Daniel Ricciardo is hoping to keep the momentum that he gained in Canada going at next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver claimed a shock victory in Montreal after capitalizing on problems for both Mercedes cars. Race leader Nico Rosberg hit trouble at two-thirds distance, allowing the pack to close. Ricciardo managed to make the move for a lead with three laps remaining, and secured his maiden victory in the sport.
Heading to his team’s home race in Austria, Ricciardo is hoping that he can keep things going in the right direction despite having little experience at the Red Bull Ring.
“It’s great to be going to Red Bull’s home race after an awesome weekend in Canada,” Ricciardo said. “I’ve only driven the Red Bull Ring on filming days, essentially a handful of laps without the out-and-out aggression that you’ll see at the Austrian Grand Prix weekend. It’s a tidy circuit, not the longest and not many corners, but what is there is good.
“It’s very odd going to what, essentially, is a new race but in a place where the racing history is firmly established. It sounds as though there will be a massive crowd up in the mountains and I’m sure the return of the Austrian Grand Prix will get off to a really good start.”
The Austrian Grand Prix’s return has been brokered by Red Bull supremo Dietrich Mateschitz, who also owns the circuit in Spielberg. It will be Red Bull’s first ever home grand prix since debuting back in 2005, and both Ricciardo and teammate Sebastian Vettel will be hoping to make it a weekend to remember.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.