Max Anstie: ‘You can’t skip steps’ in Supercross


After a successful career in the Motocross World Championship (MXGP), Max Anstie came to America in 2020 to ride in the 450 class of the Lucas Oil Prop Motocross and later, the Monster Energy Supercross championship with uncertain success, until he came to realize “you can’t skip steps.”

Anstie skip steps
Max Anstie is comfortable on the box with back-to-back podiums. – Feld Motor Sports

Anstie debuted on the American motorcycle racing scene a little more than a decade earlier in 2009, racing in the 250 class. He first climbed onto a Supercross bike in 2013, also on a 250, but after making only four starts that season, it appeared his best option was to head back to Europe and compete in MXGP, where he found a home for three years from 2017 through 2019.

It was there that he was established as a 450 rider, so when the opportunity came to return to America in 2020, he naturally moved into the senior division.

“I’ve been on the 450 for a while now,” Anstie told NBC Sports. “I raced the GPs over in Europe and had a lot of success on the 450, but always wanted to come back to the States.

“With no age limit, that made me eligible race in the 250 class. But when I first came over in 2021 and raced Supercross for my first time back in the States, I was riding a 450 for Suzuki. That was good to get my feet wet and I only got half the year in there because I actually injured at the start of the season, so I just got some laps and tried to figure it out and race supercross.”

The decision to ride a 450 in Supercross was not without reason. Anstie rode seven rounds in the outdoor circuit in 2020 and scored top-10 overall finishes in his last three starts. Supercross proved to be a little more challenging. In 2021, he made 10 Mains with a best result of 12th in Salt Lake City.

“I quickly learned that to be competitive in the 450 class, you can’t skip steps, you can’t cut corners,” Anstie said. “In 2022, I was riding for Rocky Mountain KTM and that team went completely sideways halfway through the year.”

In seven rounds in 2022, he matched his career-best 12th one time, at San Diego in Round 2.

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“I was picking it up and was always around that top 10 area, but I never broke the top 10 in the 450 class,” Anstie said. “I was trying to always be competitive, but, like I said, you can’t skip steps in this class. Everyone else that was in front of me has completed the 250 class, won a championship, or been at least very competitive, put on the podium and been up near the front in the 250 class.”

With his 450 ride gone, Anstie was left with a decision. He could return to MXGP, ride in Motocross only, leave the sport entirely or make a radical change.

Max Anstie credits the preparation of the Fire Power Parts Honda Racing team for a large measure of his success in the 250 East class – Feld Motor Sports

An invitation from Martin Davalos to come test a 250 was met with skepticism.

“My initial thoughts were, ‘No, I’m a 450 guy; I’ve been on 450 for a while,’ ” Anstie said. “And they said, ‘Look come up, test the bike and see how it is. … To be honest, at that time, I hadn’t ridden a good 250 in years, so I had no idea. I said to Martin Davalos, ‘I have no idea if this bike is good or if it’s not good,’ but the biggest thing for me is I really like the people they had on board and just the atmosphere and the vibe.

“Being a little older, I’ve been around the pits a fair few times in Europe and been on the best and arguably the worst teams. I’ve been on basically a broad spectrum of teams and all over the world. For me, I know how important it is to have the right group of people around you that feel good and are also hardworking. And I saw the potential.

“It’s easy to say the right things. I’ve also been around a lot of people that are pretty good at telling you what you want to hear, but I could see the work they were putting in.”

Anstie had a chance to take those steps he skipped earlier.

In the first two rounds of the 250 East division, Anstie had immediate success. He finished second in Houston and was third a week later in Tampa. Hunter Lawrence won each of those first two rounds, which has Anstie eight points behind. With 10 rounds remaining, there is still plenty of time remaining to race.

“And now here we are, competitive in this 250 division,” Anstie said. “The team and the guys have given me a package and a platform that competes for podiums and competes for wins. You got to go through the steps. If I can refine my craft and get some wins in the 250 class, if I can be in the hunt for this championship like I am right now, but right until the end … well, then we’ll see what happens.”

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Max Anstie navigated the Tampa sand to finish to take the last podium spot. – Feld Motor Sports

Early success in the 250 class thrust Anstie into the limelight in 2023. More importantly, it has rejuvenated his career.

“This has given me, (not a whole new start to my career because everything in life prepares you for the future), but I feel like I’ve taken all of those things to help me in my racing,” Anstie said. “It’s definitely opened the doors to be able to do that and be competitive, which is something that I’ve dreamed of, so I’m happy with where we are.”

In preparation for the 250 East campaign, Anstie rode three races with his current team in last year’s outdoor season. He finished 5-5 at Southwick on a 450 to score sixth overall. He also raced in the World Supercross Series two-race pilot season with a sweep of the top five. In fact, Anstie finished second in the finale in Australia, which gives him a current streak of three consecutive podiums.

It was in these three races that Anstie fully appreciated the opportunity he’d been given. With an extremely short time to prepare for that handful of races, the Fire Power Parts Honda Racing team put together a competitive bike,

“It’s fantastic,” Anstie said. “Just to be able to be on the box, to taste the champagne. Being under those lights is something that I’ve wanted for a long time and just to be competitive. I’m enjoying it.

“I’ve realized you have a lot more bad days than you do good days, so I always try to stay pretty level. You got to take the good with the bad. There’s no point in being miserable. You might as well be happy with what you’re doing.”

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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