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What Really Happened in San Diego?

By Fowlers Facts

Our intent with this column is to cut through the opinions and hyperbole of what was said or what people thought they saw. Agree or disagree, let me know what you think on Twitter or Instagram.

For a second consecutive round everyone has dealt with rain, cancelled qualifying sessions and wet race tracks. Yet again, the lap times were both inconsistent with more variability.

Almost comically, the three riders that shined in San Francisco all crashed in San Diego and finished 8th (Chase Sexton), 9th (Eli Tomac), and 12th (Ken Roczen).

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Congrats to Aaron Plessinger on his first career win, the first for someone from Ohio (and the 24th state to have a premier class winner). He’s having a career year through 3 rounds and everyone wants to see more of the friendly Cowboy Kid on the podium. But continue reading, because it’s Cooper Webb that made a title favorite statement this week!

San Diego 450 Main

Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger wins his first premier class supercross! Photo: Align Media

Aaron Plessinger: Three races into the season and we’ve already added two new names to the all-time Supercross wins list. It’s been 15 years since that last happened (2009, Josh Grant and Ryan Villopoto).

Most impressive from the likable KTM rider is the combination of consistency (only rider in the top 5 all 3 rounds) combined with speed:

  • A1: 2nd fastest
  • SF: 4th fastest
  • SD: 3rd fastest.

The speed was on display in the variable conditions of San Diego. Look at the blue heat map below and spot that he set the fastest time in 6 of 22 laps and top 3 in 16 of 22 laps.

Cooper Webb finished second, made up seven points, and sits just -11 points back of Plessinger in the championship. With 6-11-2 finishes it’d be easy to overlook Webb as THE title favorite, but that’s what he showed in San Diego.

He set the fastest two laps of the entire main event, on laps 18 and 19! He averaged nearly half a second a lap faster than Plessinger from laps 10-22 and that was including the -5.989 second ‘penalty’ while lapping Tomac and Sexton. You can see how that ‘penalty’ impacted him in laps 15-16 and 21.

Justin Barcia quietly finished on the podium, the first of 2024 and 33rd of his career. This finish highlights the value of a great start – he was 2nd on the first lap but his speed was just ‘okay’. He was the 7th fastest rider and set just the 27th fastest lap of the main event.

Jett Lawrence was the 2nd fastest rider on the track in San Diego and 1 of 4 riders to set a lap time in the 57 second range. He was clearly one of the fastest riders, but unfortunately the combination of a muddy track and the veteran race craft of Jason Anderson made it very difficult for Jett to achieve the finish his speed warranted.

The lap times highlight why Jett Lawrence got frustrated. Between laps 7 and 12, Jett was the fastest rider on the track. But when he caught Jason Anderson and couldn’t make a pass, it cost him -0.141 second per lap for laps 13-17 and then -3.148 seconds in lap 18.

Jett Lawrence Lap Time Analysis

His forward progress had been halted and his chance at a podium had evaporated as a result of not being able to pass Jason Anderson. As we’ve all seen, that frustration boiled over into an ill-advised off-track confrontation. What would’ve simply been a solid 4th place and sitting 3rd in the championship now also includes an on-track foe for the remainder of his rookie season.

Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson finishes 5th in San Diego. Photo: Octopi Media

Jason Anderson took heat for riding a wide bike, but most interesting is that Jason got faster once Jett caught him, except for lap 18. Jason improved his lap times by +0.167 seconds in laps 13-17. It wasn’t until lap 18 that Jason’s progress slowed. Say what you will about how El Hombre has ridden in the past, or what you think about him riding a wide bike, the lap times show he was still racing forward (minus lap 18).

Jason Anderson’s Average Lap Times

Dylan Ferrandis is the rider no one is talking about, but very similar to last year, he’s finished 5-6-6. Most interesting is how strong Dylan has ridden in the second half each week. You can see that above in the blue heat map from laps 18-22.

Chase Sexton salvaged an 8th after starting nearly dead last. Regardless of the crash, he crossed the start line in 10th and would’ve had to come through the field. But most interesting is lap 21 when he was 15th fastest and let Cooper Webb pass him. Clearly a very costly lap for both riders and one both riders shared their thoughts – Webb saying “It was a weird race with the lappers and stuff. It seemed, uh, very interesting…” on the podium and Sexton saying “I was planning to let him by in the next turn” on the PulpMX Show.

Eli Tomac didn’t ‘officially’ lose positions in this race; he crossed the 1st lap in 9th and finished 9th, but it doesn’t reflect that he crashed on lap 2 and had to work the entire main to go from 20th to 9th. Most interesting is to see how Eli is able to match Plessinger’s and Webb’s pace when they lap him, but not prior (laps 12-18 in the heat map above). Get ready for next weekend’s triple crown – Eli’s won 7 of the 14 triple crown events!

Ken Roczen was on fire through the first 6 laps, but Plessinger not only matched him, but bested him in 3 of those laps (3, 5, and 6). The mistake on lap 7 was once Plessinger was just 1 second behind him. This feels like the effect of urgency and pressure causing the mistake [we’ll ask Ken at the track Friday]. The saving grace is that Ken is just 18 points behind with 10-3-12 finishes and clearly has better races to come!

Worth noting that Freddie Noren had a great start to the main and was inside the top 10 for the first 6 laps.

Husqvarna (Christian Craig and Malcolm Stewart) have now finished 11-22-19 and 20-14-20 and unfortunately there’s not a silver bullet with fast laps to lean on. Malcolm has ranked 11-19-13 and Christian 17-13-20. We’ll be watching closely at A2 to see if this trend turns around.

We’ve had some deep variability in lap times the last two rounds as a result of muddy tracks. What else do you see? Hit us up on social @wewentfast and @fowlersfacts and join our free newsletter below for new story notifications.