The Moment: Chase Pack

The Moment: Chase Pack

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The 250 Class is absolutely loaded with talent and speed, but two riders, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac, have proven a step above so far. They’re the only two carrying moto victories, and no else has yet proven able to run them down if they’re out front.

But right behind them comes that super-tight pack, and if either gets swallowed up into it, it’s not easy to get out. Tomac was mired in it during the first moto, part of an outstanding duel between, let’s see if we can count them all: Blake Baggett, Jason Anderson, Zach Osborne, Cooper Webb, Jeremy Martin, Joey Savatgy and Cole Seely. Probably a few others. Tomac got to fourth but then crashed, forcing him into a frantic late-race charge to get into fourth again. He managed to pull it off.

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Tomac had problems in the first moto.
Simon Cudby photo

Roczen had blasted through that pack early in the first moto, and he was trying to do it again in moto two before a crash thwarted his progress. Then he found that chase pack tough to deal with, plus, in a one-in-a-million stroke of bad luck, his falling KTM actually unbuckled his boot as he crashed. Ken said he had no stablity in his foot, and he's never ridden with unbuckled boots before. Undeterred, he had to go through Justin Hill, Justin Bogle, Zach Osborne and Blake Baggett, and while he did get by them all at one point, another mistake proved too tough to overcome, with Baggett taking advantage to finish third. Roczen, like Tomac in the first moto, was fourth.

Roczen and Tomac have the speed, but the weekend was a stark reminder of how quickly fortunes can change in racing. Remember, Ryan Villopoto’s 450 performance, which was darned similar to Roczen’s. He won moto one but had two big mistakes in moto two and also ended up fourth. He had some other close calls on Saturday (did you see the Racer X Motocross Show? There’s slo-mo footage of Villopoto bending physics to his will to prevent a frightening crash on a big jump in the first moto). Even a rider who dominated the opening two rounds carries no guarantees of future success. Remember, James Stewart went 4-0 last year….

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Roczen had to deal with an unbuckled boot in the second moto.
Simon Cudby photo

You can make an easy argument that Roczen, Tomac and Villopoto have shown a level of speed their competition hasn’t quite been able to match yet, but it’s telling that neither of the three came up with overall wins for the weekend. The ever-consistent Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin may sometimes get criticized for not being all-out aggressive enough, but they’re usually in the right place at the right time to take advantage of mistakes. On Saturday, Dungey and Musquin showed sometimes this strategy works best.

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