Southwick - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Damn, Dylan! The man comes back from injury, gets a moto podium, then an overall podium, and now an overall win. Imagine if he was healthy at the beginning of the season? He could very well be battling for the red plate right now. Smart decision by Star Racing Yamaha to lock him down for two more years towards the end of the Supercross season, because he's going to be a title contender both indoors and outdoors next year. At this point, he has to be a shoo-in for the French Motocross of Nations team alongside Marvin Musquin and one of the MXGP riders, right? There's no way they can pass him up with the way he has been riding. Plus, he'll be riding the MXoN track next weekend at RedBud, which could almost be looked at as a prep race. I was curious to see how Dylan would adjust to racing in the United States when he came over last year after being a contender in the MXGP series for many years. I honestly had my doubts about how he'd handle the heat, but, well, he just won at one of the hottest and gnarliest rounds of the year...so I clearly should not have doubted him. How many more wins will he rack up this year?
The Good Bonus: RJ Hampshire | 4th Place Overall
RJ has slowly been coming around these last couple of rounds, but this fourth place overall (and third place in the second moto) is even more impressive considering how he had a pretty nasty crash at the end of the second moto last week. He didn't ride at all during the week, so he must have been pretty damn sore. Heck, the team wasn't even sure if he'd race Southwick at first. But he went out and got a moto podium in the second moto on a very demanding track. That's some grit and determination right there. I'm pretty sure I've touched on this before, but it really is time for RJ to start running up front more often. He's not one of the young kids anymore. He's a vet, and I'm sure GEICO Honda expects for him to start challenging for moto podiums on a more consistent basis eventually. I think we'll see him on the overall podium by the end of the year. Also, little bit off topic, but I really liked the Shift MX kits the GEICO Honda squad ran at Southwick. Stuff looked nice.
The Bad: Justin Cooper | 15th Overall
This was not the kind of day Justin was expecting to have after qualifying in the top spot. He didn't look to really have the same flow in the motos that he did in practice, and then a crash coupled with getting run over in the first moto probably didn't help things any. He was probably a bit beat up after that, which led to him catching a ride on the struggle bus in the second moto, finishing ninth. Still, this has been a great first full season for Justin so far. He has shown that he will be a title contender in this class for the next few years. Star Racing Yamaha has a very promising next couple of years ahead of them with the team they have right now.
The Ugly: Austin Forkner | 7th Overall
Alex Martin was all over Austin and I don't think Austin would have held on to win the overall if the collision didn't happen, but he would have finished second overall on the day. But, the collision between him and Alex led to Austin getting the wind knocked out of him and it took him a while to get going as a result. And when he did finally get going, he wasn't exactly pushing it. That led to a 20th-place finish in the moto and seventh overall. Oh, what could have been. On the bright side, Austin has finally returned to the form that we all know he's capable of reaching. He should challenge for overall wins for the remainder of the season, and I bet he wins at least one or two.
The Good: Lorenzo Locurcio | 7th Overall
Whoa. Talk about unexpected! Lorenzo didn't just finish a career best of seventh, but he also placed ahead of four factory riders in the overall results. Very impressive for a guy who was running his last name on his bike's shroud earlier in the year (he rides for TiLUBE Honda now). Is this the spark that he needed to start finishing inside the top 10 consistently? Or will Southwick be his one hit of the season? We'll have to wait and see how he does over the next few rounds, but if he does start finishing inside or around the top 10 consistently and ahead of factory guys, the Rock River Yamaha team may start to regret letting him go after one season. That's one thing that's easy to forget about Lorenzo; this is only his second year as a pro. He rode for Rock River as an amateur and then rode for a 250 for them last year, but he wasn't brought back this year so he has been with TiLUBE Honda for most of the year (except some of the early outdoor rounds). He has quite a bit of potential, and some teams may start to get interested if he starts to have finishes like this on the regular.
The Good Bonus: Cooper Webb Returns
Cooper Webb is back! It's been a rough and tumble couple of years in the 450 class for Cooper. As I've touched on before, it's been plagued with injuries and bike struggles. However, it seemed like he was finally starting to get his Yamaha to a comfortable spot before he got injured in Supercross, so maybe within a few rounds we'll start to see the Cooper Webb we've all been waiting to see on a 450. But, if he doesn't get any better or just hangs out around sixth, seventh, eighth for the remainder of the season, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to see him part ways with Yamaha at the end of the season. Technically, he could have started negotiating with other teams on Sunday. I'm sure the silly season rumors will start circulating soon.
The Bad: Justin Bogle Returns, But Struggles
I'm glad Justin Bogle is back after having a rough year of injuries. It was really a bummer to see him get injured right after coming back from an injury during Supercross. It seemed like the dude could not catch a break. He did an interview with Weege not that long ago and even mentioned that after his last big injury it took a while for him to recover mentally, not just physically. So to see him happy to be back at the races is a bit of an accomplishment in itself. Now, Southwick didn't go that great. He did decide to come back at one of the hottest and roughest rounds of the year, which was definitely a statement, but it was clear he was struggling a bit with fitness in both motos. That's understandable, though. He hadn't raced in a very long time, and the last time he raced was during Supercross, so jumping right back into motocross at Southwick is a ballsy move. I fully expect for him to improve every round before becoming a top 10 regular towards the end of the season.
The Ugly: Justin Hill | 40th Overall
Justin Hill went down in the first corner of the first moto, took a while to get going, and was only able to come back to 21st place by the time the checkered flag flew. That was about it for him, because he didn't start the second moto. I looked around and couldn't figure out why he didn't make it to the gate. He didn't look to be injured when he was picking himself up from the tip-over in the first moto, so I dunno. I surely hope it wasn't some kind of injury. Maybe the JGR team report will give us some insight when they release it.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Grant Dawson & Steve Giberson