1) Barcia seems to have this Yamaha dialed in but the rumors are finally proving true, looks like team TLD / GasGas for 2021. Will the 51 see improvement like Webb when he went from Yamaha to KTM (be it a red KTM this time) or have we seen the best of Justin already?
DeLo: What in the Dollar General is a GasGas? I thought those were just the side show, balance beam, goofy looking things that Bob Price rides around at the annual Logan hillclimb, or something Hoos would buy on impulse at a truck stop. I digress.
Barcia bleeds blue and does his best work on the Yamaha. I’m assuming the G2 is a potent and capable machine, as Barcia is placing his career in the bike’s capabilities. However, I’ve always endorsed the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it”. Barcia has a long history of success piloting the YZs and by no means are they a subordinate race machine, especially at the factory level of dirt bike racing. Many speculate the Gas Gas is and will be just another iteration of a KTM\Husqvarna and the big four still manage to do okay against them. *shoulder shrug
That said, Bam Bam on the GasGas will be about as mediocre as our buddy & former AX jump "Champion" Hoos [JR51] is throwing a NacNac.
JR51: Who are you kidding? My NacNacs were bad ass. In all reality, the #51 [Editor's note, JR's old number in AX] peaked in relevance with the 2000-2001 National Arenacross Series. But in all seriousness, we're approaching Chad Reed territory with Barcia. Not In wins and podiums, but in how many times can we count the guy out, only for him to find magic in a bottle a few times a season. But as someone who has finished plenty of bottles will tell you, eventually the magic runs out. But the marriage between Bam Bam and GasGas is compelling. Not just because both have names that are one word repeated, but it's a return to red for Barcia, and quite the contrast from getting a ride via fill in success. GasGas is throwing the check book, [Editor's note, Matthes suggested on Twitter, they matched both Yamaha & AStars' offers] will it be another revitalization or contentment for him? My guess, nothing ground breaking. A few times a year, absolute hero rides, and a lot of 5-8th place finishes. Bikes rarely make as big of a difference as they did for Webb.
Tez the Casual Fan: Who is GasGas? Hopefully this Eastern Hemisphere phenomena fairs better then the US's last treat from over the pond (Sniffle, Cough)....clears throat, Covid! Happy to see a new team, but it still won't replace the 2/3 others lost this season. [Editor's note, I'm not sure who these 2 to 3 teams Tez thinks are leaving other than Geico ending their Factory Connection deal] As far as 51, think I would have waited to see what other riders were available after the merry-go-round from teams locking their doors. Be interesting to see what they paid for him, or if it was a straight swap for Thrasher. Barcia can still run with the best any given Saturday, but it seems lately that he's only interested in passing people if he can see them. Not much motivation if you don't feel you're contending, and that's what I see for GasGas until they can develop a more hungry younger team!
Checkz: When the 'fix' for your bike makes your starts go from being like Mike Alessi to a modern day Mike Larocco; I don't think you can say all is well. I don't like eating roost off a 450 for 4 laps at a local vet race, so you can guarantee Barcia is seeing red for over an hour every weekend. Whether it was going from Honda to JGR on blue, or to JGR on yellow, or now factory Yamaha; Barcia has bounced from battling for wins to struggling at the back of the top 10. I don't see anything changing that, but I'll be happy to sit back and enjoy the days Barcia is on - smashing the rev limiter and his competition like he's behind the wheel of the Killdozer. [Editor's note, according to Google, Killdozer! is a 74 minute sci-fi / horror film from 1974]
Denny: At this point in Barcia’s career, I would find it difficult to imagine him suddenly flipping the proverbial switch and suddenly clicking off a half dozen Supercross wins or winning a 450 title. However for a new brand like GasGas, yes I realize it’s a red KTM, having a rider like Justin debut their bike at the 2021 SX opener is huge. His aggressive riding style, the ability to win when the moment’s right, along with solid fan base and his long time friendship with Troy Lee, it all just makes good business sense for both. Plus I read on Twitter, Matthes suggested his new team matched the money Yamaha & AStar were offering. So in the end, who doesn’t like to get paid?!
2) Just when we thought this 450MX title was Osborne's to lose, he suffers a rare front flat tire. When comparing laptimes from his first 8 laps up to the lap he suffered the flat, until the end of the moto, he lost just over 2 minutes. Should Oz have pulled in and swapped front wheels or did he make the right call to stay out and limp home with a 16th?
Delo: Shitty day for the Husqvarna squad with Osborne having to navigate the chop, sand, ruts and hills that make up the Spring Creek course on a motorcycle that had become incredibly dangerous to ride. As we say though, “This is why we line’m up”. From the moment Zacko realized he was no longer able to race at pace, his mindset shifted from attacking to managing the title and controlling the damage.
I felt he did an outstanding job and adapted well, given the circumstances. In his post race interview, he eluded to the fact that he never saw a pit board instructing him to bring it in for a wheel swap, due to his mechanic moving position from where he had been signaling. Had I been Cianciarulo, a more strategic Cianciarulo, I wouldn’t have lapped Zack at the end of moto two and forced him to do another lap which may have cost him even more points.
Ugh. Pit boards. They are so antiquated. Will someone tell Bell to develop a smart helmet already? Next time he gets a flat, his mechanic could just slide into his helmet DMs. Problem solved.
JR51: Stay away from my DMs DeLo... The age old question, to stay in or pull out [Editor's note, I see what you did there]. I guess you can say he's committed to the long term and liked his chances. We will see how it plays out. Innuendoes aside, we need some concrete stats on the ability of the Husky team to change a tire. They certainly have a few extra mechanics available right now, but would they be required to wear a mask? Would that impact the time? Compelling TV right there, hold the beer Masked Singer.
Tez the Casual Fan: Last I looked 5 points was better then 0. [Editor's note, Oz's 16th in moto two was worth 5pts] With the facts in hand that no one really knows how quick they could of changed the tire, I'd say Osborne being the smart rider he is knew he could salvage some points rather then risk the 0. How fun was it watching his team mechanic about barrel roll over the fence trying to get his attention and Oz saying he never saw them? That's like saying you went to RedBud and you never noticed Lot B!
Checkz: Just over 2 years ago this team was in a very similar situation in SX with Jason Anderson's large points lead at Salt Lake City. They changed the wheel in under 2 minutes. Math and hindsight say he should've pulled in, but I don't think it matters. Yes the field got a big gift and AC is streaking like Cody Gilmore after a Vegas SX party, but he still has the Red Plate and is the most solid guy in the class. Look for the 16 to bounce back in Florida.
Denny: I’ve thought about this both ways. Some days I think he shoulda pulled in for a new front wheel, other days I think Oz made the right call. Considering I can basically put gas in a bike and change a filter, I’m not about going to lecture anyone about mechanical prowess, only thing I do know is Oz got a flat on lap 9 of a 16 lap race. He was averaging around 2:08s the first 8 laps.
Over the next 8 laps, with the flat tire, his lap times obviously dropped significantly. And in that final half of the race, basing each of those lap times off that original 2:08 average, Zach lost approximately 2 minutes & 4 seconds. Had he pulled in for, say a 90 second wheel swap on lap 10 or 11, the 16 would have 5 or 6 laps to make up some of that lost time and positions. I posted this theory on Twitter a couple days ago, saying this was all pure speculation and he probably did the smart sure thing by staying out. Carmichael posted a comment saying, “He did the right thing IMO”. Clearly the GOAT has spoken. Why the hell are we still even talking about this? Ok, lets move on.
3) Nothing has been said about it or the subject even discussed, but in the first 250 moto, JMart came up on his brother Alex and his teammate Jett, neither of which have a shot at this 250 title. Wouldn't you think family and fellow GEICO Honda rider would kinda just knocked out a, Let Brock Bye type move? That would been a 4 point swing for the 2 time 250MX Champ. And don't give me, this isn't a team sport shit. No Christmas cards for AMart! What ya think?
DeLo: A racers priorities may deviate from the priorities of their bosses and higher ups in their organization. If I’m Joe Gibbs or anyone else with the same equivalency that has a legitimate shot at a championship, I really don’t give a shit who delivers me the number one plate at the end of the year. A championship is indelible and forever, and the name of the rider that delivered that title is fine print.
Let’s be honest, racers are expendable. A racer’s priorities are selfish by nature, especially in the beginning and middle of the race season. They have the same competitiveness and will to win and get good results and the barometer of their stock as a racer is tied to their race results. Only when it is in the proverbial bottom of the ninth, do team tactics get introduced and make sense.
JMart was not going to win a title that day if Jett and AMart let him by, in the same way that it is too early to tell whether or not that will be what loses him the title. [Editor's note, every point counts Nick!]
JR51: There's no such thing as sibling love, [Editor's note, JR & Checkz are brothers] especially on your home track. As for Jett, he doesn't give a F. He was likely only thinking, how far the closest donut shop is from Spring Creek. But joking aside, the kid has been impressive, as has Troll Train. A quick look at points shows Troll looking for a top three bonus, and Jett looking to fly into the top 5. No doubt it's every man for themself right now. But come Pala, things will shake out differently. Although the Geico guys are probably thinking of those fast Star-ting Yamis when they consider tag team style antics.
Tez the Casual Fan: 'Let Brock Bye'...wowza, the guy sending me these questions must be ancient! [Editor's note, no question Tez had to Google that reference] Lets bring this back to the correct millennium....Um, did not everybody in the world see how good it worked out for Savatgy?!? You know, be a good teammate, give Elito a million dollars....he'll share it! Yeah fawking right, no idea man, we had no agreement, and by the way.... You're off the team! Good luck! [Editor's note, poor Joey]
Checkz: Clearly the guy asking these questions has never had a sibling rivalry, let alone diced for a chance at the podium in front of all your family and 15,000 of your closest friends. I can promise I'd be willing to smash my brother off a berm, over the beer garden, and into the cotton candy stand at a local fair race for 4th place. How bad is it getting beat by your little brother? My older brother quit racing immediately when it happened. [Editor's note, did I mention, Checkz & JR51 are brothers?]
As far as Jett... what happened to the theory if you can't be number 1 on the track, you at least want to be number 1 in the truck? The bigger worry should be JMart didn't just get beat by only a kid in his backyard, but Ferrandis was long gone winning in front of all Jeremy's ex-girlfriends.
Denny: You know what, these a**holes above are 100% correct. I am an only child and have never had to punt a brother into a cotton candy stand. Closest thing woulda been throwing my bike at the Budman to win a Dash for Cash. And I have ALWAYS said, if you cant win on the track, you sure as hell better be the fastest one in the team truck. My Dad recently reminded me of my 90SX 125 season when Suzuki had asked me if I wouldn’t mind letting my teammate Jeromy Buehl beat me so he could get 2nd in the final points. I guess I pretty much told them to kiss my ass in no uncertain terms. So yea, “Let Brock Bye” isn’t ever a good idea either. Although…. If JMart loses this title by 4 points or less, I think I’d sneak a little surprise in big brother Alex’s cocoa one morning and hide all Jett’s Vegemite in the truck.
4) Soooo.... what's up with Eli? Why is he mailing in this 450MX season?
NDel: Eli delivered in supercross and earned the championship in the COVID-19 SX series. The supercross championship was the last unturned stone and he flipped that bitch over. I think Eli intended to carry his SX momentum and parlay a 4th straight MX title with relative ease. Perhaps he has underestimated the competition, or maybe he left all his eggs in the supercross basket but one thing is for sure, after the double DNF at Loretta’s, he had to have been completely frustrated with his bike’s inability to finish the motos, seeing a 4-peat dissipate and maybe Eli's just be over it at this point. He has to be mentally exhausted.
We’re just not seeing the ferocity and blazing speed that Eli sometimes displays when he’s on. By the way, with that said, I wouldn’t expect Eli to move over to help Cianciarulo in any scenario, not even if it was going to win Cianciarulo a million dollars. [Editor's note, sorry Savatgy, again]
JR51: The classic tale of defending one’s legacy. In past seasons, Eli took his frustrations of SX into the outdoors. This past SX season however, the cat caught the mouse, the hunger subsided. Time to channel a new motivation tactic, I’d say. But that’s too easy. That would explain the handful of average finishes while doing with Noren & Craig in those motos. This is still far from the other guys simply raising their game, the drop off has been more pronounced the farther we go into the series. It’s a shame though. Four straight is rarified air outdoors, which would have been the final stamp of all-time approval had Eli accomplished it. Instead, we end another season with more questions than answers.
Tez the Casual Fan: Oh Eli(to) you have been amazing to watch for one reason, you are the only rider that can absolutely make time disappear on his opponents. I get it, you've banked 5 mil in the last 4 years, got married, started a family, I'm happy for you truly, but... shitty starts are finally becoming your nemesis! [Editor's note, hello Larocco) If you don't ride on rails the rest of the race to make up for them, then you're just another rider in the pack of many, where all the wins and titles fade into history. Please, I beg of you, join the dam outdoor MX universe and engage with the same tenacity you hopefully did to start your family! P.S. - Mostly for my fantasy team at MXD360!
Checkz: The mystery continues. Even with the title out of reach, I wasn't concerned about Eli's future until after Millville. At a track I've watched Eli look super human on and launching down Mount Martin passing guys like they were tied to a post; it instead looked like Elito Mac has indeed tied Eli to a post. While losing the outdoor title really isn't a big deal since he won the SX title, giving Osborne and AC this much confidence could really upset the apple cart & the final stages of his career.
If I didn't know better, I'd be wondering if we needed to start searching for Eli at Havasu like another former #1 Kawasaki rider.
Denny: What can I say that I haven’t a hundred times already. Elito locked Eli in a porta potty at Lorettas2 and purposely blew up his bike in those two motos. And since then, Elito has been slowly slipping Kryptonite into Eli’s Monster drinks between motos. Seriously though, this isn’t the 3x 450 National Champion we are all used to watching. I don’t think anyone knows what exactly is going on under that helmet except Eli himself. Then again, the stats RacerX recently wrote in their “Two Titles, One Year”, when it comes to sweeping both the 450 SX & MX in the same year, proved it’s a pretty exclusive group since 1994. Only RC, Dungey, Villopoto, MC & Fro have done it. Its not an easy feat to accomplish. All I do know is, winning the SX title had to be the biggest relief in the World for Eli. He had finally defeated his evil nemesis Elito Mac. But like every superhero movie, they never truly defeat their arch-enemy, there’s always a sequel just waiting in the shadows. Speaking of being the fastest in the truck, that title currently belongs to AC, for the time being.