Could Monster Energy Kawasaki rider Adam Cianciarulo be the next big thing in 450 supercross racing?
Of course, it’s too early to say – but he’s definitely got off to a flying start after moving up from a 250 at the back end of last year with victory at the Monster Energy Cup in October followed by a second place at Anaheim 1 on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old never won a 250 SX title but all the signs are that he’s adapted quickly to the extra power, weight and longer race duration and was fastest in every practice in the Angel Stadium before his epic Main Event performance.
“The Monster Cup was a little bit of a surprise for me so when I got done with that I was pretty stoked with where I was,” he said. “I was like ‘okay, maybe I can be a contender in the first year’.
“Even after practice you’re still kinda wondering where you fit in in a race setting because there’s guys like Cooper (Webb) who can go out and qualify 15th but you know he’s going to be there in the Main Event every time.
“I’m lucky enough to be able to ride with Eli (Tomac) and ride with Ken (Roczen) so I have a good gauge where the speed is and I know that I’m not too far off and I felt that I had a good chance if I kept my head on straight.
“It’s quite a lot different. As a 250 guy you do 20s, you practice during the off-season and a lot of the time you’re doing the longer motos – 20 (minutes) plus one – but a race setting is always different. The track breaks down more, you’re going from the gate so the heart rate is higher right from the get-go.”
After Justin Barcia went off track, Adam led for seven laps before a mistake of his own let Barcia back through.
“It was crazy getting out front and leading but, honestly, I didn’t feel too nervous. I felt more nervous last year on 250s and definitely the years prior. There are so many good guys, I just don’t look over – I just pretend that there’s nobody else out there. It’s the only thing you can do because everybody is so good.
“It’s just cool that I’m up here racing with all these guys. It’s kinda cool that Cooper and I come from the same generation – one or two years apart – and I always enjoy racing him. As you can see tonight he’s sick but I swear you could take a footpeg off the bike and he’d still find a way to get a podium.”
Adam’s a self-confessed supercross super-fan and is clearly loving life.
“I’m stoked to be up here, stoked to be battling and just want to be in the fight. Personally, I have to constantly level myself because ultimately this stuff is so sick for me.
I love this stuff. If I didn’t have the talent to race a dirt bike I’d be serving popcorn in the stands so I could catch a free seat. I love supercross. So it’s a constant process for me of saying ‘chill out, you belong here, you’re one of these guys’.”
A class rookie hasn’t won the 450 title since Ryan Dungey in 2010 – could 2020 be the year it happens again? Watch this space…