Supercross: Adam Cianciarulo’s perspective is speed

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Racing is about speed. If a rider has that, everything else falls into place. At least that is what Adam Cianciarulo believes heading into Round 7 of the Monster Energy Supercross season this Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. that will air live on NBCSN at 7 p.m. (Stream live by clicking here.)

“Definitely the learning curve has been steeper than anticipated, but the speed I’ve had is pretty surprising compared to the other guys,” Cianciarulo told NBC Sports.

Cianciarulo’s move to the 450 class was a tale from a storybook. He won the Monster Energy Cup last October in a star-studded race and then stood on the podium in the first points paying event at Anaheim.

The next three weeks told a different story. In the unfinished novel of his rookie season, a seventh in St Louis, sixth in Anaheim 2 and eighth in Glendale are only chapters that Cianciarulo believes will reveal him as the hero at the end.

“The first six rounds have been a little up and down, but overall I’m really happy with where we are,” Cianciarulo said. “I feel like I’ve left some good results out there with silly mistakes, but for the most part I’ve surprised myself with how my speed has been.

“Coming out and getting a podium at Anaheim was super cool – and having a chance to win that race. Even some of the obstacles we’ve faced. We crashed at Glendale – a couple of bad starts thrown in there along the way, but I’ve been able to manage it for the most part and pull out some decent results no matter what.”

Adam Cianciarulo earned his second podium at San Diego in his sixth 450 start. Vanessa O’Brien (KawasakiUSA)

Success is about perspective.

It is only as a matter of perspective that his three results of sixth through eighth are less than expected. Those expectations came from the media and industry insiders. Ultimately it is Cianciarulo’s perspective that makes the difference this early in his 450 career.

Currently fifth in the points standings with fourth only three away, Cianciarulo has a lot of time to move up in the order. A lot of points are on the line in the next 11 rounds. But even that is not his primary concern. For the rookie, it is about learning to manage races with greater consistency.

“Obviously (my competitors) are all world class talent. To be able to be up there with them in my first year – with two podiums in six races I don’t know if I expected that,” Cianciarulo said.

Cianciarulo knows the speed is there. He set the fastest qualification time in all six rounds so far.

He knows he has the talent. Cianciarulo beat his teammate Eli Tomac and Malcolm Stewart in the Monster Energy Cup the first time he raced a 450. His two podiums were scored ahead of both riders at the top of points, Ken Roczen and Tomac.

He raced against last year’s Supercross champion Cooper Webb for both of his podiums. Cianciarulo finished five seconds ahead of him with his second-place finish in Anaheim 1. He was three seconds behind Webb last week.

Finding the limit means stepping over it from time to time. That is true in any form of racing. For a Supercross rider the razor’s edge of disaster lurks on every jump and in every corner.

“The adversity I’ve faced – the mistakes I’ve made – have all been basically caused because of not settling,” Cianciarulo said. “Just trying to get the absolute most I can out of every race. I guess in a way you can look at that and say it was inexperience or a rookie being a rookie.

“But from my perspective I don’t want to settle. I want to be winning now that I’ve proved to myself that I can go as fast as these guys. I don’t see any reason that I can’t win and be on the podium every time. I’ve been trying to maximize every result.”

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X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.