Southwick - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
As many expected him to, the Frenchman came to play at Southwick, and he walked away with second overall. An overall win continues to elude him, but I think it's just a matter of time at this point, as he clearly has the required speed and stamina required. All he needs to do is get two more good starts like he did at Southwick, and eliminate the small mistakes that he keeps making. I'm thinking that Unadilla might his best shot at a win this season. But even if he doesn't win this year, he's going to be a serious threat for wins in both Supercross and motocross next year.
The Bad: Aaron Plessinger | 39th Overall
Two weeks ago, Aaron Plessinger was on top of the world after winning Muddy Creek. Now, he scores a DNF/DNS after a hard crash in the first moto of Southwick. Tough deal for him, especially since he was picked to be one of the title contenders this year, but it just never came together for him. Bad starts, weird mid-moto slumps, and crashes have held him back big-time. Personally, I think that he's best-suited for a 450, and that we may not see him seriously contend for a title until he's on a big bike. That won't be until at least 2019, though, as he's contracted with Star Racing Yamaha for one more year. But it's still interesting to think about what he could be doing on a 450 right now (or even next year).
The Ugly: Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki
Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki's struggles continued at Southwick, as Austin Forkner and Justin Hill both had mechanical issues in the first moto and didn't start the second moto, Adam Cianciarulo crashed multiple times in the first moto and only managed a ninth in the second moto, and Joey Savatgy continued to just be "okay" while finishing 7-5 for sixth overall. It was no doubt a pretty tough day for the team, but that's not a huge surprise considering how rough this outdoor season has been for Mitch and company. Multiple mechanical problems, crashes, bad starts, straight-up poor performances...you name it, it's happened to this team this year. It's not like they're alone, as GEICO Honda has also had similar problems, but it's still pretty crazy to watch such a prestigious team have so many issues. It happens in our sport, though, and if anything it shows that no matter how hard your team works, how good your riders are, and how good you think your bike is, sometimes things will go wrong. It's tough pill to swallow for the team, but it'll make their next victory feel that much sweeter.
The Good: Dean Wilson | 3rd Overall
This podium finish has been a long time coming for Dean Wilson. After struggling with injuries throughout his first two years in the 450 class, he found himself without a ride with only a couple of weeks left before the opening round of Supercross. Determined to show the factory teams what they were missing out on, he set out to race as many Supercross races as he could on his own dime. In the process, he gained tons of new fans and became the most popular privateer by far. Eventually, he was picked up by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, and started to put in some very impressive Supercross results right away. He didn't hit the podium, but he did land inside the top five a couple of times before the season was over. Fast forward to the start of the motocross season at Hangtown, and he went out and grabbed fourth overall. This was a pretty big deal for Dean at the time. Not only had he made it through the entire Supercross season healthy, not only had he become a factory rider once again, but he showed that he has the speed to be a real podium contender again, which is something we hadn't seen since he was on a 250. Since then he's had some up and down races, but he's been consistent and he's been solid...picking up points each week and maintaining fifth place in the championship. But then Southwick came around. The funny thing is that he doesn't really like sand tracks, and he said that he was actually dreading this round because he didn't think he'd do very well. But not only did he do well, he grabbed his first ever 450 moto podium as well as his first ever 450 overall podium. It was a huge deal for him, for his team, and for everyone that has been watching him progress this year. There's truly nothing more satisfying than watching someone work so hard towards something and finally achieve it. Dean worked hard for this one, and he damn well deserved it. Enjoy it, Deano.
The Good Bonus: Martin Davalos | 5th Overall
If you'd have told me that you were going to bet money that Martin Davalos would finish fifth overall in a 450 motocross national before the season started, I woulda told you that you're crazy. But here we are. Martin rode his butt off to finish 7-4 and claim fifth overall on the day. I mean, he looked pretty freaking good, man. Maybe he should move up to the 450 class full-time? It's not like that this was a fluke. He's been riding well for the past few rounds. And if it wasn't for a lack of rides available for next year, I'd say he definitely should move up, but I don't think there's a spot for him on any of the 450 teams. So that means we'll probably see ol' Marty back in the 250 class next year, at least for Supercross. Now I don't have anything against that as I think that these guys should get to ride in whatever class pays the bills, but some people out there have some strong opinions as to what he should do. Heck even if there are truly no rides available in the 450 class, people will still be calling for him to move up. "Yeah, Marty, ignore that decent offer from a 250 team and go privateer it up in the 450 class!" That makes a lot of sense, right? No, it doesn't, but some motocross fans aren't too fond of using their heads to think about this kind of stuff. I say do whatever you gotta do for next year, Marty, but by all means keep surprising us with these great outdoor rides in the meantime.
The Bad: JGR Suzuki
Nothing like the old double-DNF special for a team with two 450 riders, eh? That first moto was absolutely disastrous for JGR Suzuki as Weston Peick's bike blew up and Justin Barcia's bike appeared to run out of gas (insert joke about the Toyota commercial with Barcia and Peick here). Both riders seemed pretty angry, and I bet it was probably a pretty quiet lunch at the truck. Unfortunately, the second moto didn't go a whole lot better as Barcia had a pretty big get-off while running up front and could only salvage a 12th. Peick didn't do too bad by finishing in eighth, but I'm certain he was expecting more. So yeah, I'm pretty sure the team is going to be more than happy to never talk about Southwick 2017 again.
The Ugly: Jason Anderson | DNS
Another blow was dealt to the championship fight with Jason Anderson opting out of Southwick after crashing hard during the week. This was definitely the right decision by him and the team, but it still stinks to see a guy who's been riding so well this year have to give up 50 points just like that. Injuries tend to jump up and grab guys around this point in the season, though. The good news is he'll be back for Millville, and I'm sure he'll be eager to remind the 450 class of how fast he's been going.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson