After a week off in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships, the title hunt in the 250 and 450MX classes picked right back up in the woods of Tennessee. Or more specifically, Muddy Creek Raceway, which was back for its second year at hosting a national event.
We got lucky with the weather as rain storms danced around the facility all day but except for a little bit in one moto and then after the race was done, the rain stayed away.
Red Bull KTM’s Kenny Roczen was a couple of small tip-overs away from once again sweeping the 450MX motos. As it was, Roczen’s 2-1 finishes on the day were enough to take the overall win away from his teammate Ryan Dungey who went 1-2. In the first moto Dungey snuck by Roczen while he was on the ground and passed early leader GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac to ride a terrific race to take the win. In the second moto Roczen wasn’t waiting around and passed Dungey on lap one. Dungey shadowed him for most of the 30-minute plus 2 lap moto, but couldn’t quite get close enough to make a pass attempt. After James Stewart and Trey Canard put a strong challenge too them at the last race at High Point, the KTM “kids” were far and away the best riders on the day once again.
With the tie in points Roczen remains 16 points up on Dungey with seven rounds to go. There really isn’t that much to separate the two teammates, who seem able to get to the front no matter what happens in the moto. This will make it that much tougher for them to make up ground on each other.
With his positive WADA test swirling around him one would look at the results of Yoshimura Suzuki’s James Stewart and think that perhaps that thought was getting to him. But make no mistake about it, Stewart’s 5-11 scores were actually pretty good. The #7 found himself down in the first turn in BOTH motos and had to come from last. In the second moto he was shredding through the pack and probably would’ve gotten another fifth if he hadn’t fallen. Stewart was very good on this day but just couldn’t get through the first turn upright.
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac missed the first four races recovering from injury but made it back for round five this weekend. And what a return it was. The #3 Honda rider holeshot and led about half the first 450MX moto before settling for third. He admitted he maybe sprinted too hard at the beginning and got tight in the second half of the race. In the second moto he also gated well but couldn’t stay with the KTM guys. Nevertheless, a 3-3 day for Tomac was very positive and something he can build on.
In the 250MX class it was Yamalube Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb, on a track he’s spun a ton of laps on, taking his first ever career moto win and also his first ever overall on the day. In an incredible first moto, Webb came from about sixth, blazed through the field and passed Christophe Pourcel for the lead. He led all the way to the final turn, when Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett closed in and made a pass on the outside of the final turn, stealing the win by less than a tenth of a second. It’s probably as close to a photo finish as we’ve ever seen in a 30 minute + 2 lap moto.
Webb was determined to right the wrong on moto two and once again got into the lead, and once again dealt with heavy pressure from Baggett. This time Baggett wasn’t quite as close and then the Kawasaki man crashed with two laps to go, and Webb was free for fist pumps on the final lap. He now has his first-ever pro overall win, and also sits second in the points, just eight behind his teammate Jeremy Martin.
Baggett, coming off a 1-1 performance at the last race, was very fast at Muddy Creek as he came from around fifth or so to get Baggett at the finish of moto one. At that point Baggett had won four motos in a row. In the second moto he again caught Webb and was all over him when he went down in a rutty section. This caused third place GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle to pile into him. And then Valli Yamaha’s Christophe Pourcel went down when he hit those two. Bogle was the most fortunate as he ended up second but Baggett was very, very fast on this day.
With Martin’s first turn crash in the first moto and his sixth in the second moto, Baggett made up 21 points in the title fight and now sits 17 back of Martin and 9 back of Webb. There’s no doubt the former 250MX national champion is on a roll here lately.
Monster Pro Circuit’s Dean Wilson made his return to the 250MX class after suffering an injury at round one and his fantastic luck struck again as he went down in the first turn in moto 1. This left him fighting from the back to a 14th. In the second moto he diced with Martin for most of the moto and eventually settled for a 7th.
Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin had a solid day in going 5-5 and he crashed in the first moto while up there and in the second moto he lost the lead pack. Musquin qualified very well and won on this track last year.
RCH Suzuki’s Weston Peick is following a trend of one good moto/one so-so moto and this week at Muddy Creek his second moto was terrific as he ripped through the pack to get a strong fifth place. It gave him sixth overall on the day, right behind Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard who had his normal good day and BTOSports.com KTM’s Andrew Short who quietly just did what Andrew Short does.
The first turn is a hairpin left hand turn and in three out of the four motos there were crashes. James Stewart (as mentioned), Malcolm Stewart, Chad Reed, Josh Grant, Dean Wilson, Jeremy Martin, Jason Anderson and a ton of others all went down at one point or another.
Pro Circuit’s Justin Hill had a good first moto going when he developed a wrist problem and couldn’t start the second moto. GEICO Honda’s Zach Bell hurt his shoulder in moto one but lined up for moto two.
JGR Yamaha’s Justin Brayton made his outdoor debut and ran pretty decent in both motos for his first race back. He appeared a bit winded in the second moto but his 8-15 scores are something to build on.