Abu Dhabi Was Rad, Here’s Why

To say the second round of the FIM World Supercross Championship was unique would be under-selling the event in a huge way. Despite issues with timing and scoring and a few broadcast hiccups, it was great racing from tip to tail. 

Did you know that you can have a supercross race in an arena? Thanks to WSX, now you know. With a floor considerably larger than your standard hockey rink, Etihad Arena seats 18,000 fans with an atmosphere reminiscent of the MGM Grand back when Eric Peronnard brought us the US Open. The layout and obstacles in general were extremely basic which resulted in freight trains and frustration for those who did not get great starts. Even a guy known for his first lap heroics like Ken Roczen was forced to move his way through the pack during each race due to a crash while qualifying. It was an eventful night for the defending WSX SX1 champion who suffered an awkward crash during moto 1. From then on, K-Roc was in survival mode. 

Did you know that you can build a supercross track out of sand and that sand will act like clay with some moisture placed upon it? Neither did I and by no means did the soil used in Abu Dhabi seem optimal but, in the end, it worked. The jump faces and whoop section held up to all the punishment the WSX competitors doled out. 

Could the track have been better? Absolutely, but it was supercross nonetheless. SX Global CEO Adam Bailey had this to say about the track and the venue. “Listening and reading plenty of feedback from the weekend. Track size and layout must be improved. We will be addressing many other concerns and improvements. New locations present a whole raft of new challenges. We will get there. Looking forward to finishing on a high in Melbourne.” 

If you are SX Global, you might want to strike Vince Friese a nice big bonus check for his antics in Abu Dhabi. True to form, Vince was the source of much anger and frustration among his competitors. Love him or hate him, I would guess that Vince Friese is responsible for about half of all the clicks generated by WSX to this point in the series’ brief history. 

World Supercross is right up Vince’s alley. Tight confines, basic tracks and start dependent racing. The guy is a serpent like roadblock as he rides a wide bike on a narrow track. It seems clear that WSX recognizes the polarizing nature of Friese and are not shy to have him stir the pot further after the checkered flag flies. 

Between Dean Wilson and eventual overall winner Joey Savatgy, I can’t imagine there is not some planned payback scheduled for Mr. Friese at the final round in Australia. Both SX veterans showed speed and great race craft as they navigated the tight confines of the Arenacross style track. 

When it comes to the 250, or SX2 class, the results were a bit more consistent than what we saw in the SX1 division. As another plot twist, despite SX2 traditionally being known for rougher and wilder race maneuvers than their supposedly more mature counterparts in the SX1 class, SX2 was anything but a slam fest. 

It was Max Anstie on top with fellow Honda pilot Chris Blose nipping at his heels all night. Blose grabbed the race 1 win, but it was all Anstie after that. More impressive though was the French rider Maxime Desprey who kept his Yamaha in swinging distance of the lead in all but one race. 

The World Supercross Championship is still a very young series and still taking shape to become what it will be. Under the microscope of 2023 media content, there are obvious places that need to see improvement and the folks at SX Global are making strides at every at bat. 

Of course, when compared to the highly polished finished product of Monster Energy Supercross, WSX has a long way to go but I’ll say this. More racing is good racing. More jobs, more opportunities, more battles, more storylines, and more money for the athletes we love to watch. 

Main image: WSX

Written by BigMxRadio

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