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Monster Energy®/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki Rider Seth Hammaker Secures Fourth Career Podium at Season Opener in Anaheim
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship made its return home to Anaheim, California, to begin the 2022 season at Angels Stadium this weekend. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker came into the season ready to build on his 2021 supercross ‘Rookie of the Year’ performance and backed up his expectations with a second-place finish. Teammate Jo Shimoda put on a commendable performance after battling his way through early adversity to finish in seventh. In the 450SX class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson had a podium finish in sight before a late-race crash set him back, ultimately finishing in 10th with Adam Cianciarulo following in 11th place after running most of the main event with the leaders.
For the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Shimoda and Hammaker, Saturday’s timed qualifying allowed the pair to get accustomed to their Kawasaki KX™250 race machines in race-like conditions for the first time. After getting a feel for the track during the first timed qualifying practice, Hammaker and Shimoda went out for the second session looking to record some of his fastest laps of the day. The Team Green™ teammates looked much more comfortable on the sticky California dirt this time around with Hammaker qualifying in fourth and Shimoda following in fifth.
As the first 250SX West heat race of the season began, Hammaker launched out the gate to round the first turn in third. The No. 47 followed close behind the lead riders, studying their line choices for a short time before using his speed through the whoops to move into second place on Lap 4. After securing second, Hammaker immediately faced pressure from behind, dropping back to fourth momentarily before capitalizing on the mistakes of others to retake second and secure a transfer spot into the main event.
A late jump off the gate at the start of 250SX Heat Race 2 left Shimoda outside the top-five at the end of the first lap. The No. 30 was charging through the field before a red flag on Lap 3 forced a complete restart. Off the restart, Shimoda shot out to a third-place start and immediately found himself in a heated battle to hold the position. After a brief battle, Shimoda took full control over third and then quickly moved into second where he would finish the race.
When the gate dropped on the first 250SX West Main Event of the season, it was Hammaker who led the Team Green charge and was immediately fighting for second place. Sitting in third early in the race, Hammaker closed in on the lead riders as they battled and wasted no time to advance into second when the opportunity was available. The No. 47 immediately built a gap ahead of third and began settling into second place. After facing pressure from behind late in the race, Hammaker held strong to finish second, securing his fourth career supercross podium. For Shimoda, a slight miscalculation before the start caused him to get held up behind the gate and forced the No. 30 to charge hard from back in the pack. Shimoda climbed his way into the top-10 by the halfway mark but a mistake in the whoops dropped him back to 11th place. Determined to salvage as many points as possible, the Japanese rider pushed for the remaining laps to finish the race in seventh place.
“We had a pretty good day all around and a good start to the season. Qualifying sessions went well. I ended up with the fourth-fastest lap time in my class and finished second in my heat race. I got out to a second-place start in the main event and tried to make my way to the front but ended up dropping down a spot for a moment before taking the position back. I rode comfortably in second for a while but started to feel some pressure from behind late in the race, which made for an exciting ending. I still have some small things to clean up before next weekend but I’m happy with the ride and how my KX250 performed tonight.”
- Seth Hammaker
“That was a crazy race tonight! I was caught behind the gate after the person next to me flinched and had to battle my way through the pack. A small mistake in the whoops midway through set me back again but I pushed all race to finish in seventh. Not exactly how I wanted the night to go but we still have a lot of racing left this season to make up those points. I know I have the speed to win. I just need to work on some things, and we’ll be ready for Oakland next weekend. Thank you to the entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team for the help today.”
- Jo Shimoda
The Monster Energy Kawasaki duo of Cianciarulo and Anderson came into the day eager to begin the 2022 season after a productive off-season helped both riders familiarize themselves with the Kawasaki KX™450SR. From the start of qualifying, it was clear Anderson had the speed to run with the front group. The No. 21 clocked in a fast lap time of 58.381 before improving on that the second time out with a 57.365, briefly holding pole, before giving him the third fastest lap of the day. Nursing a shoulder injury sustained late in the off-season, Cianciarulo set a respectable fast lap of 58.666 placing him 11th fastest overall heading into the heat races.
Anderson and Cianciarulo both lined up for the season’s second 450SX heat race and as the gate dropped both riders were jockeying for positions inside the top-three. Cianciarulo showed his true toughness in the race by pushing through the pain and wasting no time in building himself a comfortable gap ahead of third. The No. 9 rode with all he had throughout the race, trying to hold off the competition, but was forced to settle for a seventh-place finish. Anderson, caught in an intense battle for third, would get knocked down on the first lap and was forced to work his way through the field to finish in eighth, securing his ticket to the main event.
As the gate dropped on the 450SX Main Event, both Cianciarulo and Anderson were off to decent starts with Cianciarulo in third and Anderson in sixth. Anderson would instantly find himself in a mid-pack battle with last year’s supercross champion and made quick work moving into sixth position. The No. 21 began hunting down the riders ahead, making stealthy passes and working his way up into third. With less than five minutes left in the race, Anderson carefully maneuvered into second position through the second tricky set of whoops before getting run high in the next corner and falling. Now outside the top-10, Anderson went on to charge through the final laps of the race to salvage 10th place. Another great start by Cianciarulo allowed him to begin the race with a comfortable gap between him and the riders battling behind. The No. 9 was determined to make the most of his night and remained in third for most of the race, despite nagging injury. However, as the race progressed, pressure from the competition would prove to be too much and the Florida native finished the race in 11th.
"I definitely think today could have gone better. My speed was right there with the top guys, and I felt like my KX450SR was handling so well. In the main, I spent a few laps planning my pass for second and did the best I could to make a clean move and ride away. Unfortunately, I can’t control how other riders respond, but that’s racing. It was a tough one, but we live to fight another day. Time to switch gears and focus on Oakland.”
- Jason Anderson
“It was a challenging day for us. Obviously, coming in with a grade three AC shoulder separation isn’t ideal but I did the best I could all day. I can honestly say I exceeded my expectations by a lot. I wasn’t sure if I’d even make the full 20 minutes going into the main event, but the team and I had a quick chat before the race which helped me get into the right mindset and deliver a rather impressive result. The goal is to keep getting healthier each week and start fighting for wins as soon as possible.”
- Adam Cianciarulo