article by Lexi Thompson, a collegiate contributor to BNQT.com
The Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas was one of the most talked about events in the sport of Supercross.
Instead of one Main Event, like the races in the regular Supercross season, this race consists of three Main Events, an Amateur All-Star class and a Supermini class; the unique set up was not an event to be missed. Athletes showed off their new bikes and teams for the first time in front of the 40,000 fans in attendance at Sam Boyd Stadium, getting to ride in a race setting for the first time. If an athlete from the Cup Class wins all three Main Events, he earns a prize of $1 million. The positions earned by the riders in the events are converted into points, and the rider with the lowest number of points wins, similar to the scoring in golf.
Top contenders were Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Marvin Musquin (last year’s Monster Energy Cup winner), Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac (2017 and 2018 back to back outdoor season winner) and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson (2018 Supercross season winner).
In the first Main Event, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy (17) came out of the gate strong and earned the first holeshot, but he quickly lost the lead to his new teammate, Tomac (3), in lap two, who then led the rest of the race and pulled away with a win. Savatgy looked confident on his new bike, and the extra power of the bigger bike allowed him to finish 5th. Musquin lost his chance of being the first back-to-back million-dollar winner as he placed 2nd in the first Main Event. Anderson (21) and Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia (51) closed out the top four with a 3rd and 4th, respectively.
In the second Main Event, there was not much competition for Tomac as he snagged the holeshot and led all 10 laps earning his second victory of the night. Anderson was not as lucky as Tomac, who got held up in the first turn, but was able to still finish inside the top five. Veteran Chad Reed (22) with Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing and Musquin collided under the over-under and were stuck together. Difficulties getting detached from one another resulted in Musquin losing his chances of an overall podium finish with a 9th place, and a 16th for Reed. Cooper Webb (2) had all eyes on him coming into the night on his new Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing machine, but he suffered a crash that left him finishing a disappointing 19th in the second Main Event.
All the pressure was on Tomac to win the final Main Event, specifically from Jesse Hebert, who was the lucky fan chosen to win the $1 million if there was a Monster Energy Cup champion. It seemed all hope was lost for Tomac fans as he went into the first turn barely inside the top 10, but he steadily worked his way through the pack to catch Savatgy. In the final laps of the night, Tomac and Savatgy were neck-and-neck in the final lap. With less than five turns to go and $1 million on the line, Savatgy pulled to the side of the track on the outside of the stadium and waved for Tomac to pass him in order to let his teammate (and Hebert) win the prize money. The podium of the final moto consisted of Tomac, Savatgy and Reed.
Criticism was faced by team Monster Energy Kawasaki for the pass and brought up the question of team orders. Tomac (and Hebert) left $1 million dollars richer with Anderson following behind in 2nd. Savatgy received 3rd overall for his first race out on his new bike, proving that he has what it takes to compete with the best in his class. USA’s MXoN representative, Barcia, ended the night with a 4th place finish, solidifying the fact that he was a respectable choice to be 1/3 U.S. riders to race against the 31 countries.
Musquin was not able to live up to his win last year, as he finished 11th after a DNF in the third moto. A major point of interest for this race was the return of four-time Supercross and three-time motocross champion, Ryan Villopoto, who retired in 2015 but decided to race the Monster Energy Cup in preparation for his appearance in AUS-X Open on November 9-10. Villopoto finished 13th overall for the night showing that he still has the same skill he possessed three years ago.
Full of excitement and controversy, the Monster Energy Cup was worth the hype. It was a preview of what is to come this Supercross season starting on January 5 in Anaheim at Angel Stadium. It will be a battle among many athletes in the 450SX Class that will be expected to have many different winners throughout the season. Tomac, Musquin, Anderson, Barcia, Rocky Mountain/ATV/MC/KTM/WPS Team’s Blake Baggett, Webb and Savatgy all showed that they are contenders for the championship title for the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season.