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Images from the 2020 SX Anaheim 1
NEWS

Monster Energy Riders Throw Down at Supercross Opener

Jan 062020

Equipped with an absolutely stacked lineup of riders for the 2020 season, Monster Energy made a resounding statement to kick-off Monster Energy Supercross last Saturday night. In front of a capacity crowd inside Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, the Monster Army swept victories across the 450SX and 250SX classes, and further emphasized it’s dominance with a 1-2 effort in each division.

While the Monster Energy Kawasaki duo of Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo generated considerable buzz heading into Anaheim 1, it was Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia that stole the show for a second straight year. In the 250SX Class, many expected reigning West Region Champion Dylan Ferrandis to pick up where he left off, but instead, his Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing teammate Justin Cooper and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner stepped into the spotlight with a thrilling battle for the win, from which Cooper prevailed with the first Main Event victory of his career.

450SX Class

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

250SX Class

Traditionally, the West Region of the 250SX Class is chock full of talent, where the best-of-the-best amongst the smaller displacement go bar-to-bar for the coveted regional crown. Last season, Ferrandis made his U.S. racing dreams come true by capturing not only his first title on American soil, but the Frenchman’s first professional title of any kind. In just a few years of racing in the states, Ferrandis has become one of the sport’s rising stars with a bright future that could lead to continued success aboard a big bike. When the West Regional field entered Angel Stadium to kick off the 2020 season, no rider carried more accolades than Ferrandis, so it seemed natural to think he’d begin his title defense with a winning ride. Unfortunately for Ferrandis, he was forced to come from behind after a challenging start, but true to his nature, he stormed through the field and managed to put himself in a position to win by the time the checkered flag flew. While a runner-up finish isn’t want Ferrandis expected of himself, the improvement of five positions from start to finish was something no other rider in the class could compete with. The title defense is already off to a promising start.

 

After watching his rookie Supercross season get cut short due to injury, Cooper learned the ropes last season and nearly walked away with a championship despite missing out on a trip to the top step of the podium. The progression of the New York native has been something to behold, and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before he captured that first checkered flag. Arguably the best start in all of the 250SX Class, Cooper put himself in a position to win early and gave chase to Forkner throughout the opening phase of the race. While a second-place result appeared likely, Cooper never let his rival get too far away and when Forkner slipped-up, Cooper was there to seize the moment and take control of the race. In typical fashion, his winning ride was consistent and methodical. Flash isn’t in Cooper’s vocabulary, but he’s more than capable of getting the job done in his own way. His long-awaited first win is now behind him, and we can’t wait to see what he’s able to do with the boost of confidence and wave of momentum he carries into the rest of the season.

 

Although he came up on the losing end of an exceptional Main Event to start the season, and was forced to then deal with added insult to injury with a post-race penalty of two positions, Forkner should be focused on the positives of his first race in exactly eight months. After suffering a torn ACL last April, on the heels of an absolutely dominant season, Forkner brought mere days on the bike into Anaheim. He was nowhere close to 100%, and still has some time ahead of him until we see him at the level he competed at a year ago. However, given the performance he put forth on Saturday night you would have never guessed Forkner was anywhere behind the eight ball coming into the season. It wasn’t a smooth day at the races for the Missouri native by any means, but when it mattered most he was exactly where he needed to be and was in control of his own destiny until his miscue that carried him into the tuff blox. While things got more difficult after the checkered flag flew, if Forkner is capable of that kind of speed and that level of riding at this early stage of his comeback, we’re bound to see him bounce back from a tough-to-swallow opener and help round out what appears to be an unbeatable trio of Monster Energy riders.

 

Western Regional 250SX Class Results

1. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star YamahaRacing

2. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star YamahaRacing

3. Christian Craig, Honda

5.​Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

6.​Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

 

Western Regional 250SX Class Standings

1. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy Star YamahaRacing - 26

2. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy Star YamahaRacing - 23

3. Christian Craig, Honda - 21

5.​Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 18

6.​Cameron McAdoo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 17

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