(Image via Flickr)
One week after the season opener, Supercross is back in a different city, San Francisco, CA. Oracle Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, will play host to Rd. 2 of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Off the heels of an exciting event in Anaheim, some riders are looking for a repeat, while others seek a fresh start.
Last week saw rookie Jett Lawrence dominate the field with an impressive win. Meanwhile, RJ Hampshire took care of business in the 250 West Regional class shocking many fans with his performance. For others like Hunter Lawrence, it was a night to forget. The Australian is looking for a clean slate and a much better time around Oracle Park this weekend.
Here are five questions ahead of Rd. 2 of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship.
1. Will Jett Lawrence repeat his performance?
There’s no question Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence is an animal on a dirt bike. He proved that last weekend with a dominant performance. The question is, can he do it again? I think so.
He has great technique when riding and can understand the track on a different level than most riders. Technique is the basis of everything in riding, but speed comes into play. It seems that he has a natural ability to find time in different sections of the track and fall into a smooth rhythm. In layman's terms, he is super fast and coupled with his insane technique, Jett Lawrence seems unstoppable, unless another rider can replicate that successful blend. At this point, we could see the Australian on the top step every weekend.
2. Can Eli Tomac challenge for a win?
Eli Tomac, the two-time Monster Energy Supercross Champion, has made quite the recovery after a devastating achilles injury late last season. Last week, he finished inside the top ten, which was great to see. Now, heading into Rd. 2 and with some more confidence under him, can he challenge for a win?
I don’t think so. For now, Tomac seems capable of fighting for a spot on the podium but not for the top spot. Later on in the season, say Rd. 4 or Rd. 5, he may be starting to challenge for wins. I don’t think he is at the stage to be pushing for wins, especially with Jett Lawrence and company dominating a stacked 450SX class.
3. Will Jo Shimoda finish inside the top five again?
It’s a simple question, with multiple layers attached to it. To first understand this question, we must go back and look at the past starts of Shimoda’s career in the 250 West/East Regional classes. Shimoda has had some up-and-down starts in the past few seasons of Supercross. In 2020, he finished 10th in the first two rounds and then finished fifth followed by 21st. In 2021, he finished fourth and fifth in the first two rounds and would go on to collect one win and three podiums that season. So heading into Rd. 2 of the Monster Energy Supercross, can he finish inside the top five and get off to the start he needs for a successful season?
To me, he can and will. Shimoda proved last weekend he has gotten over the hump. Battling back after a tough heat race, which saw him barely sneak into the main event, Shimoda proved the haters wrong and finished fourth. I expect to see him fighting for a win this weekend at Oracle Park. He has the physical skills, the key is refining his mental skills which I think he overcame last week.
4. Can Hunter Lawrence bounce back this weekend?
As I said earlier, Hunter Lawrence had a weekend to forget in Anaheim. He failed to make the main event after a rough heat race. After colliding with Vince Friese at the race start, Lawrence tumbled down the order and finished 17th. So can Hunter bounce back this weekend and maybe challenge his brother for a win?
There’s no question in my mind Hunter Lawrence will make the main event this weekend. I have full confidence that he will have a new focus and hunger heading into Rd. 2 in San Francisco. I predict this will result in him finishing on the podium for his heat race, and most likely the main event as well. Last weekend was simply a blip in the timeline for Hunter Lawrence’s 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship campaign.
5. How will the weather affect the riders?
A rather elementary question on the surface, but analyzed on a deeper level, the high possibility of rain for Saturday’s race at Oracle Race is noteworthy. This could have a massive effect on the rider's choices in aggressiveness level and commitment. Riders are going to have to choose how hungry they are for more points.
I think most riders will be able to handle it, and some select few will even shine in the rain. Now, everyone has raced in the rain, but not everyone has raced on a supercross-type track in the rain. The rookies in both classes will struggle a bit and it’s going to be interesting to see how they prepare for Saturday’s race.
I have a strong feeling we will not have a lot of passes for the lead, as most riders will play it safe and focus on just picking up some points. Yes, supercross riders can be quite aggressive, but this early on in the season, they will want to play it safe.
All eyes will be on the supercross world as the battle continues for both the 450SX and 250SX West Regional classes. Stay tuned for more motorsport-related content, including my power rankings after Rd. 2.
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