We’re off to the Bay Area, specifically Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco baseball Giants. This is the first Monster Energy Supercross Championship race in San Francisco since 2010, when Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey squared off for the title. The button below will take you to the San Fran venue page, which is filled with history and racing data from this location.
Oracle held eight consecutive races between 2003-2010. As round two in 2024, this the earliest appearance for this venue, which was most often round four.
Two riders who competed at San Francisco in 2010 are still racing 450SX today: Josh Hill finished 2nd and Kyle Chisholm was 15th. Phil Nicoletti finished 10th in the 250SX main in 2010.
Jett Lawrence wins his first ever 450SX!
The Jett Lawrence / Rookie / First 450SX win stat has caused quite a stir, on social media. Yes, Lawrence had a unique path to get to the 450SX starting line but we’re just reporting the numbers.
Unarguable: Jett Lawrence set 4 of the 5 fastest laps of the main event, won his first ever 450SX race AND did so in his rookie year. Here are other similar (but not the same) accomplishments:
— Marty Tripes (at 16 years of age!) won the 1972 Super Bowl of Motocross, a race considered the origins of Supercross in America. It’s, certainly a milestone achievement and cemented Tripes (who went 2-2-2 in the motos) as an American hero. The event was a one-off invitational race, two years before the beginning of what we now call AMA Supercross.
We’d be celebrating 52 years and Tripes would be a two-time Supercross champion if we included 1972 (he won it again in 1973).
— Ken Roczen won A1 in 2014, his rookie season of 450SX, but it was his third race in the class. He finished 2nd in Seattle 2011 and 7th in Daytona 2012.
— Josh Grant won A1 in 2009, his rookie season of 450SX, but it was his second 450SX race. He finished 6th in Seattle 2008 on a GEICO Honda.
— Definitely not to be understated… Jimmy Ellis and Pierre Karsmakers fans can certainly try to make arguments. These two won their first “Yamaha SuperSeries of Motocross” races (Irving 1975 for Ellis and Daytona 1974 for Karsmakers). But it was also the VERY beginning of the sport as a series. Someone has to win the first races.
Ellis was a premier class pro in 1974, but missed all the Super Series races because of a life-threatening injury at a Florida Winter-AM event that February. He returned to action later that summer.
There’s also the debate of ‘what IS a rookie? Some may try to argue that Jett isn’t a 450 rookie because he rode (and won) the 2023 Pro Motocross and SMX championships.
But Jett should get his calendar year of rookie status in the class just like any other rider would. His rookie tag ends after Salt Lake City because we can’t hang that on him come Pala where he will be running a #1 plate.
For more on first time winners, or nearly first time winners, the following post has more details.
So… Let’s Talk About Rookie Seasons.
Maybe I should just duck because now I’m about to confuse the hell out of you. Again, Jett won the very first 450SX he lined up for. But there is a small handful of riders who won immediately after moving to the 450SX class.
Pause to consider the nuance here: the riders in the table below all won their first race as full-time 450SX championship riders, or, what we consider to be their rookie season in the class. Before that, however, they moonlighted in the 450 class for at least one race. Which is where the confusion came from about Jett. He never raced 450SX events as a 250 rider. (grovel away about the wins in Chicago and LA last Sept. but those were SMX events).
So, Damon Bradshaw (and, arguably, Jimmy Ellis) is the only rider in his rookie 450SX season to win the first two rounds of the year.
Does Jett keep it rolling?
Rookie Season 450SX First Round Winners
Notes: the “CHAMPIONSHIP” column is how they finished at the end of the season. Also, we left out Sebastien Tortelli because in 1998 he wasn’t actually committed to racing full-time. He said before the season began that he was only racing a handful of rounds before returning to Europe (like Prado this year).
Curse of Round 1!?
Round 1 is finished. Can Jett Lawrence now do what hasn’t been done since 2012? Ryan Villopoto was the last rider to win Round 1 and eventually the Monster Energy Supercross Championship. Jett Lawrence was just eight years old!
In 50 years of Supercross series racing, the eventual champion also won the first round just 17 times.
It’s only happened 5 times in Jett’s lifetime.
Round 1 Winners (2013-2024)
Cooper Webb is the new Chad Reed
Cooper Webb thrives on being counted out. Last year at the Anaheim pre-race press conference he was in the back row and when it was pointed out that a two-time Supercross champion was sitting behind riders with no titles, he was comfortable letting everyone know what he thought about it.
Leading into 2024, he was rarely included in championship contender conversations. To some degree, understandably so; his return to Yamaha in the SMX World Finals was not spectacular.
Cooper Webb SMX 2023 Finishes
But he showed up to Anaheim looking thinner, fitter and was, dare we say… faster? The qualifying data was our first clue.
We don’t often make much of a fuss over the rider who qualifies in 3rd but Webb’s P.3 placing was (by far) his best ever Round 1 in his 450SX career.
Here is how he has finished historically in Round 1 qualifying (2017-2023): 13, 9, 7, 15, 13, 8, 7.
And he was a close third last weekend, just .062 off P.1.
To back this up further, Webb’s average qualifying rank for all of 2023 was 6.1.
Then he went out and went wire to wire in his heat race with Jett Lawrence on him for almost 6 laps. In the days following Anaheim, Webb said speed was an off-season focus for him and that he’s been fortunate to be in a position where bike / settings changes were minimal-to-none in the few weeks leading into the season.
That brings us to the point: Cooper Webb is the modern day Chad Reed. In 2019, when Webb switched to KTM, no one picked him for the title but he won 7 main events and the title anyway.
Should we feel some deja vu in this switch back to Yamaha?
This is reminiscent of 2011 when two-time Supercross champion Chad Reed showed up to Anaheim on a TwoTwo Motorsports Honda. He started slow but won 2 races, 11 podiums and–in the end–needed only 5 more points to win the championship (he’d love an Arlington mulligan about now).
In 2014, Chad made the switch (for a second time) to Kawasaki and won 2 of the first 6 races, before an injury ended his season early.
So far Cooper Webb (and Jason Anderson) are the only ones to beat Jett Lawrence on a Supercross track (A1 heat race) and Webb said he left A1 feeling encouraged because he admitted he had no idea where he stood against Lawrence.
The question, however, stands: would he have caught Jett had he been able to get around Anderson in the main event? Webb spent 12 minutes stalking Anderson, while Lawrence remained just 2-3 seconds away.
“I felt like I was getting a little bit held up at that point (by Jason Anderson)” Webb said on the Pulp MX Show, two days after the race. “It was getting late in the race and I felt like I had an opportunity to at least catch Jett. Who knows what would have happened but I knew it was time to go.”
Webb went for the kill with 1:35 to go but found himself on the ground. At that point, Lawrence’s lead was almost five seconds.
Under the Radar, Over Achievers
Dylan Ferrandis (Phoenix Racing Factory Connection) and Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha) were coming in ‘under the radar’ and both finished above expectations, especially considering the circumstances.
Dylan Ferrandis is part of a full privateer effort and got a top 5 finish not unlike his 4th on the Star Racing Yamaha last year.
Dylan Ferrandis A1 2024 Boxscore
Justin Cooper was part of the first lap crash that collected Ken Roczen and Malcolm Stewart, among others. He made +8 positions going from 16th on lap 1 to pass Eli Tomac for 8th on lap 17 of 20.
Justin Cooper A1 2024 Boxscore
It wasn’t the best night for Eli Tomac. He finished 9th after starting in 11th, but don’t be too concerned.
Eli Tomac A1 2024 Boxscore
Between 2013-2022, Eli Tomac averaged 10th at Supercross Round 1. In his 2020 and 2022 championship seasons, he finished 7th and 6th, respectively.
But by no means are we indicating that he’s saying to himself, ‘seems fine’. The brevity, tone and lack of detail from his Yamaha press release says everything while saying nothing at the same time. While Webb and J. Cooper’s quotes were 182 and 140 words each, Tomac said what he had to say in just 23 words:
“It was great to be back on the gate, but I underperformed, to say the least. We will be back stronger next week.”
Note, however, not counting the tragic Achilles-caused DNF at Denver 2023, this was his worst finish since the closing round of 2021, where he also finished 9th.
What Really Happened at A1?
A new column from Fowlers Facts analyzes and ranks lap time data from each round. It’s a different way to view how the race played out.
Veterans RJ Hampshire and Jordon Smith Top 250s
Hampshire & Smith 250SX Careers
RJ Hampshire was up front all day long. He was P.2 in qualifying, got a great start, rounded the first lap in 2nd and led 14 of 15 laps to take his 3rd career win in his 58th career 250SX start.
This is RJ’s 10th season and he’s finished 2nd in the last two 250SX regional championships – both times losing to Jett Lawrence.
RJ has 3 career wins (same as Jordon Smith).
Jordon Smith delivered when it mattered – the main event. He qualified okay, P.8, but came to life in the main event. He started in 5th and worked his way into 2nd by the 9th lap.
This is also Jordon’s 10th season in the 250 class. He’s 3 career wins (last was Daytona 2018) in 59 starts.
Second straight year he’s started with a podium (he got 3rd to start the 2023 250 East season in Houston)
Recall: he was 4th in 2023 250SX East standings heading into Detroit when he DNQ’d (the result of a run-in with teammate Haiden Deegan and a crash in the LCQ). This was on top of a mechanical DNF in Tampa that caused him to finish 15th at the 2nd round of the east series.
Rider Spotlight: Julien Beaumer
He was fastest overall qualifier after the first session and ultimately qualified 3rd fastest. He continued to impress in the main event. He got the holeshot and led the first lap of the main event.
Julien Beaumer A1 2024 Boxscore
Race Fact: He won the 2014 KTM Juniors SX race in Las Vegas.
Race Fact Part 2: He won the Glendale and East Rutherford SX Futures races in 2023.
Fun Fact: Yes, he’s a multi-time champion in IJSBA (jet skiing). When he was 15, his dad said it was time to pick a focus. His girlfriend does barrel racing (horses) and he’s even tried that.
KTM Juniors Insight
This is the 25th anniversary of the KTM Juniors program.
- The KTM Juniors raced in San Francisco 6 years (2003-08) of the 10 years visiting this side of the San Francisco Bay.
- Most notably, Michael Mosiman finished 3rd in 2007. Mosiman has 46 starts in 125/250 Supercross including winning the 2022 San Diego main event and 9 podiums!
Recommended RC Insight
There’s A LOT that could be talked about, but here’s a couple that feel more interesting from the GOAT at A1. For those new here, these insights are prepared specifically for Ricky Carmichael to analyze and expand on.
450 Recommendation – Fast the entire race.
—Jett Lawrence was the fastest guy on the track in 13 of 20 laps
–Jett’s not only fast, he’s incredibly consistent!
–On the other hand, Aaron Plessinger was the 2nd fastest on the night, but he was only fastest on the track 2 of the laps
250 West Recommendation – Limit mistakes
–The top 5 riders all maintained or improved their position throughout the race
–3 of the next 5 riders lost positions
Race Day Live – Fast Fact
250 West Recommendation – 3rd Fastest Qualifier – Julien Beaumer
–Rookie Julien Beaumer was fastest in the first session and ultimately qualified 3rd fastest. He’ll be in the A sessions this week – keep an eye on him to see how he manages the pressure of backing up his rookie debut performance.
450 Recommendation – 1-3-1-1-1.
–Jett Lawrence had a near perfect day at the opening round. He was fastest qualifier (both sessions), got the holeshot in the main, set the fastest lap of the main, led all 20 laps, and won.
His only blemish was a 3rd in his heat race. Keep an eye out to see if anyone takes Joey Savatgy’s advice considering it’s the only thing that worked at the opening round.
—Justin Barcia (2,246 SX points) passed James Stewart (2,236 SX points) and is now ranked 13th all-time.
—Jason Anderson (277 total starts, combined sx+mx, both classes) tied John Dowd for 19th all-time.
—RJ Hampshire (946 SX points) tied Josh Hansen for 12th all-time.
—Jordon Smith (59 SX starts) tied Jeremy Martin for 20th all-time.
—Jordon Smith (20 sx podiums) tied 5 riders (Forkner, Sellards, Tedesco, J-Mart, Mike Brown) for 18th all-time
—Ken Roczen (113 sx+mx podiums, 11th all-time) will tie Jeff Stanton (114) for 10th all-time with a podium
—Chase Sexton (7 sx wins) will tie Jimmy Ellis and Ron Lechien (8 sx wins) for 25th all-time with a win
—Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen are tied for 10th all-time with 21 sx wins. Either of them winning bumps the other out of the top 10!
—Cooper Webb (22 sx+mx wins) will tie Kent Howerton (23 sx+mx wins) for 15th all-time with a win
–Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia are tied with 60 sx+mx podiums, 25th all-time. With a podium, either breaks the tie and moves to 22nd all-time and tied with JMB, MX Kied, and the O’Show.
—Jordon Smith (911 SX points) needs 2 points to pass Christian Craig (913 sx pts) for 14th all-time.
Notable Timing Facts
—Levi Kitchen was 1st qualifier in the 250’s for the first time in his career.
—RJ Hampshire set 6 of the 10 fastest laps in the main event.
–Rookie Julien Beaumer was the 2nd fastest rider and set the 3rd fastest lap of the main event!
—Aaron Plessinger was the 2nd fastest rider and set the 3rd fastest lap of the main event, just 0.13 second off Jett Lawrence’s best time.
–By all measures, Jorge Prado’s debut was a success. Amazing to consider his best lap was a full 2 seconds slower than Jett’s!
—Jett Lawrence set 4 of the 5 fastest laps of the main event.