Max Anstie: World Supercross will give you "a taste of American SX"

Ahead of the first round of 2022 World Supercross, we caught up with British rider Max Anstie to see what we can expect from this new series.

Max Anstie with Honda CRF450R outside Principality Stadium. - World Supercross

The 2022 World Supercross Championship is just over two months away from kicking off in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, where Britain’s Max Anstie will be racing in front of a home crowd for the first time in over three years. 

The last time Anstie raced a World Championship race in the UK was in February 2019 at the MXGP of Great Britain in Matterley Basin. Anstie did not have such a good day, going 8-14 for ninth overall in what turned out to be his final home Grand Prix before heading to the US. 

Just two years before, Anstie got a taste of America’s motocross talent at the 2017 Motocross des Nations, where he went 1-1 at home in Matterley.

Of course, a major part of moving to the US to race motocross, and what makes it different from the European scene, is supercross. Anstie had raced indoors in the US earlier in his career in the early 2010s, but returned to Europe to race Grands Prix until 2019. 

Since his move to the US, Anstie has improved in supercross, and was arguably on his way to becoming a regular top 10 contender in the 2022 AMA Supercross season before injury, and then the folding of his team, cut his season short. 

“It’s one of those where, halfway through the season my team went a bit sideways and pear-shaped, and you’re thinking ‘man, what’s going to happen next,” Anstie said about his original team for 2022: Rocky Mountain ATV MC KTM

That team, albeit renamed as BBMX, was back for the first round of the AMA Pro Motocross season at Pala Raceway in California earlier this summer.

For Anstie, things took a bit longer to sort out, but he eventually signed with the Firepower Honda team after chasing fill-in spots at KTM and Kawasaki

Firepower Honda will be known in World Supercross as Honda Genuine Honda Racing, so it does not take much thought to work out that Anstie will be on a second manufacturer of the year for WSX. Additionally, Anstie will be racing a fourth bike in the space of 12 months in the three-round World Championship later this year. 

When Anstie moved to the aforementioned KTM for this year’s AMA Supercross season, he did so from the HEP Suzuki team, where he had ridden their RM-Z450 in 2020 and 2021. After the KTM SX-F 450 in Supercross, he rode a Honda CRF450R in AMA Pro Motocross, and for World SX he will be racing the CRF250R. 

Yes, a 250. In Europe, it has become a strange concept that older riders, or those who are established on a 450 can also ride a 250F. But, in America, the same age-related rules as exist in Europe do not exist over there. This even caught Anstie out.

“They called me and they were talking about ‘will you ride the 250,’” Anstie said. He said he thought “‘but I’m a 450 guy, I’ve been on a 450 for years.’

“Then I thought about it a bit more, and then I was actually at one of the tracks with [Zach] Osborne, Shane McElrath, [Justin] Bogle- a few of the guys, and they were like ‘Max, if you’ve got the opportunity you have got to ride the 250.’ It’s weird in America how it works with points. You point-out of the 250 class, it’s not when you get to 23 [years-old] you age-out like you do in GPs.”

Anstie rode three AMA Nationals this summer. In Redbud, he had clutch issues that ended his day midway through the first moto. “At Redbud, obviously it was good,” Anstie said. “We threw ourselves in the deep end, we had issues with the clutch- literally before the race had even finished [...] we had Ryan Thorpe from [MXGB team Crendon Fastrack Honda] on the phone saying ‘we had this, this, this with the clutch, you guys need to do this and it will fix it.’ Rode it on Monday, never had an issue again.”

Then, in Southwick, Anstie took 5-5 moto finishes for sixth overall, and then came Millville, where he finished eighth in the first moto and crashed in the second. Anstie was fine enough to fly back to the UK the week after the race. 

“I don’t remember a lot,” Anstie said about the Millville crash. “I was a bit sick that day, my head was a bit messed up, but I came back [to the UK]; a few days later, haven’t really done a lot and I feel fine. I went cycling yesterday and I actually feel normal.”

Fortunately for Anstie, “Millville was my last National that I was going to do anyway,” he said, “and I’m prepping now for the Motocross of Nations, and this, 8 October, World Supercross.”

That means getting back on the CRF250R. “I’ve only done one day on the 250- I rode the 250 once when I first went [with the team] to test and it was really nice,” Anstie said. 

That will of course not be the end of Anstie’s testing programme - “I’ve got a lot of testing to do, a lot of training to do,” he said - but when he lines up in Cardiff on 8 October it will be his first World Championship race on a 250 since the 2016 MXGP of the USA - somewhat ironically - when he competed in his final MX2 Grand Prix before he aged-out of the class. On that day, he went 8-4 (also ironic, since Jeffrey Helings won his final MX2 world title that year, and the MX2 US GP on that day) for fourth overall.

It will also be the first time Anstie has raced in a World Championship at a UK track since the aforementioned MXGP of Great Britain in 2019. But, unlike most of the riders, it will not be Anstie’s first time racing in Cardiff.

“It’s going to be really cool racing back in the UK,” Anstie said. “I raced here [in Cardiff] in 2003, on a 65cc in the Future West Supercross [...] back in the day, and my mum sent me a load of pictures as soon as it got released that we’d be racing here. It was the Millennium Stadium back then, now it’s the Principality Stadium.

“I’ve got so many friends and family and fans that are going to want to come to this as well, because [...] it’s Supercross, which no one has seen, unless they’ve gone to America. 

“Yes, they’ve seen me race outdoors, seen me ride at Matterley and things like that; but even just for families with kids, they will want to come and watch this because you’re not stood out in a field, freezing, or getting rained on, or in a dusty field. You’re actually in a stadium, it’s a cool atmosphere, it’s a cool event to take your family to and on a Saturday night in a city like this I think it’s going to be really cool.

“So, I’m really excited,” Anstie continued. “I definitely think it’s going to be great for the sport, great for the UK, great for Supercross- because we’re bringing the big names: [Ken] Roczen, [Eli] Tomac, whoever else comes. 

“You’re going to get a taste of American Supercross, but now this World Supercross is going to bring a whole new audience to that, instead of just watching it on TV. I can tell you that it’s a hell of a lot different watching it on TV than actually being there. It’s going to be really cool and I’m excited for all the fans who get to come and see it.”

The uniquity of being in the stadium for a supercross as opposed to watching it on the TV also goes deeper than the atmosphere, as Anstie explains. “It’s going to be one of those where you have a whole load of different fans who are going to be able to see it, and see how gnarly the tracks are, how intense the racing is, and it’s going to be different. All of Europe is primarily motocross, and now we’re bringing Supercross to the rest of the world.”

In the interview - which was conducted over Zoom with Anstie at the Principality Stadium and the interviewer (also the author) in their dining room - from which the quotes for this article have been taken, Anstie was notably hesitant to commit to any major results or performances. However, after spending six years on the 450, and the last two of those racing AMA 450SX (he injured himself out of the 2020 season), his intentions are aimed at the top. 

“I feel like I can race any of them on a 450 outdoors,” Anstie said. But, “Supercross on a 450 is really hard, and I’m not saying Supercross on a 250 is not going to be really hard, but I feel like now with the group of people that I’ve got and this bike, I feel like it’s going to be potentially contending for some solid results.”

Such contention will be in opposition to riders such as Mitchell Oldenburg, of the MotoConcepts Honda team, which will also be running five-time AMA 250SX race winner and one-time AMA 450SX race winner Cole Seely in the 250cc SX2 class in World SX. Additionally, ClubMX will be there, potentially with Jeremy Martin - a five-time 250SX East race winner - and Enzo Lopes, who finished fifth in this year’s 250SX East class, and there is also the relatively unknown quantity of the Australian, Aaron Tanti, who has raced in the US but more recently - owing also to Covid - has been racing more in Australia, and is currently leading the Australian Pro Motocross Championship.

There is still one team to be announced ahead of the British Grand Prix on 8 October in Cardiff, still a number of teams yet to announce their full rider roster, and we still do not know who Ken Roczen will be riding for. 

Tickets for the 2022 World Supercross British Grand Prix are available on Ticket Master.

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