We are celebrating military appreciation here in San Diego. Many teams and riders are running special graphics and gear to pay tribute. This race has special meaning for Eli Tomac who has a brother who serves in the Air Force, he has stated in the past that this one is special. Unfortunately for Eli the defending champion Cooper Webb has found his groove.
(Webb came to win in San Diego)
The knock-on Cooper has been his whoop speed, but to almost everyone’s surprise, Cooper was fast in both whoop sections. He usually isn’t the fastest guy out of practice and when he is it usually means trouble for his competition. He was only second-fastest as Adam Cianciarulo continued his amazing run of fast lap times, but almost everyone has accepted the fact that he will either make a mistake or fade in the 20-minute main event. It’s almost like everyone just ignores his lap time.
Ken Roczen looked solid and will most certainly be in the mix. It’s strange for a guy who has won two of the five races to have to prove himself, but after last week's meltdown everyone is wondering if his late-race fades will continue. Last week felt eerily similar to what we saw on multiple occasions in 2019. This race has a sense of urgency for guys like Aaron Plessinger and Dean Wilson who have been below average until this point in the season. Plessinger put some pressure on himself by calling a top-five finish. Dean Wilson looked confident as he was the only rider to go 3-3-3 in the rhythm section. He used the ½ jump at the start to triple into the section, something nobody else did. Wilson only did it one time and I don’t think it’s a functional race line, but it shows he is confident.
(Can Roczen stop the slide?)
The start is kind of sketchy, in most of the gated qualifying sessions, riders were pushed off track. It will be important to get through the first turn clean because the top 20 riders are only separated by three seconds. Going back just ten years the difference was around 5 seconds and in racing terms that is huge! In comparison, five seconds takes you all the way back to 36th tonight. Carving through the pack will be extremely difficult, so the start is extra important.
The 250 class is turning into a two-rider gunfight, Austin Forkner and Dylan Ferrandis battled back and forth for the best time with the French rider getting it on the last lap. Ferrandis’s time was faster than ALL of the 450 riders, his corner and whoop speed was flat out frightening. Justin Cooper bounced back from a tough crash in the first timed session but isn’t on the same level as the other two.
(Dylan was the fastest motorcycle in San Diego, he was flying!!!!)
For all you Pulp MX fantasy players, don’t pick Taiki Koga as he had a nasty spill in the untimed session and won’t be racing tonight. If you’re looking for a couple sleepers, Adam Enticknap in the 450 class looks good and Devin Harriman in the 250 class. Both riders looked comfortable putting in multiple fast laps on-route to good qualifying times.
That’s it for the practice report, but don’t miss tonight’s racing as it is a turning point in the series. The 450-point leader after tonight has an 80% chance of ending the series as champion.