No million dollar or repeat winner in the fifth running of the Monster Energy Cup held on Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas as Ken Roczen bested Ryan Dungey in every Moto to take the crown and $100,000.
Roczen, the 2014 Motocross Champion who finished second the Dungey in the 2015 Motocross season while battling a tender back all season, looked fresh and healed after the back surgery that sidelined him for five weeks. Roczen, now the fifth different Monster Cup winner since the inaugural contest in 2011, finished first in Motos 1 and 3 and fourth in Moto 2 for the three point advantage over Dungey who went (2-5-2) on the night.
The Monster Cup features a hybrid Motocross/Supercross track in a three Moto, 10 lap format. Points do not follow the traditional 25 for first, 22 for second and 20 for third like in Supercross and Motocross but rather 1 point for first sequentially up to 22 points for 22nd with just 22 riders qualifying. The one with the lowest number of points after the three Motos wins. There's also a Joker Lane that every rider must take once during each Moto but not on the first lap. The Joker Lane removes riders from the main course and consists of strict turns which slows them down considerably. Any rider who finishes first in all three Motos wins $1 million, something done only once, by Ryan Villopoto in the first year of the event.
Trey Canard, Jason Anderson and Ken Roczen
In Moto 1, Jason Anderson grabbed the holeshot but lost the lead to Trey Canard, who almost took the million last year after winning the first two Motos but finished third overall after crashing twice in the final Moto. This year, again Canard hit the dirt giving way to Roczen and Dungey. Roczen held out on the Joker Lane until the final lap and while Anderson crossed the finish line first he took the Joker Lane on the first lap which is a rule breaker and got penalized five spots giving the win to Roczen.
In Moto 2, Anderson again grabbed the holeshot and again lost the lead but this time to Justin Barcia, the 2012 Monster Cup winner. However, Anderson quickly got back out front where he stayed and Davi Millsaps, last year's winner also made his presence known slotting into third-place ahead of Dungey but ultimately fell back three spots to finish sixth. Canard stayed on two wheels for the entirety of the race and passed Roczen on Lap 4 for second-place. Barcia stuck it out in third.
In Moto 3, Anderson completed the trifecta sweeping the holeshots (thereby winning a Toyota Tundra) for the night but like the other Motos quickly lost the lead and unlike Moto 2 was unable to get back in front. Roczen took over first on Lap 1 and never looked back though Dungey followed him the remaining nine laps to finish second. Anderson took third which was good enough for third overall.
"I felt great out there," said Roczen, who only recently returned to riding to prepare for the Straight Rhythm (finished second) and Monster Cup. "The bike felt good, but we only had a week and a half to really go through a lot of testing. We tried to squeeze everything in, but it worked out."
The much-hyped return of James Stewart, the 2013 Monster Cup winner returning to racing for the first time since his suspension last year, lost all its momentum when he crashed in Moto 1 and injured his wrist which left him sidelined for the rest of the night. Canard also crashed in somewhat spectacular fashion in the final Moto near the mechanics tower. Fortunately, he was able to resume racing and finished in sixth place overall after a (10-2-14) night.
Max Miller in the sand section at 2015 Monster Cup
Elsewhere, MotoSport rider Max Miller grabbed the holeshot in the Supermini class for Moto 1 and finished in third-place. His second-place finish in Moto 2 gave him second-place overall for the night behind Lance Kobusch who swept. Austin Forkner also swept in the Amateur All-Star class, keeping his undefeated streak alive for a third year. Forkner swept the mini class the last two years and is the only rider to be undefeated in the Monster Cup. He's entering the AMSOIL Arenacross series in 2016 to get the points necessary to move on to Supercross and he's also expecting to join Outdoors next summer.
MotoSport employee Brett Cue qualified second in the Dirt Shark Biggest Whip contest and took third in the Main event.
2015 Monster Energy Cup Results
- Ken Roczen (1-4-1)
- Ryan Dungey (2-5-2)
- Jason Anderson (6-1-3)
- Justin Barcia (5-3-4)
- Davi Millsaps (3-6-6)
- Trey Canard (10-2-14)
- Justin Brayton (11-7-12)
- Blake Baggett (4-9-18)
- Christian Craig (14-14-5)
- Chad Reed (9-16-8)