The 2017 Monster Energy Cup didn’t go as planned for Team Honda HRC, as both Tim Gajser and Christian Craig were sidelined early after crashes in main events one and two, respectively. In the first race, both riders started on the left side of the split gate, with Craig coming out in fourth and Gajser running mid-pack. A few laps later, the race was red-flagged and riders were directed back to the line for a complete restart. When the gate dropped for the second time, Gajser got away much better and was running fourth on the opening lap, while Craig was near the back. After taking the Joker Lane early, Gajser moved into third and Craig was 10th. During the closing laps, the Slovenian lost two positions before a scary crash sidelined him for the remainder of the race and evening. Craig gained one more position, taking the checkered flag in ninth.
In the second main event, Craig secured a top 10 start and was working his way forward before he came together with another rider and went down. Unfortunately, the Californian reinjured his left hand and was unable to rejoin the race or finish the evening.
- Both of Team Honda HRC’s riders were on loan for the Monster Energy Cup, with 2016 MXGP World Champion Tim Gajser visiting from Team HRC and Christian Craig being borrowed from GEICO Honda. Normal Team Honda HRC racers Cole Seely and Ken Roczen were absent, the former having recently undergone an operation to remove hardware from his hand, and the latter still working his way into race shape following his injuries from the Anaheim 2 Supercross.
- On Friday, Gajser was pleased to take part in the pre-race press conference along with other top riders. After taking questions from the media regarding this preparation and expectations for Saturday, Gajser joined Craig in some exhibition laps on the track.
- Despite having never raced supercross and only having two days of practice and testing prior to the event, Gajser impressed everyone during the daytime qualifying practice, setting the sixth-fastest time with a 1’00.876” time. Craig was slightly off pace, securing 10th with a 1’01.594” lap.
- On race day, Team Honda HRC went above and beyond for a Make a Wish child named Witze and his family, who had flown in from Belgium to experience their first-ever supercross race. Following the day’s practice sessions, Honda provided the guests an inside look at the team’s technical and hospitality trucks. After learning that his favorite rider was Roczen, who was not in attendance, the team surprised Witze with a special video message from Roczen himself.
- The Monster Energy Cup track showcased the same hybrid format as in the past, with last year’s unique split elevated start and a Joker Lane that was now an advantage instead of the traditional disadvantage. There was also a challenging rhythm section out of the high-speed Monster Alley, and it claimed multiple riders. “To me, this track was quite different and out of the ordinary with some of the elements,” said team manager Erik Kehoe. “It’s difficult because for supercross the suspension settings are so much stiffer, but then the track was high-speed and flat, which is an interesting mix. With the settings like that and then the track being choppy and rough, I think it raises the danger.”
- Young Amsoil Honda rider Jo Shimoda had a strong showing in the Amateur All-Stars class, finishing third overall via 2-4 results aboard his Factory Connection CRF250R.
Mandie Fonteyn // Dispatch Communications // email@example.com // +1 (951) 537-0454
1) Marvin Musquin (1-1-1)
2) Jason Anderson (2-2-2)
3) Dean Wilson (3-5-3)
4) Broc Tickle (4-3-4)
5) Jordan Smith (5-4-6)
6) Justin Barcia (10-6-5)
7) Josh Grant (6-7-8)
8) Benny Bloss (7-8-7)
9) Vince Friese (8-10-10)
10) Tyler Bowers (12-9-9)
17) Christian Craig (9-18-21)
22) Tim Gajser (19-22-22)