Troy Lee Designs / Red Bull / GASGAS Factory Racing's Justin Barcia kicked off the 2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship 17-round series with a win in the 450SX Class inside Houston's NRG Stadium, marking the third time in series history an opening round was hosted in the great state of Texas. A restricted-attendance audience of 10,830 race fans, clustered in pod seating by families and groups, cheered Barcia's incredible third-consecutive opening-round victory. Barcia fought off Team Honda HRC's Ken Roczen for nearly the entire race while Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin returned to Supercross with a solid third-place finish. In the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, a division that traditionally begins later in the season, Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha's Christian Craig started 2021 with his first victory in five years.
It had been 25 years since the Monster Energy Supercross series kicked off outside of California, and coincidentally 25 years since a rider had won three consecutive opening rounds (Jeremy McGrath in Orlando), but in Texas Justin Barcia, in his 100th Monster Energy Supercross start, cemented a place in the history books by grabbing the victory of what was the debut race for the GASGAS team and GASGAS motocross machine. At the gate drop Marvin Musquin holeshot the 22 rider field, but Barcia squeezed into the lead immediately. Honda's Ken Roczen worked his way through the top five to reach second place with over seventeen minutes left on the race clock; Roczen stayed close, and with five minutes and one lap remaining launched three intense pass attempts. Barcia held his composure and track position, forcing Roczen to eventually settle for the runner-up spot.
Marvin Musquin rounded the first corner in the lead but found himself outside the top three in the early laps. At the Main Event's midpoint, he made his move on Monster Energy Kawasaki's Adam Cianciarulo to regain his place in a podium position. The three former champions in the field had a tough opening round. Defending champion Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac had a fall and an off track excursion that relegated him to thirteenth. 2019 champion Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb steadily recovered from a bad start to earn ninth. And 2018 champion Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson spent most of the race eighth place until lap 22 of the 28 lap Main Event when he dropped back to finish in fifteenth position.
The Eastern Regional 250SX Class kicked its season off with great racing excitement. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's RJ Hampshire nabbed the holeshot but his time at the front lasted less than one minute before Christian Craig got past and pulled away to a comfortable lead. Behind, Hampshire battled hard to stay up front, but Monster Energy Kawasaki's Austin Forkner got past just after the midway point, and Craig's teammate Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha's Colt Nichols made his way into a podium finish after rounding the first lap just inside the top five.
The intense 2021 race schedule sees the riders line-up again in Houston on Tuesday January 19th, then again at the same venue on Saturday, January 23rd. The seventeen-round series, the first professional sport to complete its full series last year during the pandemic, has found a way to schedule a full season and allow limited attendance at many rounds. Tickets are on sale through the Arlington rounds, Atlanta and final rounds will be going on sale in the coming weeks. Check SupercrossLIVE.com for ticket updates, full schedule, and airtimes on Peacock and NBCSN.