Supercross Series kicked off with an unprecedented amount of excitement. A new racing format pitted racers against one another for the 22 spots on the starting gate and a shot at chasing this year’s championship, and this intensified the on-track action. In the 250 class, the main event came down to a last-lap slam that changed the outcome of the race, while a rookie in grabbed the checkers in the 450 class. What did these two have in common? Both were aboard KTM machines and both left Angels Stadium with control of the championships.

450 Supercross Class

450 Heat One

Mike Alessi timed the gate drop perfectly and rocketed to the lead aboard his Smartop/MotoConcepts Racing MCR450, a move that has become the cornerstone of the veteran’s career. Alessi held off his childhood rival Ryan Villopoto through the first sections of track, but the three-time and defending Supercross champion was busy looking for an opening to overtake the lead. An opportunity came in one of the track’s many tight turns, but a critical error on Villopoto’s part when initiating the pass caused his Monster Energy Kawasaki to stall and the mistake dropped him to sixth place.

Josh Grant and Ken Roczen battled for second place, which let Alessi construct a lead and Villopoto climb back up the order. On lap three, Villopoto leapt by Grant and Roczen for second place and whittled down the gap between he and Alessi. Just before the finish line of the last lap, Villopoto grabbed the lead but Alessi slowed, squared the following corner, dove to the inside line, and pushed Villopoto into the outside bales. Villopoto attempted to answer back in the next corner, but snagged the bales on the inside line and tipped over while Alessi took the heat race win.

1. Mike Alessi
2. Ryan Villopoto
3. Josh Grant
4. Justin Brayton
5. Ken Roczen
6. Wil Hahn
7. Broc Tickle
8. Ivan Tedesco
9. Chris Blose
10. Josh Hill

450 Heat Two

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart claimed the holeshot with Team Honda Muscle Milk’s Justin Barcia in tow. Their starts were key as the pack funneled into the first hairpin of the track, where a massive pileup occurred behind them and collected GEICO Honda rookie Eli Tomac and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jake Weimer. The crash, combined with the short heat races and four-man qualifying, was too much to overcome and both pulled off, Weimer to prepare for the remaining qualifers and Tomac with a reported shoulder injury.

Justin Barcia trailed James Stewart for the opening two laps, but miscues by Stewart on the face of a triple allowed the Honda rider to set-up a pass in a tight corner and steal the lead. Barcia controlled the remaining laps and finished with a 3.067-second gap at the checkered flag.

1. Justin Barcia
2. James Stewart
3. Chad Reed
4. Ryan Dungey
5. Matt Moss
6. Weston Peick
7. Nick Scmidt
8. Vince Friese
9. Kyle Partridge
10. Kyle Chisholm

450 Semi One

Wil Hahn nabbed the holeshot in the first semi of the night, and the GEICO Honda rider built an impressive lead immediately with a massive jump combination in the first rhythm lane. Hahn’s line choice in other areas of the track helped him inch away from Rockstar Energy Racing KTM’s Ivan Tedesco and privateer Weston Peick, and he flicked the Honda 450 through the air on the track’s bigger obstacles. The veteran Tedesco withstood an onslaught of attacks from Peick in corners, but the speed Peick carried through one particular section was too much to counter, and Tedesco dropped to third place.

Soaring Eagle/RCH/Suzuki’s Josh Hill found a flow midway through the moto and took the a spot from Vince Friese, but both were in the top-five and into the main event.

Jake Weimer’s woes continued in the Semi when the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider suffered another crash and had only the LCQ remaining to make it to the main event.

1. Wil Hahn
2. Weston Peick
3. Ivan Tedesco
4. Josh Hill
5. Vince Friese

450 Semi Two

Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen stormed out of the gate to take a commanding lead of the second Semi, and the rookie 450 rider was never challenged for the spot by Soaring Eagle/RCH/Suzuki’s Broc Tickle. The two pulled away from the five-racer fight for the final transfer spots that took place, which would turn into a melee in the closing laps. Andrew Short and Kyle Partridge were dicing for position on the final lap, and Partridge slowed entering a corner in order to square-up Short. His slower pace caught Short’s BTO Sports KTM teammate Matt Goerke off guard, who slammed into the un-expecting Partridge and sent both to the ground. This let Racing’s Jimmy Albertson nab the final transfer position to the main event.

1. Ken Roczen
2. Broc Tickle
3. Andrew Short
4. Matt Moss
5. Jimmy Albertson

450 LCQ

Kyle Partridge and Matt Goerke were together off the start, but after the collision in the semi that sent them to the LCQ, were keeping a safe distance to make it to the main event. This did allow Monster Energy Kawaski’s Jake Weimer to close on their positions, but with the top-four heading to the main event, all three were comfortably in position. Nick Schmidt upped his pace in the final laps and grabbed the final transfer spot over Cycle Trader/Rock River/Yamaha’s Kyle Chisholm.

1. Kyle  Partridge
2. Matt Goerke
3. Jake Weimer
4.  Nick Schmidt

450 Main Event

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto edged Ken Roczen and Josh Grant to take the holeshot, but the rookie stayed close to the defending champion. Roczen settled into a groove on the second lap and proved that his physical riding style worked on the big-bore Red Bull KTM, all while keeping Villopoto close enough for a possible pass attempt.

On the fifth of twenty laps, Roczen had lost ground to Villopoto and let America’s Tire/TwoTwo Motorsports’ Chad Reed catch up. The veteran Reed looked comfortable aboard his new Kawasaki machine and proved as much by running a pace similar to the top-two racers. Just when it looked as though Reed would make his move for second place, the stadium erupted in sound, as it was realized that Villopoto tucked his front-end on a loose and sand turn. The crash handed Roczen control of the race, but the moto was far from over.

Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart found his flow near the midway point of the race and in a matter of laps moved up the running order with a series of passes up the first-base rhythm lane. In a matter of laps, the multi-time Supercross champion went from fifth to second, and the dismantled Roczen’s lead. Stewart’s midway race pace compared to Roczen’s was roughly one second quicker, and the two began close fight for the lead with only laps to go.

Stewart’s attempted a pass for the lead occurred in the first whoop section, an obstacle he was getting through without issue on each lap. As the two drew even, the rear end of the number seven Suzuki swung out from under the rider, caught the top of a whoop, and sent Stewart flying through the air. The flips battered the bike and rendered it unrideable, forcing a disheartened Stewart to DNF.

For a second time in the main event, the victory was within Roczen’s reach. His teammate Ryan Dungey had moved by Chad Reed and into second place, but the gap was too much to close in the few laps that remained. Roczen pushed until there were just straight-aways left to go, and then celebrated his first 450 main event win with a fist pump over the finish line.

Main Event Results
1. Ken Roczen
2. Ryan Dungey
3. Chad Reed
4. Ryan Villopoto
5. Justin Barcia
6. Justin Brayton
7. Josh Grant
8. Broc Tickle
9. Andrew Short
10. Jake Weimer
11. Wil Hahn
12. Mike Alessi
13. Matt Moss
14. Nick Schmidt
15. Kyle Partridge
16. Weston Peick
17. James Stewart
18. Josh Hill
19. Jimmy Albertson
20. Vince Friese
21. Matt Goerke
22. Ivan Tedesco
Monster Energy Supercross 450 Championship Points Standings (After 1 of 17 rounds):

1. Ken Roczen 25pts
2. Ryan Dungey 22pts
3. Chad Reed 20pts
4. Ryan Villopoto 18pts
5. Justin Barcia 16pts
6. Justin Brayton 15pts
7. Josh Grant 14pts
8. Broc Tickle 13pts
9. Andrew Short 12pts
10. Jake Weimer 11pts