By: Feld Motorsports
A crowd of 36,714 fans braved a day and night filled with rain at Sam Boyd Stadium to celebrate the end of the 2016 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship. One week after clinching his third career 450SX Class title, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey survived the most difficult track conditions of the season to capture his ninth win of championship to cap off his successful title defense by moving into a tie as the winningest rider in Las Vegas history. In the annual 250SX Class East/West Shootout, GEICO/AMSOIL/Honda’s Malcolm Stewart and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb were crowned champions in the Eastern and Western regions, respectively, while Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy took his third win of the season.
Dungey put himself in position to win out of the gate of the shortened 16-lap 450SX Class main event by claiming his championship-leading seventh SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award. With a clear track ahead of him in the difficult conditions, Dungey was able to separate himself from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson in second and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Ken Roczen in third. Roczen was in chase of a third consecutive victory and made a push on the opening lap to pass Anderson for second in the whoops.
Roczen closed in on Dungey and applied pressure to the champ for several laps, with both riders fighting to find the fastest lines on the treacherous racing surface. The lead duo quickly approached lappers, which allowed Roczen to get even closer to Dungey and make a pass for the lead on lap five. However, Roczen made a costly mistake just a short time later and crashed after coming up short on a jump. As he went down, his Suzuki tumbled across the track right into Dungey’s path, forcing the KTM rider to the ground as well after landing on Roczen’s bike. Both riders got up quickly and were able to get back on their bikes, with Dungey restarting first and continuing on in the lead. Roczen was able to retain second, but soon pulled off the track and eventually recorded a DNF. That gave second place to Anderson and third to Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac.
As Dungey continued to work his way through lappers, Anderson was able to take advantage of his slowed momentum and close in. However, as the laps wore on Dungey remained consistent and a few small mistakes from Anderson allowed the champ the pull away. He took the win just under 12 seconds ahead of Anderson, with Tomac rounding out the podium in third.
The ninth win for Dungey this season set a new career-best mark, and signified his 31st career 450SX Class victory. He completed the season with 16 podium finishes in 17 races, highlighted by a 31-race podium streak that dated back to last season.
“We really focused on the last couple races of the season to get the championship. We wanted to end the season strong and that was the goal tonight,” said Dungey. “These were definitely the toughest conditions of the season. Ken [Roczen] was putting on a charge and riding well, but he made a mistake and I had nowhere to go. Thankfully I was able to get up and get going again, and finish strong. I’m really glad we came out on top tonight.”
Despite a season-worst 20th-place finish, Roczen secured the runner-up spot in the final championship standings. Anderson completed a breakout season with a career-best third place finish in the points.
The first points-paying combined region 250SX class main event in 20 years featured a three-rider battle for the championship in both the Eastern and Western regions. The race was shortened to 12 laps due to the track conditions, with Savatgy emerging with the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award over his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Chris Alldredge and Stewart.
Savatgy entered the race as one of the three riders mathematically eligible to win the Western Regional Championship and needed a win in order to have a chance at overcoming his 16-point deficit to Webb, who started 17th but battled his way into 12th before the completion of the opening lap, the position he needed to finish in order to secure the title.
As Savatgy looked to assert himself into the lead, CycleTrader/Rock River Yamaha’s Colt Nichols had charged all the way to second before the completion of the opening lap, with Stewart settling into third. On the next lap Nichols was able to close in on Savatgy and make the pass for the lead right before the completion of the lap. Savatgy stayed close and reclaimed the position on lap two. Once back in control of the race, he would not relinquish it again.
The top three remained unchanged through the halfway point until Nichols stalled in the whoops, allowing Stewart to take over second. Nichols’ troubles continued on the next lap when he lost control and nearly went off the track, handing third place to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne. The late charge by Osborne carried him past Stewart for second on lap nine.
Savatgy did what he needed to do and took the checkered flag nearly seven seconds ahead of Osborne, with Stewart edging out Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger at the line for third.
“It was a good race [but] it’s setting in now [that I didn’t win the championship] and it’s a little disappointing,” said Savatgy. “We ended the year on a good note and we did what we had to do [tonight]. Cooper [Webb] came in here and did what he had to do as well, and hats off to him. It’s just good to end the year in this way.”
Webb stayed in 12th place for the bulk of the main event, but gained one additional position late to finish 11th and edge Savatgy for the championship by one point. He becomes the first rider since Justin Barcia in 2011 and 2012 to win back-to-back 250SX class regional titles.
“It definitely wasn’t easy [to win the title], but we fought for it and that’s why we’re up here [with the number-one plate],” said Webb, who admitted on the podium to dealing with an injury. “We fought hard all season and I wasn’t going to let an injury hold me back. I had a crash [while training for the race], but I had to come here and get it done.”
The podium result by Stewart allowed him to clinch the Eastern Regional title, entering the night with a 14-point lead and needing a finish of 10th or better. It is the first career championship for the Florida native in his sixth season. He and his brother, two-time 450SX Class Champion and former Eastern and Western Regional Champion James Stewart, are the first siblings to win a title in Monster Energy Supercross history.
“That was crazy right there, what a race,” exclaimed Stewart. “Everything I’ve gone through with myself and James [Stewart] this year, it’s been an up and down season for both of us. I feel like I owe half of this [championship] to him. I’m just speechless right now. All I know is I have this number-one plate right now and I want to cry.”
The 2017 Monster Energy Supercross season will consist of 17 races over the course of 18 weeks and will begin on January 7 from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.