(Sam Donsig/Intermission Sports)
BY: SAM DONSIG
With two rounds down and 15 to go, things are heating up as supercross heads to San Diego, CA for Rd. 3 of the Monster Energy Supercross Championship. The competition is close, with less than 15 pts separating the top three in both classes.
Chase Sexton is picking up where he left off last year, leading the 450SX class, while Jett Lawrence and Eli Tomac sit second and third, respectively. Meanwhile, in the 250SX class, Jordon Smith leads the way, with Levi Kitchen and RJ Hampshire rounding out the top three.
Weather played a massive role in determining riders' success last weekend, and it could again at Snapdragon Stadium on Saturday night. There is a high chance of rain (80 per cent) on Saturday all day and into the night. The good news is they only expect a total of about a quarter of an inch (6.35mm), so it probably won't be a mudfest like last weekend at Oracle Park.
Continuing with that train of thought, it's time to get into my five things to watch for this weekend.
I believe the weather will play a big part in this weekend's race. The grounds crew will be working hard to keep the track in the best condition. Nonetheless, with the small amount of rain expected throughout the day, it will still make for some slippery conditions in qualifying and the main event later in the evening. This, in turn, will affect how the riders set up their bikes and ride the track as well. They won't be rolling over jumps but will have to ride with some caution.
The good news is the weather it shouldn't totally ruin the night for the riders. The little bit of rain will have some effect in how they ride, as mentioned previously, but there is opportunity for strong riding. It will come down to who is going to be most aggressive on track and who will push the limits. Riders will have to choose, and that is why I believe the weather will be the No. 1 thing to watch for this weekend.
2. LAWRENCE VS. SEXTON
Sexton and Lawrence have been by far the two best riders in the 450SX class this season, even if it is only two races into the season. What I have seen from both Jett Lawrence and Chase Sexton is impressive. Lawrence took round 1 in dominating fashion, with Sexton hitting back hard in round 2 in the mudfest at Oracle Park.
Based on what we saw in Anaheim, CA, the biggest question is if Sexton can challenge Lawrence on what will be a mostly dry track this weekend. In Anaheim, Sexton was nowhere near Lawrence. The bit of rain forecasted might favour Sexton over Lawrence and make this weekend's main event super close. Still, it will be interesting to see how Lawrence responds after a tough result last weekend, and I think he will be gunning hard for the win.
3. JORDON SMITH SHOW
Jordon Smith leads the 250SX West Regional class championship standings by only five points. Despite that, in the first two rounds, he has been near perfect. After a solid performance in the season opener, finishing second. Smith kept his confidence into Rd. 2 and conquered the mud, just holding off Levi Kitchen by less than a second.
He has been the most consistent rider in the 250SX class so far, with Kitchen taking second place. His confidence on the bike is unmatched and that was apparent last weekend in San Francisco. Smith will be a rider to watch this season, and I am interested to see how he progresses throughout the season. This weekend will give him a chance to prove his consistency. At the moment, Smith is definitely my pick for the 250SX Supercross title this year.
4. YOUTH TALENT
This season, Monster Energy Supercross has a large group of young super-talented riders and it's important to highlight them when given the chance. Julien Beaumer, who I have talked about previously, is one of the several younger riders competing in Supercross and is just insane on a dirt bike. Through two races, Beaumer sits tied for sixth place with 27 pts. Considering he is only 17-years-old, this is mind-blowing. I expect to see him continue his strong run of high-points finishes, and maybe even grab a win this year too.
On the trend of young KTM talent, the KTM Juniors are in town for Supercross this weekend. As they continue their season, after taking a break in between Rd. 1 and Rd. 3. In its 25th year of operation, the KTM Juniors Supercross program has had over 3000 boys and girls compete in stadiums all across the world. It's obvious that this program has kept supercross popular all these years, but it has also created a lot of star talent, including Mike and Jeff Alessi, Ryan Dungey, Michael Hall and several more.
The future of supercross is bright, and it will be on full display this weekend at Snapdragon Stadium.
5. ELI TOMAC
Eli Tomac on his own is must-see TV, simply based on how strongly he has started this season. Coupling this with the fact he tore his achilles last season and has made a rapid quick recovery, he is certainly impressing. He currently sits third in the 450SX standings, 10 pts behind Sexton and three points behind Lawrence. Tomac is looking comfortable on the bike and almost back to his old self.
So why is this weekend so special to watch for Tomac? Because now that two races have come and gone, we have seen Tomac's potential for this season and what he can achieve. Therefore, it's important to respect the veterans of the sport such as Tomac and understand that what he is doing is pretty incredible. I expect to see Tomac continue to fight for podium finishes throughout the season.
Well, there you have it, my five things to watch for this weekend. It's going to be a fierce battle at the top in both classes. Stay tuned for more motorsport-related content coming soon to Intermission Sports.
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