Sign of the (Lap) Times: Unadilla

Sign of the (Lap) Times Unadilla

August 16, 2016 5:40pm

After leading 30 of 30 laps on Saturday at the Unadilla National, completing his sixth 1-1 performance on the year, Ken Roczen has now led an incredible 260 laps on the season. That’s 194 more than all the other 450 riders combined! Through ten rounds of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, Roczen has led 79 percent of the laps! As long as he doesn’t lose thirteen points to Eli Tomac this weekend at Budds Creek, he will clinch his second career 450MX title.

You’ve certainly heard the incredible story of the, Red Bull and Troy Lee Designs KTM teams, and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, coming together late Friday night to repair the bikes of riders Andrew Short, Benny Bloss and Justin Brayton after their rig caught fire earlier that night. If not, check out our Unsung Hero feature, which documents the teams working together as one. Somehow, all three riders had working bikes by the following morning and were able to race Saturday. And what a race it was by rookie Benny Bloss. The 2015 Horizon Award winner is trying to run down the idle Christophe Pourcel for fifth in points, and missing Unadilla certainly would have ended those hopes. He not only raced, but ran a career-high second for a majority of the second moto before finishing fourth. He collected a career-high fourth overall on Saturday and now trails Pourcel by thirty-four with four motos remaining. Bloss will have to average just over eight points a moto over the last four to finish fifth in points.

We outlined Marvin Musquin’s success at tracks such as High Point, Washougal and Unadilla, which require more technical ability than brute force. (Jason Thomas wrote a good piece on it this week for Breakdown if you want to read more.) After a second place overall finish on Saturday, Musquin now has eight straight podium finishes (250 and 450 Class) at those three tracks:

Success for Marvin

2014 Moto Finishes Overall
High Point 5-8 7th overall
Washougal 1-1 1st overall
Unadilla 2-5 3rd overall
High Point 1-1 1st overall
Washougal 1-2 2nd overall
Unadilla 4-1 2nd overall
High Point 2-4 3rd overall
Washougal 3-3 3rd overall
Unadilla 3-2 2nd overall

Fredrik Noren, who is back with Honda HRC for the third time in as many years filling in for the injured Cole Seely, finished a season-best sixth overall on Saturday. He mentioned his European background helping at Unadilla. “I’ve always really enjoyed this track,” said the native of Sweden in a team press release. “I think it’s a very European-style track, which suits my riding. There are also a lot of fun obstacles and jumps, and I think it makes it fun for the fans and riders to have different things out there.”

A shoulder injury kept James Stewart out for a seventh time this Pro Motocross season. According to the team, Stewart “tweaked” his shoulder earlier in the week and elected to sit out Unadilla. Stewart originally injured his shoulder at the season opener at Hangtown. We’ll update his status for this weekend later in the week.

Noren is back with Honda and finished sixth overall at Unadilla.
Noren is back with Honda and finished sixth overall at Unadilla. Cudby

Yoshimura Suzuki did get Matt Bisceglia back after he missed the last three rounds due to fractured ribs and a partially collapsed lung sustained in crash in the LCQ at Southwick. Bisceglia went 9-10 for tenth overall in his return. “I think my pace was a little bit faster in both motos,” he said. “It was good. Unadilla hasn’t exactly been the best place for me in the past, so keeping in the top ten was a good accomplishment.”

Traders Racing Kawasaki moved Anthony Rodriguez to the 450 Class and Tony Archer down to the 250 Class. ARod finished 14-12 for twelfth overall, while Archer finished twenty-sixth overall in 250MX.

Remember this gnarly crash? Well, Australian Hayden Mellross has missed significant time due to injuries sustained in the crash. He returned last weekend in the 450 Class and finished a respectable seventeenth overall.

You probably remember Minnesota’s Jerry Robin best for qualifying for Loretta’s in 2013 on a 1985 Honda two-stroke. This year, a week after winning his second career title at Loretta’s in 250 All-Star A/B, Robin made his pro debut with the Blue Buffalo/Slater Skins Yamaha team at Unadilla and finished twenty-first overall. He scored his first career professional points with a nineteenth in moto two.

Lap Times

450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:14.779 2 2:20.696 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:15.161 3 2:21.624 Eli Tomac
3 4 2:16.728 2 2:24.066 Justin Barcia
4 3 2:18.843 3 2:22.564 Marvin Musquin
5 6 2:21.560 4 2:24.948 Fredrik Noren
6 8 2:21.839 2 2:26.302 Phil Nicoletti
7 5 2:21.897 6 2:24.718 Weston Peick
8 10 2:22.654 2 2:26.844 Justin Brayton
9 7 2:22.687 3 2:25.384 Benny Bloss
10 11 2:23.083 3 2:27.357 Dean Wilson

This is one of those where the lap times don't tell the story—Roczen was much more dominant that his .4 second edge in best lap time will indicate.

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:17.266 1 2:22.172 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:19.513 1 2:25.606 Marvin Musquin
3 3 2:21.396 6 2:26.042 Eli Tomac
4 4 2:21.980 3 2:26.855 Benny Bloss
5 8 2:23.438 4 2:30.435 Phil Nicoletti
6 9 2:23.591 3 2:28.897 Weston Peick
7 6 2:24.240 2 2:28.088 Fredrik Noren
8 10 2:24.742 3 2:31.077 Matt Bisceglia
9 7 2:25.030 4 2:28.876 Justin Barcia
10 11 2:25.357 3 2:31.624 Justin Brayton

This one was a little more like it....

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 4 2:17.652 1 2:23.456 Adam Cianciarulo
2 33 2:17.719 3 2:19.914 Zach Osborne
3 1 2:17.910 1 2:21.496 Cooper Webb
4 2 2:18.321 3 2:21.995 Joey Savatgy
5 5 2:18.383 4 2:23.397 Justin Hill
6 9 2:18.483 3 2:24.411 RJ Hampshire
7 6 2:18.538 4 2:23.619 Jessy Nelson
8 3 2:18.580 3 2:21.795 Aaron Plessinger
9 16 2:18.691 2 2:23.531 Arnaud Tonus
10 8 2:19.962 3 2:24.183 Mitchell Oldenburg

This has been the year of "The guy with the fastest lap time doesn't win the moto" in the 250 class. This track slowed way, way down after those early sprint laps. Cooper Webb was the strongest 250 rider at Unadilla, but even he was into the 2:25-2:27 range late in the moto, which was ten seconds off of his fastest time.

When Aaron Plessinger started laying down heaters late in the race, he logged a 2:19 on lap twelve. The next fastest rider on the track was Webb, who ran a 2:24.

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 5 2:22.082 6 2:27.616 Alex Martin
2 1 2:22.259 6 2:23.605 Cooper Webb
3 2 2:22.330 5 2:23.956 Austin Forkner
4 3 2:22.967 8 2:24.839 Aaron Plessinger
5 4 2:23.662 4 2:25.489 Justin Hill
6 12 2:24.321 2 2:31.610 Bradley Taft
7 32 2:24.785 2 2:32.084 Joey Savatgy
8 6 2:25.428 7 2:28.444 RJ Hampshire
9 8 2:25.543 4 2:29.028 Martin Davalos
10 7 2:26.080 4 2:28.512 Jordon Smith

Alex Martin! Yet another race where the lap times don't indicate who actually won the race. 

More news and notes

The GEICO Honda team was expecting the pro debut of AMA Horizon Award winner Chase Sexton, but he was a late scratch after injuring his knee Tuesday before Unadilla. But the riders who did compete—RJ Hampshire, Tristan Charboneau and Jordon Smith—definitely saw progress compared to previous races. Hampshire’s fifth overall was his best of the season, Charboneau took ninth after finishing twenty-second at Millville and eighteenth at Washougal (in his return from a broken collarbone) and Smith was just happy to be back racing after missing three rounds with a shoulder injury (and he took seventh in moto two).

“It was a better weekend all around for myself and the team,” said Hampshire in a team statement. “We put in a lot of work over the break to get our bike back where it needs to be. Huge changes on the bike that paid off. A small tip over late in the first moto kept me out of the top five, but I was able to charge through the pack in the second moto to end the day with a fifth overall. That’s my first top five of the outdoor season, really happy with all the changes we made. I'm really looking forward to these last two rounds now!”

Hampshire turned things around at Unadilla.
Hampshire turned things around at Unadilla. Cudby

Rookie Tristan Charboneau didn’t arrive to his hotel Friday night until 11 p.m. due to travel issues. He had a quick turnaround, as he had to back at the track at 5 a.m. Despite little sleep, Charboneau finished ninth overall on Saturday. “Race one, I got a terrible jump off the gate, came around way back, used a lot of energy charging through the pack and then they threw the red flag out for a restart. So we went back to the gate and put gas back in the bike. The good thing is, I pulled a nice top ten start, held it there through the moto and came out tenth in moto one.” The rookie finished tenth in the second moto as well.

Jordon Smith looked good in his return. Smith had a mechanical issue in the first moto, but finished a strong seventh in moto two. “The whole GEICO Honda crew did a great job of getting it where I wanted for the motos and I felt good. Unfortunately, we had a little electrical issue in the first moto and I had to pull off on the first lap,” he said in a team statement. “The crew worked hard to figure out the problem and get me back out there for moto two, but I got a bad start since I was all the way on the outside of the gate. I made quite a few passes on the opening lap and tried to be smooth and consistent throughout the race. The track was brutal and it was really hot so there were lots of guys falling and fading back so I just tried to stay steady. I was able to make it all the way back to seventh place before the red flag came out and they ended the race. I was pretty happy with that finish.”

Austin Forkner’s podium was good for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, but it was a disaster of a day for the team’s other riders. Adam Cianciarulo led for a bit in moto one and Joey Savatgy held on for a strong second there, but both had to pull out of moto two due to physical illness. Even worse was Arnaud Tonus, who told us he “went too deep” in moto one, and had to get an IV after the moto. The rules say that after an IV a rider is not allowed to compete, so Tonus’ day was done also.

It's been a rough few rounds for Zach Osborne.
It's been a rough few rounds for Zach Osborne. Cudby

How quickly have things changed over the last three rounds for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne? Consider this, he entered Spring Creek (Round 8) trailing Alex Martin for fourth in points by fifteen and was fifteen and thirty-one points clear of Austin Forkner and Aaron Plessinger. Since that time, he’s suffered four mechanicals. At Unadilla, Osborne suffered his third mechanical in the last three rounds and had to pull out of moto two early. Osborne has fallen to seventh in points and is eighty-eight behind Martin.

Tough three rounds

Rider Points Entering Spring Creek Points After Unadilla
Alex Martin 232 341
Austin Forkner 217 293
Aaron Plessinger 202 285
Zach Osborne 186 253

What a comeback! Since returning from a back injury at Washougal, Justin Hill has three top five finishes in four motos. The Oregon native was in contention for an overall podium behind 5-4 scores, and held the fastest qualifying time until late in a session when a few others logged heaters on the final lap. He also finished two points behind Austin Forkner for third overall. “It’s great to come back and feel good, racing at the front,” said Hill in a team statement. “I am really looking forward to keeping this up and finishing strong the next two rounds.” River Yamaha’s Luke Renzland had a pretty crazy weekend. The New Jersey native explained on his Instagram:

Unadilla '16 was a rough one all around.. The track was manly, basically one long rut from start to finish. The heat and humidity were tough, and on top of it all I think I got sick from carbon monoxide.. I stayed in my motor home at the track and all afternoon on Friday there was a buzzer going off.. It took us a while to figure it out but we finally realized it was the carbon monoxide alarm. We tried opening windows and fans but nothing stopped the alarm all night. I woke up Saturday morning feeling tired and had a gnarly headache, and all day I felt run down and sluggish. I had no fight in either moto and felt basically the most out of shape I have ever been. At the end of the day we kinda put two and two together and realized maybe 14 hours of carbon monoxide exposure could have something to do with it glad to come out of the day safe with a 12-13 and hoping to feel a bit more spunky this weekend and ride with some energy! Budds creek here we come

Renzland had new company under the team tent, as Bradley Taft made his pro debut with team (meanwhile Colt Nichols was out with a knee injury). Taft had some crashes (as expected from a rookie), but finished eighteenth overall. “Learned a lot this weekend,” he wrote on Instagram. “Track was insane. Just need to clean up mistakes. Crashed twice in both motos.”

Martin Davalos was off the bike for much of the two-week break as he dealt with a shoulder injury sustained in a bad crash at Washgoual. He was able to race Saturday and finished eighth overall. “It’s been a challenge,” he said in a statement. “I’m just glad I was safe after Washougal and am happy I was able to put in two solid motos. The strength in my shoulder just isn’t where it should be. I was on the ground quite a bit but I was able to fight back and give it my best. My shoulder is ok, just really sore. I look forward to more therapy. It’s just going to be a matter of time to get everything back to 100%. I need to get my strength back in order to hold on to the bike. The track here was brutal – really rutted – which made it more challenging for me. I’m really happy that I walked out of here safe.”