The early 2010s were the salad days for Team Kawasaki in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross ranks.
A big reason for that was Ryan Villopoto.
“R.V.” stormed to four consecutive Supercross championships beginning in 2011. But after earning the 2014 title, Villopoto was gone.
He raced off to Europe to compete in the FIM Motocross World Championship, and with him seemed to go Kawasaki’s magic touch in Supercross.
Coming into the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, it has been six years since a Kawasaki rider lifted the No. 1 plate at the conclusion of the stadium championship.
That’s the longest span of time Kawasaki has gone without winning the title since Team Green claimed the championship with Ricky Carmichael in 2001 and was shut out until James Stewart wore the crown in 2007.
But fans of Team Green are confident. They’re happy knowing the factory Monster Energy Kawasaki squad looks to be in a great position to win back the Supercross trophy with riders Eli Tomac and Adam Cianciarulo.
This will be Tomac’s seventh season in the premier 450cc class, and he is considered by many to be the best rider to never have won the Supercross championship.
Tomac has scored a jaw-dropping 27 Supercross victories. That ties him with Bob Hannah for eighth on the list of all-time wins. Tomac’s victory total puts him ahead of Supercross luminaries such as Jeff Ward (20 wins), Jeff Stanton (17 wins) and Broc Glover (10 wins).
An eye-opening fact is Tomac is the only rider on the list of top-10 Supercross winners who hasn’t won the Supercross title.
To get a better idea of how good Tomac has been in Supercross in recent years, yet still has somehow not scored the title, here’s a look at his year-end finishing position in the series.
He’s finished in the top five in each of the last five seasons, including being Supercross runner-up three of the last five years.
To say Tomac is overdue is an understatement.
And it’s not like the Colorado rider doesn’t know how to win championships. He’s won plenty of them, five to be exact — four in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, including the last three in a row.
Tomac also won the AMA 250 West Regional Supercross title in 2012.
It’s obviously a point of frustration for Tomac. It’s easy to see a bit of a pained look every time he’s asked the question, what’s it going to take for him to finally win the Supercross title?
Last year, Tomac put himself in a bind in the points chase after a crash during the Dallas Supercross caused him to finish 12th. His biggest rival, Cooper Webb of Red Bull KTM, had an off race too, but his worst finish was 10th.
Tomac also suffered sub-par performances at the events in Minneapolis and Atlanta, finishing sixth in both of those rounds. He mounted a charge late in the year, winning three out of the last four races, but in the end, Webb was slightly more consistent over the course of the 17-race series and won the championship by 18 points.
After the season finale in Las Vegas last year, Tomac was asked for the umpteenth time about it and replied matter-of-factly.
“Well, it’s putting the whole season together,” he said, reflecting on the reason he hasn’t yet won the coveted title. “I’ve just got to fill the gaps and we just haven’t done that yet. I felt like at the beginning I was playing catch-up, but I feel like at the end we hit our stride. That is the positive outlook on the season, but that’s about it. There was too much playing catch-up in the middle of the season.”
Whether or not Tomac can make 2020 his breakthrough year in Supercross remains to be seen.
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