Justin Barcia repeated his start to the 2019 season by taking the win in the opening Anaheim supercross despite making a big mistake that saw him run off the track.
He held a commanding lead after getting by holeshot man Vince Friese but with just over 12 minutes to go, the Yamaha man ran off the track. He was caught and passed by Kawasaki new boy Adam Cianciarulo. Then with five minutes remaining, 250 outdoor champ Cianciarulo made his own mistake which let Barcia back through to take the win.
Barcia said: “I busted my butt in the off-season and worked so hard. That was just all strength through that whole race. I’ve definitely matured a lot, developed as a rider a lot, that was an incredible race. I didn’t want to win this race! [laughs] My goal was to get out of here safe, healthy, and I just want to be on the podium a lot this year and be in the fight for the championship because I haven’t been able to do that.”
Cianciarulo said: “The races are a little bit longer, and even though 250 and 450, it’s 15 and 20 minutes, that extra six or seven laps we do feels like a lifetime. So [I was] just trying to adapt to the track out there, and yeah, Justin made a mistake and went off, [then] squared up under me and I thought we were both going to die off the next rhythm sections. Man, it was so much fun racing him. Then I spun out [jumping] out of the triple there; and thank God [that] God blessed me with some long legs, I was able to save that. [But I] knocked the wind out of myself for a good 20-30 seconds.”
Champ Cooper Webb, who had been suffering with flu, made his way up to third place from Blake Baggett and Jason Anderson. All these riders had caught and passed Ken Roczen who took sixth place, in front of Eli Tomac who worked his way through from a mid pack start.
Briton Dean Wilson, admitting he was not 100% as he’s still recovering from the hip dislocation in October, was 13th – one place in front of Husky team-mate Zach Osborne who had to qualify via the LCQ. It was the 250th main event start for Chad Reed, who also only made the final via the LCQ. Reed had a nightmare in the first turn but finished 18th.
In the 250 class, Kawasaki Austin Forkner looked to have it sewn up until he fell. He remounted but cut the track, then rode on to finish third place behind Justin Cooper and Dylan Ferrandis. But Forkner was then docked two more places for cutting the track, demoting him to fifth and giving Christian Craig the final place on the podium.
Justin Cooper was elated on the podium after his first Supercross win. He said of the pass for the lead, “The track was tough, we were all making mistakes, but I was trying to pressure him into that mistake right there. I ended up being patient and working out. Man, I’m so proud of myself for riding like that tonight and just… Before the gate dropped, I was like, ‘How cool would it be to come out here and win A1.’ This is my dream to win it here is so much bigger than any other place that I could’ve won it. It’s honestly like, just looking up into the lights right now it’s like I’m dreaming. It’s incredible. The feeling that I felt when I went over the finish line is like nothing other. I could just live on that adrenaline right there.”
Ferrandis, the reigning class champion, was happy to put the Yamaha team 1-2 at the opening round of 2020 but was less happy about his early race pace which kept him out of striking distance at the end. After the race the Frenchman said, “My start and then traffic the first couple laps… I saw the guys in front and when I go for the pass and make some small mistakes. I rode a little bit tight, I think, in this moto. But it’s fine, it’s only the first round, and last year I started the season the same way.”
The man who led the majority of the race, Austin Forkner, mentioned that his break from racing prior to the night was his longest ever; even before learning of his 2-position penalty he was clearly disappointed in his results, “I had that one [the win]. Obviously, you guys saw what happened, I just kinda landed, just kinda got a little deep and shot off to the right just a little bit, and we were already landing pretty close to the edge and the Tuff Blox, and it was just – end of story. That was my fault, you know, I’ll just own up to that one. I felt like I had that one in the bag and that was leading to a pretty solid race. I think I would’ve held off and got the win.”