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The Monday Gate Drop Presented By Yamaha Motor Canada

Well, we’ve almost made it through one of the worst months of the year as this is the final Monday of January. In a few days, it will be February, and as I’ve mention in the past, with it being a shorter month it always seems to go by fast. Also, in Ontario at least, February is usually the sunniest month of the winter so I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing that big bright thing in the sky. This has been the greyest winter for some time in Ontario, so we’re all lacking in Vitamin D.

One place where it was sunny this past weekend was Angel Stadium in Anaheim. With temperatures of 25c and sunny skies above, Round 4 featured the best weather so far of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Series. After two weekends of adverse conditions, I’m sure the riders and teams welcomed a dry SX track for the first time since the opening round. Since the inception of the Triple Crown format in 2018, I’ve enjoyed the occasional change in the racing schedule as it gives us fans something cool and different to watch. Now, I wouldn’t want the series to go all-in on the Triple Crown format, but having several each season is perfect. I know most of the riders don’t like this format, as it just brings with it, more risk and opportunities for things to go wrong. With three meaningful gate drops throughout the evening, this always opens up the door for problems to arise. Also, this format makes it more challenging for privateer riders to qualify for the night show, as they only take half the riders that they normally do. If you’re not strong during the afternoon qualifying sessions, then you could find yourself watching the night show from the stands. We saw this happen to riders like Dean Wilson, Josh Hill, and Cade Clason. These three riders are always in the night show and rarely miss the main event, but on Saturday, they were forced into spectator mode after qualifying sessions. On a positive note for the riders, the three main events present more opportunities to leave the event as a winner. Take Eli Tomac for instance. His 5-7-1 moto score doesn’t look that great on paper, however, it gave him second overall on the night, and, more importantly, he left Round 4 with the confidence that he can beat anyone in the 450SX class. It’s not like a normal heat race win, where you know that you only beat a few of your top competitors. This was a main event with everyone on the starting line. Yes, the main events on Saturday evening were shorter than normal, but as a rider you still go through everything that you normally would in a longer race. Tomac now knows that with a great start his speed is good enough to beat riders like Jett Lawrence, Cooper Webb, and Chase Sexton. In fact, this could be a turning point in the series for Tomac, as he now knows he’s 100% back from his injury last year. The same could be said for Jason Anderson, who looked like the fastest rider overall on Saturday night. His 4-1-8 moto score was inconsistent, but his speed was incredible, and he also left Angel Stadium knowing that his speed can be good enough to beat everyone. This round could be series changing moving forward as more riders now know they can win than ever before. Before we talk about the Supercross Futures race and our Canadian riders, let’s look at the top ten 450SX overall results from Round 4 in Anaheim.

Cooper Webb has been getting stronger each week and at A2 he was able to take the overall win in the 450SX class. Photo by James Lissimore

1. Cooper Webb (Yamaha) 2-2-5

Right from the opening round in Anaheim a few weeks ago, Webb has shown incredible raw speed. Last weekend in San Diego, he probably would’ve won the main event had it not been for lapped riders slowing him down. Anyway, Webb’s confidence in his bike, fitness, and race craft appear to be back to what they were several years ago, and that is not good news for the competition. On Saturday night, he wasn’t the fastest rider in any of the three main events, but that doesn’t always matter in the Triple Crown format.


2. Eli Tomac (Yamaha) 5-7-1

I touched on Tomac above, so there isn’t too much more to say. At the opening round he looked rusty and uncomfortable. In the mud, he looked hesitant, but on Saturday night in the final main event he looked like the Tomac of a year ago. Not even Jett Lawrence could close on Tomac in the middle part of the race. Tomac is back and that is great to see.

3. Aaron Plessinger (KTM) 6-4-3

After his popular win last weekend, AP came into Round 4 with the red plates and the pressure of now being the rider to beat. This was an important race for AP as many of us were paying close attention to see if there would be a big letdown after his win in San Diego. Thankfully, he rode solid all night long, and with Anderson’s penalty for cutting the track in the final event, AP got moved up to third overall. Another great finish means that AP will hold on to the points lead for at least one more week. Also, I’m sure he’s made more in bonus money in the past two races then he has in his several years with KTM.

When Jason Anderson is at his best he sure makes the sport fun to watch. Photo by James Lissimore

4. Jason Anderson (Kawasaki) 4-1-8

Like Webb and Tomac, I think it’s safe to say that Jason Anderson is back to where he was in 2022. Obviously, Anderson is happy with his new KX450 as he just looked comfortable and confident on Saturday night. When Anderson is charging corners and then steering his bike through the turn with power and his back tire, you know he’s feeling good with the bike. Last year, his corner speed was god awful and that threw everything off. Now, he has his corner speed back, his fitness appears to be back, and I believe his confidence got a major boost this past week from being the ‘hero’ in the Anderson/Lawrence incident.

5. Chase Sexton (KTM) 1-11-2

I really like where Chase Sexton is at right now, and if I had to pick a title favourite today, I’d most likely go with Sexton to repeat as champion. I feel like he’s riding really smart right now, and he’s taking with his bike and each track is giving him. On Saturday night, if he had any type of finish in the second main event then he would’ve won the overall. Right now, he sits just four points back of his teammate in the overall 450SX standings, and I like his chances of taking the red plates back this weekend in Detroit.

I said that Anaheim 2 was a must win for Jett as he needed to bounce back strong after his incident with Anderson. Now, I feel that Detroit is a really must win! Photo by James Lissimore

6. Jett Lawrence (Honda) 7-3-4

All I can say is wow! What the heck has happened to Jett Lawrence? His lackluster 7-3-4 moto score leads me to believe two things. First, I think he’s still hurting from his San Diego press day crash. I don’t care how good you are or how fit you are, an impact like that has to hurt, and have long lasting effects. Second, this kid is coming off absolute perfection in 2023, where he was able to find speed just about any time he wanted to, and he had everyone covered. But, that was outdoors, and he was racing against a slightly depleted field of riders. Now, I’m not trying to take anything away from him as I’m a big Jett Lawrence fan, but last summer there was no Tomac, Webb, Sexton missed a few rounds, and riders like Anderson, Plessinger, Roczen, (the list goes on) weren’t at the level they are right now. Not to mention, last weekend’s incident with Anderson, as well as the reaction to it by fans and peers alike, has hurt Jett’s feelings and confidence. Right now, he’s not the alpha-rider that he was a few weeks ago, and things aren’t going right. On Saturday night, the more he pushed the more he made mistakes. That is not the Jett Lawrence we saw several weeks ago at Angel Stadium where he couldn’t put a wheel wrong. Now, he can’t even take pole position in qualifying. This is what leads me to believe that he must be hurting still. Heading back home to his safe space in Florida this week should help his confidence, so we’ll see which Jett Lawrence shows up in Detroit. Finally, the fact that the fans are now booing him is not a great sign for him. Yes, at one time the USA fans have booed everyone from MC to RC, to Stewart and Reed. The disdain won’t last forever with Jett, but it’s going to be difficult on him in the coming weeks for sure.

7. Ken Roczen (Suzuki) 3-6-10

Although Ken Roczen sits 8th in points, and keeps making crucial errors in the main events, he is riding very well, and appears to be having fun at the races. I think Kenny will put it all together soon and win a main event.

How about Justin Cooper getting pole position at A2. JCoop is a fast learner and so far he’s been solid in the 450SX class. Photo by James Lissimore

8. Justin Cooper (Yamaha) 10-5-6

In case you missed it, Justin Cooper had the fastest time in qualifying at Round 4 by almost a full second. By all accounts, his corner speed and his ability to find traction on the dry and slick A2 track was the reason for his superior speed. This is Cooper’s first full season in the 450SX class, so his lack of consistency in the main events is understandable. He has all series to work on his overall finishes. But you cannot teach speed, and Cooper appears to have plenty of it on his Star Racing Yamaha.

9. Dylan Ferrandis (Honda) 8-15-7

Dylan has looked good on his CRF450R, and he’s finishing right around where I think most people feel he should be. Can he break into the top five? Perhaps he can if he gets off to a great start in the main event. However, I feel that the top riders around him are only going to improve as the series goes on, and will Ferrandis being able to keep up.


10. Malcolm Stewart (Husqvarna) 11-10-9

Other than his teammate Christian Craig, Stewart needed this top ten finish more than anyone in the 450SX class. Up until Saturday evening, Stewart’s finishes have been terrible, and I’m sure the Husqvarna Team has been shaking their heads. Stewart’s finish at Round 4 can hopefully propel him to greater success in the coming weeks. With four rounds now complete, these next 5-6 races are crucial for Stewart’s future, not only at Husqvarna, but also in the sport. I know that might wound harsh, but right now he just looks burnt out and uninterested in getting to the front of the pack when it matters the most.

Dylan Rempel, Preston Masciangelo, and Noah Viney, all rode strong in the SX Futures race at A2. Rempel had the best result as he ended up 10th OA. Photo by James Lissimore

So that is the top ten from Round 4 in Anaheim. This race also featured the opening round of the SX Futures Series, and we had three Canadian’s competing inside Angel Stadium. Dylan Rempel was the top Canadian rider as he finished 10th in the main event. This was a great finish and the progress that Rempel has made in SX is quite remarkable. But, it just goes to show what hard work can do as I know Rempel has put in the time both on the track as well as off of the track. Preston Masciangelo finished right behind Rempel in 11th, and this is also a solid finish. Preston had a challenging 2023 season, so it’s great to see him back and riding well. Noah Viney had a challenging main event and ended up in 19th on his MotoConcepts Smartop Honda. All three of our riders will be back at Round 3 of the SX Futures Series in Daytona, and they will also be joined by Ryder McNabb, who sat out Saturday night to further hone his SX skills. In the 250SX West class, Cole Thompson went 15-13-13 for 15th overall. Cole appeared to struggle all day with finding speed, and in the main events he was unable to get off of the gate well. He will now have a week off before resuming the 250SX West Series in Arizona on February 10th. Cole has been hard at it for multiple months so a weekend off might be just what the doctor ordered. In the past, he’s shown good speed in Glendale so hopefully he can crack the top ten in two weeks.

Tommy Gun didn’t have his best race at A2 and ended up 15th OA. Photo by James Lissimore

Well, that is it for me this week. I hope everyone has a great week and a solid start to February. Our Motorcycle Show season is wide open and this coming weekend the City of Calgary will welcome everyone. Also, the Detroit SX is this weekend so I look forward to seeing a lot of Canadian’s taking in Round 5 of the Monster Energy Supercross Series. This is also the opening round of the 250SX East Series, so that should be exciting. Thank you for reading and have a great week.

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