The 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm Motocross event was a huge success, and served as a unique and entertaining professional competitive motocross showcase for judges, motocross fans, and spectators too. What helped to make this contest so enjoyable was that it was not your typical, average motocross-racing event. This event featured a custom track built in Pomona, California, and this track was different in the sense that it featured long, uniform rhythm sections composed of parallel and evenly spaced hip transition style jumps.
This kind of track eliminates the variability that a more conventional motocross race track would have, and instead creates a challenge for motocross racers that involves keeping a balance, or rhythm, in between each individual jump or risk being slowed down or crashing into the next launch if overshot. Being forced to monitor the rhythm of each respective rider’s passes over the rhythm transition sections is a critical skill in this event, and served as an awesome test of ability for each rider involved. Another unique aspect of the Straight Rhythm event is the fact that it features a 1-on-1 heat style racing, where each rider gets the chance to go head-to-head and start the race with a main drop section each time.
Event Scheduling and Overview:
The event scheduling at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm motocross competition was a packed lineup, consisting of wide range of different demos, qualifiers, exhibition races, jump contests, and more. Additionally, there are two primary race classes during this event that are referred to as Open Class and Lites Class. For each respective racing class, there are quarterfinals, semifinals, and final rounds that will be covered in this analysis.
After the doors opened at the event, the first thing on the lineup was the Geoff Aaron Trials Demo, followed up right after by the initial qualifiers for the Open Class and Lites Class. After that it was rider autographing time, along with some other side acts before being again followed up by additional Geoff Aaron Trials Demo segments. The Traxxis Demo came after that, which by many accounts was up there with the best of the best demos showcased at this event.
The main exhibition race was next in the lineup, which featured Ronnie Mac going up against Trevor Piranha. Right after that was one of the most spectacular side events of the entire day, which was the Red Bull Air Force Jump. After that was when the contest really kicked into gear, as both the Lites Class and Open Class races moved into the quarterfinals, the semifinals, and the final rounds. At the conclusion of final rounds for both Open Class and Lites Class, the awards ceremony went off with a bang and served as a celebratory end to an exciting day of professional rhythm track motocross racing.
Open Class Final Contest Results:
The Open Class finals were some of the most closely competitive rhythm motocross racing in recent years, hands down. These finals saw each Open Class rider pushing themselves and their equipment to the outer edges of its limitations, and going as fast as they possibly could while still managing to take into account the oscillations and challenging rhythmic properties of the track in this event. For the benefit of any professional motocross fans who may have missed the Open Class final round of the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event, the top four finalists in the Open Class section will now be named and discussed in order of their final ranking.
1st Place Open Class – Marvin Musquin:
Taking home the coveted first place finish at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm motocross competition, Marvin Musquin really showed the competition how it’s done at this event. The French motocross professional, Marvin Musquin, utilized tactics and strategy at the Straight Rhythm event like almost no other rider was able to do on his level, and this played a major role in his ability to take home 1st place at this major contest. One of the most critical aspects of Musquin’s riding strategy at the Straight Rhythm event was his ability to go extra big from crucial launch points in the track, and this allowed him to clear multiple gaps at one time.
While many other riders were only able to clear one gap at one time, Musquin would massively throttle his engine right as he was leaving some of the biggest ramp lips on the track, and throw himself incredible distances over more than one gap at a time. This strategic approach proved to really pay off for Musquin at this event, and put him near the top of the list in terms of motocross professionals who have mastered the straight rhythm contest environment.
2nd Place Open Class – Ryan Dungey:
Taking home second place at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm contest was motocross expert Ryan Dungey, who really did put in a valiant effort in terms of trying to put away his main rival, Marvin Musquin at the race. While Ryan was able to move efficiently across the rhythm track, he did have a handful of mistakes in terms of balancing his momentum across the ramps at times, and for this reason alone he was not able to make it into first place by the end of the competition.
Dungey is a rider with considerable experience when it comes to the rhythm track, so in this context it was something of a surprise seeing him falter at all, but obviously second place is still a promising podium finish that any professional competing at this level would be happy with. After all, with the level of domination that Marvin Musquin was able to dish out at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm competition, this is likely not a difficult 2nd place finish for Dungey to swallow, so to speak.
3rd Place Open Class – Josh Hansen:
Riding quite well but still managing to come up a bit short at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event was professional motocross rider Josh Hansen, who ended up coming in 3rd place within the Open Class segment of the competition. Josh tended to have great starts during the competition, with optimum torque and acceleration right out of the gate, but like a handful of other competitors at this event seemed to have moments of struggle while contending with the challenging nature of the rhythm style track at this event.
In spite of his powerful and well-timed starts during the different segments of the race progression in the Open Class section, Josh Hansen’s lapses in track rhythm judgment definitely were major contributing factors in terms of lagging his progress and allowing for his third place finish at the event. While third is definitely a preferable outcome and at least a podium finish, it appeared that Josh was less than satisfied with his finish at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm contest. This is certainly the type of race where extensive rhythm track conditioning is necessary going in, and the riders who weren’t as intense about this preparation seemed to have some lapses during the contest.
4th Place Open Class – Trey Canard:
Bringing up the rear in the Open Class segment of the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm professional motocross competition was racer Trey Canard. Trey didn’t lose by a massive margin by any means, but at the same time he seemed to struggle the most out of the riders competing in the Open Class segment of the contest. This is to say that Trey Canard was having the most difficulty out of the Open Class in terms of his starts out of the gate, since some of them were not optimally timed and slightly late out of the jump, which was a critically important aspect of the entire Straight Rhythm format of this racing event.
Although he was unable to earn a podium finish at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm contest, Trey Canard still managed to put on a good show for the judges and the crowd at the event, and definitely did not embarrass himself in the least. He lost by a negligible margin overall, and hung in there quite effectively considering the difficulty level of competing in the Open Class section of the event. One of the best things that Trey Canard was able to do during the event was his throttle and braking control, and his ability to effectively correct his speed after misjudging a launch or a landing while navigating the daunting rhythm sections of the track.
Lites Class Final Contest Results:
The Lites Class Finals at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm contest, while not quite as heated or intense as the Open Class, definitely saw some highly competitive moments between competitors during the Lites finals. Rider Shane McElrath was able to take home the primary victory in the Lites Class, but he had some close contenders to deal with without a doubt.
Additionally even though Jordon Smith came in third within the field of the Lites Class final, he honestly exhibited some of the most aggressive and ambitious track lines of the entire event. For the purpose of informing those motocross fans that might have missed out on the Lites Class finals at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event, a basic breakdown and overview of those finals will now be offered here.
1st Place Lites Class – Shane McElrath:
Finishing out the Lites Class finals at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event, Shane McElrath was among the most dominant riders to take to the track at the Straight Rhythm competition. From his starts out of the gate to his launch timing and landing trajectories, Shane McElrath demonstrated elite rhythm track navigation from beginning to end. It was clear to everyone watching the event that Shane was the clear winner of the Lites Class Finals, and in all honesty nobody else in the Lites Class really posed a significant threat to his 1st place win.
Some of Shane’s launches out on the rhythm track were so effective for one primary reason, which was that he tended to use a shallower launch and landing angle and this gave him the ability to maintain a lot of forward momentum through each respective rhythm launch and corresponding landing. While some other competitors would end up launching at a steeper angle, this would cost them valuable time coming up and going back down into the landing that Shane was able to cut out of his overall race time in the Lites Class finals.
2nd Place Lites Class – Mitchell Oldenburg:
Taking home the 2nd place finish at the Lites Class finals of the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm professional motocross event was elite rider Mitchell Oldenburg. Mitchell put on an impressive display of riding out on the rhythm track, but unfortunately for him and his team he was unable to seriously challenge Shane McElrath’s first place finish in the Lites Class final.
Mitchell had a couple of less than optimal starts during the event, but he more than made up for any poor starts with a near perfect rhythm and balance while navigating the track. With the morale boost garnered from his 2nd place finish in the Lites Class final, we can potentially expect to see Mitchell Oldenburg really step his game up moving into the next events.
3rd Place Lites Class – Jordon Smith:
Missing 2nd place by only a narrow margin, Jordon Smith was one of the favorites in the Lites Class competitive segment primarily for his aggressive and unrelenting riding style. Whenever he would slightly misjudge some aspect of the track he was navigating, Jordon was able to use brute force of will and his aggressive strategy to get himself back on track, even though he was only able to make 3rd place by the end of the Lites Class finals.
Jordon’s biggest strength at the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event was definitely his ability to power himself over the rhythm gaps, at times being able to clear multiple gaps at one time. As previously mentioned, the ability to clear multiple gaps at the Straight Rhythm event is one of the most powerful skills that a rider can deploy to gain an advantage over the competition, and Jordon Smith was one rider who was able to utilize that advantage at times during the Lites Class finals.
4th Place Lites Class – Josh Hill:
Bringing up the rear in the Lites Class final round of the 2016 Red Bull Straight Rhythm event was competitor Josh Hill, with Hill seemingly unable to gain any meaningful edge at any point during the Lites Class finals. Although his starts definitely weren’t terrible by any means, it was also true that Josh Hill was unable to get into any kind of steady groove during the Lites Class finals of the Straight Rhythm event. His lack of aggressive and powerful movement during the Lites Class finals was ultimately what did him in, as he ended up losing the Lites Class finals by a substantial amount with his 4th place result.