News 1 May 2024

How Anderson has built back to podium speed

The first podium for the Kawasaki rider in nine races shows solid late-season progress.

One of the strongest rides in Philadelphia came from Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson who hung on the lead group the whole race and used a late charge to pass Cooper Webb in the final turn for his first podium finish since Glendale. Anderson has been slowly building back to a position where he can challenge the leaders and attributes that success to several factors including finding confidence within himself, comfort on more hard packed conditions, and riding at ClubMX during the week.

“I think I’ve just been building momentum from race to race,” said Anderson. “I think even in Foxborough, I wasn’t riding like myself in the heat race, and I got up there with the guys and was able to feel a little bit of the pace and got more confidence from being able to hang up there. Last weekend, same thing, and I think today I just started finding some lines towards the end of the main event and was able to make a run and make it on the podium.”

Image: Octopi Media.

After frustrating 10th and 11th place finishes at Seattle and St. Louis, respectively, Anderson has been riding very well since putting together 4-3-3 results at Foxborough, Nashville, and Philadelphia. The last three rounds have seen him average only 11 seconds off of the race winner over 20 minutes plus one lap and his late race speed has been very competitive.

He was in line for a third consecutive fourth place finish in Philadelphia but clearly wanted more. After passing Eli Tomac with five laps to go, he sat in Cooper Webb’s roost and pushed him to the very end. Ultimately, Anderson knew there was only one spot where he could make the move work and he got it done.

“With Coop there at the end, I was charging,” said Anderson. “I knew that the only way I could do it was to try to go to the outside in the whoops. I tried to squeeze him off and he didn’t want to let go, but I just want to be up here on the box. It’s tough because Coop has always been a straight up dude and it’s cool to see him still fighting for titles like this late in his career. I’m kind of bummed that it was him, but at the same time, I want to be on the box.”

Image: Octopi Media.

Webb fell in the last turn and slipped off the podium for the first time in five rounds, but as Anderson said, he wanted that elusive podium that he’d been waiting nine rounds to get back. Both riders seemed to acknowledge that it was a racing incident.

For Anderson though, this recent string of success has also come with more hard packed conditions. Seattle was very rutty and even St. Louis broke down more than riders expected. But despite some rain in Foxborough in Nashville before the event, both tracks definitely had a harder base to them. Those slick and hard packed conditions have always been what Anderson has thrived on and he knows it, but he also doesn’t believe it’s the only thing causing this turnaround.

“I’m usually better on hard packed tracks,” said Anderson. “Obviously with us doing all of our testing in California, me living in California, just in general we’re going to be better at it. These guys live in Florida and ride softer dirt, but that’s something I’ve got to figure out and learn. Right now I’ve been riding at ClubMX and luckily, I was able to have the boys from Kawasaki out there this week to do some testing. I’m trying to get them a little bit more open minded to giving our bike an opportunity and myself an opportunity in some ruttier conditions. They’re working with me, and I think it’s showing.”

Image: Octopi Media.

The final two rounds are usually some of the hardest packed conditions we’ll see all season as the altitude in Denver and Salt Lake City dry up the dirt much more so than East Coast rounds. Anderson has only raced Denver once in his career and won the race in 2022 before following up with another win the very next week after that in Salt Lake City. That SLC win is, to date, the last 450SX victory Anderson has claimed.

So while Jett Lawrence and Cooper Webb are sniping at each other in a title bout, don’t count Anderson out as someone who could sneak in and play a bit of a spoiler. He’s now used last turn maneuvers to finish ahead of Lawrence (Foxborough) and Webb (Philadelphia) so he’s certainly not afraid to mix it up with either competitor. And if it’s a fight for Anderson’s 15th 450SX win that’s on the line, he might just lay it all out there to get it done.