What on Earth happened at the 2022 Detroit Supercross?

After a crazy night in Detroit, is this year’s Supercross title race over already?

Eli Tomac, 2022 Detroit Supercross. - Yamaha Racing

The Detroit Supercross took place last weekend, and if you only looked at the results, you might be forgiven for thinking it was relatively ordinary night of dirt bike racing.

Your assumption would be incorrect, however. 

From the start, things were strange. Justin Bogle made the holeshot and led the early stages on the Twisted Tea HEP Suzuki RM-Z450. A Suzuki has not won a Supercross race in almost living memory (East Rutherford 2016, ironically with Ken Roczen who was not present in Detroit this past weekend), and Bogle has struggled most of the season with on- and off-track issues. The #19 found some good form in Daytona, though, where he finished 11th, and clearly carried that into Detroit. Bogle led his first laps of the season, and finished a season-best eighth in the end.

After Bogle’s two laps in the lead, Justin Barcia found his way through, and the HEP Suzuki rider was forced back through the pack to 11th by lap six.

Barcia was unable to establish himself too much of an advantage before the other victory contenders managed to find their way past Bogle. 
The #51 Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GasGas rider spent three laps out front before Jason Anderson (or Justin Anderson, according to commentator) overhauled and passed him. Eli Tomac was through two laps later, and the two main title contenders were soon going at it. 

In the same way Anderson was faster than Tomac while chasing him in the final Main Event of the Arlington Triple Crown, Tomac was faster than Anderson in the full 20-minute Main Event on Saturday night in Detroit. Perhaps the difference between Arlington and Detroit was that after Tomac passed Anderson for the lead on lap 13, the latter began to push seemingly over his limit to try and stay with his rival. 

Anderson was able to maintain contact with Tomac for a few laps, but mistakes soon found him over a second back of the #3 Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha rider once more. Pushing on to make the difference back up again, Anderson crashed in the 90-degree corner after the finish. 

The #21 seemed to hit his head quite hard, and that impact was evidenced by his wobble into the Tuff Blocks around 100 metres further down the track after re-mounting his Kawasaki. At that point, Anderson knew his night was done, and he looked devastated as he came to that realisation on the floor, with title rival Tomac clear at the front of the race.

Anderson had gone down about half-a-lap after two other top riders had crashed out of the race. 

Cooper Webb and Chase Sexton were battling for fifth place when they came across Cade Clason in one of the 180-degree bowl turns. The line in the rhythm after that turn was to jump 2-3-3-2. While passing Clason (who, to be clear, did nothing wrong, he was ‘just’ there), Webb attempted to jump 3-in, and came up completely short on the landing. Behind, Sexton had already committed in the transition, and had nowhere to go, and no choice but to hit Webb square in the back of the head.

Both were out on the spot, essentially. Webb got back on and rode three laps one-handed, but was waved off the track by officials. Although, why exactly he was allowed to ride three laps rolling every jump and with only one operational arm is slightly mysterious. 

Webb took the blame for the crash, which can be seen here, on social media.

Moments after Sexton and Webb crashed, Anderson was out. And only a few laps later, so was Dylan Ferrandis with an injured wrist. 
It was a brutal two or three minutes, both for the riders and the championship. 

After Arlington, Eli Tomac’s points lead was three, and two rounds later it stands at 42. Jason Anderson’s antics with Malcolm Stewart in Daytona combined with this savage night in Detroit have essentially ended the championship, which reached the halfway point only two rounds ago. 

Of course, part of the reason the title race is all but over already is because Eli Tomac is riding so supremely. His starts are solid, his speed is good and never goes missing, and he has made almost zero mistakes all season. With the Detroit win he has now surpassed Ryan Villopoto in the all-time wins list with 42.

Only Jason Anderson has come near him this year in terms of being a ‘complete package’, but firstly he was penalised by the target of one of his aggressive moves (Stewart), and secondly he was penalised for a relatively small error in Detroit. It really was a pretty innocuous crash in that 90-degree left after the finish, but it ended his race and cost him 26 points. Will Tomac cough up 26 points in one night? He might, but it also seems unlikely. 

It is a shame to have this title battle wrecked in this way - it was continuing to shape up nicely between Tomac and Anderson. Yet, at this point, it is unclear if Anderson, Webb or Ferrandis will even be able to ride next weekend in Indianapolis, and although Sexton sounds positive about being able to return in Indy, his fitness will surely be limited. 

If there was any silver lining to Detroit, it was that several privateers scored finishes which they would have probably deemed unrealistic. For example, Cade Clason finished 10th, a career best for this year’s #78. Behind him were Ryan Breece and Justin Starling in 11th and 12th, respectively, and Logan Karnow and Kevin Moranz had strong finishes in 15th and 16th, respectively.