Vital MX Pit Bits: Monster Energy Cup

Monster Energy Kawasaki (along with D'Cor) usually does something pretty spectacular for the Monster Energy Cup, and this year was no exception. We liked the added green for the bikes of Adam Cianciarulo and Eli Tomac.

Of course, as defending champ, Eli is rocking the number one plate.

Where this kit really lights up is outside, and probably under the stadium lights as well, there are gold flecks throughout the graphic that really add some sparkle. Hey, it's Vegas.

There was an optional number setup for the bikes, but the team opted to go with the white outline for the numbers.

This was the first outing for Adam Cianciarulo's new crew chief, Oscar Wirdeman, who had moved over from Honda where he was wrenching for Ken Roczen.

Of course, the bikes got a good scrubbing after Friday's press day, and this brush setup is good for getting the mud out of the crevices in the gripper seat material. Justin Shantie (who wrenched for Joey Savatgy last year) will handle the same role for Adam Cianciarulo during the upcoming year.

That Fox kit for Adam Cianciarulo is spectacular.

With two starting gates use for this race (one inside the stadium, and one outside), there were fresh new plastic covers on the gate, and mechanics were eager to remove it before practice starts.

Eli Tomac was last year's champ, and he was on the gas during qualifying taking the top spot. Since practices used both directions of the track, times from both sessions were added together to figure qualifying order.

Team Green's Chance Hymas was the top qualifier in the Supermini class.

Watching Mitch Payton work his way through the throttle while listening to the engine to check jetting is always fun. Mitch will be inducted into Glen Helen's Walk of Fame during the Vet Worlds in a couple weeks.

For Travis Parry and Olly Stone, it looks like their bikes had shrunk. In the past, Travis work on Josh Grant's 450 (though he's been at Team Green for a year now), and Olly normally wrenches on Austin Forkner's bike.

After going through a couple doctors, and multiple surgeries, it's been a long time off the bike for Jordon Smith. Now riding for Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki, he's finally ready to return to training and riding.

It was a mix of surprise and happiness with the return of Jeremy Martin to racing. He's been off the radar, training with the Tomacs. Yep, he's on a 450 for this weekend. While the track might be a bit more than he thought it would be for his return, he seems to be handling it well.

Jeremy Martin on the gas.

World Champ, Tim Gajser, qualified ninth.

Tim getting slithery over this jump.

Yep, Tim brought over his bike, plus some extra Pirellis for the weekend.

Jett Lawrence will ride in the 250 Futures class tonight, and wrap up his amateur career.

Justin Hill's bike was idle here, but he's ready to rock with the Smartop MotoConcepts Racing crew.

Yep, the team has 46 (Hill), and 64 (Vince Friese).

Justin was on hand to add to the eyes on the track.

Mike Alessi is also under the Smartop MotoConcepts Racing tent but on an ESR big-bore Yamaha.

Yep, it was a smoke show inside the stadium.

Which version of Malcolm Stewart is best? Deadly serious?
Wide-eyed and staring?
Or laughing? He's having fun during his return to action.

Mookie qualified third on his Smartop MotoConcepts Racing Honda.

Chad Reed had to go through the LCQ to make it into the main, but chalk that up to lack of time riding, and an all-new bike. He made it in.

Getting the band back together? Mike Gosselaar, Dan Truman, and Ben Schiermeyer are among the familiar faces around Chad. Of course, Ellie is the boss.

Yeah, we can all see a smidge of irony in the grief that Chad Reed went through last year when he added CBDMD to his roster of sponsors. Now CBDMD is also a sponsor with the series. Call it a rapidly changing landscape.

Cardo had a crew on hand to let teams try out their Packtalk Bold rider/team communications setup. With the open rules package for the Monster Energy Cup, this was a good place to test it out, but we haven't heard anything about this being on the table for the regular Supercross season...though we wouldn't be shocked if the promoters wanted availability to communications like that so they could use it in the TV broadcast. Let's face it, hearing that kind of stuff is one of the cool parts of other motorsports. You can check them out at cardosystems.com

We're not sure how widespread the use was, but we did spot the Cardo guys installing one of their setups on Chad Reed's helmet before the night's racing.

Scott introduced their new Fury goggles this weekend. They're a more affordable goggle that uses the same lens as their Prospect, but with a slightly thinner strap, and no outriggers. It was described to us as having a fit and feel more like their classic model 89 goggle, but with modern features. It also accepts the same accessories (like tear-offs and roll-offs) that the Prospect uses. We spotted these on Chad Reed and Evan Ferry, among others.

Speaking of new goggles, we also got a sneak peek at a new X Brand goggle that's in the works. This one is a 3D printed version.

Bob Barnett over at ARC Levers has been on a mission to build his own brake and clutch master cylinders, with a bunch of features that allow riders and teams to customize the feel, reach, and leverage ratio that they want, while also solving a host of problems. One of those is handlebar real estate, which is why his mounts are far off to the side. That allows them to be moved further inward. They also use an automotive-style hose, rather than a banjo bolt. Bob says he can literally beat on these with a hammer and not have them break, where the traditional style mounts are much more fragile.

By swapping out a little eccentric piece (the silver one at the bottom center), riders can tun the leverage ratio. The washers on the piston allow customization so that the brakes have a hard feel with instant-on power, or take a bunch more pull before they hit full their full potential. You can also see the rubber protector that covers the mount and cylinder, and the line protectors. These should be on the market before too long.

The Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing guys have been busy testing during the off-season. Heck, they actually got started before that...staying the day after Washougal for an all-day test, and then doing the same in the rain the day after the Ironman National. We hear that there's a bit of a different attitude with the riders and crew, and a more collaborative effort playing out.

Justin Barcia had a cool new custom-painted Arai from Troy Lee Designs.

Here's another view of Justin's helmet.

Sergio Avanto is back in the pits. Back in the day he worked with both Yamaha and Monster Energy Kawasaki, as well as L&M Yamaha. He'll be handling chassis tuning duties.

The main events that start outside of the stadium feature (gulp) a grass first turn. We'll see how everyone handles that. Justin Barcia seemed to take it in stride as he holeshot this practice.

Aaron Plessinger qualified tenth.

The new Alpinestars X Deus Ex Machina boots were looking pretty sweet.

Evan Ferry is the newest addition to the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna crew.

Evan (and his dad, Tim), were busy scouting the track early in the day.

Man, Dean Wilson's setup looks so good for the bars and clamps. We dig that ProTaper pad, too.

While they weren't racing, both Jason Anderson and Zach Osborne were in attendance to sign autographs.

Jalek Swoll will hold it down for Husky in the 250 Futures class.

Heading out for practice from the back gate.

Dean Wilson qualified fifth, but had a big digger in the final practice, and was headed for x-rays the last we heard. Get well soon, Dean.

Evan Ferry is among the Scott-sponsored riders using the new Scott Fury goggles.

Cooper Webb pulled the plug on participating at the Monster Energy Cup in the days before the event, so the biggest KTM presence might have been at the KJSC rig.

This is the last go 'round with the Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/KTM/WPS team for Benny Bloss. He's on the hunt for a new ride.

Dean Wilson had done one big jump onto the dragonback during Friday's press session, which didn't go unnoticed by several of the riders. Adam Cianciarulo did it too, but he said it was really spooky. Benny Bloss was asking whether he was going to try it again.

Jordi Tixier during Press Day.

Unfortunately, Jordi had a crash during practice, took a little dirt nap, and will have to sit out the racing action.

In the past, Chris Hay was working for LitPro, and he's moved over to WP. (He usually also helps us out during our shootouts.)

Dean Wilson was bringing a little rookie hazing to the practice gate.

The H.E.P. Suzuki squad looks similar to last year's lineup...at least here. We'll have to see what the new year brings.

Richard Taylor is another second-generation racer. (His dad is Rich Taylor).

Yikes, this isn't good. Wyatt Lyonsmith had a big digger in the final 250 practice.

We dig Kayden Palmer's custom paint. Look for him in the 250 class.

Braden O'Neal brought a very sweet custom TLD-painted helmet to Vegas. Yep, it's part of the O'Neal family of racers, and is also riding in the Supercross futures.


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