The Monster Energy Supercross Championship was transported down the California coastline from Oakland to San Diego for the sixth round of the 2020 season. It’s always a special occasion when the series comes to San Diego, serving as the Military Appreciation weekend which gives the riders and teams an opportunity to honor our country’s armed forces with custom liveries and gear. Kyle Chisholm had a custom-designed LS2 Subverter MX470 with the newly announced Space Force branch of the United States Military being represented on the side of the lid. San Diego is known for its passionate and dedicated fans that always show an immense amount of support when Monster Energy Supercross comes to town as it’s consistently been one of the best spots on the calendar for years. The prime downtown location and special theme for the weekend make it one of the most memorable races of the season and all of the LS2 athletes that showed up to compete were attempting to make it a memorable one as well.
Qualifying was tricky in San Diego due to the slick nature of the dirt as well as the treacherous back-to-back whoop sections that gave many riders fits throughout the day and night program. The track design was tight and produced relatively quick lap times, meaning that it was more likely to break down and get extremely rough in the main events. It was important to get the lines dialed in quickly and lay down a fast lap time in order to earn a spot in the fast forty. There weren’t too many rhythm lanes that offered different combinations to separate the riders, so being precise and consistent with line choice was key to a good qualifying position. In the 250SX West division, Addison Emory IV had a strong showing in qualifying and made a step in the right direction compared to previous weekends, clocking the 39th fastest lap time in order to earn a spot in the night show. David Pulley was a few positions further back and unfortunately missed the cutoff, finishing in 44th position at the conclusion of both settings. Emory IV went onto finish 19th in his Heat and 16th in the Last Chance Qualifier, making consistent progress each weekend as he gets closer and closer to a spot on the gate of the Main Event. The 250SX West competitors have a little break on the horizon for the next few weekends, returning to action at the end of March for round thirteen in Seattle, Washington.
Emory IV commented “The weekend was a step in the right direction, I made the night show I just need to work on my race pace a little bit. I got some good connections I’m going to work with over the break and really come into the last four rounds ready to do battle.”
Pulley said “The track was fun but the whoops were super tough this week. I’m still building every weekend. I’m taking next weekend off and I’ll be back on the 450 for Atlanta, Indy, and Detroit if all goes as planned, then back on the 250 for the West rounds.”
In the 450SX qualifying, it was Kyle Chisholm that led the way in typical fashion for the LS2 backed athletes, finishing up the qualifying sessions with the 18th fastest overall time in the form of a 51.674. Cade Autenrieth continued his strong qualifying performance from recent weeks and showed speed on par with the Main Event regulars, finishing in 24th overall position with a 53.364. Joan Cros was ten positions further back with his fastest time being a 54.378, finishing up the qualifying sessions with the 34th fastest time overall. Bubba Pauli and Josh Greco were only a few positions further down the order, finishing up both combined qualifying sessions in 37th and 39th place, respectively, earning their spots on the gate in the night show. Unfortunately, Scotty Wennerstrom came up just short in 41st position, missing out on a qualifying position by merely one-tenth of a second.
“Coming off a season best race at Oakland, I was looking forward to improving more at one of my favorite races of the year. Always a good vibe for the Military Appreciation race, San Diego provided another challenging track with two back to back whoop sections and an off cambered option section. While the end result wasn’t an improvement from the previous race, I felt better on the bike as a whole through the tough whoops and rhythm sections, just a few mistakes while making passes hindered me in the end,” said Wennerstrom.
The first 450SX Heat was an action-packed affair with three LS2 riders lining up on the gate, all in the fight for a transfer position. Chisholm managed to pull the best start out of the three, immediately laying claim to a spot within the top ten on the opening lap. The Yamaha rider settled into 7th position right away and tried to ride with his focus forward, keeping his sights set on a spot in the main. Autenrieth started just outside of the top ten, crossing the timing stripe in 11th position to start his first flying lap with the last transfer position firmly in his crosshairs. Meanwhile, Cros also secured a solid start that left him not far off of Autenrieth’s rear fender, settling into 14th place in the early stages of the intense sprint race. Eventually, Chisholm and Autenrieth both ended up just short of a direct transfer to the main event as they finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Cros fought valiantly until he met the checkered flag, bringing his Kawasaki home in 16th position. In the second 450SX Heat, it was Bubba Pauli and Josh Greco on the starting line repping LS2. Neither rider was able to get an optimal launch out of the starting gate which set them up with a bad track position on the opening lap. Pauli crossed the timing stripe in 16th position on the first circulation of the track and Greco came across the line in 19th place, making it difficult to advance to a transfer position in such a short race. Unfortunately, Pauli and Greco weren’t able to make any serious inroads on the top ten and ended up greeting the checkered flag in 19th and 20th, respectively, earning a spot in the Last Chance Qualifier. It was a chaotic and intensely busy race as usual with a total of five LS2 riders battling it out for only four transfer positions. Again, Chisholm was the first of the bunch to show up on the timing screens as he crossed the line in 3rd position on the opening lap, fiercely battling back and forth in an attempt to get to the front. Cros also executed the start to near perfection, mixing it up in the top five in the early stages of the race as he looked to put it in the Main Event for the first time this season. Autenrieth, Pauli, and Greco weren’t able to put secure an ideal position on the opening lap after the chaos of the first corner subsided, finding themselves buried outside of the top ten with the clock quickly ticking. Chisholm was able to claim 2nd position and separate himself from those around him, bringing his Yamaha across the finish line confidently and safely in a transfer position. Meanwhile, Autenrieth managed to charge into the top ten and better his position each and every lap, but he ran out of time and ended up finishing in 8th position. Cros encountered some unfortunate circumstances in the first few laps and ended up falling down to the back of the pack while Greco and Pauli ended the race in 18th and 15th place, respectively.
Autenrieth commented “I had a good night at San Diego supercross. I qualified 24th and was feeling good on the bike coming into the heat where I finished 11th. In the LCQ, I got a bad start and worked my way from the back up to 8th.”
“The track this weekend was a pretty basic fast-paced track that got more rutty than the usual San Diego. It had monster Whoops like San Diego normally does and they were taking out guys all day, myself included in the first practice with a pretty good scorpion. We qualified into the show in 39th position and made it through the night with an 18th in the LCQ. I’m healthy, just a little sore from the get-off earlier in the day, but now we’re onto this weekend in Tampa,” said Greco.
Pauli commented “We made some big bike changes headed into San Diego and it was definitely in the right direction. I still have a lot of potential left in me but a bit of progress is good for my confidence and I’m excited for what’s to come!”
“San Diego is always a special race and we looked good in the new LS2 helmets with the American flags are really cool. I’m happy about my riding and I’m improving each week and that’s a good thing! My goal is to be in the mains so we need to keep pushing each week. I’m excited to get going in Tampa,” said Cros.
Chisholm lined up for the Main Event with the same focus and determination that he demonstrated in the Last Chance Qualifier, ready to lay it all on the line. He was able to get a decent jump out of the starting gate and immediately found himself in an intense battle at the beginning of the race. He fought hard for the first five laps and was able to advance from 15th position up to 14th, putting his head down as he focused on hitting his marks as consistently as possible. The track began to break down around the halfway point of the race as riders began experimenting with different line choices, especially in both of the challenging whoops sections. Chisholm had a couple of heated laps of battling with both Tyler Bowers and Zach Osborne, falling back to 16th position as they entered the second half of the race. At that point, it became a race against the track just as much as it was a race against the other competitors and Chisholm’s approach reflected just that. He was able to clock consistent laps all the way until the checkered flag and bring his YZ450F across the finish line in 18th position, checking off another solid Main Event result on the season for the rider out of Florida.
Chisholm commented “San Diego started out pretty good. I felt pretty good by the last timed qualifying session, probably the best I’ve felt so far this year. My times were closer to where I want to be so that was good. I enjoyed the track and the whoops were tough which I tend to like when that happens. In the Heat, I just rode tight and not relaxed enough and just missed the top nine with a 10th, so I had to go to the LCQ which is always a nail biter! I made it through the chaos to finish 2nd and get a spot in the main. In the main I had some good laps and some not so good laps -- again just struggled to relax and find a good flow out there for some reason which was disappointing because I did feel good in qualifying during the day. So, I just need to work on that so I can ride more like myself and to my potential and I think that will get me into that ten to fifteenth place range we’re shooting for right now. I’m looking forward to working this week and trying again in my home race of Tampa next weekend!”
This coming weekend Monster Energy Supercross heads to the east coast as the series invades Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, for the seventh round of the 2020 season. •