Marquez responded by claiming his only opportunity to pass Lorenzo came with four laps to go, but that he could never draw close enough.
“We lost a lot under acceleration and braking and it was too far,” Marquez said. “The only place where we could close on Lorenzo was in turn five or six. With four laps to go I tried to pass, but I was cautious.
“With two laps to go on the back straight I knew it would be tough, we lost time and Jorge was able to open up a half second gap. I tried to recover it in the last lap, but it wasn’t enough.”
Marquez was booed on the podium by a large pro-Rossi crowd, and although he understood their frustration, the Spaniard said that he felt insulted by the Italian’s claims.
“On the podium I felt strange – what can I say, there were some boos,” Marquez said. “It’s complicated for a rider, of course, but I have a clear conscience and so do my team too.
“We tried the maximum; we have given one hundred percent in every race. We have struggled to get the maximum points possible and wanted to end the year with a victory. It was not to be, but hey, in the end I didn’t want to see a world champion booed.
“It is clear that the words of Valentino to his fans will weigh a lot. Valentino has won with charisma throughout his career and he is the benchmark for any rider.
“For me, for a rider with a winning mentality, telling people I did not want to win a race is an insult because whenever I go out I go to win and do the best job possible.”
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.
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.