Millsaps Storms to Surprise Victory in Supercross Season Opener

. By Lance Thruxton
By Jon Row

A massive laser and fireworks shows combined with sub 60 degree temps under cloudless Southern California skies launched Monster Energy’s 2013 Supercross season - a series guaranteed to be entertaining and record setting. Having an unprecedented ten former SX event winners on the 450SX starting line pushed 2013’s Anaheim One into Moto history.

Always unpredictable, and the first of 17 rounds, A-1 marks the end of an insufferably-long off season where the trash talk finally turns to racing reality. Unfortunately some of the reality was James Stewart straining a knee bad enough in practice to sit out the opening ceremonies.

This season brings new riders, new teams and even new series names. The "Supercross" class is now renamed "450SX", and the ludicrously labeled “Supercross Lites” class is now known as “250SX”. About time.

A new series venue will also give fans more opportunities to see their heroes live as the SX circus comes to Minneapolis April 13th.

Heat 1
Ken Roczen on the factory KTM served notice in the first heat with a convincing win over the Troy Lee Design Hondas of Jessy Nelson and Cole Seely. Defending 2012 West Lites Champion Eli Tomac turned a disappointing start into 6th, although he was actually the fastest man in the race. Tomac showed maturity settling for a direct transfer rather than charging needlessly for a slightly better main event gate pick. The strategy paid handsomely.

Heat 2
Ecuador’s Martin Davalos Pro Circuit Kawasaki led Factory Connection’s Zach Osborne and Kyle Cunningham on a Metal Mulisha Yamaha across the finish line.

Heat 1
Justin Barcia, on his Muscle Milk Honda, barely held off a hard charging Ryan Villopoto, who came back from a 9th place start. Both passed early leader Mike Alessi, who held on for third. Favored veterans Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed could only muster 6th and 7th as “RV the Champ” and “new kid Barcia” were clearly in charge.

Heat 2
The second heat created plenty of shock and awe when Honda’s Trey Canard and Rockstar Suzuki’s Davi Millsaps worked their way past early leader James Stewart’s Yoshimura Factory Suzuki. Clearly Stewart was not riding up to par, but Millsaps surprised everyone with lap times a full second faster than the field and only a fraction slower than Villopoto’s best first heat laps.

250SX Final

Eli Tomac set a blistering pace as he ran away from the field in the West Coast 250 opener. Ken Roczen rode to a steady solid second but trailed by as much as 10 seconds before Tomac backed off to cruise control with five laps to go. Cole Seely worked his way up from a mid-pack start, getting past Malcolm Stewart - but not within striking distance of Roczen. Jason Anderson on the Rockstar Suzuki claimed 4th with Malcolm Stewart rounding out the top five.

450SX Final

Millsaps and Canard exploded from the gate of the most talent-laden SX start ever. The two were virtually side by side for 3 turns. Millsaps finally inched ahead and the two began a 15 lap parade towing along Justin Barcia, Ryan Dungey and Chad Reed. For 15 laps, the front four were evenly spaced a second and a half apart with Reed lurking a little further back. Meanwhile deep in the pack, James Stewart and Ryan Villopoto were out of the top 10 and struggling. RV had an off track excursion which would punt him back to 14th at the end. Stewart, in obvious damage control from the knee, worked hard to gain precious points.

On lap 17 the burners really opened up and everything changed. Canard made a great move past Millsaps and looked like he would break away. On the same lap Dungey bobbled badly letting Reed by, however Barcia also nose dived slowly coming out of turn four. The young Honda pilot was up quickly but Dungey flew by and began to chase down Reed.

Canard led the white flag lap with breathing room over Millsaps but the revitalized, trim and slim Suzuki rider put in a heroic last lap pass over the doubles squeezing out Canard going into a right hander . It was a clean pass, and the fans were on their feet.

At the finish it was Millsaps by five bike lengths. Dungey clawed his way past Reed for 3rd. Jake Weimer was 5th. Andrew Short nailed sixth while Barcia, Stewart, Brayton and Windham rounded out the top ten.

A fist-pumping Canard was visibly thrilled with second place. Not a surprise, since many had written off his career after the horrific back injury and surgery he incurred in 2012. For Millsaps it’s been a hard road back - two years since he saw the top of the box in Houston. Canard and Millsaps stopped mid track after the checkers high fiving, back slapping and hugging. A classic Anaheim finish and a great show of sportsmanship – something this series always needs.

For, Stewart,Villopoto and a visibly sullen Reed it’s the beginning of another long season.

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Tags: 2013, supercross, Anaheim One