CARDIFF, United Kingdom — A perfect score for Eli Tomac saw him win the inaugural FIM World Supercross Championship Grand Prix, which took place in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium Saturday.
The American secured the WSX (450) class win with three GP race victories, while compatriot Shane McElrath took the overall honors in the SX2 (250) class.
The wait was finally over for world championship racing in the sport of supercross to finally go global, as fans packed into Wales’ national stadium in the heart of the country’s capital.
Tomac – a wildcard this weekend – was third quickest in qualifying, behind Rick Ware Racing’s Joey Savatgy and pace-setter Ken Roczen. And it was Roczen who was shaping up to be the man to beat; winning his heat and setting the fastest lap in the night’s superpole session with a huge quad in the rhythm section wowing fans.
Unfortunately for him, things began to unravel for the German in the GP race main events. Leading the first of three he was caught out by the changing track conditions, crashing and handing the lead to Tomac. He recovered to finish third, behind fellow Honda pilot Vince Friese on the MotoConcepts machine.
It was a Tomac, Roczen one-two in the second of the three GP races, with the pair having to fight through the field, before Tomac made it three from three in the third to cap a perfect evening. While Savatgy was second in the final race, the MotoConcepts outfit bagged two more GP race top-three finishes, with Friese and teammate Justin Brayton taking a third apiece.
With all the points tallied up, Tomac was the clear winner, with Roczen and Friese completing the night’s podium.
“To be honest I started off a little bit slow and Ken [Roczen] rode really well in that heat race and in the superpole I just never manned up for the quad, to be straight up,” world championship leader Tomac said. “That thing was a big nope I was going to stay with the triple-single and it ended up working out. All three mains were a little bit different; obviously I got the gift from Ken in the first and then had to make a couple of passes in the second but I think the most technical part of the night was the dirt: it was tough, very hard pack. I actually almost fell in the third, near the mechanics in that last left-hander. But overall I just enjoyed the whole schedule and the racing. Coming in here I thought that the eight and 12-lap races were going to be a little short but that wasn’t easy and it obviously showcased some good racing and I had a lot of fun doing it. The World Supercross Championship is real: it was a real supercross and nothing was second level with it, it was all first class and it was great to see the big crowd here. It was really cool to see the stadium filled up. To be honest I was looking at it thinking this is a big stadium but I think we filled it pretty well.”
Roczen said on finishing second on the night, “In my superpole lap I wasn’t quite as clean as I wanted to be in the beginning, but the quad was huge and I wasn’t really planning on it but I saw Josh [Hill] do it. What made it really nice though was that it set me up real nice for the turn because I didn’t have to do that single into it with how slippery it was. In that first main event, obviously things happened really quick but from what I could tell there was a tiny line or ledge and the angle I was coming in on, I just wasn’t set up for it. It was so minimal but it just happened so fast. I tried to save it but I couldn’t. It was a bit of a bummer because it felt like it was set up to be a really good race. But it was tough out there and you couldn’t really rely on anything out on track because the berms were really flat. But it made for some great racing tonight.”
In the SX2 category McElrath, who finished third in his heat race, took the overall victory for Rick Ware Racing and leads the championship standings by a single point after going fourth, third, fifth in the night’s three GP races, highlighting the importance of consistency in the World Supercross Championship’s main event format.
Chris Blose’s second place in the first GP race aboard his Bud Racing Kawasaki gave him a good haul of points that meant he would take second overall on the night, despite taking fourth and eighth place finishes in GP race two and three.