Assorted racer comments following the first round of the season.
In Quotebook, a selection of riders detail how their races played out in the first round of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross Championship at Anaheim.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – First:
It was an amazing Anaheim 1! It’s pretty special for us to do this at round one with a new platform, and for me, it’s been 10 years that I’ve been in the 450 class, so it feels good to get this win. It was an unbelievable day for us as a whole. I was P2 in practice and was very close to first place there, and then in the heat race, I got the holeshot and ran away with that one. That was awesome. In the main event, there was so much that happened there. I was really close to the holeshot again. I was right there and battled with Justin [Barcia]. I made a pass for the lead and then made a mistake. I had a crash on the tunnel jump and ended up washing out. At that point in time, I thought the chance at the lead again was maybe over, but thankfully my bike was still straight, and everything was good. I somehow made it to the front of the pack again, so it was a wild turn of events, but overall the bike worked so well today. We’re off to the right start.
Dylan Ferrandis (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Fourth:
It was a good day. Honestly, it was the best opening round for me in the 450 class. I had a chance to be on the box tonight. I was third at some point in the main event, but a small mistake cost me the podium. In the end, I finished fourth and was right on the wheel of the third guy, so it’s a good result, and I’m really happy with that first race. Honestly, after two very bad seasons in Supercross, it’s good to be back in the mix and back to fighting for podiums. I know what I’m capable of, and I think tonight, I didn’t race to my full potential. I know I have a small margin to improve, and I’m ready for next week. The new bike is just so much better for me in Supercross. I think we proved it tonight with Eli. He won and I finished fourth. It’s a good start to the season for us.
Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Seventh:
The track was really demanding tonight with all of the sharp edges and quickly changing ruts which caught a lot of riders out during the day. From the morning practices through the end of the 450SX main event, you had to be precise with where you put your tires on every section of the track. I had a few mistakes that cost me from getting into the podium battle at the end of the night but, overall, I feel like we’re in a great place with the KX450SR to be competitive for wins again in 2023.
Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Ninth:
First and foremost, it was great to be back at the races doing what I love with my team today. We are aiming to build some momentum and continue improving throughout the season so, to start inside the top-10 after nearly a year away from racing is a positive. It was a really challenging track today for everyone but, we managed it all well as a team and came away with a solid result at the end. I’m looking forward to doing it again next week in Oakland.
Christian Craig (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – 13th:
A1’s done and it was a rough day for me. I started off good in practice and then had a pretty big crash in the whoops and from there on out it was a struggle. I rode tight and not like myself. I’m pretty frustrated with the night, but we’re healthy, we’re moving on, and only up from here. I’ve just got to work on starting up front and putting myself in a good position to battle more next week.
Malcolm Stewart (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – 16th:
The day started out pretty slow. I didn’t really ride that well in practice and the track was pretty tough, but I got to a point where I was like, ‘you know what? I just need to turn this dayaround,’ because I felt like I work too hard to get to this point. I got a decent start in the main event, and just did the best I could. I started riding, clicking off laps, making some good passes, and smart choices. I was leading the main for a while, which was amazing. I don’t think I’ve done that in my whole entire career. Just having all that pressure and dealing with it, if anything brings confidence to me because I know where I belong. I’m very proud of myself. Unfortunately, we did have a crash with three laps to go. It was a big crash for sure. I’m glad that I’m healthy and walked away from it, so we live to fight another day and I’m more proud of myself because of how my day was going and me turning it around and going like that and doing what I’m supposed to do just brings more confidence for me. I’m looking forward to Oakland.
Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) – Second:
I’m stoked to start this season so well! Honestly, I was really hoping to get a top five, maybe a top three tonight. I didn’t get a great start and I actually stalled the bike, and that put me back in the mid-pack. It’s tough because at the first round everyone’s feisty and excited, so it’s about being smart getting around guys, and moving forward without wasting too much time. The track was very rough, but I found some good lines and I was able to get start clicking off laps and making passes. A lot of riders made mistakes tonight and it worked out well for me.
Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM) – Eighth:
For the first round of the season and my first race back since February, my day went pretty well. I qualified in 10th, and while I didn’t get a good start in my heat race, I made it work and came back to fourth. In the main event I was in a good position, but had a little spill. If I hadn’t done that, I feel like I would have ended up in the top five or just outside of it, so we’ll clean some stuff up this week and be back ready for Oakland.
Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) – 12th:
I’m very disappointed with my end result and I know I can do a lot better. Track conditions were very tough and I wasn’t able to put it all together tonight. I had a bad start and got pinched badly in the first turn, and from that point on I struggled to find a rhythm. I could’ve got a good result as a lot of riders crashed, but I wasn’t able to make it happen. I got into a better rhythm in the middle part of the race, but then I dropped it. It was a really tough night and this isn’t what I want, so we’ll keep working and do better next weekend.
Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas) – 11th:
A1 is a wrap. The day started off pretty well. I felt good in the first practice but I struggled a little bit in the next two, just with feeling comfortable with the track, because it was very tricky with a lot of square edges and things like that. I made a big change before the heat race and unfortunately went in the wrong direction. So I went back to my base setting for the main event. Pretty much ripped the holeshot, led a few laps, made a huge mistake, and had a crash. I worked my way back up to like seventh and had another crash. So it was a difficult main event. We’ll take a few positives from the day. We had a good start, and we had speed, we just need to keep it on two wheels and keep it simple and we’ll be good. But the speed is there, the fitness is there, and the bike’s there, so I’m happy with that and definitely put this result behind us and move forward.
Chase Sexton (Team Honda HRC) – Third:
Anaheim 1 was one of the gnarliest tracks I’ve been on. It was really hard to jump into and be consistent and perfect throughout the whole main event. Being back in a race setting was good. I’m pretty comfortable on my bike – I think we made some good steps in the right direction, and I felt safe and stable in the whoops all night.
Colt Nichols (Team Honda HRC) – Sixth:
It was a little chaotic throughout the day, but things came around. I started out making it through the heat race unscathed. I went into the main and got a really good start and kind of fumbled the first little straightaway and went from first to like sixth [laughs]. I didn’t quite have the intensity the first maybe 10 minutes, and the front group got away a little bit – I was riding in no-man’s land. Overall though, I’m really happy. We got through it, which is all I really wanted to do, and I’ve got something to build on now. I’m excited for next weekend.
Ken Roczen (Progressive Ecstar Suzuki) – Fifth:
Our weekend in Anaheim was a fun one but a gnarly one. Quite possibly one of the gnarliest I’ve ridden. I’m stoked to get away with a top five at the opener. We’ve put in a lot of work and have some work ahead of us. It’s a solid start to the season. We didn’t blow anything out of the water, we didn’t do the absolute greatest either, and we have something to build on that I’m super stoked about.
Kyle Chisholm (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – DNQ:
For me, the day was tough. The last few days, I’ve been under the weather. I was trying to get through the day the best I could. I was in a qualifying position but couldn’t make it happen. The team did great. We have a lot we can keep improving on, but with how sick I am, I am happy with where we are. We are going to keep working and come out swinging next Saturday.
Shane McElrath (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – DNQ:
Well, it was a rough start to the season. I came in slightly under-prepared and needed a little more time. For me, I mentally didn’t show up ready to race, and it took me too long throughout the day to get to that point. The team did the best they could for me, we all have a goal moving forward, and we are ready to work towards that. I’m a little banged up. I’m going to get some rest this week, work on some things we can improve and be better prepared next weekend.
Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Seventh:
It was a tough day. The track was like nothing I’d ever ridden, so it was all new to me. I went into the night, qualifying sixth, which wasn’t too bad. I ended up fourth in my heat race, and I was feeling pretty good, much better than I did in the main. I got a really bad start and worked my way up to seventh, but I plan to do better next weekend. I’m happy to be healthy, though. The track was pretty tough. We’ll just move on from this one.
Stilez Robertson (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Ninth:
Today was not really what we were looking for, for sure. It started off with a little crash in free practice and I ended up qualifying ninth. In the heat race, I ended up sixth after tipping over, which didn’t give me an ideal starting position for the main. I got a bad start there and ended up ninth, which, as I said, is not what we are looking for. The conditions were tough tonight, but everyone had to ride it. It wasn’t just me, so no excuses. We’ve got work to do, and we’re going to go back to The Farm and put in the work this week.
Cameron McAdoo (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – Third:
I’m not completely satisfied with my ride. All-in-all, I’m looking at the big picture, so it’s definitely a solid way to start the season. I had a little mishap that hurt my hand halfway through the race, so that made it more difficult to hit all my lines. I’m going to keep working to be better and in the grand scheme of things, it was a good day. It’s been a while since I’ve raced Anaheim and it’s been fun.
RJ Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) – Second:
Man, we had an awesome day. From start to finish we were solid. I felt like my riding was really good. My starts were decent, and it was a solid start to the season with a P2. We’ll take it and lead into Oakland. Hopefully, we can do it again.
Max Vohland (Red Bull KTM) – Fifth:
A1 was a good start to the championship for me. I started off the day with two good qualifying sessions, then I had a strong in my Heat, racing to a third-place finish. In the main event I got off to a good start and battled most of the race in fourth, and ended up fifth for the night. I’m really happy as my goal was a top-five result and I was able to achieve that. I’m looking forward to carrying this momentum into Oakland next weekend.
Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – First:
It’s always nervous coming into the first one because you don’t know where everyone’s at. The big thing was how the track was going to form up for the main, and after practice, the joke was, ‘I just want to see Sunday!’ [laughs]. I had a bit of a rough one in the heat race, so I just focused on the main and making sure I did what I needed to do. I’m thankful I came out of here in one piece.
Dilan Schwartz (Progressive Ecstar Suzuki) – 20th:
Track was tough all day, I felt comfortable, but I was dealing with a couple of little things that held us back. I’m going to get it sorted and come out swinging next weekend. Hopefully, I will have a much better result there.