Dust had been settling on the Monster Million moneybox since Ryan Villopoto heisted the very first Monster Energy Cup in 2011 but AMA Supercross star Marvin Musquin swept to a perfect night of racing to spring clean his bank account and claim the massive trophy for the first time.
The seventh edition of the Monster Energy Cup – an event that both closes a season in the United States and also previews a new one – dropped into Las Vegas and the open setting of the Sam Boyd Stadium.
The amphitheater layout of the facility again allowed Ricky Carmichael to work his magic with track design and the fast, snaking layout looped inside-outside, into the stands and featured a BMX-style elevated start split into two sections. ‘Spectacular’ was the goal, and another element of wow factor was established with the ‘Joker Lane’ (a compulsory diversion for every rider at least once in all three ten lap races); the concept was revised from a handicap to a shortcut advantage and it proved to be a key element of the evening.
A strong line-up featured defending champ Eli Tomac, teammate Josh Grant and 2016 MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser, former winner Justin Barcia as well as Motocross of Nations aces like Jason Anderson and Dean Wilson and the factory KTM troupe. The end-of-season vibe (Best Whip FMX, Drift and Duel races were part of a busy Paddock Party) also carried a serious undertone with teams and riders using the three Main Events for testing ahead of the 2018 AMA Supercross season at Anaheim on January 6th. Only the victor of all three sprints in the Sam Boyd would gain millionaire status.
Musquin led the first race, dropped to fourth as Tomac, Anderson and co zipped through the Joker and then fired back to contention for victory two laps later when the Frenchman also took the route. A tasty battle with Tomac ended prematurely with the Kawasaki star losing rear end traction and crashing heavily on one of the fastest sections on the track. Justin Bogle and Gajser were also victims of a harsh opening sprint.
Musquin then controlled the second outing to be within touching distance of the biggest payday of his life. Nerves were obviously strained ahead of the final start but the former motocross world champion made an emphatic holeshot to loosen his pocket from the first lap. Coming up to the finish line #25 was ecstatic. “The money is one thing but to win three races is something else,” he said. “I cannot believe it and thanks to the fans they were also unbelievable. It was like a perfect day.” Husqvarna’s Anderson and Wilson filled the next steps of the podium.
With the boom of the fireworks the supercross season was extinguished for another year. The onus for the stadium races switches to Europe – in particular Paris and Geneva – in the coming months but the engines of this exciting and intense discipline will now only be heard on test tracks until 2017 clicks into a new digit.