SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Eli Tomac made his professional debut memorable with a victory Saturday at the 42nd annual Hangtown Motocross Classic. The win, coupled with a third-place finish in the day's first 250cc Moto, places the heralded newcomer into the points lead of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship.
After a quick start in Moto 2, Tomac needed to only pass two riders, including GEICO Powersports Honda teammate Trey Canard, to assume the lead. He then managed to hold the spot for the remainder of the 16-lap race to earn the top spot.
"This goes beyond anything I could have hoped for," Tomac said. "We came in here not really knowing what to expect. You hope you'll match up with everyone but until you get out there in a real race you never know. To win this race, my first with this team, is really something."
Tomac nearly doubled on the day as he led Moto 1 for a few laps, but an unlikely spill in that race relegated him to third. "Rookie mistake," Tomac said. "My tire caught in a rut, washed out, and I went down. I couldn't believe I was out front. I saw (early leader Christophe) Pourcel on the ground and realized I had the lead. The best thing of all was it let me know I could ride with these guys."
For his efforts, Canard, who finished seventh in Moto 1, leaves Hangtown third in the points after the first of 12 races in the outdoor season.
"I wasn't super happy after the first Moto so to come back and redeem myself right away is very satisfying," Canard said. "Eli and I were kind of pacing each other out there (in the second Moto) and he was just on it a little more than me so my hat's off to him."
Riding a 450cc motorcycle for the first time in professional competition, team veteran Brett Metcalfe showed extremely well, earning a fourth-place and a fifth-place finish in the day's two Motos. He assumes fourth place in the season rankings.
Both races played out similarly with Metcalfe rounding the first turn in ninth place before methodically picking his way through the pack. In all, only one rider managed to get around him on the day.
"This was a good start," Metcalfe said. "To go 5-4 at Hangtown in my first race on a 450 was a good result. We leave here with a lot of knowledge of what we need to do to get on the podium every race -- we have to get out of the gate better. I think that's key with these outdoor races."
Justin Barcia finished fifth and seventh in the day's two 250cc class Motos. His fifth-place finish in Moto 1 was impressive as a pack of slower riders impeded his progress at the start. He had to fight past more than 10 competitors to reach fifth place.
Blake Wharton logged a ninth and a 25th-place result on his 250cc GEICO Powersports Honda, with a fall in the opening lap of Moto 2 hurting his chances.
"I didn't expect it," Wharton said of the fall, which occurred when he was racing in the lead pack. "It's disappointing and frustrating. At least it's early in the season so I have some time to come back."
Barcia assumes fifth place in the points. Wharton is 16th.
The series takes a weekend off before heading to Texas on June 5.