Assorted racer comments following this year's first round.
There were a lot of storylines at Anaheim 1 and we’ve compiled the direct takes from riders in this first Quotebook feature of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship season.
Chase Sexton (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – Third:
I come out here to win and be up front, but I’m happy to be on the podium coming out of Anaheim. As we saw last year, it’s as much about consistency as speed, and we know what we need to work on – I feel much more solid this year and I think we’ll be in a really good spot. It was a positive start to my career at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and I’m excited to keep progressing as the rounds continue in these early stages of the season.
Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – Fourth:
A1 was a good start to the season! I felt great all day, and then yeah, Heat Race went great, got second behind Kenny [Roczen], but came from a ways back, then got a good jump in the Main Event, but kind of forgot how to go around a first corner… Got shuffled back to about 10th, and then came back strong to fourth. I’m pumped on it, good start to the season, and we’ve got some homework to do, but I’m looking forward to San Francisco and hopefully getting it on the podium.
Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – Seventh:
Anaheim 1 was a stressful day and mostly because of the unknown… I didn’t have the strongest off-season I’ve ever had in my career, but I just used my veteran skills and had a good day! Qualifying wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I kept a cool head and had a decent Heat Race. And then in the Main Event, I made some good passes there and then had a good battle with Chase [Sexton], Aaron [Plessinger], and a couple of other guys, then tightened up a little bit at the end there. All-in-all, I was happy to get a top 10 and the goal for the season is to build as we go.
Jorge Prado (Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – 13th:
First-ever Supercross race is done, and what an experience! It’s so different from what I am used to, and it was just a day of building. I felt good in practice every time, and then the night show the track was so different. I’m used to riding the test tracks with a harder base and different whoops, so every time I tried to go through these ones, they were so different, which made it difficult and unpredictable. I didn’t find a good flow in the Main Event, but got a good start. I think next week we will move in the right direction, especially with having one race under my belt, and P13 I think is not a bad start.
Malcolm Stewart (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) – 11th:
I got the first one out the way and it’s been a whole year since I’ve raced. We ended up 11th after going down on the first lap, got back up and then went down again. But honestly, I’m just glad to be back racing, I rode good in the Main Event, but the results weren’t there. We have something to build off now, the team’s been working really hard and we had a great off-season. The results don’t show that, but I have 16 rounds left to show what we can do. I started like this in 2022 and came back for third in the championship, so tonight was just unfortunate, but these races happen, and now we’ll start stacking up top fives and podiums to get right back up in the mix.
Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – First:
It’s an unreal thing to grasp, winning my first 450 Supercross. With how many years the sport has been around, you’d think someone has done it before, so I’m definitely grateful and happy to do it for Honda; it’s an awesome feeling getting into the history books for them. The season’s off to a great start, and hopefully we can keep doing the same throughout the season.
Hunter Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – DNQ:
That obviously wasn’t how we planned for my 450 debut to play out, but there’s only one way to go from here, and it’s one I’m very familiar with… put my head down and get back to work. Bring on San Francisco!
Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Second:
Today started out pretty good. In practice I was consistent in the Top 5, and in qualifying I ended up seventh, which I was satisfied with. I had a good gate pick and was able to finish second, and tried to get the track dialed and prepare for the main event. In the main event I hopped into the lead down the first rhythm lane until Jett [Lawrence] passed me. It was really cool to get to battle with the guys and I had a great time. Overall it was a good day with my Monster Energy Kawasaki team.
Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – 12th:
Anaheim 1 is done and dusted and there’s room for improvement. It was a rough day for us. I felt uncomfortable on the track but my Monster Energy Kawasaki team helped me get through it and improve. I was happy that I stayed patient and didn’t make any critical mistakes. I had an okay heat race, but I need to get a better jump out of the gate. In the main event I was hung up on the start and was running in the Top 10 for most of the race. I know I’m a lot better than my results showed speed wise, and it’s frustrating but that’s racing. I’m ready to get back to work this week and will be ready to get the KX450SR closer to the front next weekend.
Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Sixth:
Today was a great day. Qualifying went really well. I was second and third, which was awesome for me, and then I won my heat race. I’ve never won a heat race at A1, so that was really cool. In the main event, I got off to a decent start. I was in third place and trying to get around Jason [Anderson] the whole race. It was kind of us three the whole time – me, him and Jett [Lawrence]. I was trying to make passes, but I just couldn’t make anything stick. Then I had a big crash there at the end. I don’t really know what I did, maybe hit a kicker or something, but all I know is the front went over, and I took a big hit. I’m lucky to be feeling alright. I’m just a little beat up, but nothing crazy, and I still salvaged some decent points. Overall, I’m really happy with my riding. I felt like I was one of the best guys tonight, so I’m super stoked about that and ready for 16 more rounds.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Ninth:
It was great to be back on the gate, but I underperformed, to say the least. We will be back stronger next week.
Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Eighth:
The day started really well. I felt really good in practice and qualified fifth, so that was really good. From there, I wouldn’t say the day went south, but I didn’t get the best of starts and got seventh in the heat. In the main, I had a poor gate pick, so I kind of got shuffled to the outside and was part of that pileup. Then I just had to work my way through the pack. I felt really good in the main, honestly. I had a good flow, clicked off as many guys as I could, and got up to eighth, and that’s where I stayed. I’m happy with the progress and most importantly, happy to get through the first one safe. It’s definitely something to build on, and I’m excited about how I was riding today.
Ken Roczen (Progressive Ecstar Suzuki) – 10th:
My night was going great! A heat race win and a good start going into the first turn, but I couldn’t turn and was mid-field, and then my front tire got ripped away from me by another rider. My bike was bent and my bar mounts were twisted. I gave everything I had, but as the track got chewed up and rutty I had a hard time. I made it back to tenth and salvaged what we could. The only way I wasn’t going to finish this race was if my handlebar was ripped off. Other than that we were moving forward! Thank you to my team we will keep it cool and be ready for next weekend.
Shane McElrath (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – 17th:
Man, it was a great start to the year. I’m excited about where we’re at, but really where we started – it’s a big gain over last year just being able to ride with intensity and aggression. We know where we’re at now, we can make some changes, and I feel it’s all up from here. I’m excited, I’m really excited.
Kyle Chisholm (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – 18th:
In the main I didn’t get the start I wanted. It took me a little bit to get into the groove, then I got some strong laps through the middle and last part of the race. We’ll get back to work this week and just try getting things better and race again next week, so it’s all good.
Derek Drake (BarX Suzuki) – 15th:
A1 was a solid start for my 450 Supercross debut. It was nice to make it straight to the main out of the heat race. I felt strong all day and put in a solid result to build off of for the rest of the season!
Julien Beaumer (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – Sixth:
Obviously this is A1, so I was a bit nervous at first – the Heat Race was nerve-wracking, but felt good overall. I felt good in the Main Event and got the holeshot, which made things a little scary, but I feel like my pace was good in the beginning. I made a little mistake around halfway and got passed, but just settled in from there. I am happy with sixth and the goal for next weekend is to be in the top five.
RJ Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) – First:
A1 was awesome for me and it was a dream of mine to win Anaheim 1 and leave with the red plate. Super-happy with the day, felt awesome on my Husqvarna and am thankful for the whole team, they’ve been crushing it for me and it shows tonight. I took what the night gave me and it gave me a win, so I’m happy with where we are at, there’s a lot of good things going right now, and we’ll stay level-headed heading into San Fran next week.
Ryder DiFrancesco (TLD Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – Ninth:
It was a good night for A1, the first round is always a bit nerve-wracking, and it’s just the little things, like making it through the Heat Race into the Main Event. They’re things that no one really thinks about, so that was a huge check-off for me, and I know I have a lot more in me! Ninth isn’t where I want to be, but I ran fifth or sixth for half the race and I’m now stoked for San Francisco.
Jo Shimoda (Team Honda HRC) – Fourth:
The last time I was here I went to the hospital, so this is a much better finish. I made things tough on myself; that mistake in the heat race cost me a lot–you won’t do much with the 18th gate pick. I felt like I had the pace all day; I just couldn’t get to where I needed to early. I’m happy to show that I had the speed to catch the top guys. This week we’ll work on getting to the front quickly, and be ready for next weekend.
Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – Third:
It’s amazing how many first-round jitters you get even after racing under the lights for a few years. I did end up running a little tight in the middle of the race, which cost me some time catching the front, but in the end, I’m stoked to be on the podium in the first race. It’s a long season, but to start it off with a good handful of points is great. It’s nice to get this for the team who’s been working really hard.
Maximus Vohland (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – Fifth:
It was really awesome to get that heat race win. I got a great start and made it count. In the main, I got pushed back behind a few guys that were going pretty good and the track was pretty slick. You had to be really smart about where you tried to pass. In the end, a fifth is good, but I want more. I think my speed can get me on the podium and with next week being my local race, I’m excited to get up to San Francisco.
Jordon Smith (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Second:
It was a good start to the year at A1. There’s always a lot of nerves coming into here, but I felt really good all off-season. I really feel like I’ve been riding the best that I have in my life, but you can still get nervous. The coast is stacked. There are a lot of fast guys, and you just never know. We worked a lot on starts this year, and it paid off today. I got the holeshot in the heat and came out with a good start in the main. I got shuffled back a little bit in the first two turns, but yeah, it was a good first race. Overall, I’m really happy with my day, happy with the bike, and happy with everything. I’m ready to go home and keep building off of this.
Nate Thrasher (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – DNF:
It was a tough Anaheim 1. We were just struggling a bit in practice, but I felt pretty good going into the night show. We finished third in the heat and got a decent start in the main, but unfortunately, I crashed about halfway through the race. I hit a kicker on the hip jump and went down pretty hard. I’m feeling pretty sore, but we’re all good for next weekend. It’s not how we wanted to start the season, but that’s racing. We’ll come back stronger in San Francisco.
Anthony Bourdon (BarX Suzuki) – 11th:
Wow, my first Anaheim 1 is done and what a race it was! Racing here has always been a dream and qualifying for the final directly from the heat was a relief. I had a good start in the main, but stalled the bike in the second lap which broke my concentration. I raced well, I was consistent all race, and I realized I had the speed for an even better result. Overall, I am incredibly happy with a P11 in Anaheim and can’t wait to race in San Francisco.