In this week’s race recap, we let a few riders do the recap for us – winner Davi Millsaps, Trey Canard, two-time SX Champ Chad Reed, another two-time SX Champion James Stewart, two-time & defending Supercross Champion Ryan Villopoto, … and former champion Rick Johnson gives his opinions as well.
Davi Millsaps: It was a great night for me. This is my first win since 2010, and I was just trying to keep calm out there. It has been a long time since I have led a race, so it was hard to calm my nerves. When Trey passed me I was like ‘Ahhh Man,’ this is like Salt Lake City all over again. I knew I had a good line though and I just pinned it in the whoops and I got back by him. I don’t think anyone really expected this. It was a new program, bike and team for me. We’ve all been working really hard during the off-season to come out and do the best we can. To see where we are and where we need to be. Even though we won, it’s all building blocks from here. We’ll go back and see how we can make it even better. It’s been like that the whole time. It’s really cool that Rockstar Energy Racing, Bobby Hewitt and Dave Gowland have given me the opportunity and stood behind me. It’s like a family.
Trey Canard: Tonight went better then I could have ever dreamed. I really had no set number or expectations coming into this race except to give it 100 percent effort and I am beyond grateful to even be lining up on the gate. I hope to be able to continue this throughout the year and hopefully get a win but mostly I just want to be there every weekend.
Chad Reed: There are 16 races ahead and Saturday was about seeing where we all stacked up. I wanted to come away with some good points and we achieved that. It is great to have the first race in the can, we now know what work we have to do ahead of Phoenix.
James Stewart: Things started out pretty good. We were fastest in practice and top qualifier. We had some really good speed and the Yoshimura Suzuki RM-Z450 was working great all day. Then I had a little mishap in practice; I didn’t fall over, I just caught my knee wrong. That turned my night around right there, because up until then I felt like we had a win in us. We finished eighth, but to be honest, I feel like I won the race. Now, I’ll go and get it checked out and if everything is good with the knee, we’ll continue on to Phoenix next week and hopefully get on a roll. My main competition finished eight spots behind me so we’re right there in points. Now we just need to go back and figure it out for next week.
Ryan Villopoto: The main event did not go well at all. I did not get the start I needed, which forced me to find alternate lines in order to pass guys. The track was not easy to pass on, so you had to take some risks. After the crash I knew I just had to get as many points as I could and survive. There are still 16 more rounds, so I’m now focused on Phoenix and finishing where I should be.
And finally, Rick Johnson – a seven time AMA Supercross / Motocross Champion gives his opinion on this first race of the season:
Davi Millsaps – Davi has to be, next to Trey Canard, the ‘feel-good’ story of 2013 so far. Watching Davi ride strong in his heat race, and then ride strong in the Main event … and then on the podium after the race – still looked like he was ready to go another 20 laps – very impressive.
I’ve watched Davi over the years, and I worked with him a little bit back when we were both with Suzuki. Davi has always had so much talent, but I think he lacked full maturity, guidance, and 100% desire to train.
After watching Davi on Saturday night, it was great to see him reach his full potential – and make it look easy. And I think Saturday night’s race in Anaheim is going to be a break–through race for him, and you are going to see a more confident guy that will come out and be there every week – because Saturday night was not a fluke.
Trey Canard – Trey has to be the absolute ‘feel-good’ story of 2013.
After the devastating injuries Trey has had over the past few years – not just the back injury from last year … and each time coming back, and continues to carry himself with so much integrity, respect for his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and his family, his sponsors, his fans, and everyone involved.
To see him come out and charge so hard in his heat race, and race hard all the way to the last lap in the main with Davi Millsaps, I think for him as well, this is going to be a ‘break-through’ race … it just does something for your confidence as a racer – a confidence that only a few guys will ever experience. I think Trey is going to experience that deep down inside himself.
Ryan Dungey – Ryan Dungey deserves a lot of respect. It’s hard to win just one championship, but it’s harder to continue to stay on top year after year. Ryan hasn’t missed a beat. 2012 he won the outdoor championship, went to Belgium to race des Nations, did the Monster Energy Cup, and now he’s right back in it in 2013 Supercross. He’s done this now for a few years.
I think for him Saturday night might of been a bit different if he hadn’t of lost the front wheel in dealing with a lapper. He was catching Trey and Davi – I’m not saying he would of beat them – but it might of been a great three-way race instead of a two-way race.
Chad Reed – Chad had a tough night I think. But I also know that Chad is one of those guys who gets faster as the season goes on. And as he’s said before – you can’t win the championship at A1, but you can certainly lose it. Chad also did the Monster Energy Cup in October, did well, and then got in a few more races to get ready for 2013 after coming back from injury. But I think Anaheim 1 is really the place where Chad got a feel for where he’s at, and where the competition is at for this season.
A sixth place is actually not that bad, especially considering how long and demanding the series is. Chad will definitely build on the season as it progresses. He’s smart and experienced, and knows what it takes to win a championship.
James Stewart – I had James picked to win. I had talked to Broc Glover, and he said James was riding so fast it was something special. I watched practice, and James was fast, consistent, and didn’t make many mistakes on a track that I think all the riders had a hard time finding a good rhythm on.
I heard James twisted his knee at the end of practice, so you could kinda’ see during the nighttime racing that he was less than 100%. He has a week to get healthy for the next race in Phoenix. Is it going to hold him back, or will he get healthy?
Ryan Villopoto – Ryan was fast all day, and during his heat, and even during most of the main event. He’s also a guy that knows you can’t win the championship at A1, but if you do something stupid, you could ‘lose’ the championship at A1.
Just my opinion, because I did not talk to Ryan, but I think the track gave him, and a lot of the riders problems. There was just too much ‘stuff’ on the track to find a good rhythm. Not only that, but if you made one small mistake, it turned into a ‘big’ mistake because it took a while to get back up to a good racing speed because of so many obstacles on the track.
So when watching Ryan ride, if he made a small mistake, like many riders, it turned into a large mistake that would add a few seconds to that one lap’s time.
I think in the Main, Ryan made three little mistakes. But as the track was, those turned into big mistakes. I have to give credit to Ryan because like a true champion, he got up every time, … sometimes no goggles, missing a glove, but he still raced hard all the way to the finish.
And after getting the checkered flag with a 16th place finish, he still had the professionlism to stop by Davi Millsaps and congratulate him on the win.
I’ve not been the biggest RV fan in the past, but I have an increased respect for him because of the way he got up each time and continued to fight hard, and the way that he showed respect for his fellow racer.
Justin Barcia – Justin reminds me of a combination of a few racers. Myself, Bob Hannah, and Ricky Carmichael. He charges 100% the entire race. He needs to be very proud of what he did Saturday night, and keep his head up. He was up near the front almost the entire time. Yes, he’s ridden a 450 before, but I would consider this his first ‘official’ 450 supercross. That one small mistake in the main, a crash coming out of a right hand corner, got him as far as finishing near the very top, but he and Honda should be very proud of what he did.
Eli Tomac – One big thing I noticed about Eli was he adjusted his starting gate position from the heat to the 250 SX main event.
What you want to accomplish when starting is to at least be in the top three coming OUT of the first corner. A lot of guys started out lining up towards the middle of the gate. The first turn was sharp, but it had a lot of room on the inside. So for many races a guy would go into the first corner in a good position, but come out of the corner back a few spots.
Eli adjusted. And it showed during the start of the main event. He controlled the race from the very beginning.
Ken Roczen – Ken had to work his way thru some traffic at the beginning of the main event. I was really impressed with watching Ken in practice, in his heat, and in the final. He, and his style, are forming into an ‘American Supercross racer’. You wouldn’t know by watching that his background and experience is mainly racing the World Motocross Championships. He is very fluid on the bike. He looks comfortable and natural. If he would of gotten off to a better start, who knows if he would of been able to battle closer with Eli?
One person I wanted to point out, and that’s Zach Osborne. Zach is on the Factory Connection GEICO Honda team this year. He had a little bad luck in the first turn, but his lap times were very good. Zach is older, and more mature, having raced primarily in Europe the past few years. He is also in great condition physically. I look for him to have a very good, strong, break-out year as well.
To conclude, I can’t say enough about how strong the field of riders are in both the 450 Supercross class, and the 250 class. There is more talent, and guys that in good condition than ever before … and they are running faster than ever before.
L – R: Ryan Dungey, winner Davi Millsaps, Trey Canard
Eli Tomac right after winning the 250 SX West Main event