The 2020 Monster Energy Supercross Championship made the trip to Northern California for the fifth round of the season at the one and only Oakland Coliseum in the Bay Area. The track is always unique in Oakland due to the layout of the stadium and this year was no different, presenting the riders with a tight and technical circuit to challenge their skills throughout the racing program. The whoops were toned down in comparison to the previous few weekends, but there were a couple of difficult rhythm sections that made it tough to be consistent and there were limited passing zones as a result of the tight and demanding nature of the circuit. As always, the soft soil compound in Oakland played a major factor as the day wore on and the track progressively broke down session after session, race after race. Kyle Chisholm and Scotty Wennerstrom made their return to the Monster Energy Supercross pits after missing last weekend at Glendale for various reasons.
The entire program was moved up an hour and a half which forces the riders to adapt to a little bit of a different schedule, throwing off their normal routine. As opposed to the night show starting at 7:00 PM local time, festivities kicked off at 5:30 PM local time before it was entirely dark outside. Similarly, qualifying practice started a bit earlier than usual but the riders didn’t have any extra time to find a comfortable pace on the track. In the 450SX category, it was Kyle Chisholm that led all of the LS2 riders with the twentieth fastest time overall, proving that the weekend off didn’t affect his speed as he clocked a 1:03.945. A couple of spots further back was Cade Autenrieth in twenty-second position overall, only one-tenth away from the top twenty with a 1:04.086 to his name. Joan Cros was next in line in thirtieth position overall by way of a 1:05.923 while his teammate, Scotty Wennerstrom, occupied the thirty-first position with a 1:06.504. Meanwhile, Josh Greco secured the thirty-second fastest time as he logged a combined fastest lap time of a 1:06.670. Bubba Pauli was relatively close in time as he sat thirty-seventh fastest overall, recording a 1:07.567 on his way to the night show.
In the 250SX class, Addison Emory and David Pulley both came excruciatingly close to a qualifying spot within the fastest forty riders, barely missing out on a place in the night show at the end of the combined practice sessions. Emory landed in forty-first overall after both sessions subsided, clocking a personal best lap time of 1:08.445, under a second away from the rider ahead of him on the timesheet. Pulley was one spot further behind in forty-second position as a result of his 1:09.005 lap time.
Emory commented “It was another rough weekend in Oakland, but I’m taking positives from it and found some solutions to fix the negatives. The track was tough and I just need to get more comfortable more quickly on the track and find my pace sooner. I’ll be ready to go in San Diego.”
“I struggled a bit this weekend, but we’ll be back stronger in San Diego,” said Pulley.
Racing got underway in the 450SX class with a handful of LS2 athletes in the opening heat race. Chisholm was able to utilize his veteran experience to pick the right gate, propelling him to a start inside the top ten. The Yamaha rider immediately settled into seventh position and held on for the opening portion of the sprint race, eventually dropping back to eighth place prior to the unveiling of the checkered flag. Cros and Autenrieth found themselves practically side by side to one another throughout the opening lap of the race, crossing the timing stripe in twelfth and fourteenth place, respectively. Meanwhile, Greco crossed the finish line in eighteenth place as he started his first flying lap, putting his head down in an attempt to charge towards the top ten. Autenrieth made some progress throughout the seven-lap sprint to the checkered flag, advancing a total of two spots by the end of the race. He crossed the line in twelfth position with the final transfer position in sight, boosting his confidence heading into the LCQ. Cros and Greco finished a couple of positions further back in fourteenth and seventeenth place, respectively, subsequently sending them to the LCQ. In the second 450SX Heat race, Pauli put himself within sight of the top ten after things settled down on the opening lap, firmly claiming twelfth place as the race got underway. Wennerstrom was in the back of the pack after the first lap, crossing the line in twentieth position as he started his first flying lap. Unfortunately, Pauli had a big crash in the early stages of the race which sent him straight to the LCQ before the seven laps subsided and Wennerstrom didn’t make much progress, eventually finishing in nineteenth position. The first few laps of the 450SX LCQ were chocked full of intensity as riders jockeyed for position left and right, attempting to force their way into a transfer position. It was an LS2 1-2 as the pack emerged from the first corner with Cros leading Autenrieth through the first rhythm section with Pauli and Wennerstrom buried outside of the top ten. Cros fell back to third position on the opening lap as Justin Barcia and Autenrieth overtook him, but he was still engulfed in an intense battle for the final two transfer positions. Autenrieth was able to settle into a strong pace and bring his Honda across the checkered flag in third position while Cros barely missed out on a spot in the main event, falling back to an eventual seventh-place finish while Pauli and Wennerstrom finished in tenth and fifteenth place, respectively.
Pauli said “Oakland had its ups and downs, but even after a big crash in the heat I kept pushing hard. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the main event this week but some progress is better than none.”
“I felt fully recovered from my illness and ready to get back in the swing of things in Oakland. The Bay Area race is typically a race I excel at with the technical, soft, rutted dirt. A season-best qualifying looked promising for a good performance but tough opening laps in both the heat and LCQ races put me back from the get-go. Once the first lap carnage settled down I was able to progress forward five positions, leaving me confident with my riding heading into San Diego next weekend for the Military Application race,” commented Wennerstrom.
Cros said “I’m happy about the improvement this week. My knee is healing and starting to feel better and I’m feeling more confident on the bike. I pulled the holeshot in the LCQ and lead the race for a bit, but I need to work on being more consistent in the rhythm sections and making fewer mistakes during the moto, but overall I’m really happy with the weekend.”
“Oakland was a good weekend for me. I’m always excited for that round because the soft soil breaks down and makes a really gnarly rutted track so I came into the day ready to have a good time. I qualified thirty-second into the night show then with some bad starts in the LCQ just worked on building my stamina pushing lap after lap through the motos, picking guys off, ending my LCQ in thirteenth which I’m happy with. I’m moving forward each weekend and getting stronger which is my main goal,” commented Greco.
Chisholm and Autenrieth both earned their spot in the 450SX Main Event and did their best to put themselves in an advantageous in the first corner, but their gate picks didn’t give them the best odds. Chisholm ended up circulating in sixteenth position as he settled into his pace in the early laps while Autenrieth landed in nineteenth place following the start. It was a long and challenging main event as the track broke down with each and every lap; the whoops developed into jumpers as they became relatively torn up by the end of the race and line choice in the corners was paramount to a fast lap time. Chisholm made some progress in the first half of the race as he worked his way up inside the top fifteen, but fell back in the closing stages of the race to finish a respectable seventeenth position at the end of the twenty-minute race. Meanwhile, Autenrieth put down consistent laps in twentieth position and made it all the way to the checkered flag, giving him something to build off for next weekend.
“I was happy to be back racing in Oakland after having to miss Glendale last weekend from some injuries I got at Anaheim II. I was definitely sore and banged up still and I only had one day of riding leading up to Oakland but all of that considered I was just happy to be back so quickly. It makes me glad I choose to work with great companies with great and safe products like LS2 that do their job when things go wrong on the track. The day started off a little rough as we had a freak electrical issue that caused me to miss the entire free practice and part of the first timed practice. Thankfully, Factory Yamaha assisted in getting my bike fixed and I got the last timed practice in. So with minimal track time, I was happy to qualify straight from the heat race. In the main event, I worked my way up to seventeenth but was only a couple of seconds from fifteenth place. All in all, it was awesome to be back on the race track and in the battle. I’m looking forward to keeping improving and work towards that top ten,” said Chisholm.
Autenrieth commented “I felt very comfortable and quick in my first practice session which helped me set the mood for the whole day. After qualifying was done I was twenty-second overall. Coming into the first heat, I lined up on the inside and got a great jump, but I had a problem with getting into another rider and I still finished twelfth. In the LCQ, I got a great jump out of the gate and got into third place. I rode it out and made it into the main event where I ended up finishing twentieth. I’m super pumped to make it into the main event this weekend and looking forward to keeping this momentum going in San Diego.”
The sixth round of the 2020 AMA Monster Energy Supercross Championship heads down the coastline to San Diego, California as PETCO Park is set to play host to the world’s best dirt bike racers this coming Saturday.