The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team kicked off the 2018 season in a triumphant way on Saturday with a double-victory at the opening round of the AMA Supercross Championship in Anaheim, California.
Marvin Musquin captured the first 450SX victory of the new season, while Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM Factory Racing Team’s Shane McElrath led the 250SX Main Event from start to finish to take the early lead in the west championship.
Following a highly successful off-season, Musquin came into the AMA Supercross Championship with a lot of momentum behind him. However, the French rider experienced a few struggles early on as he qualified 5th overall for the day, while capturing 4th place in the heat race.
Marvin Musquin set the pace at the 2018 Supercross opener. Credit: Simon Cudby
But when the gate dropped for the 450SX Main Event, Musquin’s ready to race instincts kicked in and he set his sights ahead. While he didn’t get the best jump off the start, Musquin quickly pushed himself into the top five on the opening lap and he continued to pick off riders through the first half of the race. Musquin eventually made the pass on Justin Barcia to take over the lead on lap 11 and from there he never looked back.
“To win tonight definitely was not expected. It was a difficult day but I tried to stay calm and we were able to make it happen. I had a bad start in the Main Event but we put everything together and we were consistent, it was a long Main – but this is what we’ve been working so hard for. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support!”
Jason Anderson was a solid second in the 450SX class. Credit: Simon Cudby
Musquin was followed home by Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team's Jason Anderson and Barcia.
After a top 4 start Anderson moved into third after leader Kawaskai's Eli Tomac went down, and eventually into a DNF, and set his sights on moving into the top two with 10 minutes to go. He was on the move and hunted down Justin Barcia down second before making a clean inside pass for the position with seven minutes to go. He continued to set a blistering pace and consistently improved his time with each lap. He ended the night with a second-place finish.
Honda's Ken Roczen mad a triumphant return to racing with 4th after a serious crash at the same event 12 month's ago. Credit: Simon Cudby
“This was a rather smooth day,” said Anderson. “I was able to get a good start in the heat race and then got the win there. Then I was able to make some good moves in the main and work my way up to second. I think it was a good opening round and it puts me in a good position for the rest of the season.”
Honda's Ken Roczen made a solid return after returning from a well documented injury to finish 4th in his racing return. Australian Chad Reed returned as a privateer but with little preparation following a broken ankle he was only able to salvage 15th place.
In the 250SX West Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM Factory Racing teammates Shane McElrath and Alex Martin powered their KTM 250 SX-F machines off the line to grab the first two positions in the 250SX West Main Event. It was McElrath who assumed the lead position, while Martin maintained a top five position early on.
McElrath went on to lead all 18 laps of the Main Event to capture the first 250SX victory of the 2018 season.
"We’ve worked really hard this off-season and we got everything out of it we could," McElrath said. "It’s early in the season and I know everybody likes to be at A1 but this one feels good. The track was really demanding, the whoops were gnarly and it was good to get good stats tonight and put in a solid race.”
Shane McElrath took the win in the 250SX West class
Yamaha's Aaron Plessinger finished second ahead of The Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki team duo of Adam Cianciaruloin third and a fourth-place for Joey Savatgy.
Cianciarulo was shuffled outside the top five on the start and was forced to push through the pack. With the track being slick and often one-lined, it took a little longer than he hoped to make it past riders, but was able to get into third by the fifth of 18 laps. He held on for his fifth podium in 16 supercross starts.
“Tonight we got off to a good start and it’s nice to get some good points,” said Cianciarulo. “I can’t be overly stoked on third because I know I’m capable of more, but I was pretty nervous being a part of the very first race of the season for the first time and all the nerves that come with that. I think we are in a good spot for the rest of the season.”
Australian Hayden Mellross qualified 5th in his heat and went on to finish 13th.
Next Race: Houston, Texas – January 13, 2018
450 SX Class Press Conference - First Round in Anaheim
250 SX Class Press Conference - First Round in Anaheim