Good, Bad, 'n Ugly: Orlando 2

250 Class

The Good: Justin Cooper | 1st Place

The first race of the 250 West season went just about perfect for Justin Cooper, as he started out front and never dealt with any major pressure during the race. I'm not ready to hand him the number one plate after the season opener, but it's pretty clear that this is his best shot at winning a 250 title yet. I mean, we're one round in, and the championship it's already down to him, Cameron McAdoo, and Garrett Marchbanks... and Cooper's the only one out of those three that has actually been in contention for a title before. I'm hopeful that McAdoo and Marchbanks will get a better start than Cooper at Daytona, as I'd like to see if either of them look to have what it takes to challenge him for the title. 

Justin Cooper.

The Good Bonus: Garrett Marchbanks | 3rd Place

Garrett looks to be primed to go on a revenge tour this season after not being brought back by Pro Circuit Kawasaki for the 2021 season despite winning Daytona last year. I think Orlando is the first of many moments this season where I'll think he is right to be a little salty about it. He won a race last year and has shown several times in his young career that he has the speed to be a factory rider. He did deal with injuries during his time with Pro Circuit Kawasaki, but factory teams often stick with prospects that get injured as long as the potential is there. The Club MX Yamaha team he's on now is solid, but at the end of the day, they're not a factory squad. I think both he and the team will enjoy several podiums and maybe a win or two this season, and then he'll find his way back onto a factory bike for 2022. 

Garrett Marchbanks.

The Bad: Jordon Smith | DNF

Jordon has had one of the most "what if?" 250 careers in recent memory. He's always had factory machinery, and has always had the raw speed to win races and contend for championships. But crashes have derailed many of his seven years as a pro. I think his time with Troy Lee Designs KTM will always be the window where he had the absolute best shot of winning a title. That was the last time he stayed healthy for an extended period of time, and it's also when he was the most consistent when it came to results. His time with Pro Circuit Kawasaki has not gone well so far, and here we are one race into the 2021 season, and his championship hopes have been dashed after a big crash in the Main Event. It doesn't sound like he sustained any significant injuries, but I'm sure he'll need every second of this week off to get back to 100%. I really think that Jordon has to win races this season to have a shot at a factory ride next year; I don't think podiums alone will do it. 

Jordan Smith (80).

The Ugly: The Martin Brothers

Could the night have gone any worse for the Martin brothers? Jeremy went down right after the race started, as he backed out of a jump, and Stilez Robertson landed squarely on his back. I don't think I'm alone when I say that any time Jeremy has a big crash I hold my breath, especially after the back injury he dealt with a few years ago. The good news is that he got up pretty quickly and walked off on his own, but the bad news is that the early reports indicate that he has a shoulder injury. I haven't seen anything that has confirmed the severity of the injury, but the fact that we haven't heard anything yet doesn't exactly instill confidence in the idea that he'll be back for Daytona. Who knows, maybe by the time this article is published, some good news will have been released. At the end of the day, though, Jeremy's chances at winning this title are basically non-existent, and that sucks big time. I think many of us were looking forward to his return to Star Racing Yamaha and hoping for him to win his first 250 Supercross title. 

Alex's night ended about 30 seconds after Jeremy's, as he slammed into the dirt hard, heading into a corner. It sounds like he suffered a concussion in the crash, and we probably won't know if he'll be on the line at Daytona until a couple of days before the race. He seemed to be in good spirits after the race judging by his vlog from the day, and I hope he's back to full health soon. 

Alex and Jeremy Martin.

450 Class

The Good: Star Racing Yamaha

This is Star Racing's first year as the Factory Yamaha Team, and I think they've done a great job so far. It's not exactly a secret that the old Factory Yamaha Team severely underperformed for several seasons before they shifted the responsibilities over to Star Racing. At this point in the season, all three of the team's riders are inside the top 10 in the standings, and although they only have one podium so far, they clearly have one of the more consistent rosters in the paddock, and the potential for future success is there. Malcolm Stewart has shown that he's very close to a podium if he can find that one last piece that seems to be missing. Aaron Plessinger is on track to have the best season of his 450 career and seems to make progress every time he hits the track, and Dylan Ferrandis has shown flashes of his insane speed during his first 450 season. I think the team will only get better as we head into the second half of the season, and I wouldn't be surprised if they have a few more podiums tallied up on their stats sheet by the time we're in Salt Lake City. 

Dylan Ferrandis (14), and Aaron Plessinger (7).

The Bad: Martin Davalos | 17th Place

There's no doubt that this year's 450 class is more stacked than it was in 2020, but I still expected to see some better results from Martin Davalos by this point in the season. He really seemed to find his stride during the second half of 2020's Supercross season, and I was expecting him to carry some of that momentum over to 2021 and potentially become a 10th-13th place guy. However, his best result of the season is a 14th place finish, and he hasn't shown much progress since the start of the season. He's also on the same bike and team as last year, so he seems just to be struggling more than I figured he would. I'm interested to see if he makes any progress during the second half of the season or if it'll be more of the same. 

Martin Davalos (36).

The Ugly: Adam Cianciarulo | DNF

Adam's night ended with a big crash and another injury on top of what he has already been dealing with. It sounds like he broke his collarbone and maybe picked up another injury, too, so I'd imagine that he'll sit out for a while and get things back to where they need to be. It's pretty clear at this point that Adam's tendency to wad himself in Supercross, which followed him around for much of his 250 career, is still a big issue. However, he eventually figured out how to ride at a level that allowed him to contend for titles and stay healthy in the 250 class, so he probably needs more time. This is only his sophomore season, after all. I look forward to seeing him back behind the gate again whenever he's fully healthy.

Adam Cianciarulo (9).

Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson

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