The start of the 450 Supercross main event in Angels Stadium.
Photos by Daryl Ecklund
Story by Josh Mosiman
The first round of Supercross was full of surprises as it seemed like Anaheim 1 was a night for the underdogs. It looked as if the riders with the most pressure, who are expected to battle for the championship were riding with the weight of the world on their shoulders. The guys that we expected to take control were playing it safe and trying to survive the first round. Meanwhile, the underdogs who had less pressure excelled. To prove our point, the privateer Dean Wilson led the 450 main for 75 percent of the time, Malcolm Stewart finished second in his heat race and he ran second place for most of the main event, Justin Barcia won his first 450 race in 6 years and Colt Nichols won his first ever main event.
With all that being said, two major title contenders Marvin Musquin and 2018 450 Supercross champion Jason Anderson finished 8th and 14th. It was an unusual and exciting start to the 2019 season. How did it all shake down? Find out here in Motocross Action’s, “The Aftermath.”
One of the craziest parts of the day was the qualifying times in the 450 class! They were as close as it gets. Blake Baggett qualified first with a 54.346 and Cole Seely qualified 12th only 1 second behind Baggett with a 55.380.
Malcolm Stewart had a great day at Anaheim 1. He rode with confidence and qualified 3rd in the 450 class with a 54.471 lap time. He was only a tenth of a second behind the fastest qualifier Blake Baggett and two-tenths of a second faster than his teammate Justin Brayton.
Out of the 11 riders in the press conference it was Justin Brayton who seemed the most comfortable and confident. While everyone was nervous for the first race of the season, Justin explained that in his eyes, Anaheim 1 was his 10th race of his season. Because Justin competes in so many offseason Supercross races and he doesn’t race the Pro Motocross series during the summer, he views A1 as the middle of his season. This schedule and mind set obviously helped Justin as we saw him win his first 450 Supercross in 2018 at Daytona along with winning a few heat races and Supercross triple crown races. If you haven’t read it yet, click here to read our latest interview with Justin as he goes into the details of his program.
Dean Wilson was one of those riders who didn’t have the championship pressure on his shoulders. Dean rode like a man with something to prove. The privateer with support from Husqvarna and Rockstar looked great all day and it started off with qualifying 2nd only .04 of a second behind Baggett.
Justin Barcia scrubbing off the steep over-under table top while the rain coming down in the final 450 qualifying session. Justin had the fastest time in the first 450 session, but he didn’t improve his time in the second session while eight other riders did. This gave Justin 9th in the overall combined 450 qualifying standings.
Adam Cianciarulo topped qualifying in the 250 class with a 53.963 which gave him first gate pick for the second heat race in the night show. Adam’s time was also the fastest lap time of the day even when compared to the 450 class.
Dylan Ferrandis picks his bike up after a small crash in a turn. Dylan went on to qualify second in the 250 class.
Jimmy Decotis qualified third in the 250 class on his JGR Suzuki RM-Z250.
The first opening ceremonies of 2019 kicked off the start of the 45th season of Supercross.
Because of the rain and slick conditions, the opening ceremonies weren’t quite as exciting as usual. Instead of riding around the stadium on their bikes, the top 450 riders all entered the stadium by foot, through the podium to greet the crowd. Another note, none of the riders in the 250 or 450 main events took their sight-lap because they didn’t want to get their bikes muddy. With how important starts are in Supercross, the riders would rather not take their free lap to ride the track because they didn’t want to get their bikes covered in mud which would weigh it down for the start.
The weather provided overcast and chilly conditions which made for a great track during practice and qualifying. The extra moisture created good traction during the day, but the rain started to come down for the last of the 450 qualifying sessions and that’s when the tables turned. The rain fell and then it stopped, and we had hope that it would be done for the night, but that wasn’t the case. From the fans perspective you couldn’t really tell how wet the track was until the first 250 heat race was underway and multiple riders slid out in the first turn.
The first start of the 2019 Supercross season was a slick one. As the first heat race slid into the first turn many riders crashed and it was Jess Pettis who came away with the holeshot.
The Canadian Jess Pettis got the holeshot and led heat race number one for the first lap and a half before RJ Hampshire made the pass. Jess went on to finish an impressive 4th in the heat race and 10th in the main event.
RJ Hampshire was very excited to win the first heat race of the 2019 season.
Unfortunately, Mitchell Harrison had bike issues and DNF’d in both the 250 heat race and LCQ.
Adam Cianciarulo block passes Cameron Mcadoo part one.
Adam Cianciarulo block passes Cameron Mcadoo part two, on his way to the front in the heat race. Cameron stayed up and went on to finish 3rd in the heat.
Michael Mosiman finished 5th in 250 heat race number two.
Adam Cianciarulo won 250 heat race number two. At this point the track was slick but it would get much worse for the main event.
Ken Roczen with his game face while mechanic Oscar Wirdeman does everything he can to keep Ken’s goggles clean in a ziploc bag.
Jason Anderson and mechanic Chris Loredo.
Dean Wilson was sideways off the start, but he made it work and came out of turn two with the lead in 450 heat race number one before Ken Roczen made the pass and went on to win with Dean finishing second.
Ken throws up the number 1. He was stoked to win his first heat race in a while.
From left to right, Blake Baggett, Eli Tomac, Malcolm Stewart and Justin Hill slide into the first turn.
Blake Baggett and his new teammate for the Supercross season, Justin Bogle in 450 heat two. Blake would finish third and Justin fourth.
The Paso Robles California native, Carlen Gardner #805 was the privateer hero of Anaheim 1. Carlen got the holeshot in the 450 LCQ and never looked back. He rode a solid race to win the LCQ and beat Chad Reed who finished second. This result will definitely look good on the privateer’s resume. Ben Lamay and Kyle Chisholm rounded out the top 4 and also qualified for the main. Carlen went on to finish 17th in the main event behind Joey Savatgy, Justin Hill and Jason Anderson.
After more rain fell, the 250 main event was much slicker than these riders had seen previously in the heat race.
Adam Cianciarulo #92 slides in-between Jacob Hayes #156 and Shane McElrath #12 in the first turn. Shane would hold tight around the inside to get the holeshot.
Unfortunately for Adam the slickness of the first turn caught him off-guard. Adam came in too hot and slid right off the track into the whoop section. Adam quickly got back on the track and was close to last.
Shane McElrath grabbed the holeshot, but it was Colt Nichols who capitalized on a mistake made by Shane on the second straightaway to make the pass for the lead early on the first lap. Here Colt gets a little sideways through the whoops right after he took the lead.
The two Pro Circuit Kawasaki teammates Adam Cianciarulo and Garrett Marchbanks battle for position as the rain continues to fall.
Shane McElrath, Dylan Ferrandis, Cameron Mcadoo and Jess Pettis battling early in the main.
During mud races most of the riders put foam on their helmets to keep mud from sticking to their helmet which puts extra weight on the riders neck. When dirt hits the foam it usually falls right off. Here Michael Mosiman has a thick strip of foam on his helmet.
The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki rookie Garrett Marchbanks had a quiet but consistent night in Anaheim. He finished 6th in his heat race and 6th in the main event. Garrett turned pro in 2018 at Hangtown but after getting hurt at High Point he missed the rest of the season.
RJ Hampshire had a great start to his season. He won his heat race and finished 4th in the main event.
After winning at Anaheim 1 the last two years in a row, Shane McElrath lost his win streak but he stayed on the podium, this time in the 3rd place spot.
Shane commented on the track: “It didn’t seem like the rain was coming down that much, but then when we opted out of our sight-lap and got into the race it was quite a bit different. The track crew did what they could, but they kind of just pushed around what was already on top (which was slick and muddy) and we moved that stuff out of the way again. It was tough because you couldn’t really judge anything and that’s kinda where I struggled the most. Colt (Nichols) was riding good and I couldn’t catch him and I couldn’t keep Dylan (Ferrandis) behind me.”
Dylan Ferrandis battled through the pack to pass McElrath and finished second.
Colt Nichols won his first 250 main event Saturday night in Anaheim.
Colt commented on his first win: “That was the longest race of my life it felt like, but it really wasn’t too bad. We kinda just started counting down. I’ve actually been able to do a lot of motos this offseason, which is a pleasant change from years past. (Because of injuries.) I felt prepared, I felt like everything was great. My mechanic gave me 5 to go, 4 to go, 3 to go and you know you’re kinda talking to yourself a little bit to try to get through it and try to stay consistent. I really didn’t know how big of a lead I had or who was even in second at the time. I just kinda tried to keep the focus forward. I knew if I tried to relax a little too much I probably would make a big mistake and crash. So I tried to keep it moving and it worked out for me.”
250 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDING (ROUND 1 OF 9)
- Colt Nichols-26
- Dylan Ferrandis-23
- Shane McElrath-21
- RJ Hampshire-19
- Adam Cianciarulo-18
- Garrett Marchbanks-17
- James Decotis-16
- Jacob Hayes-15
- Chris Close-14
- Jess Pettis-13
As you can see, the rain kept coming down and the track was at it’s most wet condition for the 450 main event.
Cooper Webb went down in the slick first turn, but he remounted his KTM and charged his way through the pack all the way to 5th place. He even logged the fastest lap time of the main event while in traffic.
Dean Wilson grabbed the holeshot in the main event with Malcolm Stewart in second. These two would lead the pack for the first half of the race before Malcolm slid out while trying to pass for the lead and Barcia made the pass on Dean at the 15 minute mark.
Ken Roczen fought through the pack to finish 2nd in the 450 main event.
Dean Wilson was one of the only riders still launching the double-quad-quad rhythm in the rain. This helped him stay out front for most of the race. Here Malcolm Stewart is still behind him and Justin Barcia is close by in 3rd.
Malcolm Stewart fighting through the rain to hold of Eli Tomac.
After Tomac got around Stewart, it was Plessinger’s turn to try and get around him. Aaron is known for being a good mud rider and eventually made the pass and finished 6th in his first 450 race with Malcolm Stewart finishing 7th.
Justin Barcia makes the pass on Dean Wilson as he gets held up by lappers.
Riders like Justin Hill were getting the blue flag to move out of the way of the lead riders.
Tyler Bowers had a hard crash in the huge double-double section that jumped across the first turn. Tyler rolled the first double and attempted to jump off of the first double’s landing over the lip of the second double. Riders were doing this throughout the day but it was sketchy because the rhythm was not made to be jumped like that. Unfortunately Bowers clipped the top of the lip and went down hard.
Dean Wilson took off his goggles towards the end of the race.
Justin Barcia wins, with Ken Roczen finished second and Eli Tomac third in a muddy start to the 2019 season.
Aaron Plessinger seems to always have fun. He was pleased to finish 6th at his first 450 race.
Team Yamaha’s Jim Perry congratulates Dean Wilson on a job well done.
450 SUPERCROSS POINTS STANDING (ROUND 1 OF 17)
- Justin Barcia-26
- Ken Roczen-23
- Eli Tomac-21
- Dean Wilson-19
- Cooper Webb-18
- Aaron Plessinger-17
- Malcolm Stewart-16
- Marvin Musquin-15
- Chad Reed-14
- Cole Seely-13
TOP NEWS AFTER ANAHEIM 1:
Jason Anderson ran up near the front at the beginning of the 450 main but he eventually finished 14th.
Jason commented via Instagram: “Man yesterday did not go well… Kinda overwhelmed with everything going on and wasn’t myself at all. Looking forward to bringing it back around in the next few rounds and really want to thank my crew for all the support no matter how I do. Sorry guys but still looking forward and ready to give 110% the rest of the season. Also shoutout to my good friend Dean Wilson for absolutely crushing it!”
Colt Commented on the track: “The heat race didn’t seem too bad and moving into the main event the rain kept dumping. I thought from first lap to the last lap it didn’t get too terribly worse. It just kept coming down and by that time we had our lines dialed in. It wasn’t horrible. I was kinda surprised when we stopped at how much rain had come down and looking at the 450 race it was pretty gnarly at that time. But we survived it so it was good.”
Chad Reed set a new record by qualifying for his 18th consecutive Anaheim 1 and he placed 9th in the main. This was his 205th career top 10 finish which is more top 10’s than anyone has starts, except Mike Larocco and Kevin Windham.
Justin Barcia has never won the opening round in Anaheim before, here’s what he has to say about the race: “I’ve never won Anaheim 1 before but last year I was on the podium and before I hurt my hand I was really consistent, knocking out podiums consistently. So that was good. So I think with this race I’ll take the confidence with it and use it to my advantage forsure. It was good tonight cause I was in third for a long time and was consistent and smart. Like I said, I was kind of proud of myself after the race because I usually ride over my head a little bit and try to get into the lead fast. But I stayed there for well over half the race and made the passes when it counted. So yeah, it’s definitely a really nice position to be in, going out of here with a win.”