What Really Happened at Detroit?

Our intent with this column is to cut through the opinions and hyperbole of what was said or what people thought they saw. This is a facts based approach to breaking down what really happened on the track. Agree or disagree, let me know what you think on Twitter or Instagram

450 Main

Jett’s Hot Again. He returned to the top step of the podium in Detroit and he did so with authority. He was nearly perfect with the exception of hitting neutral late in the race and also having a very close call with disaster. While he was perfect in every sense, it’s the speed that’s most impressive. He was fastest in 16 of the 28 laps (see blue chart below). Now I’m curious what he’s fully capable of doing when he’s challenged.

Jett Lawrence by the Numbers at Detroit
Jett Lawrence and Chase Sexton 2024
Jett Lawrence ahead of Chase Sexton at Ford Field 2024. Photo: Garth Milan

Chase Sexton was strong, but almost invisible. He got a great start right behind Jett Lawrence and stayed within 3-5 seconds nearly the entire race. He was fastest in 3 of 28 laps and 1st or 2nd fastest in 12 of 28 laps. What’s most interesting in analyzing Sexton’s lap times is his consistency, but not his raw speed. He’s not been fastest qualifier and the only main where he’s set the fastest lap overall was the San Francisco mud race.

At this point last year he’d been fastest qualifier 4 of 5 rounds and fastest in the main 3 of 5 times. This begs the question – can he match the pace of Jett Lawrence?!

Speaking of raw speed, Ken Roczen set the absolute fastest lap of the main event on lap 7. He was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Jett’s fastest and half a second faster than Chase. The only issue is his 2nd fastest time was -0.685 slower; he wasn’t able to repeat that speed whereas Jett and Chase did.

Detroit SX Fastest Laps
Jason Anderson and Ken Roczen, Detroit 2024. Photo: Octopi
Jason Anderson and Ken Roczen, Detroit 2024. Photo: Octopi

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Cooper Webb and Aaron Plessinger were an abysmal 12th and 16th when they crossed the white start line! They each recovered with impressive come from behind rides that got them back to 4th and 6th, respectively. Interesting enough, their fastest laps were ranked 5th and 6th.

Detroit SX: Fastest Laps by Rider

Unfortunately for them, in a field with this much depth, it’s proving near impossible to podium coming from outside the top 10 (see also Jett Lawrence in San Diego). The top 5 are averaging 7.6 on the starts this season vs 6.1 last year. That’s nearly a 2 position ‘penalty’ for a bad start this year! Winning a title in 2024 will rely on starts even more than years past.

Aaron Plessinger, Detroit 2024
A 6th for Aaron Plessinger was 7 positions better than he got in Detroit 2023. Photo: Garth Milan

Jason Anderson had an interesting race from a speed perspective. For the first half of the race he averaged 8th fastest per lap. In the second half of the race El Hombre found speed – he averaged 5th fastest. Curiously, the change happens at the exact time Aaron Plessinger gets around him on lap 15.

Jason Anderson and Jett Lawrence, 2024
Jason Anderson ran Jett Lawrence high but kept it clean during their heat race battle. Photo: Octopi

Eli Tomac, Do We Have a Problem?

Eli Tomac lost the most positions (7) in a main event for his career where it wasn’t (at least partially) because of a crash or injury. My uneducated guess on Monday was arm pump due to bike setup that didn’t work for how the track deteriorated.

Then rumors of shock failure started to circulate.

Thank goodness for Jason Weigandt, who did some real reporting on Wednesday and contacted Tomac’s team manager, Jeremy Coker, who replied in a text message:

“His current shock setup is good on harder, drier tracks. When we got to the sticky, rutty dirt like this weekend it sucked the rear of the bike down and in turn gave him arm pump,” Coker replied.

And here is what the lap data says: he set the 12th and 13th fastest of the race on laps 4 and 6 and from lap 7 on you can see his laps drift from top 5 to outside the top 10. Based on what I can see, I think anyone writing off the legend is a bit premature.

Last but not least, Dylan Ferrandis stumbled a bit in the second half which is a departure from past weeks where he’s done the exact opposite. It’s the first week he’s lost positions (-2). Regardless, we’ve once again not talked enough about the fast Frenchman who’s tied with Ken Roczen with 77 points and sits 8th in the championship just -21 points back of Chase Sexton.

450 Main Lap Rank

250 Main Event

Austin Forkner now has 13 250 Supercross wins and is tied for 3rd all-time with Jeremy McGrath and Jett Lawrence. That’s an epic way to return to Supercross after a disastrous 2023.

Beyond comparing his career stats to his east coast rivals Haiden Deegan, what’s most interesting is he set the fastest lap in 8 of 21 laps and a top 3 lap in 18 of 21 laps. If that’s not enough to prove he’s the title favorite, then maybe the fact that he set 3 of the 4 fastest laps of the entire main event!

Haiden Deegan & Austin Forkner SX Career Comparison
Austin Forkner is PUMPED to get his 13th 250SX win. Photo: Octopi.
Austin Forkner is PUMPED to get his 13th 250SX win. Photo: Octopi.

You’re not having deja vu, Max Anstie yet again finished 2nd at the first round of the 250 East series. Getting a solid start (3rd on lap one) was key for this finish. Looking at the blue chart below you can see his lap times placed him 3rd in 11 of 21 laps and only 1st or 2nd in 5 of 21 laps.

Daxton Bennick got his first career podium in his first career race, something that’s not been done since Adam Cianciarulo in 2014. That’s impressive. More impressive: he was fastest in 6 of the 21 laps of the race.

And, shockingly, he was faster at the end of the race than beginning! It makes you wonder what’s possible if he can improve his 9th place position on the first lap…

Daxton Bennick Detroit 2024
Daxton Bennick (middle) needed a Champagne bottle assist from his podium mates after finishing 3rd in his first Pro SX. Photo: Octopi
250 Main Lap Rank
2024 Detroit supercross main event lap time ranks.
250 class Lap time ranks from the 2024 Detroit supercross.

There you have it folks. There was a lot of cool stats to explain what really happened on the track last weekend. From Jett’s return to A1 form to Sexton’s consistency, to Anderson’s surge and Tomac’s troubles. Lots to learn from the numbers and more questions for the curious.

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