Form of the round winners and series leaders to date in 2022.
Words: Simon Makker
It’s been a mega start to the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, with four different winners and three different red plate-holders featuring in the 450SX class alone, while Christian Craig has proven the rider to beat so far in 250SX. In this edition of Rated, MotoOnline looks at the form of the winners and series leaders across both fields.
Rundown: Heading into the opening round at Anaheim, a big question-mark hung over Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen. While he was still deemed to be a heavy favorite, a mystery illness had kept him off the bike for most of December. Imagine everyone’s surprise, then, when he came out and won the Anaheim opener with a near-flawless performance and put the rest of the field on notice. But the following weekend at Oakland saw almost a complete flip in the results and arguably the worst-affected was Roczen. Two crashes in the whoops – once in qualifying and once early in the main – set the tone for his whole evening and he eventually crossed the line in 13th, unable to make any headway against a talent-packed class. At San Diego’s third round, Roczen had found his form and was riding well in third, when he ran wide out of the whoops and Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) took his line away, causing him to crash. He remounted and finished seventh. Similarly, at Anaheim 2, Roczen was leading the main, but an assertive pass from Anderson in the sand section saw the Honda racer come off second best and tumbled down the leaderboard, finishing 13th. Courtesy of his on-track dramas, Roczen has dropped to ninth overall, a worrying 23 points behind early leader Eli Tomac.
Rundown: In 2022, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s new recruit Anderson is looking more like the guy who won the 2018 championship than he has since. A disappointing 10th at Anaheim (courtesy of a clash with Justin Barcia for second place late in the main) belied how well he rode, but if people weren’t talking about his form and pace then, they certainly were after his memorable, storming victory – his first in almost four years – at Oakland a week later. A strong start saw him chasing his team-mate, Adam Cianciarulo early in the main, before taking control of the moto on the fourth lap. A week later in San Diego, Anderson again showed his potential. He topped qualifying and worked his way from seventh to second in the main, only to suffer from bike troubles late in the race, dropping back through the pack to finish a frustrating eighth. Fortunes looked set to turn at Anaheim 2 when Anderson worked his way into the lead early in the race, but he relinquished the position to Tomac four laps later and finished a hard-fought second. If it weren’t for the set-backs at Anaheim and San Diego, Anderson would be comfortably in the box seat of the championship, but as of now, he’s third, just seven points in arrears of Tomac.
Rider: Justin Barcia
Rundown: TLD Red Bull GasGas racer Barcia has gained a reputation as a strong series starter and 2022 has proved to be no exception. He might’ve broken his three-run streak of leaving Anaheim 1 as the red plate-holder, but such was the back-and-forth nature of the opening two rounds of the championship, that he still came into round three at San Diego as the points leader. While the rest of the field experienced mixed fortunes, Barcia was the most consistent racer on the grid, charting third-place results at both Anaheim and Oakland. His podium roll came to an end in San Diego after a bad start saw him buried in the pack. Barcia went on the offence and scrambled up to 10th, before a late race altercation with Justin Bogle saw Barcia come off second-best as he tried to put the Twisted Tea Suzuki rider a lap down. Barcia remounted and tore down the side of the whoops before rejoining the track, but his actions saw him docked a position and put on a six-month probation for earlier contact, finishing the race in ninth instead of eighth. As a result of the probation, it was a more subdued Barcia that took the track at Anaheim 2 – he got buried in the first turn and had to carefully pick off the riders ahead of him to eventually finish seventh.
Rider: Chase Sexton
Rundown: It was only a matter of time before Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton chalked up his maiden 450SX main event win and we only had to wait until San Diego to see the 23-year-old visit the winner’s circle for the first time. But his season hasn’t been without its trials. Midway through the main at Anaheim, Sexton was climbing all over race leader Roczen and looked certain to make the pass, but two crashes in quick succession saw him drop to a frustrating fifth. A week later, at Oakland, Sexton tangled with his team-mate Roczen in qualifying and crashed hard. He bounced back to win his heat race, but felt uncomfortable with the track and eventually finished ninth in the main. Fortunes changed at San Diego where he pulled a great start, then clicked off his laps to take his first-ever win. With his confidence high, Sexton qualified fastest at Anaheim 2, then made the most of a good start to click off consistent laps and finish the four-round California swing with a solid third. Sexton is now second in the 450SX title hunt and just six points behind Tomac. Expect him to appear on top of the podium again before the season wraps up at Salt Lake City.
Rider: Eli Tomac
Rundown: You could put it down to experience, but compared to the rest of the 450SX field, Tomac has managed to keep himself relatively out of trouble so far in 2022. Even though he’s only found himself on the podium twice in the opening rounds – a win at Anaheim 2 and a second at San Diego – the most important thing is he hasn’t found himself in the dirt. As a result, the new Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha pilot and former 450SX champion leads the title chase as we head eastwards to Arizona this weekend. Although he’s never one to start a Supercross campaign with all guns blazing, Tomac has shown marked improvement at each round so far this year. A quiet sixth at A1 was followed by a noticeably better performance at Oakland when he worked his way back from an average start to cross the line in fourth. The Colorado native again showed significant improvements at San Diego where he scored a great jump off the gate and eventually finished second to Sexton. At Anaheim 2, Tomac completed his form rise with an impressive victory – his first since switching from Monster Energy Kawasaki to Yamaha – and further cemented his lead in the championship. Heading into the fifth round this weekend, Tomac enjoys a six-point lead over Sexton.
Rider: Christian Craig
Rundown: Right from the first gate-drop of the 250SX West championship it was clear that Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Craig is on another level this year. He eased his way to comfortable 5.6-second victories over Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker (Anaheim 1) and Team HRC Honda’s Hunter Lawrence (Oakland), but it was his performance at San Diego that could well be the defining race of his 2022 campaign. After getting caught up in a multi-bike pile-up in the first turn, the Californian remounted in dead-last and missing his helmet visor. Unfazed, Craig rolled up his sleeves and went to work, catching and passing anyone he could lay eyes on. By the time he reached the checkered flag he’d scythed through the field and into a remarkable third place. Craig’s ride was the epitome of damage mitigation and silenced any remaining critics that he’s the man to beat in the series. Further cementing his position as the heavy favorite for the title (and despite a huge crash during the media day on Friday), Craig won a toe-to-toe dual with his main rival, Michael Mosiman, at Anaheim 2 to further extend his points lead.
Rider: Michael Mosiman
Rundown: TLD Red Bull GasGas’s 250SX contender Mosiman has emerged from the pack as one of only a few riders who could potentially cause Craig some headaches this year. The Californian opened his 2022 account with a sixth at Anaheim 1, but the final results don’t tell the story of how he crashed in the whoops on the opening lap and had to fight from the rear to his final placing. A week later at Oakland he again made a mistake in the early stages of the main while running in third and eventually finished fourth. But in San Diego, Mosiman turned his fortunes around when he avoided the carnage that collected Craig and put in fast, consistent laps to take a convincing wire-to-wire victory. It was the first 250SX victory for GasGas and proved that Mosiman has the ability and pace to fight for the title. At Anaheim 2, Mosiman jumped to the front early in the main and tried to put daylight between himself and the field, but was overcome by Craig halfway through the race and settled for second and third in the points.