Reviewing WSX's Second Event | Vital MX Editorial 3

Perspective from the only media member who had his boots firmly on the ground in Abu Dhabi.

The second fixture on the 2023 FIM World Supercross Championship schedule, Abu Dhabi, was a marked improvement on what occurred at round one in Great Britain. Now, admittedly, that reflects how dire the first event was rather than being a testament to a booming success in the Middle East. It was a clear step forward, nonetheless.

The on-track action takes a back seat to the way in which each round is run, in the opinion of this humble scribe, and so having boots on the ground in Abu Dhabi provided a great opportunity to look at how the structure of the FIM World Supercross Championship has evolved in relation to alternative races. WSX's a new concept, despite the fact that their 'launch' happened back in the Autumn of 2022. The championship continues to encounter growth pains, as unique challenges are posed in different corners of the world.

In a new concept and one that is particularly exciting, enjoy an unfiltered look at the many different facets of the Middle East's first supercross. To place a spotlight on various negative points is not an attempt to disparage the FIM World Supercross Championship, just as talking about the positives should not beguile the reader. This is an opinion-orientated feature. Having an opinion, or sharing it, should never be a crime, especially when it comes time to convey a realistic picture of an event.

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The promise of supercross appealing to new audiences is brilliant on paper and a very attractive pitch. It was not put to the test in either the United Kingdom or Australia – those nations have some sort of indoor history. There has never been supercross in the Middle East and the only relevant case studies are the Grands Prix that were held in Qatar from 2013 to 2016. Less than one hundred fans lined the fences and so that became the benchmark for events on the continent. It was a rather low bar for WSX to hit. There was still a little concern, despite the fairly easy challenge.

Reports surfaced in the hours prior to the event that around seven thousand tickets were purchased at a market value of approximately twenty-five dollars, and it was quite a surprise when those fans turned up. It was apparent that a reasonable number of those spectators were fairly 'green' as well. The arena erupted when Kyle Webster jumped the triple on the parade lap before the first main of the night. There are many British spectators, who live in different nations in the Middle East, who made the jaunt to Abu Dhabi. The point is that there were educated fans to counterbalance the new ones. It was a promising mix.

The new investors can be filed in the 'green' audience – they attended for the first time to learn what their new product offers. A brief meeting with the duo helped to reassure this scribe that stability could be in WSX's future. The investors are hands on and, crucially, realistic about the current state of the series. Such realism is like a warm blanket that offers some comfort as that, and only that, will allow the series to grow from where it sits at the moment. A soon-to-be-published exclusive will shed light on their thinking. It is brilliant to have them involved in the sport, no matter if it is at WSX or another property.

It was mentioned in the introduction of this feature that Abu Dhabi provided clarity on just how "dire" the first fixture of this season was. What sparked this thought? WSX's opening ceremonies were shambolic in Birmingham. Abu Dhabi, in contrast, could not have been more polished and thrilling, and that's what the opening show should be. It was an important step and one that would have wowed the locals – it set the tone and confirmed that this is a race of importance. Birmingham's opening show was embarrassing, to be quite frank, whereas Abu Dhabi's could be considered a resounding success.

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How did WSX execute such a brilliant show to open their second round? This transitions into the negative portion of this unbiased feature. There was a rehearsal on Friday that took more than an hour and included the top ten athletes from the WSX division, as well as the top three in SX2. The riders were stood around, like spare parts, except for practicing how to wave in a very empty stadium. It was vital for the organization but a complete waste of the athletes' time. There is a theme of WSX demanding a lot from their stars, and this is a perfect example. Giving them tedious tasks like this can only cause angst.

Angst is not something that WSX needs more of, because there was some negativity inside of the paddock across those two days of action. The track caused a lot of this – the riders and teams want to see a layout that deserves that 'supercross' label. Abu Dhabi was not that. There is no justification for the battleground that was picked for competition and, truthfully, the powers that be should have been braced for backlash. To think that everyone would embrace an arenacross track shows some naivety. Would the reaction have been kinder if there were four legitimate rounds prior to this? Perhaps.

There are many people who are up in arms about the confusion that surfaced between the television crew in SX2's second main event. Following the wrong rider, despite the announcers making the mistake quite obvious, and throwing the checkered flag at a random point is just inexcusable at a race of this magnitude. This scribe has never seen such an insane occurrence and considering SX Global's background, as well as their capable employees, there is no reason for this to happen. Has timing entered a state of disarray at other events? Sure. The organizers have never blindly followed it though. Common sense must prevail.

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