He was beaten in his heat race by surprise winner Kevin Windham, now on a Suzuki. He was passed early in the main event by surprise leader Stephane Roncada, now on a Kawasaki. But when the checkered flag fell and it was all said and done, there were no more surprises, and seven-time Supercross Champion Jeremy McGrath, still on a Yamaha, was the winner of the Anaheim Supercross for the seventh time in his career.
McGrath piloted his Team Mazda Yamaha YZ250 past holeshot winner David Vuillemin of Team Yamaha three turns after the gate dropped, and although challenged early by French star Roncada of Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki, McGrath prevailed to score the win in front of the capacity 45,050-strong crowd and started to pave the path to an unprecedented eighth Supercross title.
“Every year the competition keeps getting stronger, so I have to always be on top of my game,” said McGrath. “It was a big risk for me to start my own team, but it all paid off here tonight. I made some mistakes earlier in my heat race, but I went back and studied the tape over and over.”
Despite his 2000 season off due to injuries, Team Honda’s Ezra Lusk returned in almost perfect form, working his way through the talented field and finishing second. Team Chevy Trucks Kawasaki rider Ricky Carmichael made it to the podium with a smart, consistent race, finishing third on the evening. Also impressive was Suzuki’s Travis Pastrana, in only his second Pro race ever on a 250, recovering from a poor start and passing some top riders to finish fifth behind veteran Mike LaRocco.
Yamaha of Troy’s Ernesto Fonseca gave Yamaha’s YZ250F a win in its debut Supercross, turning in a convincing performance in the 125cc Western Regional Series. The Costa Rican didn’t get the holeshot (that went to teammate Justin Buckelew), but he worked his way up from around fifth and after a long battle with Team Suzuki’s Danny Smith – pulled away for the win.
“It feels great to be back on top,” said Fonseca, a former 125cc regional champ. “I have been working out all winter to get in shape. My YZ250F is amazing. I want to get the number-one plate back on my bike one race at a time.”