In the motocross industry, the few quarter is all about supercross. Starting on the first Saturday in January, it runs pretty much non-stop throughout the first three months, taking in both east and west coasts, as well as it's yearly visit to Canada. Before the season begins, the upcoming campaign always gets billed as "this could be the best season ever." Well in 2011, it was.
In the first three months, there were 12 rounds, and these round victories were split between five riders - Chad Reed (1 victory), Ryan Villopoto (5), Ryan Dungey (1), James Stewart (3) and Trey Canard (2). Already this was more than any season in recent memory, and there were still five rounds remaining.
Despite only winning one round, Chad Reed was leading the championship as his consistent results (even including his epic battle with Stewart at Atlanta) gave him a three point gap over Villopoto. This certainly didn't look like being the case before Jacksonville though, as RV had a 26 point lead himself, but disaster struck for the Kawasaki rider as he failed to make the main event after two first turn crashes. He wasn't the only person to suffer some bad luck though as at Anaheim 2, Ryan Dungey's chain broke, giving him just one point from the event. At that stage it appeared his title chances would be gone, but along with RV's DNS, the other contenders also had problems to deal with.
James Stewart, despite being called the "fastest man on the planet" wasn't having it all his own way. Numerous mistakes were costing him points, but it was his performance after one of his biggest crashes that really showed his ability. Whilst leading Daytona by a comfortable margin, he cartwheeled off a jump, with shooting off into the distance. At that moment it looked like not just a race-ending crash, but a season ending crash. Instead, Stewart carry on, and battle his way all the way up to 8th, keeping him well in with a shout of the title.
In the West coast Lites championship, Josh Hansen was leading the way after six of their nine rounds, with Broc Tickle and Eli Tomac in 2nd and 3rd. The exciting youngster Ken Roczen was grabbing a lot of the headlines though with some excellent performances interspersed with some big crashes.
The East coast was seeing a renewal of the Barcia/Wilson rivalry with the Honda rider having a 13 point advantage over Wilson. Ryan Sipes was in third spot, but all the focus was on Barcia's aggressive nature and just how much he was inside Wilson's head. Blake Baggett was challenging but a zero point score at Jacksonville killed off his chances of success.
Despite there being no championships decided, the first quarter of 2011 provided some of the most epic races in supercross history and really set up the remaining rounds for a massive finish that I don't think anyone could predict.