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Written By: Anthony Picchione
The start of the much awaited 2024 Supercross season is officially behind us! The checkered flag was thrown in Anaheim Saturday night at the most anticipated race of the season. For an A-1, I’d say it was a relatively quiet night of racing. Outside of some big crashes from Webb and Thrasher, the action on the track was something you’d typically see from a round in the middle of the season. Although the racing itself wasn’t the most intense opener we’ve ever seen, there were a few things I picked up on watching from my couch, just like many of you were over the weekend. Here’s this week’s View From the Couch.
Marchbanks Foot Placement:
Garrett Marchbanks was someone I was watching very closely throughout A-1. Garrett had a stellar outdoor season after making the jump up to the 450 class year. After electing to stay down on the 250 for another Supercross season, I was really looking forward to Marchbanks making the jump back to where he was in 2020 before COVID. Garrett had an okay night and finished up seventh. In watching Garrett so closely (both during Race Day Live and the Night Show), I realized something about his riding style. If you watch Marchbanks ride, you’ll realize how much different his foot placement is compared to his competitors. Most top level races ride on balls of their feet with their toes pointed in towards the frame. The idea behind this is that when you have feet pointed in, you’re better able to close your knees together and grip the bike, especially in the whoops. Marchbanks does almost the opposite. His feet are planted further towards the arch of his foot with his toes angled out. Now I’m not here to say whether this is impacting his results or not, but there was a few times in the whoops that Marchbanks got a little wild and I think some of those close calls could be attributed to the fact that he’s not able to grip the bike with his toes pointed out like that. For those wondering how much of a difference having your toes pointed in makes, there’s a way you can see. Find something you can put between your knees. Point your toes in towards each other and squeeze your knees together. Now point your toes out and try to do the same thing. You’ll see how much better you’re able to grip with your toes pointed in towards each other. Take a look next weekend and see if you’re able to pick up on it in San Francisco.
Jo Shimoda’s Quiet Ride:
Of all that happened at the opening round, Shimoda’s ride was one of the strongest of the night. After a poor gate pick in the Main (caused by his heat race crash), Shimoda got a mid pack start and came across the finish line on the first lap in tenth, well behind his championship competitors. When I saw him so far back on the first lap, I figured it would be a rough rest of the race for the young Japanese rider. Shimoda, not typically known for his passing ability or aggressive racing, usually struggles to work from the back when he gets a mid-pack start. However, after working his way back up to fourth place by the end of the race, I’m happy to say I was incorrect. As the race progressed Shimoda fought for each position and made decisive moves to get up towards the front where he knows he should be. Outside of his aggressive pass on Deegan at last year’s SMX finales in LA, moves like the one that he put on Max Vohland in the main event have been few and far between for Shimoda. He made a nice and quick move up the inside of Max before the long rhythm, and even had the race IQ to cut back underneath. Max before the first set of whoops. If you only looked at the race result, it doesn’t seem all that great that HRC Honda’s number one 250 rider only got a fourth place, but if you dig a little deeper and realize he worked his way up from tenth place to only five seconds off of the lead when the checkered flag flew, I think both Shimoda and his team should be happy. Not only did this ride prove to Shimoda that he can work through the pack after a bad start, but also quiet the rumors that Shimoda is only able to put in solid rides once the pressure of a championship has been lifted off of his shoulders.
Like most, Jett coming out over the weekend, being the fastest rider through timed qualifying, and outright winning the Main Event, didn’t shock me in the slightest. After his undefeated season last summer, winning SMX, and becoming the King of Paris, I knew that Jett would have a good weekend. While I could sit and write a novel about the #18’s starts, speed, and bike skill, I wanted to touch on the adaptability that Jett displayed in Anaheim over the weekend. It started in the heat race when he was following Webb. As he came around the first lap, he saw that Webb went inside after the second set of whoops. As opposed to taking his typical line to the outside, Jett followed Webb up the inside to get the hang of the different option through that section. While he didn’t end up utilizing it throughout the main event, it showed that Lawrence really is trying to learn from these guys at every chance that he gets. He showed this more in the main event. In his heat race, he got the holeshot and was immediately passed by Webb at the end of the first section. Just two short hours later, Jett learned from his mistakes. The HRC rider pulled another holeshot and quickly lost the lead to Anderson. Instead of slotting in and letting El Hombre have it, Jett darted up the inside, regained the lead, and set his sights forward with a clear track. Not many rookies are able to adapt as quickly as Jett. While we’ve never seen a rider win his 450SX debut, it’s just as rare to see someone come and so quickly learn from their mistakes and the other guys they’re racing against. Although some may think he’s over-hyped, there’s no denying the talent of the young Australian as well as how impressive his performance was this weekend.
Star Racing’s A-1 Replica:
It’s no secret that Star Racing team owner, Bobby Raegan, will do whatever he can to win. One thing he’s done to help elevate his guys over the last two seasons has been hiring Dirt Wurx to come to the GOAT Farm and build replica tracks from the upcoming season. It started last year with a build of the 2023 Detroit SX (Deegan & Smith battle track) and this season they had an exact replica of both Anaheim 1 & Detroit built back in the beginning of October. While I knew they had the replica built last year, I never looked into how it affected the results of the Star Riders at Detroit in 2023. Going into the weekend I tried to keep on eye on if the Yamaha guy’s had an immediate advantage as they’ve been riding on a nearly identical track for the better part of three months. While I wasn’t there in person to watch free practice or press day riding, I think it’s safe to say this didn’t really give them the extra advantage that I thought it would. Sure, Webb had a better than usual qualifying effort, but it wasn’t like he shot out in free practice and topped the charts. The same goes for his teammates in the 250 class. Neither Thrasher or Smith seemed to come out and immediately gel with the track. Obviously I use the term “replica”loosely as no two tracks are ever going to be identical (different machines, dirt composition, operator error, etc.), but I’m really surprised that having these tracks built didn’t have a more positive effect. I’m also not sure if this is supposed to be one of those poorly kept secrets that they’re having replica tracks built, but I’m equally surprised that there was no mention of this in the pre or post race press conference or on the broadcast. Seems like a big deal to me that a team has exact tracks built months before the season, as to my knowledge no other team is doing this. Although Bobby has what seems to be unlimited money, you’d have to ask yourself if going through the hassle and money to bring the Dirt Wurx guys out to do this is really worth it. Either way, it’s still an interesting tactic to have this done and it just goes to show that above all us, Bobby wants his bikes on top and will do whatever it takes to make that happen.