Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Southwick 1

Who was smiling big after Southwick, and who came away spitting sand? Grant has his picks.

Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Southwick

250 Class
The Good: Adam Cianciarulo | 1st Place Overall

As Adam acknowledged in pretty much every interview he did on Saturday, Southwick has historically not been one of his best tracks. However, I also think it's important to note that he has only raced at Southwick three times since turning pro in 2013. The last time he raced here was in 2017 and he has come a long way as a rider since then. So I wasn't really surprised to see him do well, but I was surprised to see him win the overall. He was absolutely dominant in the first moto, as he had a two-second gap by the end of the first lap and continued to gap everyone until his lead stabilized at around 11 seconds over Justin Cooper. I would've never guessed that he sees sand tracks as his weakness after watching that moto. Dylan Ferrandis was faster than him in the second moto, but Adam settled into second place and cruised it on home for another overall win. This performance is further proof that Adam has vastly matured over the past two years and is earning every bit of this championship. He has been the man through the first six rounds and now sits at six overall wins in his career. How many overall wins did he have before the start of this season? One. His points lead may not be as big as he'd like, but he's managing it well and does have a decent cushion to play with. I gotta say, with how Adam has performed in Supercross and motocross this year, I'm getting more and more excited to see him step up to the 450 class. 

Adam Cianciarulo.

The Good Bonus: Nick Gaines, Ramyller Alves, and Jerry Robin

How about these guys? Southwick is one track on the circuit that always sees some standout performances from non-factory riders, whether it be Jeremy Smith qualifying in eighth place in the 450 class, or these three riders all finishing within the top 15 in the overall 250 class results. 

Nick Gaines is a rider who has always had more potential than what his results have shown. Going fast has never been his problem, but staying upright and injury-free has been. Occasionally, though, he'll put all of the pieces together and put in a great performance like he did at Southwick. It was sweet to see him running inside the top ten in the second moto and I hope that this kicks off a string of solid finishes for him. 

Ramyller Alves' young career has had its ups and downs, but he has finished inside the top 20 in each of the last three motos and things are looking up for him right now. 

As for Jerry Robin, this was by far the best performance I've seen from him in his pro career. He ran inside the top ten for far longer than I expected him to in the first moto, and he had a great ride going in the second moto as well before he started running out of energy. He posted on social media that he made some changes to his program for Southwick, and given his results I'd say the changes were a success. All three of these guys are worth keeping your eye on as the second half of the season gets underway. 

Nick Gaines.

Jerry Robin.

The Bad: Hunter Lawrence | 11th Place Overall

This is Hunter's first year in the United States, and so this is his first time racing on all of these tracks outside of WW Ranch and Red Bud. However, it's hard to ignore that his finishes this season are starting to mirror his MXGP finishes. He'll be blazing fast one weekend, and then clearly off the pace the next weekend. This isn't a huge deal right now since he is a rookie and has already shown how much raw potential he has, but this is something that he's going to be expected to improve on over the next year or two. We'll see how he does at Red Bud. 

Hunter Lawrence.

The Ugly: Derek Drake | 23rd Place Overall

This was...not good? I'm not sure if he's still feeling some effects of his crash at WW Ranch, or what, but to see him rapidly fade from inside the top five to 21st place by the end of the first moto was perplexing. I mean, he's gotta be riding at less than 100%, right? It's not like he has been throwing down inside the top ten all season long, but he's far better than the performance he put in on Saturday. He's going to be looking for a big bounce back at Red Bud after two less-than-stellar weekends.

Derek Drake.

450 Class
The Good: Zach Osborne | 2nd Place Overall

Wacko Zacho is officially a 450 moto winner! And if things continue to go the way they have been, he may replace Ken Roczen as the third rider in the championship discussion as we head into the later stages of the title chase. I have to admit that I didn't expect for Zach to be this good in his first year in the 450 class. Granted, he has said that he doesn't have the time that most 450 rookies have, and that he needs to start performing right away. And, well, he has done what he set out to do and it's pretty clear that he's going to be one of the top guys in this class for the few years he has left in his career. Watching him shred in the second moto was a lot of fun, and I wouldn't mind if they set up a dedicated Zach Osborne camera at each race that shows him the entire time. He's always going flat out and has one of the most entertaining riding styles in the class. How long until he secures his first overall win? 

Zach Osborne.

The Good Bonus: John Short | 10th Place Overall

In the past, John Short was one of the privateers that you'd see hanging around the back half of the top 20 at several rounds during the season. He has always been solid, but he has never really had any eye-opening rides. This year, though, he has been inching closer to the top 15 and he really took a big step forward at Southwick with a 10th place overall finish. He also moved into 20th place in the points standings after Southwick, which I'm sure he's pretty pumped about. Now, I'm not sure if he'll be able to replicate this performance again given how unique Southwick is compared to all of the other tracks on the circuit, but this was still an incredible ride and it should give him some momentum as we head to Red Bud. 

John Short.

The Bad: Blake Baggett | 12th Place Overall

2019 has been the worst outdoor season of Blake Baggett's 450 career, and it doesn't seem like it's getting any better. He did win a moto at High Point, which was a sign that he's still capable of performing at the level that we've come to expect from him, but that was the only positive moment for him so far this season. He has gotten mediocre starts all season long and he hasn't been able to work his way through the pack, and even when he has gotten decent starts (outside of High Point) he has faded back to outside of the top five. Originally, I thought that he might have picked up an injury in his crash at Fox Raceway that may be affecting him, but the moto win at High Point makes me second guess that possibility. I don't know what's going on, but he needs to get the Baggett Train back on track very soon.

Blake Baggett.

The Ugly: Ken Roczen | 9th Place Overall

I think it's pretty clear that Kenny's struggles at Southwick were a result of how physically draining WW Ranch was for him. A week just wasn't enough time for him, and several other riders, to properly recover and then give it their all at Southwick. It was not that long ago that it was looking like it was going to be an all-out war between Ken and Eli Tomac for this championship, but just two rounds later Ken is in danger of dropping too far back in the standings to be considered a contender anymore. One more weekend like Southwick and that may be it for his championship hopes. And while I bet his entire week leading up to Red Bud will be focused on recovery, will it be enough time for him to get back to his usual form?

Ken Roczen.

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

GD2 GD2 7/2/2019 8:46 AM

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