Alas, alas, the Fabulous Five have become the Furious Four – after fourteen rounds of intense racing, the AMA Supercross series had been ridiculously close, with five riders in genuine contention with just three rounds left to run, but one of the five, rookie Trey Canard, has become the first to fall out of the title race.
The factory Honda rider fell in testing on Wednesday and broke his femur – fortunately, it seems that the break has not moved the bone out of alignment, which means it should heal more quickly than a displaced break, but the reigning 250F motocross champion is still staring down the barrel of something like a six week layoff, which not only puts him out of the supercross title race, but could see him miss the first couple of rounds of the motocross championship.
Sad to see Trey out of the hunt prematurely, especially after such a belting debut run – three wins against the likes of Stewart, Reed, Villopoto and Dungey in their pomp is a mightier performance than fifth place in the standings might suggest.
Sadder still that a genuine outdoor title prospect might see his title chances hampered before the season even starts.
For the four remaining contenders, it was business as usual, or as close to usual as anything has been this season thus far.
Ivan Tedesco took the holeshot, but he had James Stewart and Chad Reed for company - the two contenders immediately blitzed Tedesco for the lead and began a short battle before Stewart managed to make a break, and once he was gone, he was gone for good.
But as Stewart was trotting off into the distance, Kevin Windham was stepping up to represent, the silky-smooth veteran thriving in the deep Seattle ruts, making short work of Tedesco and showing every intention of taking the battle to Reed, much to the delight of the crowd.
But even as Windham was setting his sights on Reed, Mike Alessi put in his ride of the season to charge through and challenge Windham, making his way into third and even pressuring Reed before the diminutive KTM star started making mistakes and dropping off the pace, leaving Stewart, Reed and Windham in first, second and third with ever-increasing gaps between them.
Further back, more chapters of the Seattle episode of this fantastic season were being written. Ryans Villipoto and Dungey were having a torrid time, reigning champion Dungey falling on lap one whilst series leader Villipoto got involved in someone else’s first turn shenanigans and found himself at the back of the pack.
Undaunted, the two youngsters refused to be flustered and just cracked on with the task at hand, carving all the way through the field until, by the halfway mark, it seemed that things were pretty much set, Stewart ahead of Reed, Windham, Villopoto and Dungey, seemingly no-one able to turn out any extra pace to change the result.
As has frequently been the case, however, nothing had yet been set in stone. With two laps left to run, Reed made a rare mistake, coming up short and taking a big header, popularly gifting second place to Windham and remounting just ahead of Villopoto.
‘Poto, in front of his home crowd and desperate to keep hold of his championship lead, made strenuous efforts to make the most of the opportunity, rubbing plastic with Reed but the Australian was having none of it, every bit as determined to hang on to third as Villopoto was to rob him of it.
With the clock running down, ‘Poto made one desperate throw of the dice, launching a final do-or-die assault through the whoops – the gamble, however, did not pay off, Villopoto getting cross-rutted and going down, leaving Reed to take a comfortable third.
‘Poto bounced straight back up to take fourth, Dungey rolling home a disappointed fifth.
Fifteen rounds we’ve had so far, fifteen rounds where any one of five could win, where mistakes have been made, heroics performed and mighty moves completed.
Villopoto still leads, but now by just six points from Reed, who’s a point ahead of Dungey who’s two points ahead of Stewart, nine points from first to fourth.
A month ago, it was Villopoto’s for the taking, the Kawasaki star almost a win ahead, whilst Stewart was coming off a run of crashes that had seen him almost down and out of the title race – Reed has bludgeoned his way into contention whilst Dungey has been the invisible man, flying under the radar but still in with a very real shout of holding onto his title.
The season takes a one week break before the final two rounds, and you still couldn’t count any of the top four out. Has there ever been a supercross season like this?
The West Coast 250F championship reconvened this week, the trio of battered championship title hopefuls took to the track after a period of recuperation, the season thus far taking a terrible toll.
Josh Hansen was looking good until a practice crash dropped him on his previously broken hand – it may have had two months to heal from surgery, but the crash did it the power of no good.
Cole Seeley took the holeshot ahead of contenders Broc Tickle and Hansen, but the wounded Hansen soon found himself fighting a rearguard action against Tyla Rattray, Kyle Cunningham, Martin Davalos and the third title contender, Eli Tomac.
Recovered from concussion and in no mood to mess around, Tomac made short work of cutting his way through the pack chasing Hansen, passing the ailing Pro Circuit star and immediately set after Tickle.
His collarbone healed, Tickle was suffering from arm pump and Tomac was able to close him down to take second, but by that point, Seely was well down the road.
Tickle’s third vaults him into the championship lead, three points ahead of Hansen who took a brave sixth, with Tomac now seven points off the lead. Seely’s win brings him up to a distant fourth in the series with just one round left.