By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt
RedBud is typically hot, humid, stick and just down right hot. Today, it t’was not. Temperatures never left the 80s, and a cool breeze swirled throughout the day. Through six rounds, weather has played little factor. Depending on whom you ask, riders either like it or hate it—they want it hot to separate the field.
Red Bull KTM’s Ken Roczen has extended his lead to twenty-four points over Ryan Dungey thanks to a dominating 1-1 performance Saturday. Roczen has now won three straight motos, and is slowly becoming the title favorite.
Not a good day for Ryan Dungey, and he admitted it himself post-race. “I don’t know what to say I just had a really off day, I wasn’t hitting my lines and stuff. It’s important we start picking stuff up, we’re halfway now. But I’m not really worried about that (points) as much as just trying to get back up on top and get some wins. I can’t be too bummed because I feel like I had an angel with me, I cased LaRocco’s Leap in the first moto and blew out six or seven spokes in my front wheel. I was lucky to hold on.”
LaRocco’s Leap was exceptionally tough this year, 250 riders basically had no shot at jumping it (sans for Christophe Pourcel making it over on the final lap of the last lap of practice) and even the 450 guys couldn’t get it perfectly every time. The corner before it was shortened up, so riders couldn’t get the same run as in the past, and then the main race line ended up on the inside, which gave everyone even less of a shot at making it.
GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac has announced himself in a hurry through two career 450MX races. A week ago at Muddy Creek, his 450MX debut, Tomac wasn’t able to withstand the long motos and hold onto Dungey and Roczen. Well, it took only a week and Tomac was right there for the majority of the day—and even passed Dungey for third, which turned into second, in Moto2. He would finish second overall on the day. Look out, Tomac Attack is coming.
Jeremy Martin bounced back big time after two off-weekends, or, at least off-weekends compared to his absolute dominance of the first five motos of the season. “I overslept and took a little nap and missed the race last week,” he joked in the post-race press conference. Last week he was trapped behind a first turn crash and a bad start. “It sucks, I’m not going to lie, one you get that taste of winning, and then you’re down in turn one and you’re like “Let’s see what we can do.”’ Martin was on the gas immediately at RedBud, looking hyper aggressive early and pressuring early leader Christophe Pourcel. Once he got by he opened up a small gap, and Blake Baggett made a late run at him but came up short. In moto two, Martin was locked in a big battle for the lead with Justin Bogle when Cooper Webb snuck past. Bogle crashed, which gave Webb the lead. Martin could have cruised in second for the overall win, but he kept Webb honest all the way to the last lap—with 1-2 scores more than enough for his third win of the season.
Webb came together with Pourcel on a jump in moto one and they both went down. He fought back for 14th and then rode with great determination in moto two. “I was hurting but I had to get going,” he told us post race. “After last week, it’s definitely more chill leading these things. I got jacked up by some lappers so Jeremy [Martin] made it interesting on the last lap.” After the race, on the NBCSN TV broadcast, Webb had the quote of the year regarding the relationship with his teammate Martin: “I won’t be taking him out to dinner but I’ll shake his hand.”
Justin Bogle definitely had one of those “results don’t show how he rode” days, leading a ton of laps only to crash in both motos and finish 5 with 12 scores. He had Martin and Webb on him in moto two before he crashed. “Bogle was definitely determined to stay in front of me,” explained Martin, diplomatically.
“I was definitely going for the moto win,” said Bogle. “Lost some points today, but I can’t be too bummed on it, I’m getting closer and closer. I keep making my bike stiffer. My bike has never been this stiff before—and I think that’s a good thing because it has to mean I’m going faster.”
Martin might have won but Marvin Musquin seemed to be the happiest of any of the podium finishers, as this was his first trip to the box all year. Musquin says his knee—which has gone through two ACL reconstructions—still has pain, and then last week he tweaked his ankle at Muddy Creek. Then in moto one he somehow got his own leg caught between the swingarm and tire on his bike, which made the ankle worse. “I thought I was going to be stuck there on that jump all moto,” he said. “Luckily someone helped me. I hurt my ankle late in the moto last week and it was that ankle again—but I’m used to some tough pain and I have to deal with it.” Musquin still salvaged fourth in that race and then took third in moto two.
Jason Anderson made it two KTMs on the 250MX podium with a solid day. Anderson’s still not entirely sure why his motocross campaign hasn’t matched his supercross season, and he’s especially bummed on his starts, which haven’t been as good as they were indoors.
Trey Canard rode very well on his Honda Muscle Milk ride, even though he ended up short of the 450 podium thanks to two crashes. Canard said last week’s race brought out the worst of his bike, and the team made big changes this week, which made a big difference.
Privateer Fredrik Noren made his debut for Honda Muscle Milk. Noren went down in Moto1 and came from outside the top 30 to capture 17th. In Moto2, Noren started fifth—he hadn’t done any starts on the Honda prior to RedBud—and finished tenth. A solid day for the Cinderella story, after riding the Honda just once before Saturday. Noren will head to California this week to begin testing.
Josh Grant’s 6-6 day for sixth overall doesn’t seem flashy on paper, but he rode magnificent. After colliding with James Stewart early in Moto1, Grant was able to rebound and secure sixth late in the moto.
Speaking of Stewart, crashes would spell his demise for the second straight week. We mentioned the Grant collision above, which knocked Stewart out early in Moto1 with bike problems. In Moto2, Stewart went down off the start, was dead last and could only manage to recover for a 12th.
Scary moment for Malcolm Stewart at the end of Moto2, when he went down hard late in the race and appeared to be knocked a little silly. Stewart did eventually get up and leave the track. We will have an update this week on his status going forward.
Andrew Short just doing Andrew Short again. The ageless wonder had a second consecutive top five outing, going 5-5 for fifth overall.
Blake Baggett was sizzling coming into RedBud, having won four of the last five motos. He cooled off at RedBud. A late charge in Moto1—shocker, right?—allowed Baggett a chance at the overall. But starts were his undoing in Moto2. A horrid start left Baggett outside the top ten. Again, he made a furious charge, and actually had a chance to salvage third. Two small mistakes, which lead to two crashes, left Baggett grasping for seventh. Baggett now trails Martin by twenty-eight points.
It was a big day for the elder Martin as well. Alex went 6-9 for eighth overall. We assume he does not want to retire after this superb ride.
Dean Wilson looked a lot more like Dean Wilson in his second race back. A fifth in Moto2 helped the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit rider to a sixth overall.