Insight: Eli Tomac

Insight: Eli Tomac

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GECIO Honda’s Eli Tomac didn’t take the overall win at the Red Bull Budds Creek National, but he did win the second moto via an incredible second-moto charge from way, way back to score a win by some ten seconds. It was simply amazing!

Overall winner Blake Baggett skipped post-race interviews due to a stomach ache, so we’ll catch up with him later in the week. Meanwhile, here’s Eli—and note his biggest point: with the short turnaround between the motos right now, things are much different in the two races.

Racer X: Take us through the motos.
Eli Tomac: Start at the first one wasn’t good at all. Went off the start, got tangled… I forget who was next to me, but it was on the left side. Almost crashed. It was kind of crazy. So it put me way back. I was just fighting my way back through the pack there in the first moto. I don’t know if I was riding a little bit tight, I just couldn’t get around guys where I wanted to. And then [in the first moto] the guys have more energy, too. So everyone’s more fresh, everyone’s going harder and harder and harder. I just fought, did what I had to do to get to fifth. So second moto came around, tangled bars actually with my teammate Zach [Osborne] off the start again. I was like in last and then snuck around the inside. I don’t remember where I was; just outside of the top ten? And I had some better lines that time. On that off-camber right-hander I was able to go outside and make a pass there. Almost did all my passes right there in that corner, so that was my spot there in that moto. And I just had the flow going. I think at this point right now I just need to fix my first motos if I want to win this championship.

The second moto comes up so quick. That seems to really play into your conditioning levels.
I think I am in really good shape for the second motos, but the first motos for me I just need to be the one that’s getting the better starts and making the passes earlier, too. But like I said before, everyone is more fresh; it’s tougher to do that. The first motos are disappointing for me this year.

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Eli Tomac stormed back in the second moto to pass Durham (right) and Baggett (lower right).
Simon Cudby photo

The second moto obviously you just put the hammer down. How did you suddenly get that burst?
I don’t really know. Once you get the flow it’s just picking all the lines. That right hand bottom of the off-camber was my spot on the track. It’s just when you’re in the zone, you’re in the zone.

It seemed like Blake Baggett got caught behind Durham and sort of got stuck at his pace, and then you got on him and it seemed like you could take advantage of that because you were coming at a different speed. How important was that to make that pass quickly when you got there and not end up in the same position as him?
That’s kind of what happened to me in the first moto, getting stuck in guys’ paces. And then once I caught Blake there I did try to make it past as fast as I could. You want to get around the guys as fast as you can but I was able to make it pretty soon once I got to him. It was good.

You had a pretty big comeback at High Point last year in the second moto, but was this your best yet? You were 13th like 15 minutes in or something, and you won by a big margin. Is this your best moto ever?
I don’t know if it was the best moto ever just because the start was so bad. Like I said before, the other guys have way more energy the first moto right now. I didn’t really change a whole lot, but I did go faster lap time-wise, but I’ve literally changed like once clicker in-between motos too, so it wasn’t like I made a massive bike change.

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Tomac celebrates his second moto win at Budds Creek.
Simon Cudby photo

By the mechanics area, that rut at the bottom of the hill, I was watching you jump into it and stand up and rail that thing. Why stand up?
Well, right before that, the mechanics, if you went fast enough off that single you could jump over the braking bump. So I was basically turning the two braking bumps into a double. The rut was so deep I was able to stand. It’s just the way if you’re off balance or not. Sometimes you stand, sometimes you sit.

It’s a little early, but Motocross des Nations is already starting to build. Have you thought about that? Potentially racing for Team USA?
It would be awesome. I have been thinking about that. They obviously take the top American guys, so if I do get to go it’s going to be a good time. I think we’re going to Germany so it’s somewhere different. It would be cool to represent my country if I do make the team. It will be a good time. I’m ready.

What are your plans heading into the big sandbox next week for its final stop on the tour—unless something drastic happens? And the WMX will be back so there’s going to be a much bigger gap in-between when you ride again.
Yeah, Southwick, it is kind of a bummer that place is leaving the series. It is actually probably my favorite track to ride. I really love the sand. My track at home is mostly sand so I get along with it.

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