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Images from the 51st Annual Hangtown Motocross Classic in Sacramento, CA. This legendary race returns to serve as the opening round of the 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing.
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Dylan Ferrandis’ American Dream Becoming a Reality

May 212019

For years Dylan Ferrandis was one of the most talented riders in the MX2 division of the FIM MXGP, and while he found his way to the top of the podium on several occasions, a championship eluded him. As Ferrandis continued to progress, industry scouts here in the U.S. began to take notice of his talents. Soon enough, Ferrandis turned his eye to America’s top-level championships of Monster Energy Supercross and the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, and Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing came knocking.

The Frenchman made the trek overseas to start his career on U.S. soil beginning in 2017, where he’d begin his own American dream pursuing the world’s two most coveted titles. For many riders who make the journey from the high stakes of Europe to the states, the most difficult transition is often learning the foreign discipline of supercross. With its highly technical and intimate confines, Monster Energy Supercross can be outright daunting to some, but Ferrandis acclimated quickly. He became a consistent presence inside the top 10, and earned his first podium finish at the legendary Daytona Supercross in just his fourth career start. His consistency continued to improve, and culminated with a career-best runner-up finish in Indianapolis and sixth overall in the East Region.

During his first summer of American motocross Ferrandis displayed more of that same tenacity. He endured through a tough Pro Motocross debut at Hangtown, but rebounded one week later with his first podium effort at Glen Helen. He continued to run in the thick of the hunt virtually every time the gate dropped, and captured a runner-up finish at Southwick before ending the year fifth in points. 

With a solid rookie season under his belt, Ferrandis had a strong foundation to build from entering the 2018 season. At this point the Frenchman had transitioned from a virtually unknown European import into a legitimate contender. As a result, there was also more expectation from his Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing team. No longer was Ferrandis simply learning the ropes. He was one of their lead riders, and they were paying him to win. They were also expecting him to challenge for championships.

Unfortunately for Ferrandis the 2018 season got off to a rocky start. While he was able to grab a runner-up finish in Tampa, his hopes of a potential Monster Energy Supercross title ended in Atlanta with a brutal crash that left him with a broken arm, broken teeth and a severely injured jaw. It was his first taste of the harsh reality of supercross, which has taken no prisoners over the years and put many of the sport’s biggest names on the sidelines. It was arguably the worst crash of the Frenchman’s career, and he was forced to set his sights on a comeback in Pro Motocross.

After several months of recovery, during which he missed the start of the summer season, Ferrandis returned to the track at the fourth round at High Point. He returned with a stronger mental resiliency, as is often the case when riders come back from injury, and had the chance to compete without the pressures of a championship, which allowed him to race more relaxed. That translated into an uptick in consistency for Ferrandis. He finished just off the podium in his season debut and then finished second at the following round. It all culminated at Southwick, where the Frenchman broke through for his first victory on American soil. He had finally proved he has what it takes to not just compete, but win on the sport’s biggest and most competitive stage. From there Ferrandis’ confidence only grew. He went out with an expectation to win, and since winning often breeds winning, it wasn’t a surprise when he took the top spot again at a muddy Unadilla. He wrapped up the championship eighth in points, despite missing three rounds of action.

Coming into the 2019 season Ferrandis’ goal was simple – win a title. He had logged plenty of laps, and posted a slew of successful finishes. To his team, anything other than a championship would be an admitted disappointment, so the pressure was ramped up when the West Region kicked off in January. He started off well, finishing second, and was able to amass an average finish of 3.5 through the first six races. Despite his impressive consistency, Ferrandis was still chasing his first supercross win, and that was hindering him in the title fight. Fellow Monster Energy rider Adam Cianciarulo had taken the championship reins, and Ferrandis was forced to dig deep just to keep his hopes alive.

After the West Region’s midseason break, Ferrandis returned in the best possible way. He was on point in Seattle, moving into the lead early and managing it through the remainder of the race despite Cianciarulo pressuring him from second. It was a longer wait than Ferrandis would have expected to capture his first win, but the moment arrived and gave him some much-needed momentum.  The following weekend, the Frenchman made it two in a row in Houston while Cianciarulo slipped. That added intrigue to the battle for the West Region title, as the door opened slightly for Ferrandis to make things interesting heading to the Las Vegas finale.

As Monster Energy Supercross invaded Sin City for its curtain call, eight points separated Cianciarulo and Ferrandis. Given how the season had gone up to that point, that margin appeared larger than it was, but the strategy for the Ferrandis was simple. He just needed to go out there and win, and force Cianciarulo to respond. That’s exactly what Ferrandis did.

The Las Vegas finale was undoubtedly the finest performance we’ve seen out of Ferrandis since he made his move to the U.S. It was a showcase of how far he’s progressed as a racer, and displayed how he responds to big moments. No moment was bigger than this for the Frenchman, and he rose to the occasion. While the win seemed like it would be for nothing in terms of the championship, that all changed in an instant when Cianciarulo made an unthinkable error and watched his title slip away. While the most dominant rider of the West Region season limped around the track with a mangled bike and a broken heart, Ferrandis continued to lead and stormed to the biggest victory of his career. Rarely do we get to see the opportunity for a rider to claim a walk-off championship win, but on this night the Frenchman simply nailed it. The dream that brought Ferrandis to the U.S. in the first place had been realized. He was a Monster Energy Supercross Champion.

Dylan Ferrandis’ story has been one that’s been told before, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s one of the finest international talents you’ll see here in the states. This is just the beginning of what’s to come for the Frenchman, and there’s nothing that is going to stop him from accomplishing the goals he set for himself upon signing that contract with Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing.

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