Inspired by a somewhat random twitter post, let’s take a look at one stat that’s mostly kinda pretty good at measuring a riders talent and/or potential talent.
Dear Star Racing Yamaha,
SIGN CHIZ TO A TWO YEAR DEAL IMMEDIATELY.
— Troy Dog (@troydogvurb) April 24, 2022
The original tweet above wasn’t what inspired the post but a response that said he should be signed cause he had scored the 2nd most points on the team. Problem = points are pretty useless in measuring a riders talent. Chiz may deserve a ride with Star Racing Yamaha but not because he’s scored a lot of points.
Points can be misleading (just like the filter used by the ladies for their Tinder profile). Take the 450 class as a perfect example. There’s at least 7 factory riders out injured. Ken Roczen, Dylan Ferrandis, Aaron Plessinger, Adam Cianciarulo, Dean Wilson, Joey Savatgy, and Shane McElrath are all sidelined. By default, that means every rider that used to finish 14th through 22nd is likely finishing about 8th through 16th – and scoring a lot more points.
Not taking anything away from these guys – anyone lining up for a supercross and hitting the whoops pinned is talented and has my respect -but when half of the Top 15 riders in the world are out injured, the 16th-25th best riders are gonna score a lot more points. But they’re still the 16th to 25th best riders. They didn’t just eat a special bowl of Wheaties and become the 7th best rider in the world (but how cool would that be though?!).
Now that we agree points aren’t good for measuring talent, let’s talk about one stat that’s better at measuring talent – Lap Time Gap %.
This measures how much slower everyone is relative to the fastest rider on the track. If the % Gap is getting smaller and smaller as the season progresses then the rider is getting better and better relative to the best. If the % gap is staying steady, it’s likely they’re not improving much or they are improving at the same rate as the best. If the gap % is getting bigger, it’s time to quit (just kidding – it’s just time to go back to the Bakers Factory or get a new trainer or for some go surfing).
Note I said Lap Time % Gap is better – there’s a lot more stats I use around lap and segment times to measure talent and potential but this one’s straightforward and a good starting point.
Let’s see what we can learn looking at Lap Time Gap % for the 250 East class in qualifying this season. This is the current Top 20 in points, plus a couple other factory guys. What do you… does Chiz deserve a Star Racing Yamaha ride?
Here’s some takeaways from the data…
- Jett Lawrence set a blistering fast qualifying time in Arlington, Detroit, and Atlanta. You can see that because the red for all the other riders highlights they weren’t as close in speed to the best rider that week. As a result, I mostly throw out those weeks as it just says Jett kicked their butts in qualifying.
- Cameron McAdoo was getting close to Jett’s speed in Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
- Austin Forkner and RJ Hampshire are consistently the closest to Jett (again, I’m tossing out Arlington, Detroit, and Atlanta)
- Enzo Lopes has been steadily improving throughout the season
As for Kyle Chisholm, his last two rounds have been relatively big improvements from his first two rounds. So if you’re Bobby Regan, do you hire him to a 250MX deal for the summer?
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