Eli Tomac wins San Diego Supercross in 450; Jett Lawrence dominant again in 250
Two races are in the books for the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season and Eli Tomac did the same thing in San Diego as he did up the road in Anaheim for the opener. The pair of wins has only given Tomac a six-point advantage in the championship standings, however, as Cooper Webb finished second again.
Tomac’s Main was not quite as dominant as was his Anaheim effort. Webb closed the gap on him with time running off the clock and finished a little more than a second off the pace. Still, Tomac put in a perfect round by easily winning his heat.
“It was a good first time here for us,” Tomac said in the postrace news conference. “To be honest, I never had really good results at Petco either. I always struggled a little bit just on the tighter stadiums. So I was excited to come here and get going. It was nice to be on a good racing surface this weekend. The dirt was nice. There were a couple rocks here and there, but I would say for the most part it was nice dirt.”
After a difficult 2022 season with a design on his KTM bike, Webb continued to keep the points’ leader Tomac in sight. Webb snatched the lead from Adam Cianciarulo early in the race with Tomac in tow. Even when he dropped to second, he continued to race in a bubble with a lead of more than five seconds for most of the middle stages of the race. As the race drew to a close, Webb benefitted from Tomac cautiously working his way through traffic.
“I got a good start, which is really key, especially tonight with the way the track developed and was able to lead some laps,” Webb said after the race. “Eli was really riding good and I tried to latch on and I felt like our pace was pretty strong. Made a few mistakes there in the middle and the lappers at the end definitely helped me a little bit. It was pretty hectic with all that going on.”
Justin Barcia had an eventful night. He was dropped by Jason Anderson on the final lap of their heat. In the Main, Barcia made contact with Chase Sexton and sent that rider to the ground. After coming out on top in a fierce battle with Ken Roczen in the middle stages, he took the last step on the podium.
Last year Barcia and Anderson were involved in several incidents and the contact in the heat caused tempers to boil over once more.
“I didn’t complain at all,” Barcia said of the contact with Anderson. “He called me over (in the tunnel) and started calling me all kinds of profanity and I was just like, alright. Then the AMA (officials) came over to the truck and asked what happened? And I said, he was just cussing me out. It was so, it was random.”
Roczen challenged for the lead early in the race before falling to fourth to narrowly miss the podium.
Last week’s third-place finisher, Chase Sexton crashed early in Heat 1. He might have been able to recover, but his bike was center punched by Aaron Plessinger. Moments later, Fredrik Noren rode over his bike. The contact put a hole in Sexton’s gas tank and put him into the LCQ. Sexton won that race to advance to the Main, where he finished fifth.
Adam Cianciarulo missed most of last season with a knee injury, but that gave him time to reflect on his career. He entered 2023 with a new attitude and a little more patience at the start of races, but one wouldn’t know that from his San Diego effort. He took the lead early, but faded to eighth at the checkers.
Jett Lawrence continues to ride in a league of his own. As with Anaheim 1, the weekend was not without a setback, but when Lawrence makes a mistake, he does so in prelims. In the season opener, he crashed in free practice and had a slow start in his heat, but he rode away from the field in the Main. At San Diego, he rode off course in qualification, but a solid start in his heat allowed him to gap the field early.
“I got off to a really good start,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair. “Got that jump and was able to move over; I was super happy. Got a good flow and just kind of clicked off my laps. Little sketchy on the start, but we ended up finding the line.”
Lawrence earned the holeshot in the Main and claimed a respectable lead in the first half of the race. Cameron McAdoo kept him honest through the middle stages, however, staying within a couple of seconds of the leader. That McAdoo was in a position to challenge Lawrence was surprising based on his heat. Involved in a Lap 1 incident with Max Vohland, McAdoo was caught up in a second incident later that same lap and fell to 17th. He climbed to fifth in his heat.
"[Podiums are not enough] right now,” McAdoo told NBC’s Jason Thomas after finishing third. “I was just pretty bummed on a couple things that happened towards the end that I just need to execute better. It took me from a second-place to third and yeah, I’m pretty frustrated, but I mean, two podiums to start the season. We’re still in the in contention, so like that’s another positive. We’re going keep moving forward, pushing hard, and we need to eliminate a couple of those little moments and we’ll be in it.”
The podium was the same in the second race of the 2023 250 West series, but it was only in the closing laps that RJ Hampshire got around McAdoo. Hampshire got bumped on the first lap and fell outside the top 10. Hampshire was also knocked out of the racing line in the Main.
“I wouldn’t say my start was bad; It was good,” Hampshire said. “I made contact with someone coming over that hill right away and, and I’m lucky I didn’t go down. I was probably, I think third or fourth and I ended up going back to probably 12th.
“Just stoked on the riding. I’ve never been a podium guy every weekend, and that’s two weekends in a row.”
Hampshire was the first winner of the weekend in Heat 1 and hoped that would give him some momentum in his bid the challenge Lawrence.
Enzo Lopes finished fourth and Pierce Brown rounded out the top five.
Hunter Yoder got his first Last Chance Qualifier win of his career to advance into Main. He finished 14th.
Trouble in Heat 1 sent Max Vohland into the LCQ also. A bad start forced him to work his way into a transfer position, but as soon as climbed into the top four, he jumped wide as time ran off the clock. He fell from third to eighth and failed to make the Main.
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San Diego coverage
Supercross San Diego by the numbers
Power Rankings after Week 1 in Anaheim
Marvin Musquin will miss San Diego with wrist injury
What success looks like for Team Next Level Racing
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Yamaha announces Austin Forkner out for the remainder of 2023 SX
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