Going into the opener for Lucas Oil Pro Motocross at Hangtown, the 250 Class could be measured this way: there’s Jeremy Martin, and everyone else.
Not only is Martin the only rider in the class with a previous 250MX Championship (two, in fact), but he has more overall wins than the rest of the class combined. Same stat holds true for moto wins. J-Mart has won 23 career motos. The second-highest number for riders in the class? Joey Savatgy, with five.
Yet, this season wasn’t a guaranteed success. Martin has switched to GEICO Honda after spending his entire pro career (and thus winning all those races, motos, and titles) with Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha. While he debuted on the Honda with a solid podium at the Glen Helen USGP last year, his Monster Energy Supercross season was a disaster. He was also dealing with a back injury from a crash back in March, so he missed some pre-season prep. Overall, going into the race, even Martin wasn’t in a position to boast. When I saw him Saturday morning, he told me he knew he wouldn’t be the fastest guy every weekend. He just wanted to use his fitness, his toughness, and his experience to hang in there every week and score points.
As for his new bike, he admitted it has been a struggle at times, as he tried to set his Honda up like a Yamaha, which didn’t work. Things are coming around, though. As mentioned, he suffered a back injury in a big crash not long after his runner-up finish on a 450 at Daytona. For a while, his back was so sore he couldn’t even sit down, neither on the couch nor on a motorcycle—but the determined man still logged his motos, standing up.
Then came Hangtown, and more problems. While battling around sixth place in the first moto-and not moving forward with his usual vigor, his Honda cut out and died. The team told us later that they’ve had a few electrical issues during testing on some other bikes, but this was the first time this issue happened to Jeremy. It put him in a 25-point hole already.
“Hate to use up our one mulligan so early in the season,” said team technical director Christian Kibby.
So while it was only the second moto of the season, much hung in the balance for Jeremy Martin in moto two. Did he still have his old punch?
Indeed. With the 35th gate pick, Martin started around 15th, and rounded lap one in ninth. Then he got to business, and unlike the first moto, he was able to move forward quite effectively. He charged and charged, passing his brother Alex for third, and then bearing down on Austin Forkner for second, coming up just short of the spot.
“I [still] have to get around those guys faster,” he said. “I sat behind Austin for way too long.”
By the second motos, the track was super rough and most riders called it one-lined. Martin made new lines to cope.
“I had to go wide in some spots on the track, and try taking new lines,” he said. “I was sick of getting roosted!”
With 11th overall and already facing a 30-point deficit to Zach Osborne, Martin faces a steep climb to get his third championship in four years. No need to panic though—through team switches, injuries, bike problems, and other ailments, Martin’s second moto charge proves one thing has not changed: he’s still one driven and determined individual. That alone will be enough to keep his hopes alive.
“It’s unfortunate we had a rough first round, but it’s only two of 24 motos,” he said. “We still have a lot of racing left.”