Team Honda kicked off the 2015 AMA Supercross series on a chilly evening at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, where they celebrated a solid podium finish by Trey Canard. The Oklahoman had an impressive showing, salvaging an eighth-place start in the main event by advancing to third place by the midway point. With a long season ahead of him, the 450-class veteran rode smart, maintaining the position to the end and confirming his status as a title contender.
Meanwhile, Cole Seely’s first full race as an official member of Team Honda didn’t go as planned, as bad luck and untimely falls held him to 14th place at night’s end. Nevertheless, the Californian learned some positive lessons and looks forward to improving on the performance as the season advances.
- With the season opener falling so early this year, Anaheim 1 was on the minds of the riders and team members while they celebrated the recent holiday season. As Cole Seely lives just down the road from the stadium, his schedule wasn’t affected much, but Trey Canard spent Christmas in Oklahoma and then left for Southern California shortly after. Although that meant he and wife Hannah had to spend New Year’s Eve away from home, they didn’t mind. “We were sleeping well before midnight anyway,” he laughed.
- The day before the race, Canard was one of seven riders featured in the pre-event press conference, which is always an eagerly anticipated and well-attended function for the first event of the year. “I’ve had a great off-season, and I’m excited to be at the first round healthy,” he said.
- Just after the press conference, both Canard and Seely were among the riders who had a chance to try out the track. “Any time I get to ride any part of the track before the race, it’s always a plus,” Seely said. “I feel like three practice sessions isn’t enough to really get completely comfortable with a track. The whoops were built, which was good, because sometimes they’re not completed [on media day]. It was also a good opportunity to feel everything out with the bike.”
- This year’s return to Team Honda by the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) has been a popular story over the off-season, and the squad was pleased to host HRC President Yoshishige Nomura during the AMA Supercross season opener. HRC, which was involved with the team during its successful run in the ’80s and ’90s, also works with Honda’s powerhouse MotoGP team, as well as the manufacturer’s squads in MXGP, the Trials World Championship and rally racing. Honda’s AMA team joined the World Trials team in kicking off this year’s racing, followed shortly by Team HRC–Rally, which started the two-week-long Dakar Rally the next day.
- During the day program at Anaheim 1, Canard set the third-quickest time in qualifying practice (54.980 seconds), while Seely posted a solid seventh (55.900), landing both Team Honda riders in the second heat race for the evening program. The top rider during pre-qualifying was GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, with a best lap of 54.586.
- Canard quickly overcame a so-so start in his heat race, advancing from fourth at the end of lap one to second behind Tomac at the finish. That result earned him a direct transfer to the main event. Tomac and Canard were the only riders to set lap times in the 54-second range during the evening program.
- Seely was dogged by misfortune for much of the night. After taking sixth in his heat race, he suffered a crash while passing for third in semi 1 and had to transfer through the LCQ. That left him with a poor gate pick for the main event.
- The season opener inevitably comes with the extra pressure that builds up over the off-season, prompting many coaches and team principals to remind their riders that it’s a long season. “Everybody comes into Anaheim 1 with many expectations as to where they think they should be finishing,” said Team Honda Manager Dan Betley. “There’s a lot of hype, a lot of people, and a lot of distraction. They say you can’t win a championship at the first race, but you can lose one, so it’s important for the guys to finish the night healthy.” Canard admitted to feeling the pressure. “It’s always hard coming into this race because you just freak out the whole week,” he said. “It’s good to get it over with, and I look forward to doing 16 more of them.”
- Next up for Team Honda is round 2 of the AMA Supercross series, which takes place on Saturday, January 10 in Phoenix.
THE FOCUS: Uncommon Cold
Although Southern California is known for its warm weather, it’s not unusual for Supercross races at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to take place in relatively chilly conditions. This year, the region was visited by cold weather during the week ahead of the race, and the nearby Inland Empire was even hit by snow just before the New Year. (Team Honda’s test track was spared by the storm, but at any rate, no outings had been scheduled. “By that point, we were already finished with testing,” Honda Team Manager Dan Betley said.)
The trend continued on race day, with early-morning temperatures touching 39º F to match the city’s historic low for the day. When not on the track, many riders stayed bundled up during the day program, and although the mercury climbed as high as 63º at one point, it was back down to the mid-50s in time for the opening ceremonies and the mid-40s by the time the show was finished.
“We’ve actually been riding in the cold lately because of how chilly it’s been, so we were prepared,” said Cole Seely’s mechanic, Rich Simmons, whose thoughts were echoed by his counterpart for Trey Canard. “Bike-wise, the temperature doesn’t really affect us much,” said Brent Presnell. “Really, we just try to keep the guys warm throughout the day. The biggest thing is actually traction. As the air gets colder during the course of the evening, moisture comes up and the track gets slicker, so they just have to watch out for that.”
While many riders wore jackets on the aptly named warm-up lap, most reported that they didn’t notice the cold while they were racing. “I actually enjoy riding in the cold weather,” Seely said. “Maybe I’m a bit hot-blooded, because I struggle more when we get in the heat and humidity of the East Coast. I prefer the cold, dry California air.”
|1||Roczen Ken||94||GER||25||Team Honda HRC||Honda|
|2||Anderson Jason||21||USA||22||Rockstar Husqvarna||Husqvarna|
|3||Canard Trey||41||USA||20||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|4||Dungey Ryan||5||USA||18||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|5||Short Andrew||29||USA||16||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|6||Barcia Justin||51||USA||15||Monster Energy/ Knick/ Factory Yamaha Team||Yamaha|
|7||Peick Weston||23||USA||14||Autotrader/ JGR/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing||Suzuki|
|8||Tickle Broc||20||USA||13||Red Bull KTM||KTM|
|9||Alessi Mike||800||USA||12||Smartop MotoConcepts Racing||Honda|
|11||Weimer Jacob||12||USA||10||RCH Soaring Eagle Jimmy Johns Suzuki Factory Racing||Suzuki|
|12||Baggett Blake||4||USA||9||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|13||Brayton Justin||10||USA||8||Smartop MotoConcepts Racing||Honda|
|14||Seely Cole||14||USA||7||Team Honda HRC||Honda|
|15||Wilson Dean||15||GBR||6||Rockstar Husqvarna||Husqvarna|
|16||Hill Joshua||75||USA||5||Valley Motorsports||Yamaha|
|18||Grant Joshua||33||USA||3||Monster Energy Kawasaki||Kawasaki|
|19||Millsaps David||18||USA||2||Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS||KTM|
|20||Tomac Eli||3||USA||1||Monster Energy Kawasaki||Kawasaki|
|21||Partridge Kyle||199||USA||1||Rocky Mountain ATV||Honda|
|22||Tapia Tevin||211||USA||1||Team 3BR||Suzuki|