The 2015 season's third and final stop at Angel Stadium of Anaheim was another big night for Team Honda/HRC, as premier-class rookie Cole Seely rode to a runner-up finish, the best 450SX result of his career thus far. The unique elevated start proved no problem for the Californian, who launched off the line near the front of the pack, securing second place on lap two. Seely rode like a veteran, unfazed by race-long attacks from his pursuers. Among them was GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac, who overcame a poor start and methodically worked his way through the field, making an exciting pass for third one lap before the checkered flag flew.
Just one week after Trey Canard scored his first victory of the season, the Oklahoman rode to fifth place, making it three Honda CRF450Rs in the top five. The Team Honda/HRC rider would likely have finished even better were it not for a mishap at the halfway point.
- The Wednesday before Anaheim 3, Team Honda/HRC hosted some special guests at their test track in Corona, California. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck, along with six other officers joined Cole Seely, Trey Canard and Eli Tomac for a unique day that will be the basis of a story in the May issue of Dirt Rider.
- On the eve of the race, Malcolm Smith Motorsports hosted its fourth annual Supercross Fan Appreciation Autograph Signing, and over 900 fans pre-registered to meet their favorite riders. Team Honda/HRC's Seely and Canard, along with GEICO Honda's Tomac, Matt Bisceglia and Malcolm Stewart, were on hand for the excitement.
- The Anaheim 3 pits were buzzing with the debut of Team Honda/HRC's new photo booth, which allows fans to strike a pose on a replica of Canard's CRF450R, with a backdrop featuring a pursuing Seely. Look for the booth near the Team Honda truck at other Supercross rounds this season.
- The Anaheim 3 podium looked uncannily similar to that of last year's Indianapolis round, where Seely was taking advantage of the break in the 250SX West series to serve as a fill-in rider for an injured Canard. As was the case then, Seely was joined in the top three by fellow Honda rider Tomac, only this time the two swapped positions, with Seely second and Tomac third.
- The Honda Red Riders were on fire during the day program, each clicking off impressive times that landed them 2-3-4 overall heading into the night show. GEICO Honda's Tomac was second-quickest at 57.210 seconds, Canard third with 57.487 and Seely fourth with 58.304.
- With 84 points each, Canard and Tomac left Anaheim 3 tied for third in the championship chase. Seely still sits in seventh but has closed the gap on sixth to a mere four points.
- Prior to the next AMA Supercross round, Team Honda will be attending Escondido Cycle Center's San Diego Supercross Open House on Friday, February 6, starting at 6 pm.
THE FOCUS: Extra Credit
For mechanics Rich Simmons and Brian Kranz, the night's wrenching didn't end with the flying of the Anaheim 3 checkered flag. Tuners for Team Honda/HRC's Cole Seely and GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac, respectively, the two men were asked by AMA officials to pull the heads on their bikes' engines so that internal measurements could be checked. (The same request was made of winner Ryan Dungey's team.)
"The top three are always asked to go to impound after the race," Simmons explained afterward. "Sometimes officials will select another two guys as well. Sometimes the teams won't be asked to do anything; other times they might check the sound level or maybe weigh the bike to make sure it's over the minimum. In this case, they wanted to take a look at bore and stroke. They just want to make sure everyone's playing by the rules."
Under the watchful eye of the AMA officials, the mechanics brought their bikes to the Honda rig, pulled the heads and dropped the pistons to bottom dead center so that the measurements could be verified. Unsurprisingly, everything checked out fine on Seely's and Tomac's CRF450Rs.
"The past three weekends, I feel like I've gotten my aggression back and worked out the bugs from those first rounds, but I needed the start. I got a horrible start in my heat race, but the main was better. The elevated start made things interesting, and I got off the line good and really charged down that thing. I came out of the first turn third and then passed [Blake] Baggett for second. I tried to look forward the whole time, which was really hard because these guys were putting the pressure on most of the race. I managed to hold them off though, and I'm pumped with second and am looking forward to San Diego."
"Fifth place isn't bad, but it's always disappointing when you're in a good position and don't capitalize on it. I was good in qualifying and was pumped to finally get a good start; hopefully we can continue doing that and put ourselves in a better position for the rest of the series. I got into a rhythm around halfway and felt a little bit of urgency to pass Cole. Maybe I rode a little too aggressively and went a bit too wide in the sand and washed the front. I buried the clutch lever and had to dig that out, and I never really got going after that. My riding is good, so there's no big drama; I just need to keep doing work and make progress. I'm happy for Dan, the management and Cole; it's a really cool time to be on this team."
Yasuhiro Yokoyama: Technical Director – Team Honda/HRC Motocross
"It was a very good night for us with three guys in the top five again and two of them on the podium! The start was an unusual style tonight, but all three riders had decent starts. We were expecting Seely to do well tonight as he started to ride more aggressively since last week. He was able to finish second, so we're very happy about that. It was unfortunate for Canard that he fell while in third and lost some positions, but he regrouped and finished fifth and again showed the speed for the podium. Tomac had a good battle with [Ken] Roczen and ended up ahead of him in third, so it was good. [Ryan] Dungey got away from these guys at the end but again all our riders showed the potential to finish on the podium, so we're expecting even better results to come. Thanks for your support; we'll keep charging for the championship!"
Dan Betley: Team Manager
"It was another great night for Honda. I'm really happy with the team's performance—three guys in the top five again, and two Hondas on the podium. Other than missing being on the top step, I couldn't be happier. We've been working hard on starts, and I was really happy to see all our guys get away right near the front—especially Trey, as he's been struggling the most. Cole's been riding great this year, so I knew it was coming. He just had to believe in himself a little bit and get used to racing against these guys. He's a great rider, and I'm happy for him. He's just going to keep getting stronger."
Rich Simmons: Mechanic (Cole Seely)
"It was a good night, with Cole getting his best finish on a 450. He didn't get a great start in his heat race and went to the semi, where he again didn't get a great start, but he redeemed himself in the main event. I've known he has the speed all year, but it's just a matter of putting it together. All these guys are riding well, so the start's a big part of it. He's been taking small steps, and this is what we've been waiting for. It's definitely a boost of confidence, as the first two races were kind of rough and sometimes these guys start to doubt themselves. He's been making progress, and I think he's where he belongs. There are still improvements to be made, which is good. We just need to work on those and try to get up one more spot on the box."
Brent Presnell: Mechanic (Trey Canard)
"Trey finally got a good start, and I'm pumped on that. He was in contention for second, possibly the lead after that. He just made one small mistake that kind of ended that when he pushed his front wheel in the sand. It was a tough track to pass on, but all in all, it was a good night. He did what he had to do, and fifth isn't bad."
Mandie Fonteyn // Dispatch Communications // firstname.lastname@example.org // +1 (951) 537-0454
1. Ryan Dungey
2. Cole Seely (Team Honda/HRC)
3. Eli Tomac (GEICO Honda)
4. Ken Roczen
5. Trey Canard (Team Honda/HRC)
6. Chad Reed
7. Blake Baggett
8. Justin Barcia
9. Jason Anderson
10. Josh Hill
11. Davi Millsaps
12. Andrew Short
13. Vince Friese
14. Kyle Chisholm
15. Jake Weimer
16. Jimmy Albertson
17. Mike Alessi
18. Brett Metcalfe
19. Ben Lamay
20. Phil Nicoletti
21. Nickolas Schmidt
22. Josh Grant
450SX Championship Points (after 5 of 17 rounds)
1. Ryan Dungey 107
2. Ken Roczen 96
3. Eli Tomac 84
4. Trey Canard 84
5. Jason Anderson 74
6. Justin Barcia 71
7. Cole Seely 67
8. Chad Reed 57
9. Davi Millsaps 54
10. Blake Baggett 54
11. Andrew Short 53
12. Jacob Weimer 42
13. Broc Tickle 39
14. Weston Peick 32
15. Brett Metcalfe 30
16. Dean Wilson 23
17. Kyle Chisholm 23
18. Mike Alessi 21
19. Josh Hill 16
20. Justin Brayton 14