Photos courtesy of RacerXOnline
We're baaaaack! It seems, pretty much everyday, we are talking some kind of smack on our text thread of friends. Probably more so the first couple days after a race. Just like everything, we all have opinions on what happened or shoulda happened. So I decided to recruit some of those big mouth friends for MXD360’s newest weekly article, Four A**holes & the Casual Fan. Everyone has a lifetime of racing dirt bikes, watching dirt bikes and talking shit about dirt bikes. That is everyone but Tez, the casual fan. Don’t get me wrong, he loves the sport like all of us. He has just never actually raced. Altho, that won’t stop him when it comes to having an opinion. Let the questions begin. (We're missing one A-hole but hope to have NDel back for next week.)
- Is the evil doppelganger Elito finally dead or will the weight of the #1 plate in Supercross be too much for the reigning Champ Eli Tomac? Can he repeat?
JR51 : Elito Mac was an early victim of #2020, gone early in the year to never return. He has been conquered. Reminder Elito Mac is the arch nemesis that would appear out of nowhere and completely melt down Eli’s night and subsequent season. I don’t see that happening again. But subsequently, the thrill is in the chase. Now that Eli isn’t chasing Wile Elito Coyote, complacency is the alter ego that will define 2021. As much mental fortitude as it takes to accomplish a dream, it is no match for the pressure that comes with backing it up. An unprecedented schedule awaits, and I don’t think Eli will have the urgency to do it all again indoors. My money is the field for SX, and Eli outdoors.
Checkz : While he finally got the SX championship box checked, the summer/fall nationals left a lot to be desired. I do believe Elito is gone, but I think the days of only Elito being able to beat Eli have already passed. With the talent level that exists in 450 SX heading into 2021, the only way Eli is winning is if Eli has finally figured out how to consistently fix his starts. I would wager that the number 1 plate changes hands when 2021 SX concludes.
Casual Fan Tez : Elito will never be dead, but I have a feeling he will just flat out get beat! The hunger that once had Eli teetering on perfection and out of control, has now been handed off to the young pups. I see a green bike sitting at the top, but it doesn't have a #3 on it!
Denny : The general consensus with this group definitely is pointing towards Eli simply being outraced this season. I think Im going to have to agree as far as Tomac avoiding those devastating landmine 15th to 18th place finishes because of Elito. But having the series race 15 rounds far away from the West coast tracks Tomac likes, I have him finishing the series in 2nd or 3rd. The 450 class is so dam stacked!
- Word on the street is Roczen has changed up his program for 2021. He's no longer training and riding with AC or his new Honda teammate Sexton in Florida. Add in the fact, Kenny no longer has the undivided attention of Factory Honda with the rookie Sexton & the Lawrence brothers. With all that said, have we already seen the best of the #94 or will he be battling for this 21SX title til the bitter end?
JR51 : Listen, many crystal balls and tarot cards have been destroyed over the course of Kenny’s career. How are we supposed to know when I don’t think Kenny knows on a weekly basis? And while I sure as hell don’t know anything about winning Supercrosses, I do know one thing, and that’s being a dad. Life changes when you have kids and it brings an extra purpose to ones career. On that token alone, Kenny’s my pick. I mean it worked for Eli, right?
Checkz : Ken Roczen is the ultimate wild card and while normally he's pretty open and good with keeping his fans up to date; his pre-season prep has been very quiet. Without much info we have to speculate that either he's in a gnarly bootcamp or not doing much of anything. I'm going to go with the assumption that Roczen is ultra-focused and has made the decision to lay low to prevent distraction. I expect to see a very confident, hungry, and healthy Ken Roczen when he busts out his suit for the press conference at the Houston opener.
Casual Fan Tez : Man oh man, Roczen may be the smoothest rider I've ever seen...watching him when he's on and out front is a thing of pure beauty. Unfortunately I don't see him getting the chance to do that many more times. His season will completely hinge on the first 3 seconds of the race. He will have to pull holeshots and sprint to keep himself in the mix for a championship. Plus I think it will take him some time just to get back into the racing mindset. Skipping the outdoors might haunt him in more ways then one.
Denny : Like the Casual Fan just said, Kenny’s season is going to be determined by his starts and whether or not he can break away quickly. The 94 seems to ride better when he’s out front alone. Hitting his points thru each rhythm section and corner. Riding like Tez said, smooth and a thing of beauty. I don’t see him coming thru the pack like Tomac, Webb & Anderson can. Roczen isn’t willing to hang it out of his comfort zone like those other three will. And rightfully so. But with that said, like Chad Reed, never count out the German.
- Ferrandis took a digger and injured his hand, but imagine a perfect World where the new 450 rookies, Dylan, Sexton and McElrath all his the Houston opener 100% healthy, which one has the overall better season? Can they consistently run up front with the veterans like A.C. did last season or will they end up on the ground... like A.C. last season? Editor’s note, Dylan will be lining up tomorrow night for H1.
JR51 : Who is asking these damn questions? Have you been outside? This year is anything but perfect! Anyway, in 2021...Ferrandis will have the most speed, and score the highest finish. Sexton will be consistently the best and finish the highest in points. McElrath will spend the year confused where his starting flag went and trying to pass his quick starting teammate Friese for 11th on a nightly basis.
Checkz : Ferrandis has really made some big gains in his value in the past two seasons, but coming off an injury into your rookie year is definitely cause for concern. While the racer inside is likely to want to push ahead and try to be on the line for the opener to salvage points and represent for your team and sponsors; making the jump to the 450 class is already hard enough. Toss in with that being less than 100% and it's a recipe to ding your confidence before you even get started and forcing the issue often leads to nagging injuries and many times a string of injuries that keep you from ever getting healthy, confident, and realizing your potential. Ferrandis isn't young, but I hope those in his camp choose wisely about when he chooses to line up for his first 450 SX.
When you throw Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson, and a re-motivated Eli Tomac into the mix, Sexton's outdoor run might be a bit less spectacular. I do think the summer to adapt to the bike, team, and build confidence will benefit Sexton and he will be the best of the three and if he can stay on the track most of the season, I think he'll find the podium on some occasions.
I like McElrath to be steady and consistent towards the back end of the top 10, and while that might not sound amazing; looking at the lineup will show how impressive that would be. McElrath's riding should be complimented well on the 450, he's a strong starter, and I think the low pressure environment will all allow Shane to have a very solid rookie year. We'll see less flashes from the 12, but he won't finish far behind in points to Sexton.
Casual Fan Tez : Perfect World? Thats like asking us to remember a day where we didn't have to put on a fucking mask. Ferrandis is banged up with his hand, but wasn't going to contend anyway. McElrath will get the opportunity, but fall short of consistently breaking top 10. Sexton is gonna be the bright light of the rookies this season. That bike and his riding style will put him in a position to compete week in and week out!
Denny : Dam, the Casual Fan is hitting on all cylinders. I think we see Dylan go fast but end up on the ground similar to AC but less impressive. Has anyone had a solid or consistent rookie season on that YZ450? Shane is on a great program with MotoConcepts, but I honestly don’t see him running anywhere near the top 5. At the very best I see him being a regular in the 9 to 13 spots. Which, in this group for 2021, is still very impressive. As far as Chase Sexton, the new media and fan darling after an outstanding rookie season of 450MX, this kid is NEXT. Incredible Honda team in his corner with the fastest man on the planet in James Stewart now coaching him, Im picking the rookie to finish 5th on the season with two or three podium rides. Mark it down!
- With the two 250 Champs moving out of the class, who are the favorites to win the East & West regions? Can Forkner finally stay off the ground? Or will Star sweep both coasts?
JR51 : Can someone please tell me what the hell Star Racing is thinking by putting only two riders on the East with Craig & Colt Nichols? While having both their rookies AND Justin Cooper & JMart racing the “West” makes no sense to me. That’s 2 and 4. Half of 6 is three! Cmon people! (Editor’s note, We’ve been hearing about this all week on our text thread.) But no, Forkner doesn’t win. I’m taking Jett over Forkner on the East and Justin Cooper over his Star teammate JMart on the West.
Checkz : When I think about the 250 class, other than Forkner who I believe has to be considered a clear favorite on the coast he races because of his unreal speed and talent, no one else really stands out. In fact, I'd say out of the other contenders, there are more question marks than indications they will figure it out. I would keep an eye out for Michael Mosiman and Cameron McAdoo. Both made big improvements last season and McAdoo is continuing forward the program that helped elevate him. I think he'll be more polished and can definitely be a contender.
Mosiman is tenacious and talented. The program was starting to click for him and I hope the change in personal around him and the different plastic colors won't slow his progress. While the bike should be very similar, the Rockstar Husqvarna team has definitely produced better results than the Troy Lee Designs squad when they were on KTM.
Beyond those two, I think people forget how good Colt Nichols is; it really just comes down to staying healthy and keeping the momentum rolling. Finally, the two veterans that I expect to be there week in and week out on the podium are Jeremy Martin and RJ Hampshire. I slightly favor Martin's consistency and championship winning experience, but either of them holding the #1 plate at the end of the season won't be a big surprise.
Casual Fan Tez : Forkner, Hampshire, Lawrence bros, Cooper, Marchbanks, Nichols, Smith, McAdoo, Mosiman, and the Martin bros....not to mention all the new guys coming up...Robertzon, Brown, Swoll, and Frye all looking to make a mark. 250's are just as jamb packed with talented riders as the 450's. This will be a fun season to watch, I think there will be different battles up front with different riders each race! So pumped to see who steps up!
Denny : I see Forkner finally pulling his head out of his ass & doing his best to stop chasing Monster Girls as he wins his first 250 SX title. If he doesn’t, I see Mitch Peyton verbally abusing Austin so badly he quits racing and opens a soft serve ice cream parlor in Missouri named Rylee’s Cones. And oh yea, Huntah F&%king Lawwwwrence wins the “West” by dominating the Daytona round.
- The current 21SX schedule, there are 4 triple headers, which has the first 12 rounds greatly compacted. How is this condensed schedule going to affect these guys? Who's going excel and who's going to suffer from it?
JR51 : Who cares?! They’ll figure it out. I’m more concerned with how I’m gonna plan to BBQ that much and planning my menu. And of course, I’m already ramping up for Boot Camp MXD360 style with the Flashback Series to get my strategy for 21 ready. I don’t have time to worry about the actual guys on the tracks feelings. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than this!
Checkz : The condensed schedule is going to benefit the veterans of the series as they tend to stay off the ground, have the most solid fitness base, and know how to get to the setting that they like. If you're a rookie, I think things are going to start happening really fast and before you even realize you have an issue, there is a good chance you'll be nearing the halfway point of the series. The schedule is be a big problem for everyone with championship aspirations that isn't named Cooper Webb as well. Why? He's coming in with a chip on his shoulder again after missing out on the title last year, he's now a veteran of the class, has a proven program, and once he gets a bit of confidence rolling it's nearly impossible to stop him. Look for the Webb Wagon to bring some serious fire power with the bang, bang schedule of events.
Casual Fan Tez : A grueling schedule has been set. We will find out fast who's been working on their craft and who's been spending too much time on social media. Every one of these guys is lucky to be on a team and have the support they need to finish well. Hopefully they don't take that for granted because we saw this year how fast rides disappear. Best of luck to all, and let's break some shit in 2021, been laid up way too damn long.
Denny : Feld did the riders and teams a monster favor when they changed the schedule around by dumping the three Arizona rounds & kept everything, like Bob Seger sang, East of Omaha. Lame I know. But nonetheless, it shouldn’t affect these guys too much. They’ve already experienced SX in a bubble for the Salt Lake 7 and raced two Red Bud Nationals in the matter of 4 days. Only thing that could be a problem as some riders have mentioned, is the lack of being able to test between rounds. As well as trying to heal up from any unforeseen early season crashes. All due to the first 8 races taking place over the first 5 weeks. However, as fan, who doesn’t love midweek Supercross?!
- Who ya have for the 21SX 450 Champ?
JR51 : A rested resurgent Kenny Roczen all the way!
Checkz : Cooper Webb picks up his 2nd Supercross title in 2021.
Casual Fan Tez : First time 450 Champ… Cianciarulo.
Denny : Since you three have three different picks, silly Tez, I’m gonna add a 4th, the 21 of El Hombre in veintiuno! See what I did there?