Eying a third championship in 2022, Eli Tomac won the British GP inaugural World Supercross Championship (WSX) race in Cardiff, Wales. In a three-race format that combines points to determine an overall victor, Tomac was perfect by winning all three races. The British Grand Prix featured a lot of names American SX fans know and some they don’t as the new series looks to gain global appeal.
“To be honest I started off a little bit slow and Ken [Roczen] rode really well in that heat race and in the superpole (session),” Tomac said after the race. “I just never manned up for the quad, to be straight up. That thing was a big ‘nope’. I was going to stay with the triple-single and it ended up working out.
“All three mains were a little bit different. Obviously, I got the gift from Ken in the first and then had to make a couple of passes in the second, but I think the most technical part of the night was the dirt: it was tough, very hard pack. I actually almost fell in the third, near the mechanics in that last left-hander.”
Tomac raced as a wild card entry in a series with franchise teams making up the bulk of the field, but after winning both the Monster Energy Supercross Series and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross titles this year, it mattered little what bike he was aboard.
“Overall, I just enjoyed the whole schedule and the racing,” Tomac said. “Coming in here I thought that the eight- and 12-lap races were going to be a little short, but that wasn’t easy and it obviously showcased some good racing and I had a lot of fun doing it. The World Supercross Championship is real: it was a real supercross and nothing was second level with it, it was all first class and it was great to see the big crowd here.”
Roczen seemed to hold the early advantage. He won his heat, in a race that also featured Tomac, and then grabbed the superpole.
In WSX competition, the first gate pick is awarded to the fastest rider in a 10-man, single-lap qualification session that also awards a championship point to the pole winner.
“In my superpole lap I wasn’t quite as clean as I wanted to be in the beginning, but the quad was huge and I wasn’t really planning on it, but I saw Josh [Hill] do it,” Roczen said. “What made it really nice though was that it set me up real nice for the turn because I didn’t have to do that single into it with how slippery it was.”
Roczen took the early lead in the first of three preliminary GPs, but changing track conditions caught him unaware and sent him to the ground on Lap 4 while leading and immediately after nailing a difficult quad jump. Roczen fell to sixth. He recovered to finish third in that race, and then climbed to second in Race 2 and finished second overall.
“In that first main event, obviously things happened really quick but from what I could tell there was a tiny line or ledge and the angle I was coming in on, I just wasn’t set up for it,” Roczen continued. “It was so minimal, but it just happened so fast. I tried to save it, but I couldn’t. It was a bit of a bummer because it felt like it was set up to be a really good race.”
Vince Friese rounded out the podium.
The WSX provides an opportunity for international riders to race in front of their home crowd. In fact, Roczen chose to become a free agent this year for the opportunity to race in Europe.
England’s Max Anstie made the most of that by winning the first series race in Heat 1 of SX2, their designation for 250 bikes. He won over fellow Brit, Dylan Walsh. Anstie went on to win Race 2.
But it was American Shane McElrath that scored the first win in the SX2 class with a consistent 4-3-5 that gave him the overall victory over Chris Blose by a single point.
Mitchell Oldenburg won the first and third heat races, but an accident in Race 2 on Lap 2 cost him the overall win. Oldenburg was pitched from his back in that incident. He gingerly regained his Honda while holding his back. He finished third overall.
“I need to be smarter than that bone headed move on my part,” Oldenburg said. “I put myself in a bad position on the jump after the guys around me on the start flinched and I fell for it. I came around bad and in the chaos, I made a bad move – and I’ve got to be smarter than that. But I really enjoyed myself in Cardiff and I had a lot of fun here this weekend. It’s been a blast from the get go and I’m really looking forward to Australia.”
Oldenburg attempted to triple a jump while the field was still bunched up with heavy traffic.
Chad Reed came out of retirement to race in the WSX. He injured his wrist in Heat 1 after landing nose down and endoing off the bike, but still expects to compete in front of his countrymen when Round 2 heads to Marvel Stadium on October 21.
Scotland’s Dean Wilson also had a scary crash in Race 2. After clipping another rider’s back wheel, he flipped off his bike and landed on his shoulder.