Skip to content

Fast Fact: Is Gate Position a Key to Great Starts?

By Trey Stire

2024 Philadelphia Supercross 450SX Start
2024 Philadelphia Supercross 450SX Start

Gate position has been the underrated key to success in the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Last week we analyzed how great starts lead to up front results (simply, exit the first turn inside the top 3).

This week we crunched numbers to show what helps lead to those top three starts: gate pick and position.

Gate pick is probably self-explanatory: #1 gate pick is the rider who earned the opportunity (through the heat race) to line up first.

Jorge Prado takes off from gate position #2 at the San Diego Supercross. Photo: Garth Milan

Gate position is which gate did the rider choose? We’re calling position #1 as the gate closest to the inside of the first corner. Position #2 is next to that, and so on. And an ‘inside gate’ means anywhere in position 1-11.

Here’s a look at the top four in the championship points.

Gate Position: Lawrence, Webb, and Sexton vs. Eli Tomac

It is no surprise that #18 Honda HRC rider is selecting inside gates. Fourteen out of 21 holeshots this season have come from gate positions 1-11, (mostly from 6-11).

Every 2024 450SX start through the Philadelphia Supercross

While Lawrence, Webb, and Chase Sexton all prefer inside gates, two-time 450SX champion Eli Tomac is different. Tomac has picked an outside gate 62% of the time this season, holding a 10.9 average gate position compared to Lawrence’s 7.2. While Tomac is slightly off Lawrence and Webb’s holeshot position, Tomac ranks third with an average of 6.7. His different strategy is paying similar dividends.

Title Contenders: Jett Lawrence vs. Cooper Webb

For the top two racers in the championship standings, inside gate position has been a priority. Jett Lawrence has utilized his series leading 2.2 average heat race finish (and therefore series leading 3.7 gate pick) to secure an inside gate 86% of the time.

What’s interesting is what he does with that gate pick. Lawrence has selected the most inside gate position this season – 7.2 average. In contrast, Cooper Webb’s gate position is 9.7.

Jett Lawrence with the holeshot in Arlington, 2024. Photo: Garth Milan
Jett Lawrence took the holeshot in Arlington from the 12th gate position. Photo: Garth Milan

Notably, Jett Lawrence is averaging 5.2 at the white line and Cooper Webb’s 5.6 isn’t far behind. Webb’s known for charging ahead late in races, but his starting ability may be the most underrated aspect of his craft.

Keep an eye to see where each rider lines up in Denver this weekend and watch closely to see what gate position they pick. Are they inside or outside of the starter’s box and what position are they crossing the white line?