Las Vegas Supercross - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
How about that ride?! Zacho was dead last on the first lap, ladies and gentlemen. Dead. Last. His championship was over, right? There was no way that he could possibly come back and win it with both Jordon Smith and Joey Savatgy out front. Well, think again. He went on an absolute charge and was consistently putting down laps 2-3 seconds faster than the riders in front of him. That pace allowed him to climb all the way up to eighth place by the white flag. Who was in seventh place? The man he needed to pass to win the championship, Joey Savatgy. Zach was well aware of this and laid it all on the line for one last lap. With two corners left, he closed right up onto the back of Savatgy and put him down in the corner after the whoops. He crossed the line in seventh place and as a result claimed the 250 East Coast Supercross title. It was a ride for the ages, and a hard-earned championship win.
So, how about that pass on Savatgy? Was it dirty? Absolutely not. I really am not sure why so many people are calling foul on this move. You're gonna tell me that if you were in Zach's position, you wouldn't do the same thing? C'mon now. It's for a championship, a #1 plate, and quite a bit of bonus money. I woulda done the same thing without even giving it a second thought. Yes, it was a hard hit, and I'm sure Savatgy is still pissed about it, but it was the last lap and for a championship. Now I do want to make it clear that I don't have a problem with this type of riding in this specific situation. I wouldn't be too pumped with Zach if he just did this to some random rider out of frustration or for the heck of it. There's a time and a place when take outs are acceptable, and when they are not. In this instance, I strongly believe that it was an acceptable move. Congrats on your championship, Zach.
The Good Bonus: Adam Cianciarulo | 1st Place
Coming into Las Vegas, everyone was talking about the three-rider battle for the East Coast title. Cianciarulo was not included in those conversations because he was still 14 points back. I mean pretty much no one thought that he had a chance. Well, given all of the crazy stuff that went down during the main event he almost won the damn thing. He got out front early and just sprinted away with the lead. Little did he know that Savatgy was struggling badly, Osborne had gone down in the first corner, and Smith crashed out of the race. All of those things combined gave him the points lead at one point, but Savatgy was able to take it back towards the end of the race and then Osborne took it from him. But still, Cianciarulo only lost the championship by two points! Pretty crazy, and certainly unexpected. This was a great building year for him, and I think that he'll be one of the heavy favorites no matter which coast he's on next year. He should also make some noise outdoors...perhaps even win some motos.
The Bad: Jordon Smith | DNF
Jordon Smith had to be a bit surprised last week when he found out that he'd be running the red plate for the first time in his career at the final round of the championship. It had been an incredible year for Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM's newest recruit, and he could really put a stamp on it by stealing the title away from the two veterans. Unfortunately, it seemed like that the red plate may have weighed a bit too much for him. He was really all over the place during the first couple of laps of the main event, and he ended up crashing out in spectacular fashion. He has posted an update on his condition, and luckily didn't sustain any broken bones; he's just really sore. We should see him back at Hangtown.
The Ugly: Joey Savatgy | 14th Place
Mistake, after mistake, after mistake... That about sums up Joey Savatgy's 2017 Supercross season. It's truly been pretty astonishing to see how many mistakes he has made this year, most of which happened while he was in the lead or in a podium position (let's not forget about the penalty he received in East Rutherford, either). It really makes it look like that the pressure of the championship just got to him at times during the races, and Las Vegas was no different. He went down early in the race and immediately dropped several positions. It wasn't the end of the world at that point, though. Jordon Smith ended up crashing out of the race a few moments later and Zach Osborne was way back. But Joey just wasn't riding all that well after he picked himself up. He looked to be riding pretty dang conservatively, to the point where he was losing positions...not gaining them. Maybe he thought that Osborne was too far back and that he'd never catch him, or maybe he tightened up after tipping over. I have no idea, but the point is he wasn't riding like someone who was on his way to winning a championship. Then, it happened. With a couple of corners left on the last lap, Osborne ran it in on Joey and took him down. And that was it. In that moment, Joey lost the title. I'm sure he's disappointed, and rightfully so. But if he hadn't made so many mistakes throughout the season, maybe the outcome would have been different. Hopefully the motocross season goes better for the #17.
The Good: Ryan Dungey | 4th Place
He did it, folks. Ryan Dungey clinched his third straight (and fourth career) 450 Supercross title this past weekend in Las Vegas. I think that this one had to be the sweetest out of the three for him. Sure, he had some challengers in 2015 and 2016, but this was by far the toughest out of the three to earn due to Eli Tomac. Anyway, he did what he needed to do throughout most of the year, and when it got pretty tough he didn't show any mental weakness. I mean, even when we thought that Tomac may have gotten into his head, he was able to stay concentrated and consistent. There isn't much else to say other than congratulations on another championship, Mr. Dungey.
Of course, the biggest question about Dungey now is whether or not he will come back in 2018 (or if he'll even ride outdoors). It could go either way...so we'll just have to wait and see.
The Good Bonus: Eli Tomac | 2nd Place
He may have lost the championship, but it was one hell of a year for Eli. He claimed nine wins and almost took down the two-time defending champ. That's not really what everyone is talking about right now, though. There has been quite a fierce debate going on over the past few days as to whether or not he was dirty during the main event on Saturday night. My opinion? I don't think he was dirty at all. It was a close championship that went down to the final round, and Tomac had to do everything he could do other than going all kamikaze on Dungey. He block passed him early in the race, bumped him off of the track when Dungey passed him later in the race, and finally he let Dungey by on the last lap and stuffed him in a corner. All of these moves were completely okay with me. He didn't try to blatantly take out Dungey; he just gave him every chance to make a mistake. A 450 Supercross championship was on the line, people. Of course the guy running second in the championship was going to try everything he could short of taking the red plate holder out. Also, the situation Tomac was in was not the same as Osborne. Osborne had two corners left on the last lap to make a pass that was for the championship, Tomac needed multiple people to pass Dungey in order to win the championship. So no, it would not have been a good idea for Tomac to clean out Dungey because it would have been dirty. Whether or not a move is dirty is completely situational. You can't just approach every situation as if it's the same.
Also, Eli bunching up the pack was a pretty strategic move. He knew that if he just sprinted away he'd have absolutely no control over what happened behind him. But if he slowed down and bunched everyone up, maybe something would happen and Dungey would have issues or get passed. Of course, it didn't pan out, but it was a good idea.
One thing's for sure: Eli is really looking forward to Hangtown in a little under two weeks.
The Good Double Bonus: Jason Anderson | 1st Place
Hey, Jason Anderson won the race in Las Vegas! It was kind of overlooked due to Dungey winning the championship, but this was actually a pretty impressive win by Anderson. Yeah, Tomac stuffing Dungey one last time on the last lap handed him the lead with a couple of corners left, but he did have to do a decent amount of work to get back to third after getting into it with Reed earlier in the race. A great way to end the season for the #21, hopefully he can carry this momentum into outdoors.
The Bad: Marvin Musquin | DNF
Marvin looked off all day in Las Vegas. He didn't look all that comfortable during qualifying, the heat races, or the main event up to when he crashed. Who knows what it may have been, but it was clearly not meant to be his weekend. The good news is that he still got third in the championship, and he's pretty damn fast outdoors so we should be seeing plenty of him on the podium this summer.
The Ugly: No Suzukis in the Top 10
The highest-placed Suzuki in Las Vegas was Malcolm Stewart (12th), who isn't even a Suzuki-backed rider. Pretty crazy, eh? It really has not been a great year for Suzuki. Weston Peick was their best guy until he got injured, Broc Tickle was pretty solid until he got injured, Justin Bogle had a pretty bad Supercross campaign, and Justin Barcia had another disappointing season. Rough times for team yellow, but at least Barcia and Peick should get them some decent results outdoors.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson