Saturday night marked the first race of the long anticipated 2013 Monster Energy Supercross Series in Anaheim, California. There wasn’t an empty seat in Angel Stadium as fans filled the sold out event, the night producing interesting results no one expected.
The night belonged to Davi Millsap’s after the Rockstar Racing rider crossed the finish line as the first 450 main-event winner of 2013. After setting the fastest qualifying time in practice and finishing first in his heat, the main event was Davi’s race to lose. The Suzuki ace didn’t disappoint, leading the most laps while fighting off Factory Honda’s Trey Canard for the win.
“Tonight was a great night for me,” said Millsaps. “I haven’t won a race since 2010 so this means a lot. I was just trying to keep calm out there. It’s been a while since I’ve led a race so I was just trying to calm my nerves and stay out front.”
Factory Honda’s Trey Canard had a taste of the lead during the 20 lap 450 main event. After a terrible crash in the 2012 Supercross season broke his back, almost ending his career, Canard missed the entire outdoor season while recovering.
(Top) Trey Canard pushed hard for the lead in 450SX at Anaheim, but Millsaps passed on the final lap for the win.
(Bottom) First-place finisher Davi Millsaps and second-place finisher Trey Canard congratulate one another on a fantastic race.
Intense physical therapy and loads of determination brought Trey back into a Supercross stadium for 2013. After passing Millsaps late in the race, Canard was unable to stay out front and lost the lead on the final lap to finish in the runner-up position.
“After what I have been through it feels like a win to me,” explained an excited Canard with an ear-to-ear smile.
Canards stablemate Justin Barcia was quick all night, battling for a podium position in the main event until a small crash knocked him back to a 7th place finish.
Following an incredible 2012 season Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Ryan Villopoto was one rider everyone expected to be out front competing for the win, but a night filled with unexpected crashes crumbled the Washington rider’s chances. RV showed the speed of a 2012 champion but was unable to put it all together. After two crashes in the main event, Villopoto only managed a 16th place finish on the night, scoring only five championship points.
“The main event didn’t go as expected at all for me,” remarked the Kawasaki ace. “After a terrible start I was forced to choose different lines in order to get around guys and make my way to the front. I had to take some risks because the track wasn’t easy to pass on. After I crashed the first time I was just focused on getting as many points as possible. There are 16 more rounds and I’m just focused on finishing where I should be from here on out.”
We spoke to James Stewart’s camp about what happened to him in practice regarding his injury. Sources say while James was on his flyer lap in qualifying practice he caught his foot and twisted his knee pretty bad. He knew he had hurt it and continued with the lap, his fastest of the day, but immediately pulled into the pits just after. The injury left the Yoshimura Suzuki rider unable to walk under his own power or even start his RM-Z450 which led to the decision to skip out on opening ceremonies.
Just before the heat, the verdict was made to try and ride. Stewart grabbed the holeshot but due to extreme pain couldn’t hold on to the top spot, finishing third in 450 Heat 2. Racing the main was still questionable but the fifth place result of younger brother Malcolm in the 250 contest gave James the inspiration to tough it out and compete in the main event. Lapping around three seconds slower than his practice times, Stewart was able to manage a respectable 8th place finish on the night earning valuable championship points.
Eli Tomac left no question as to why there is a “Number 1” on the front of his Geico Racing Honda CRF250R. The Colorado rider nabbed the win in the 250 class main event Saturday night but it wouldn’t come easy. Tomac was expected to dominate all night but didn’t seem to find his groove until the main event as the defending West Coast Champion only managed a 6th place finish in his heat.
“I had a tough heat race and that was a huge wake up call for me,” explained Tomac. “This is exactly how I wanted to start the season. I did some off season races like Monster Cup and that kept me in shape.”
(Top) Eli Tomac was uncatchable in Anaheim 1 in the 250 main. (Bottom) Ken Roczen had a solid night finishing second.
Just as it looked like Troy Lee Designs/Lucas Oils Honda rider Jessy Nelson was going to grab the holeshot and rocket to a lead in the main event, a big crash over the first jump knocked him out of podium contention. Up until then Nelson was fast all night, really fast. Following the crash was a huge pile-up involving win hopefuls like Blake Baggett and Martin Davalos.
“Tonight was definitely not how I wanted to start my season,” said Baggett. “The team and I have been working really hard so it’s disappointing to end the night like this. Hopefully the season will come down to the last round and every point will count.”
Ken Roczen kept the 250 field honest all night with a solid heat race win. The factory KTM rider ended his night with a second place finish in the 15 lap main event.
Roczen commented, “You can’t win the championship at the first race, but you can lose it. I’m glad that I was able to finish on the podium and put my team in a good position for the championship.”
Riders don’t have any time to waste as Round 2 will take place this weekend at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. This season looks like it will be a good one in both the 250 and 450 classes so don’t miss out. For live race feed and photos from each round check us out on Twitter and Instagram (@MotoUSA).