More questions than answers coming to Hangtown!
As the second round of the AMA National Championships gets ready to take off on Saturday, there are more questions than answers in the 450 class.
The Honda duo of Chase Sexton and Ken Roczen proved their speed with their 1-2 performance but can their form last? Sexton is notorious for crashing but looked superb at Pala and not even over the edge, but was that a dream day scenario or the level he can repeat for the next eleven rounds?
Ken Roczen has shown he still has the speed after a downtime in supercross, but will his health hold up in high humidity races?
Will Christian Craig maintain his podium-level speed and surely Eli Tomac will only improve after a somewhat mediocre debut on his Star Racing Yamaha… or will his knee hold him back?
Ryan Dungey has been fantastic and any doubts about his ability to run close to the front are cleared up – the question now is can he pick up his pace to the level of Sexton and Roczen?
Then there is the matter of Cairoli. The Italian is only contracted to compete in the next round at Hangtown, but he also didn’t rule out doing the full series in our interview with him here. But Cairoli certainly didn’t look at himself Pala and, as he explained after a lack of training and not being comfortable on the American bike which had a different frame, all combined to produce a level that is certainly less than an on-song Cairoli can produce – but will he find that in Hangtown and then run the whole series? His performance this Saturday could be crucial to the rest of his American plans.
Personally, I don’t think he wants a repeat of those results, especially with the success of Dungey, who Cairoli was quicker than in training. We could see Cairoli back to form in Hangtown if he can fix the bike.
Jason Anderson had the pace on lap one, but his results, thanks to coming out from the back of the field in both heats, didn’t reflect the speed – so can he race with the Hondas if he takes the start? He could be a low-key title contender if raw speed in Game 1 was anything to go by.
From a British perspective, Josh Gilbert has scored more points in a round of the US Nationals than in any MXGP race he entered last year – can he crack the top ten at Hangtown?!
Pala is of course a unique track and not an American national track even if many riders know this track very well. Hangtown might be the first indication of models in the 450 class.
But those models are already developed into the 250 series and with the news that Austin Forkner is injured for Hangtown it looked like it was Lawrence against Lawrence for the title with maybe Shimoda, Hampshire, Mosiman or one of the youngsters Americans popping up here and there and running up to speed.
Let’s see if Hangtown can answer any of the 450 questions above!
See Niek Kamper’s stunning gallery below:
Article: Jonathan McCready
Image: Niek Kamper