There was a lot of hype for GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac when it was announced that he was doing four races on a factory Honda in the 450SX class. Tomac’s going to be a full-time 450 guy next year and he’s generally looked upon as being a title contender for the next decade in the big bike class. Tomac himself has been eagerly looking forward to getting into the mix with the big boys, and there’s nothing like dipping your toe in first before diving in.
Only one problem with this plan: Tomac’s first two races in the class haven’t met the hype that was generated. The first week, he admitted that the bigger bike and the five more laps (compared to a 250SX main) caught up to him, but he still moved up from a bad start. St. Louis didn’t go that well, but he was sick during the week. He has been great in 450 practice, though. He’s shown the speed is there and that’s the one thing you can’t teach. But he wasn’t able to deliver in the races, which speaks to just how fast and strong and seasoned the 450 pack really is. Tomac even admitted that he might just cut off his four-race stint a little early, because he was so frustrated.
Tomac had a career night in the 450 class on Saturday.
Simon Cudby photo
But Daytona was a bit of a coming out party for the #17. Starting outside the top ten, Tomac steadily worked his way through the field to the point that with two laps remaining, he was knocking on the door for third. He eventually spun out, but a fourth is not too shabby. On a brutal, streets-of-Baghdad-bombed out track, the kid did well. One things for sure, with one race left in this moonlighting 450 deal, his starts have got to get better.
It was a great ride and perhaps a few people that jumped off the Tomac bandwagon after his first two races are back on. Not that Tomac cares all that much—he’s got much bigger things on his mind. To the surprise of many, a deal to race the 450 for GEICO Honda next year (and well beyond) hasn’t been signed and sealed yet. After the race Eli admitted that he’s talking to a few teams and rumors have it that a RCH Suzuki test is coming up real soon. Then there’s the Kawasaki rumor…
So it’s clear now that Tomac is going to have his choice of where he wants to begin his 450 career and I’m sure he’s breathing a bit easier after a great Daytona ride. He’ll race Indy and then he’s going to get busy trying to defend his 250SX West Region title. Later, if my sources are correct, the 450MX series awaits. At Daytona, the kid proved he’s ready.