Swizzle and I hash out this Monster Energy Cup thing and all that comes with it
Swizzle and I hash out this Monster Energy Cup thing and all that comes with it
Matthes- The 2012 motocross season is fading away, the just-completed MXDN is desperately trying to be forced to go away (ouch on that one) so this leaves one more big event left on the calendar- the 2012 Monster Energy Cup which is next weekend right here in Las Vegas. This race, which debuted last year, rose out of the ashes of the US Open (which had seemed to have run its course) and while it wasn’t a hugely successful home run, it was probably a double.
Going into the stands, three main events, a hybrid track (that was really still just a supercross), amateur races as well as a few other tricks thrown in made for an interesting race. Anyone who has read my stuff or heard my podcasts knows that I’m in favor of switching our beloved sport of supercross up. Since 1986 the format has basically been the same (although the semi races were eliminated a couple of years ago- that wasn’t much of a change) format. Heat races to get in, 20 men in the main, same 25-22-20, etc point distribution and all in all, a format that is due for some spicing up.
Enter the ME Cup and it’s three ten-lap main events. Now they ran really long last year (too long if I’m honest) but they were interesting and the guys at Feld have decided to change a few more things up. Direct qualifying into the main event from practice, a joker lane that a rider has to take at one point in the main (adds six seconds to a time), a split start with eleven gates on each side and a Rocky Carmichael designed track that utilizes the up-the-stands part much better than last year’s go up, turn on the inside, race back down.
So we’re looking forward to this race and to me, I’m a fan of these changes, I think they need to do more for possible inclusion into the regular supercross series. I’m really looking forward to this race but then again, I don’t have to travel anywhere for it so maybe that’s why?
What say you Swizzle?
Swizzle– First of all, I’d just like to reference the Point/Counterpoint from a year ago when we covered the results of the first Monster Energy Cup. I was harsh, actually I was a downright Negative-Nancy; a hater who drank too much Hateraide, as the cool kids say. I don’t necessarily think what I wrote was out of line but it came across like I was blaming Feld when the blame should have been pointed toward “chance”. It was the first race of it’s kind and with a very thin field, the lack of intense racing didn’t help them.
Looking at the changes they have made from last year to this year has me quite excited though. I love the new chances they are taking. There will be a much more competitive field but Feld isn’t resting on that prospect, they are implementing a whole bunch of twists that will hopefully make their way into the 17-race series sooner, than later.
Aside from the field being more competitive, advancing straight from practice is in itself a HUGE step toward keeping fans engaged and not concerning themselves with clock-watching. Add in the widely separated split-start, joker lane and shortened out-of-stadium section and things get interesting quick. Now as far as the Talladega-Turn; in the words of Marc Pellgrino, “Iiiiiiii don’t know”. I don’t see the excitement in that that RC does but I hope I’m wrong.
Lets talk about the Joker-Lane though. It has the capacity to be very cool, with many strategies possible to benefit riders in their race-craft approach differently. Conversely though, and I really, really hope this doesn’t happen but, it’s very possible that we could see every racer hit the Joker-Lane at the onset of lap-two to get it over with and then pound laps. The racing will be so much more interesting if that doesn’t happen so maybe if it does happen, next year they’ll implement a system where each mechanic is individually, randomly notified to instruct their rider to use the Joker-Lane on the next lap? Now that would be dramatic!
I don’t foresee scenario taking place that could make this years MEC NOT be a big home-run, especially compared to the inaugural MEC with all it’s unknowns, shortcomings and failings.
Matthes- Love the Joker lane, love the Talledega style corner in the stands because it can’t possibly be any worse than last year’s go up, hug the inside, go down section that was there last year. What I don’t like is the split start, the guys at Feld have measured it and it’s the exact same distance to the first turn for each side but there’s only been one split-lane start that seemed to not matter which side of the gate you went on and I believe it was an Anaheim 2 from ’06 maybe? Other than that, the other 73 split-lane starts have all had one side that was faster. It’s just, like, physics man. Not sure why. What I did hear was that the guys were going to have to start from one side of the gate in one out of the three starts which, if there were a slightly unfair side to the gate, would make the race even better.
I’m all for changing things up and we’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Last year’s race was a bit of a snoozer in the fact that the track was really easy and didn’t have enough racing lines to set it up more passing. The highlight was the Matt Boni/Marvin Musquin battle where, in an ultimate show of surrender (insert France joke here) Marvin just rode over and berm and let Matt by rather than be torpedoed once again. And then of course there was Kevin Windham parking Vince Friese much to every other racers delight. Other than that, not much else stood out.
I firmly believe that the 2012 edition of the Monster Energy Cup will be much better than last year and (almost) all the changes they made will be for the better.
Swizzle- Finally, we find a point of contention. The split start. Remember Jacksonville 2011? You know, that night when ultimate Champion, RV didn’t qualify for the main and his main competition, JS didn’t make it to the second corner. There was a tremendous uproar about the right hand first turn, then blame was passed to the instant technical rhythm section rig out of the corner. Whatever he case, right hand turns are in riders heads simply because they are not the norm and because its not the norm it will be the slower and that’s fine with me, they all have to deal with it. It’s a change and change is good.
I get so frustrated with Felds claim that their hands are tied because the teams fight them at ever point brought up to change in the series. Look at how frustrated the teams are with track design and maintenance, Feld and the AMA don’t seem to care what they think in that arena, so why are they using the “the teams won’t cooperate” excuse when it comes to race format changes?! There’s no other series for them to defect to and the changes are needed. It’s just as matter of paying close attention to this MEC to see what benefits good racing, consider team opinion and start the ball rolling in the series. Even if they don’t like it, they will get used to it. If everyone is playing by the same rules, no foul.
Lastly, with all the talk this year about the SX2 bikes catching the lap times of the SX1 bikes, it’s funny to me that when there’s a million-large on the line, everyone is still opting for the ponies over the flickable, lighter two-fitty. Perhaps Feld should have implemented a two-fitty incentive plan? Maybe, if you’re on an SX2 bike, you get to subtract .25 seconds per lap and qualifying is based on your average time over the course of practice and not finishing position.
I know that is a little bit of a stretch for the second MEC but I would be stoked to see that next year!!
Matthes- When it comes to the right hand start, I just refer to Kevin Windham who I spoke to about this topic a while ago. He looked at me like I was nuts and said that they (the racers) understand that the brake is on the right and they’re all capable of turning. In short, it’s no big deal and WHAAAAAAAA to the guys that complain about it. I hope they go with a rule that you have to start one time on the opposite side just to spice things up.
Yeah all the people that look at the lap times and decree that any 250 rider can go out and podium in the 450 class by looking at their lap times will realize that you just can’t do that and expect equal results. The guys on a 250 take wider lines to keep up momentum and can expect to get stuffed by the 450 guys. Just watch some supercrosses from 2011 when Andrew Short was on the 350 and kept getting stuffed trying to clear some of the obstacles. You can’t really just do the lap time math. So good luck to any of the dudes on a 250 out there! You’re gonna need it.
What I’m most excited about in regards to this years ME Cup is the rider lineup. Whereas last year we had Ryan Villopoto and a last-minute entry by Ryan Dungey on a still-working-the-bugs-out KTM, this year we have RV back from a knee injury for his first race in six months and the questions about him are unanswered (even though by all accounts, he’s hauling ass once again), we have Ryan Dungey who hasn’t stopped practicing, training and riding. Chad Reed is going to race and really, when has Reed ever entered a race and not been ready? He’s a racer through and through. James Stewart is not committed yet but I hear he’s going to be there. So hopefully we’ll have our big four battle at this off-season race and the depth of the other guys (Barcia, Windham, Weimer, Alessi, Brayton, Grant) will be just like Anaheim 1.
Let’s get it on!