One of these riders – Marvin Musquin (left) and Wil Hahn (right) – will be crowned 250 East champ tomorrow night. Photography by Kit Palmer.
With Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Ryan Villopoto already clinching the 2013 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, much of the focus was centered on the 250 class during this morning’s pre-race press conference for tomorrow’s final round of the Supercross Series at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas Nevada.
Both the 250 East and West Championship will be decided tomorrow night, as will the champion of the 250 East/West Shootout that will pit the top riders – including the soon-to-be champs – from both series. And both 2013 championships are coming down to the wire, where only five points separate the top-two riders in each division.
In the East, Wil Hahn, who is hoping to land his first championship title, is battling former MX2 World Champion Marvin Musquin, who is coming into the final on a roll after winning four of the last five races, but another win won’t necessarily do it for Musquin. A second-place by Hahn will clinch the title for the GEICO Honda rider no matter if Musquin wins. If Musquin, on the Red Bull KTM, does win and Hahn finishes third, they will tie on points but Musquin will get the championship for having the most wins of the series. Hahn has two wins so far, Musquin four.
Both Hahn and Musquin have had to think about the series final showdown for the last three weeks.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure,” Hahn said. “The only real pressure is on myself and from myself. I’m not going to approach this race any differently than any other race. You just roll with it.
“I have never been in the hunt for a title, so I’m just trying to enjoy every moment,” he said. “At the end of the day, I need to remember that we are out here to have fun.”
Musquin, on the other hand, has dealt with the pressure of winning championships before and appeared to be calm and relaxed.
“The goal is to win the championship,” Musquin said. “And we’re close to that. All I can do is take it like any other race and just try to have fun.”
In the West, the series has boiled down to a final-race showdown between Tomac and another former MX2 World Champion Roczen, and both riders are coming off races they’d like to forget. At the previous round in Salt Lake City, Roczen, of the Red Bull KTM Team, went into the race cruising along on a 20-point cushion over Tomac only to see most of it get washed away thanks to two very untimely crashes, one in his heat and one in the LCQ, that prevented him from competing in the main.
Tomac could’ve swooped in for the kill had he won the main event in Salt Lake but a terrible race, which he contributes to bad bike setup, left him in sixth place. And instead of going into the final leading by a possible five points, he now trails Roczen by five – but that’s still better than what many people had expected at this point.
Roczen said he learned from his mistakes last week (mainly of pulling out of his heat race at Salt Lake) and is ready to move on.
“It was just a mistake and I will learn from it,” he said. “I can’t stress over it and must put it behind me and forget about. So I just did what I usually do all week and not worry about it. I have to take this race like a normal race, but there is a bit of tightness about it. I have to have fun, because when you have fun you usually do good. I have to stay calm.”
As for Tomac, he doesn’t appear to be too worried about what happened last weekend.
“It was mostly bike set-up for me,” Tomac said of his struggles through last week’s whoop section. “It’s not like I’m that kind of rider. I’ve won 11 Supercrosses and a West Coast title, so it’s not like I’m a total beginner. It was either I go in there [the Salt Lake whoops] super fast or I crash, so it was make as many points as I can and finish the race.”
So what’s Tomac’s battle plan for tomorrow? Pretty much like everyone else’s.
“I just have to try to take it as a normal race and ride loose,” Tomac said. “Sometimes when you have a race like last week it motivates you to come back.”
In the 450 class, Villopoto is hoping to close out the 2013 season with 10 wins, while Millsaps hopes to hold on to his slim three-point advantage over Ryan Dungey for second place in the championship.
“This season started off on a bad note, but I rebounded and put in some great results,” said Villopoto. “Out of the three titles, this by far was the toughest championship to clinch. I’m looking forward to going out on a high note Saturday.”
Millsaps said he gave it his all last weekend in Salt Lake but is ready to do that again tomorrow if need be to keep second in the championship.
“This year was about proving to myself that I still have a fight left in me,” said Millsaps. “It’s nice to be in the same position I was in last year. I know I’m the underdog, but I’m going to give it all I got and hopefully be in front.”
“We put in a lot of hard work this year,” said Dungey. “The weeks get hard when you don’t win, but its all part of racing. It’s great to be back up top fighting for a spot in the top three.”