What Really Happened? A1 Edition

For the past 2-3 years, I’ve analyzed lap and segment times, but rarely shared any of the approaches or insights. Occasionally, something stands out and I share with RC, Daniel Blair and, now, Justin Brayton, to use for their on-air analyst roles.

It’s fun to watch them incorporate these insights into their incredible depth of experience because they can add human emotion and reason to what is otherwise a bunch of digits.

Jett Lawrence, Anaheim 1, 2024
Jett Lawrence set 13 of the fastest laps in the 20-lap main event. Photo: Garth Milan

In 2024 we’re going to share some of these insights here to validate, but also challenge what you see with your own eyes on the track. It’s especially interesting to see when the facts do and do not align with what riders and media share.

Agree or disagree, let me know what you think on Twitter or Instagram.

This week I’m looking at the 2024 450 main event at Anaheim 1, specifically how each of the rider’s lap times ranked each lap. This unique view of the main is good at highlighting…

  • Who was actually going fast (the list in the results PDF’s is not informative, btw).
  • What riders rode well and WHEN during the race.
  • What riders struggled and when.
  • Does the performance match the words spoken in interviews/pressers.

Anaheim 1 450 Main

Jett Lawrence was fastest in 13 of 20 laps and 1st or 2nd fastest in 17 of 20 laps. You might be sick of hearing about him, but he’s earning the attention. You expect this sort of performance from someone 2-3 years deep into their 450 careers, not from a guy in his first 450SX race.

Jason Anderson held strong with Cooper Webb on his rear tire for most of the main event.

Jason Anderson deserves more credit for his A1 performance. He was the fastest on the track in laps 7 and 12 and he was 1st or 2nd fastest in 10 of the 20 laps. If it weren’t for Jett Lawrence, Anderson would’ve been your 2024 A1 winner. Maybe more importantly, if this were 2023, we’d have expected this and be talking about him as a potential champion. How many more races like this until we start that conversation again!?

Lap Rank (heat map)

How to view: The y axis lists the riders in final finish order. The x axis lists the specific laps of the main event. Read vertically, the numbers represent how that rider’s lap-time ranked against all others. Visually, the darker the color, the higher the lap time rank.

Lap Rank (data table)

Same data, different viewing options. Want to see the order of riders on, say, lap 10? Tap “Lap 10” and the order rearranges in order of how rider’s lap times ranked on that lap. Riders with no # are either out of the race or, in the case of lap 20, a lap down.

Cooper Webb is the new Chad Reed. We constantly count him out and all he does is capture red plates, win races, and finish on the podium. Yes, he didn’t podium but he was 4 laps away. And it’s not too hard to figure out on the heat map, in which lap he crashed. He was 1st or 2nd fastest in 7 of 20 laps – looks like all those long off-season hours are paying off!

Cooper Webb, Anaheim 1, 2024
With 1:35 to go in the Anaheim 1 main event, Cooper Webb crashed attempting to pass Jason Anderson. Photo: Octopi

Aaron Plessinger was sneaky good. Let me know if you’ve heard this before – he did horrible in qualifying (12th) but then delivered in the main (4th)!? I talked with him about this at press day and he simply said “Yup.” He delivered because he finds speed when the gate drops in the main event – he was outright fastest on lap 3 (and 20). If he can figure out the starts (he was 8th on lap 1 – the worst of the top 7), he’ll be a weekly podium visitor.

Dylan Ferrandis ‘found’ something on lap 10. He averaged a 7.2 lap time rank in laps 1 through 10, but improved that +2.6 positions in the last 10 laps (averaged 4.6 lap rank in laps 11-20). Impressive first race for the full privateer Phoenix Racing Factory Connection effort.

Eli Tomac, Anaheim 1, 2024
Eli Tomac only logged one top five lap time in the A1 main event. Photo: Octopi

Don’t ever leap to conclusions about Eli Tomac after A1 – he averaged 10th prior to last year’s win and he finished 7th and 6th at A1 in his 2020 and 2022 championship seasons. After looking at his lap time ranks, it’s very clear that starting on lap 7, he was not comfortable. Arm pump, possibly? Set up issues? For now, we just know that he wasn’t as fast relative to the competition starting on lap 7.

BENCH RACING

Be honest, how many of you expected Justin Cooper to beat Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha teammate Eli Tomac at A1 2024?

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Justin Cooper really wanted to pass his Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha teammate Tomac. When he caught and passed Eli on lap 17 and 18, he set the 3rd fastest lap. This was a +6.7 lap rank improvement from his 9.7 average lap rank the first 16 laps of the race. Amazing what a little extra motivation can do for a competitor late in the race!

Similar to Eli, it looks like Jorge Prado backed it down on lap 7-8. Consider he’s here to learn and racing just the first 3 rounds, it’s not a surprise. He also shared on Instagram that racing supercross was an incredible but different experience. Keep an eye on him in San Francisco though – it’ll no longer be a new experience!

Last but not least, I wouldn’t read into any of the lap ranks for laps 18-20. It’s pretty obvious that the top guys were locked into position.

What else did you see?! Let us know…