Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin is race tough. He put himself through a grueling off-season training and racing schedule and his hard work and extensive travel paid off in a big way with a dominating opening round win in the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series in front of a packed house at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. Jason Anderson took second, 2.579 seconds back on his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. Fill-in rider Justin Barcia scored his first podium in nearly four years by taking an impressive third on the Monster Energy/Knich Yamaha.
Team Honda’s Ken Roczen was fourth in his highly-anticipated comeback to racing after nearly a full year away coming back from a devastating arm injury. The ever-solid Weston Peick rounded out the top five aboard the Autotrader/JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki.
Musquin took advantage of a mistake by expected championship contender Eli Tomac. Tomac led early, but suffered a hard crash on lap eight and exited the race with a possible shoulder injury.
Then in an unexpected scenario, Barcia held the lead for three laps before Musquin took over the point just before halfway with an inside pass on Barcia in a tight right-hand corner. From there Musquin pulled ahead to as high as a 4.8 second lead on lap 15, before settling into a strong pace up front and ultimately winning by 2.579 seconds over Anderson, who, after several attempts, finally got by Barcia a couple of laps after Musquin took the lead.
It marked the third-career Monster Energy 450 Supercross victory for Musquin.
“I had a great off season and I had a lot of momentum because I won the Monster Energy Cup and other races like that,” Musquin explained. “Those are great, but Anaheim 1 is different. It’s the championship.”
Musquin said he had to fight through not riding up to par earlier in the evening before the main.
“I had a difficult day, I was tight,” he admitted. “I was not riding like I wanted to. Practice was tough, I wasn’t quick enough. My starts were not that great tonight. In the main I was able to come from the back and get into the top four pretty quick. Eli was riding really well tonight. I have to say, he was riding with a lead of a couple of seconds, so it would have been hard to catch him, but he made a mistake. It proves that the track was really tough. I almost crashed, probably the same as him. I slid out and hit the front of the bike. I thought I was down, but I saved it.
“I was really consistent. 20 minutes is a long moto and I knew it was going to be tough physically. I just had to control. Jason was behind me, but I was controlling.”
Anderson intimated after the race that he’s taking a new and more mature approach to the 2018 season.
“I’m putting myself in better situations than I have in years past,” Anderson explained. “That’s what I’ve been working on. I’m trying to be calm in some of the crazier situations. I want to push it, but not over extend myself. Tonight was a good night, my riding was good. The only thing was I didn’t put myself in a good position at the start. I was still up there, it wasn’t horrible, but I definitely did damage control those first few laps. I worked on getting past guys and was able to get up to second.”
For Barcia, the mere fact that he lined up for the race tonight on a factory bike was a blessing. He was called up to fill in for the injured Davi Millsaps and made the most of the opportunity. It was the first podium result for Barcia in 32 starts.
“It feels amazing,” Barcia said when asked how it felt to be back on the rostrum. “I surround myself with really good people. I can’t thank the whole Monster Energy/Knich Yamaha team enough for sticking behind me. It was incredible tonight. I let that win slip away from me. To be bummed a little bit on a podium is not a bad thing because I’ve been in some dark places the last few years, so it’s good to be up here. It feels great.”
The series now moves to Houston next Saturday.