This weeks issue of “Moto By Numbers” will dive a little bit deeper into the statistics.
This weeks issue of “Moto By Numbers” will dive a little bit deeper into the statistics.
By: Paul Quesnel
Last week, Matthes and Weigandt successfully broke down the top ten supercross racers of all-time. Using the SX win records as somewhat of a guide, they selected each rider inside the top ten and gave us their win percentage, podium percentage, total win count, and more. So in an effort to ride the coat-tails of their success, this weeks issue of “Moto By Numbers” will dive a little bit deeper into the statistics.
Race wins are always an important factor in Supercross, but as the great Ricky Carmichael always said,”championships are won your bad days.” Everyone knows how many main event wins Jeremy McGrath has, but what they don’t know (and what might be an even bigger factor) is how many ?nishes he has outside the top ten. The chart below breaks up the ?nishing positions into ?ve different categories. The numbers inside the colored bar represents how many times the rider ?nished inside that category during his career.
While real-world numbers are what gets put into the history books, percentages are often a better tool when it comes to comparing Supercross stars. For instance, one of the big talking points that is often found in the middle of the McGrath vs. Carmichael debate, is the argument about how RC is called the GOAT although he is still 24 wins behind MC in the all-time win count. Now while that is a valid point, the percentages show us that the two SX hero’s have virtually the same win % because even though Ricky only has 66% of the wins Jeremy had, he also only raced in 66% of the races. In the chart below I again break up the ?nishing positions into ?ve different categories but this time, the number inside the colored bar shows the percentage of how many times the rider ?nished inside that category throughout his career.
Oftentimes when we look at percentages and statistics, we view them as a whole. We look at a riders entire career and calculate the numbers from a huge span of time when in reality, we are not getting the whole story by doing it this way. For example, when you looked at the charts above and saw that James Stewart has a 50% win rate, you were probably pretty impressed. Yet what you most likely didn’t know is that at one point in time James’ win rate was as high as 63% and has been on the downfall since 2009. Here’s another one I bet you didn’t know. Let’s say that McGrath retired after the 2001 season when Carmichael really started showing that he was the dominate force. At the time McGrath still had 72 wins, but if he retired after that season he would have a 50% win rate instead of it being down near 42% when he ?nally hung up his boots for good in 2005. In the following charts I will go back in time and show you the win%, podium%, and top ?ve% for each rider throughout there career. They are NOT percentages from the given year, but instead they are percentages for the rider up to that point in time. I will also be separating the individual years into ?ve categories and showing you how many times the rider ?nished in each category.
Again the percentages are NOT the riders % for the given year, but instead they are for the riders career after the said year was completed.
The thing about McGrath is that when you are talking about percentages and statistics you have to take into consideration the fact that he is number four on the list for most premier class main events. He just competed in so many races after his best days were behind him and you can really see it start to bring his percentages down fast towards the end of his career. On the other side, his years at Honda were really something special though. With a win rate of 65%, a podium rate of 76% and top ?ve rate of 88%, it really shows just how dominate he was in that era. He is without a doubt the best supercross rider of all time and it would have been interesting to see how long the King would have reigned if the Goat had never existed (as you can see, all of his numbers were on the upswing until 2001).
RC is one of the very few guys that was able to quit while still on top and because of that, his statistics are most likely a lot better than they would have been if he had stuck around for a few more years. Ricky took a huge jump up from to 2000 to 2001 in pretty much every area and from there his percentages would pretty much keep climbing for the rest of his career. In fact, even during his 2007 farewell tour his podium % and top ?ve % were still steadily on the rise. The only thing that slightly dropped off was his win % and that was to be expected. It’s also amazing how consistent RC kept his win percentage from 2002 all the way up until he retired. As we will see with a lot of the guys coming up, keeping your percentages on the rise or at least steady is very rare occurrence.
Unlike most other riders on this list, James Stewart actually started off his ?rst season in the premier class by winning 50% of the races he competed in (6 races in 05). During his third year his numbers really started taking off and by 2008, he had a 63% win rate, a 85% podium rate and a 93% top ?ve rate. Unfortunately, since then James has been through his fair share of issues and it has caused all of his numbers to drop signi?cantly. With James now being one of the older guys in the class combined with the fact that the series is more competitive than ever, it seems unlikely that Stew will ever be able to reach the kind of numbers he once had. One thing is for sure though, if there was anyone who could just start railing off win after win its James and you can never count him out as long as he’s still lining up at the gate.
In my eyes, Chad Reed is to James Stewart what Ryan Dungey is to Ryan Villopoto. Sure, maybe Chad doesn’t have the same sprint speed and win % as James Stewart, but he stays competitive by being ultra consistent and by grabbing the win whenever it presents itself. As you can see in the chart below, Reedy made a big impact on the premier class in his ?rst full season of ’03 and from there he ended his championship winning season of ’04 with a 50% win percentage. When looking at Chads percentages from 2012, you have to again keep in mind that it is much easier to keep your percentages high when you don’t race in as many main events. Right now, he is sixth on the list for all-time premier class starts and is only 12 behind Ward for ?fth. Chad is also number one on the list for all-time SX podiums with 119 in 148 starts while second on the list, McGrath, has 111 podiums in 173 starts.
Like Matthes and Weigandt explained in the previous article, RJ and his statistics really suffered from two different things. The ?rst thing is that back in 1981 there was no such thing as the lites class so you basically just went from amateur straight to racing the best riders in the world back then. It’s a bit ironic when you look at the numbers because usually a lites guys stays in the 250 class for about three years and usually once they jump up it takes them a few years to get a title in the big bike class. Well if you take a look at RJ, you could say that ’81-’83 was his lites class, ’84-’85 was his learning years in the premier class, and then in ’86 he got his title. The thing that hurts RJ when it comes to these statistics is that the three years from ’81-’83 actually count. The other thing that really hindered RJ’s percentages is the injury that would pretty much change the landscape of Supercross back in 1989. When RJ hurt his wrist in ’89, he was on his way to his 3rd Supercross title, he had won 64 percent of the races from the last three and a half seasons, and he was only 25. There’s no telling what would have happened if Rick’s injury didn’t force him out to leave the sport prematurely and although his percentages dropped way down in his last two years, I bet he’s glad he at least gave it a shot.
|Note: If you take away RJ’s ?rst three years in the class and also his ?nal two years where he was hurt,
then his win percentage for ’84-’89 would be 43%.
The fact that Bob Hannah still has the 5th best win percentage in supercross just goes to show you how gnarly the man was back in the day. When you also take into account that he put up those numbers while dealing with a slew of different injuries it just illustrates his bad-ass-ness even further. Bob Hannah was really the sport’s ?rst big megastar but when it comes to comparing him with the guys from today, it starts to become dif?cult because of how different the sport has become. Unlike now, the series’ back in the days of Bob Hannah was much closer to a 10-12 races series so that kind of puts his win count into a different perspective because it forces career longevity. Although you could say Bob was the fastest man in ’83 and ’84, his best years still have to be his three championship years from ’76-’79. By the end of ’79, Bob had already amassed 18 of his 27 wins, he had a 53 percent win percentage, and he had already cemented his spot in the sport. Everything after that was really just icing on the cake
|Note: Based on the numbers, an average Supercross season for Bob Hannah consisted of just 8.4 races.|
Ryan Villopoto is the only rider on this list that actually still has his percentages on the rise and because of that, it seems like sky is the limit for him. After RV is retired I assume we will look back on his career and praise him for the fact that he (and Dungey) basically came in 2010 and stole the show away from Stewart and Reed who at the time were easily considered the top two in the sport. In order to keep his 41 percent win % RV will need to keep winning at least 7 races a year and in order to keep his podium percentage where it is he will have to get at least 11 podiums a year. This will be no easy feat considering the main players in the class just rose from 5 to 6, but if anyone could do it you would have to think it would be RV at this point. He has won the most races in the last three seasons, he has won the title in the last two, and he just signed a three year deal with a team that seems like is basically built around him. It’s RV’s world right now, but we will see how far he can take it.
|Note: The biggest gripe about Villopoto is that he has yet to complete a full seventeen race series. But hey,
if you can win the title without making all the races, why not?
Now maybe Jeff Ward doesn’t have the best percentages and maybe he wasn’t the guy who blew the doors off everyone else back in the day, but Ward was a gamer and he was willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. While most of the guys around him were doing the whole, “win a few races then crash out, win a few races then crash out,” Wardy would just podium his way into title contention and most of the time it worked. He’s not on this list for nothing though and as you can see from the charts below Jeff still knew how to win races on a regular basis. Another thing you have to keep in mind when thinking about Ward is that by ’91 the guy was 30 years old and still winning races! In a time where some of the top guys were hanging it up in the 25-27 range, that’s an amazing statistic.
|Note: Jeff Ward is second on the list for most consecutive seasons of winning at least one race with 8
consecutive seasons. McGrath is ?rst on the list with 9.
For me, the most interesting thing about Bradshaw is how he was really only getting started when he lost that title in ’92 and basically made his career take a 180. He only had one big bike race in ’89, so ’90 was his ?rst full season in the class. Now as a rule of thumb it seems to take a good two years in the premier class for a young prospect to grab the title (Carmichael, Stewart, Villopoto) so in that sense Damon was right on track in heading into the LA coliseum in ’92. Now I really like Jeff Stanton, but dammit I wish he would have just gotten a ?at tire that night or something just so we could have seen what Bradshaw could have done throughout his career if his soul hadn’t been crushed after losing that title. Sadly though, that didn’t happen and as you can see from the numbers, Damon was never quite the same after the loss.
|Note: In 1992 Damon broke the single season win record with 9 wins, and just one year later McGrath
would come and break it again with 10 wins. The record now stands at 14 and is held by both MC and
The cool thing about Windham is that there are still a few races a year where he is just on the gas and can still contend for the win. The downside of that is the fact that earlier in his career he seemed to be the same way and had dif?culty bringing his A game every weekend and because of that, he probably hasn’t won as much as people ?rst thought he would. As you can see in the percentages chart below, Windham has been through multiple peaks and valleys throughout his ever growing career and his numbers have all been steadily going down since ’08. In all reality though, as long as K-Dub is still out on the gate, I highly doubt anyone cares what his percentages are doing.
|Note: The span of time between K-Dub’s ?rst win(Charlotte 1997) and his last (SLC 2010) is 13 years and 10|