Marvin Musquin wins Supercross Round 16, Cooper Webb closes in on championship


Marvin Musquin took the lead after Ken Roczen fell near the midway point of the Monster Energy Supercross Round 16 and won his first 450 race in two years The Red Bull KTM rider finished ahead of teammate Cooper Webb, who closed in on his first title, and Malcolm Stewart in a career-best performance.

Musquin missed the entire 2020 Supercross season with a knee injury but was able to return for nine dates of the Motocross calendar last year.  His best finish in the outdoor season was a runner-up finish at the WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Fla, but Musquin seemed to quickly knock the rust off in the opening Supercross round this season with a podium finish in Houston 1. Two more podiums followed, including a second-place finish in Orlando 2, but the win eluded Musquin.

“Life is good to me, Musquin told NBC Sports’ Will Christien after the race. “Back in 2018 I won the Heat, won the Main. I was fighting for the championship. This year it’s a different story. I got a big injury on my knee and I missed the whole season last year. So my goal was to come back.

“I had a couple of good races, but unfortunately I had a bad concussion a couple of weeks ago, and that took out of me a lot. The results haven’t been great. I can’t believe it right now. I’m standing on the top of the podium. My goal was to get better and better.”

With the victory, Musquin became a factor in the playoff picture, denying points leader Webb an eighth victory that would have clinched the title on a night when rival championship contender Ken Roczen fell while leading the second consecutive race.

Webb got off to a slow start as Roczen rocketed out to an early lead. At the midway point, Webb began to slowly pick off riders. With a 16-point advantage entering Salt Lake City, he was riding to minimize the points loss until Roczen’s accident galvanized his effort.

With seven minutes remaining on the clock and with heavy pressure from Musquin, Roczen over-rotated on a corner and laid his bike down. Last week in Atlanta 3, Roczen had a huge advantage of more than 12 seconds when he put his bike on the ground and eventually finished second, handing the win to Webb.

Roczen’s mistake allowed both Musquin and Webb to get past. With the new leader in sight, Webb closed the gap and was on Musquin’s back wheel at the finish line.

“Second place is never fun, but congrats to Marv; it’s been a long road back for him,” Webb said. “I was pumped for him to go one and two. I didn’t get a great start tonight, which hindered me a little bit. Made some good moves. Was struggling a little bit. … Finally found a good line and felt pretty good. made a good charge there at the end and Marv picked it up at the end.”

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Round 16 in Supercross

Roczen remounted but lost his momentum and struggled to a sixth-place finish — leaving a 22-point gap between himself and Webb. To win the championship next week, Webb will need to finish only 18th or better regardless of Roczen’s result.

“Everything was going after our plan,” Roczen said. “We executed on the start. Made the right decision to go on the very inside there. I was feeling pretty good early on and then we got into some lappers, and I had to double through this entire rhythm lane, and that cost me a lot of time. The whoops were really tricky. I needed a little more safety. If I could have gotten my bike to settle a little better there it would have gotten me a better over all flow around the track.

“I changed my line up toward the end of the race and I was a little bit better. I came out of that turn and it just happened so quick. I just pushed the front over the bumps and that was the end of that. Lost opportunity the last couple of rounds.

“But what do you want me to do? I try to do my best out there.”

Stewart earned his first career 450 podium finish, pressuring Webb midway through the race in traffic.

“That was such a crazy race,” Stewart said. “Utah fans, you had me all hyped up. This is so awesome to be up here in front and get the weight off my shoulders. It’s a dream come true and I will never forget this moment.”

Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth, which is his best finish since Round 2 in Houston when he scored a runner-up finish. This was also his third top-five in his rookie 450 SX season.

Chase Sexton finished fifth to score his fifth top-five since returning to the lineup at Daytona International Speedway on March 6.

Jason Anderson in sixth, Aaron Plessinger in eighth and Dean Wilson in ninth also scored top-10s.

After crashing early in the race, Eli Tomac was relegated to 10th. He left the stadium 50 points behind Webb and has been mathematically eliminated from contention.

The championship battle was also the top story in the 250 East division as Colt Nichols walked away from the race with a 23-point advantage over second-place.

The second-place rider at the end of the event was not the one expected to be in that position, however.

Christian Craig crashed hard in practice and injured his ankle. He limped heavily off course after the incident and attempted to compete in his heat, but the ankle would not respond. Nichols’ teammate Craig retired from the race and was unable to score any points, which places him 29 markers behind the leader and eliminates him from contention.

Jo Shimoda rose to take his place as Nichols’ principal rival. He led all 19 laps of the race and was only challenged in the closing laps by Jett Lawrence, becoming the first Japanese winner in Supercross.

“Just imagine coming from Japan with only part of your family and one day racing Supercross,” Shimoda reflected from the podium. “And now to compete for winning. That is incredible for me. I just rode my best all day and this is where we ended up.”

Shimoda is the sixth 250 rider to score an inaugural career win this season.

Lawrence closed the gap at the end of the race but came up 1.15 seconds short of winning his third race of the season. Lawrence was victorious at Houston 1 and Orlando 1.

Jett Lawrence congratulated Jo Shimoda after his 250 victory (NBC Sports).

“I’m super-pumped for Jo, he’s a good buddy of mine – so congrats to him,” Lawrence told Christien after the race. “Also, ‘damn you Jo, because I needed those points on you.’ But no, good job to him.

“But as I said I needed those points to at least try and get to third (in the standings), but he rode really good tonight. I just made a few silly mistakes I shouldn’t have made, so I’m a bit bummed about that.”

With the injury to his teammate Craig, Nichols had an opportunity to capitalize and lock up the title.

“The last few laps were a little frustrating honestly,” Nichols said. “The one guy I didn’t need to win (won), but hat’s off to Jo. He rode really well today. And the same to Jett. It was unfortunate what happened to Christian earlier today. I hate to see guys go out like that. I’ve had my fair share of injuries and it’s no fun.

“I needed to get off to a better start and I didn’t. Had to work my way through the pack and there’s a lot on the line here.”

Michael Mosiman finished fourth with Thomas Do rounding out the top five.

ROUND 1, HOUSTON: Justin Barcia wins opener for third consecutive time

ROUND 2, HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds, wins after Round 1 disappointment

ROUND 3, HOUSTON: Cooper Webb wins, Ken Roczen denied revenge

ROUND 4, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen makes it four winners in four races

ROUND 5, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen goes back to back for first time since 2017 injury

ROUND 6, INDIANAPOLIS: Ken Roczen is perfect in Indy for third straight win

ROUND 7, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb trims Ken Roczen lead

ROUND 8, ORLANDO: Cooper Webb sweeps Orlando to put pressure on Ken Roczen

ROUND 9, DAYTONA: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael at Daytona; Ken Roczen, Copper Webb war 

ROUND 10, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb takes the points lead with five straight top-two finishes

ROUND 11, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb wins first two races of Arlington residency

ROUND 12, ARLINGTON: Cooper Webb becomes championship favorite with Arlington sweep

ROUND 13, ATLANTA: The infield course at Atlanta gives Eli Tomac a late-season chance

ROUND 14, ATLANTA: A clutch win for Ken Roczen and a gutsy performance for Cameron McAdoo

ROUND 15, ATLANTA: Cooper Webb responds to pressure with Atlanta win

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images

Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.