As the winningest rider in Monster Energy Supercross for the past three seasons, Eli Tomac has rightfully earned his distinction as title favorite. It’s a distinction he’s carried for the past several years, and it’s one he was once again saddled with entering the 2020 campaign. All signs point towards Tomac turning his dominance into a championship-winning effort, but somehow a title has managed to elude him in Supercross. Nevertheless, with each passing season Tomac gets even more difficult to beat, and it’s only a matter of time before he finally breaks through and becomes the World Champion we all know he should be. There’s no better way to start a championship effort than to put forth a strong showing at Anaheim 1, but,for whatever reason, the season opener in Anaheim has never panned out well for the Colorado native.
As strange as that might seem for a rider of his caliber, Tomac is in oddly good company when it comes the Anaheim 1. Despite a combined nine 450SX Class titles between them, neither Ricky Carmichael nor Ryan Dungeyever captured a season-opening victory in their legendary careers. As the saying goes, “you can’t win a championship at the opening round, but you can certainly lose one,” and for Tomac that statement reigned true on Saturday night in what he would likely describe as a frustrating evening. Despite being exceptionally quick all day long, a less than ideal start in the Main Event left Tomac mired about mid pack, from which he methodically worked his way forward and ultimately brought home a solid seventh-place finish. It was actually about where Tomac has typically found himself in the opener, and this time around it was a relatively drama-free night in which he secured some valuable points to build from as the season pushes ahead. While we all expect Tomac to come out and lay waste to the field, we also know how long and arduous the Supercross season can be, and Tomac will happily play the long game if it means he’s hoisting the trophy at Salt Lake City in May.
While Tomac was forced to fight amongst the incredibly deep field of riders in the 450SX Class, his rookie teammate narrowly missed out on maintain an undefeated start to his premier class career. Since his incredible and triumphant debut at the Monster Energy Cup in October, many have been talking about what Cianciarulo could accomplish as a rookie in 2020. It’s similar to the energy that surrounded Dungey in his debut a decade ago in 2010, and much like Dungey, Cianciarulo nearly shocked the world with a maiden victory in his first full time Main Event appearance. Less than a year ago, Cianciarulo was forced to lick the wounds of a heartbreaking loss of a 250SX Class title. Since then, he’s become one of the most poised and confident riders in the sport, and the momentum he generated from an epic run the AMA Pro Motocross 250 Class title last summer has seamlessly carried over into his 450cc transition. Not only was Cianciarulo the fastest rider in timed practice at Anaheim 1, he was just a handful of laps shy of taking home his first 450SX Class win in his very first attempt. Despite being a rookie, Cianciaruloactually seems destined for more success at the sports highest and most competitive level than he ever did in his time aboard a 250cc machine. While he’s no doubt wondering what could have been after Anaheim 1, what lies ahead has to have Cianciarulo brimming with optimism and excitement.
Despite all the attention given to his green-machine counterparts, leave it to none other than Bam Bam himself to rise to the occasion and bask in the glory of yet another Anaheim 1 victory. While things didn’t quite fall into place like Barcia would have hoped after his season-opening triumph last season, there’s a different energy surrounding the veteran rider in 2020. Another offseason aboard the Yamaha has given Barcia even more confidence in his steed, and it was readily apparent once racing got underway inside Angel Stadium. He stormed to a Heat Race win and proceeded to seize the lead early in the Main Event. While a mistake threatened to let the win slip away, Barcia never gave up, and his persistence paid off when Cianciaruloendured through his own miscue. True to his nature, Barcia pounced at the opportunity and did everything he could to ensure he took full advantage of his second chance. Anaheim 1 is storied for its unpredictable outcomes, and given all the discussions coming into the opening round, few expected Barcia to establish himself as the clear cut rider to beat under the lights of Angel Stadium for the second year in a row. While it remains to be seen what Barcia does with this momentum, no one is riding a bigger high than Bam Bam himself at the moment.
450SX Class Results
1. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
2. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy Kawasaki
3. Cooper Webb, KTM
7. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki
12. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing
450SX Class Standings
1. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing - 26
2. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 23
3. Cooper Webb, KTM - 21
7. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 16
12. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing - 11