After a gnarly Unadilla that was super weird for a variety of reasons, Round 11 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship headed to Budds Creek in Mechanicsville, Maryland. The track at Budds is pretty sweet and there wasn’t any chance of rain, both welcomed sights for some riders, who a week after Unadilla were still talking about how tough the track was with the ruts and soft dirt. So it was onto Budds where riders had to battle the heat and humidity.
Generally speaking, Budds Creek is a nice race. The track is always prepped pretty well and this year I heard that they took the dirt from the bottom of some ponds (which was probably originally on the track) and put it on the track. There were some sandy corners out there like I’ve never seen before. Sometimes the track gets watered too much, ripped too deep and line selection becomes tricky, but this year it was pretty hard right from the start and that allowed the riders to use the full width of the track. And the sand corners, well that spiced some things up. Budds is a good track, no doubt about it.
But this start—it’s got to go, man. It was put in for the 2007 Motocross of Nations and for some reason, the GP dudes love starts where the fastest qualifiers grab the inside gate. Budds isn’t quite like that but with a hairpin first turn the inside gates are a huge advantage. “But Matthes,” you’ll say “shouldn’t the fast guys in the qualifier get an advantage off the start?” I say, yes they should but not to the extent that Budds gives them. You’re doomed if you’re on the outside of the gate. It looks to me like the gate has been moved a bit diagonally so that the outside gates are a little closer to the first turn but if so, it’s not much and not enough. I’d like to see the corner changed, the gate changed—something—to help out the guys on the outside a little bit.
It’s funny that Zach Osborne won his first career race in the U.S. at Budds Creek with 4-1 scores. Wacko Zacho talked about his failure at that very race back in 2006. Osborne had “Zach Attack” on his pants that day, and David Pingree said it should’ve been “Snack Pack” because he faded. Osborne wasn’t happy about that, and back then said he played a flag football game with Ping around this time and wanted to break his leg. We all had a good laugh. The serious part was when Osborne went to Europe after riding for KTM and then Yamaha of Troy, I wasn’t sure that, like Sean Hamblin, Scott Sheak and so many others, it wouldn’t be the last stop for him before having to get a real job.
But something happened. Osborne buckled down, worked hard and even won a GP in Turkey! Then he showed up at supercross on his Euro bike and scored some podiums. If he had not pushed Steve Dixon, his Euro team owner, to support him at some West Region SX races I don’t know if Osborne would’ve ever come back to America. But he did and he caught the eye of GEICO Honda, which gave him a deal to come back here. Since he’s returned there have been plenty of podiums but not many victories as he’s usually been “that guy” behind the superstars like Wilson, Tomac Roczen, Baggett, J-Mart, Musquin, Webb and the rest.
So for Zach to win at Budds with two great rides (his first moto was great as well, coming from outside the top ten to fourth) was ironic for sure. It’s been an up and down season for him. He did get his first career moto win at High Point but he’s had a bunch of mechanicals as well. With Osborne, it’s never been really easy. He’s fast but his bike breaks. He’s fastest qualifier but then gets terrible starts. He gets a good start and he falls. The speed and endurance has been there for a while but putting the whole thing together? Not so much.
I texted back and forth with Osborne last week and he was not happy with this recent run of bike problems. Seems like there were some serious meetings between him and team owner Bobby Hewitt to try and get to the bottom of things. Just exchanging some texts with him, I could sense the frustration. As a former mechanic, I’ve been there and Osborne’s mechanic Dave Feeney is an experienced guy that’s been around a long time—he knows what’s up. Hewitt runs a team that’s won 250SX titles, 450SX races and they know how to do things. Sometimes on teams, shit happens. It’s not one person’s fault. So going from perhaps a new “since he came back to the USA” career low for the #16 to a career high in seven days is remarkable.
What’s also remarkable is Cooper Webb winning the 250MX title at Budds. And he did it the hard way, with two crashes on the opening lap of moto one and a charge up from outside the top twenty in moto two. Funny how that works, huh? What was supposed to be an easy walk in the park for Webb (he had an 81 point lead coming in!) turned into a whole lot of serious work! He made it happen with two great rides from the back and it’s funny how his worst national since Thunder Valley was also the day when he won the biggest title of his career.
Webb’s been in SoCal this week riding a 450 for MXdN testing but he mentioned there’s a chance he races it this weekend in Indiana. To me, since he has to go back to the 250 for the Charlotte USGP next week, I’d just keep him on the 250. But it would be WAY cool to see him ride a 450 in Indiana, methinks.
Sixteen, 52, 16 and 20: those are the amount of seconds that Ken Roczen has won the last four motos by. And I can tell you that those 16’s could’ve been much higher had he not cruised near the end of the first motos to most likely save himself for the second ones. Roczen wrapped up his second 450MX title in style with another pair of 1-1 rides that looked easy—although I’m sure they weren’t. Amazing what the German did this summer in dispatching with relative ease Eli Tomac, Ryan Dungey, Trey Canard and Jason Anderson, to name a few. His season reminds me so much of ones that Ryan Dungey, James Stewart and Ricky Carmichael have logged before. These dudes were all great for sure but when you’re winning all the time by the end of the season you’re just on another level with starts and endurance. It’s like the other riders get weaker with self-defeat and you get stronger. You ever notice that? When a dude is winning all the time, the end of seasons get easier. The two-week break after Washougal, where Tomac hunted Roczen down and won the second moto (and overall), came at a perfect time for #94. He’s been on fire since that break.
So Roczen wins the title, RCH wins its first professional title as a team and now they’re both going separate ways (like Steve Perry with Journey!) as Roczen heads to Honda and RCH heads to…well, I don’t really know. It’s interesting that Roczen will be with his third OEM in six years of racing here in the U.S. You just don’t see elite talent like that leave companies as much as Kenny. It’s not like these companies don’t like working with Ken. I think everyone has thrown serious money at him and he’s just opted for the BBD (Bigger, Better, Deal) each time. I heard last week that Motorcycle Superstore will be the official Suzuki 250 team for 2017, RCH will be the official yellow 450 team and the Yoshimura guys are folding up racing tent and just offering technical support to both teams. But don’t stamp this team stuff cause I can’t confirm it. Stamp the Roczen to Honda stuff, though.
Let’s take a look at the results, shall we?
1 16 Zachary Osborne Abingdon, VA Husqvarna FC250 4 1- I’ve always given Osborne crap about his off-road racing because he’s got plenty of time to do it when he retires from motocross. He shouldn’t be doing these long-ass races in Africa or wherever when he’s got a goal to race and win SX and MX over here. He hasn’t done any of that stuff for a while and now he wins. Coincidence? Probably, but I don’t care, I’m going with my theory.
2 26 Alex Martin Millville, MN Yamaha YZ 250F 1 4- Remember Budds was where A-Mart won his first ever moto last year in the mud? He did it again this year but way more legit with perfect track conditions. And he looked primed to get the overall, except at some point in the second moto Webb got by him and that is what cost Alex the overall. He couldn’t get Webb back as those two sliced and diced through the pack. In the end he tied Wacko but the only guy to pass him in the moto cost him the overall.
3 214 Austin Forkner Richards, MO Kawasaki KX 250F 5 2- Yup, just another podium for the rookie, his third straight at that. Forkner, Cianciarulo, Justin Hill and Savatgy are going to make for one VERY strong team for Pro Circuit in 2017, yeah?
4 44 Adam Cianciarulo Port Orange, FL Kawasaki KX 250F 2 5- If AC had some more fitness, he wins this overall with ease with 2-2 scores. There, maybe that will keep the Tweets from people that say “You are too easy on Adam because he’s your buddy, Matthes” at bay for a week. I like Adam, he bought me Del Taco a little while ago, so sue me.
5 17 Cooper Webb Newport, NC Yamaha YZ 250F 6 3- Webb’s buddy Seth Rarick is a friend of mine from back when he raced and I have to maybe start listening to Rarick more. Sethro told me A-Mart was going to be great this summer (despite Alex’s supercross season sucking) and he told me Webb’s wrist is going to hold him back early and then get better and that Webb’s determined to win the one 250 title he doesn’t have. Hey Rarick, who you got winning the Super Bowl next year?
6 23 Aaron Plessinger Hamilton, OH Yamaha YZ 250F 8 6- One week after Plessinger was unbelievable at Unadilla, and I wrote that sometimes he goes super fast and other times he’s not that noticeable, he pulls a “not that noticeable” at Budds. If Plessinger shows the speed he showed at Unadilla more consistently in 2017, it’s over for everyone else. “They” used to say that about Robbie Reynard also and it never happened.
7 36 Justin Hill Yoncalla, OR KTM 250 SX-F FE 10 7- Hill was WAY back in both motos. Like ridiculously far back so these finishes were a ton of work for him and this just in, Budds is not an easy track to pass on. Kudos to Hill for these two motos. And really the four before that!
8 42 Mitchell Oldenburg Alvord, TX KTM 250 SX-F FE 11 10- You go 11-10 for eighth overall? Nice work for sure.
9 37 Joseph Savatgy Thomasville, GA Kawasaki KX 250F 3 34- Budds Creek was just like Unadilla for Savatgy. He put in one strong moto and then was forced out of the second when, I imagine, his “issues” got to be too much for him. Just think about what that second moto crash at RedBud did to his season. His outdoor season graph looks like some of my stock market purchases.
10 35 Chris Alldredge Powell Butte, OR Kawasaki KX250F 12 11- Hey! Look who was back this week! Chris was hurt badly in Vegas SX and it was good to see him back. Plus, these finishes, in this weather, are pretty good, right?
11 66 Arnaud Tonus Switzerland Kawasaki KX 250F 7 17- We all know how Mitch Payton buys his team pizza on Mondays after the team wins, right? Well, after Unadilla, when three of his guys pulled off and this week, where Tonus faded badly Savatgy pulled off, I wonder if he got some poop sandwiches delivered for everyone?
12 289 Mitchell Harrison Brighton, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 17 8- Harrison has been in a deep dark rut for a number of motos now but the second moto, when everyone else was hot and struggling, the kid got his best finish of the year. Yay!
13 296 Bradley Taft Nixa, MO Yamaha YZ 250F 14 12- The kid’s second national went a little better than his first and he was again up there near the top five in the second moto. The challenge is to stay there, obviously.
14 45 Kyle Cunningham Aledo, TX Suzuki RMZ 250 13 14
15 403 Tristan Charboneau Tenino, WA Honda CRF250R 15 13- Good news is he was top GEICO rider on the day! The bad news was Tristan was fifteenth.
16 49 Martin Davalos Ecuador Husqvarna FC250 9 20- Marty was set for two motos in the top ten when he fell early in second moto and was dead last. So he did the best he could do to get one point and salvage all the work.
17 31 RJ Hampshire Hudson, FL Honda CRF250R 35 9- RJ was charging and up to seventh when his bike broke which is a bummer. And then with the way Budds start is (insert red angry face emoji here) he was effed with a bad gate pick for moto two and made the best of it. His teammate Jordon Smith’s bike also broke in the first moto. In the morning, I walked into the pits with GEICO motor guru Kibby. I hadn’t seen him in a while so we chatted. Then the bikes broke so maybe it was on me?
18 73 Nick Gaines Ringgold, GA Kawasaki KX 250F 18 15
19 84 Jimmy Albertson Shawnee, OK Suzuki RMZ 250 23 16- I heard a while ago that Top Jimmy was not racing next year but now I hear that he’s thinking about doing some racing next year because he’s been, like, way better lately. Yes, I could just text him and ask but that seems like a lot of work.
20 89 Marshal Weltin Ubly, MI Yamaha YZ 250F 16 35- Nice first moto for the privateer but he admitted that the heat got to him in the second race.
1 94 Ken Roczen Germany Suzuki RMZ 450 1 1- Another thing Kenny’s got to be stoked about is winning this title without Aldon Baker, because he’d gone 0-3 since leaving him. Roczen’s fitness this summer cannot be called into doubt but bottom line is he hadn’t won since leaving Baker. I’m torn on this stuff. I don’t believe that Aldon “makes” you into a champion but you can’t deny his track record. Roczen wanted to have more fun and not be a training robot so he struck out on his own. Meanwhile, the robot kept beating him. Finally, though, Roczen showed that his way works also and that’s a good thing for him and everyone.
2 51 Justin Barcia Madison, FL Yamaha YZ 450F 3 3- I have to admit when I saw Musquin come from eighth to catch onto the back of Barcia and then briefly get around him I thought it was over. But Justin said “no mas” and wicked it back up to pull away from Marv. Track was rough and it was hot as balls, so nice ride by the #51 and his best overall finish on the year.
3 25 Marvin Musquin France KTM 450 SX-F FE 2 4- When Marv wasn’t on the French MXDN team I was very surprised and then when Ferrandis got hurt and he wasn’t the replacement I was doubly surprised and figured he told the French team to pound sand. But I spoke with Marv after the race and he said no one called. It’s good news for Team USA that the French team apparently doesn’t have any access to videos from the American nationals this year.
4 3 Eli Tomac Cortez, CO Kawasaki KX 450F 6 2- Tomac gets some golf claps for helping pull Ronnie Stewart’s bike off him when they got together on the opening lap of moto one. Probably cost him a few spots along the way. Second moto he rode well and won the “human” class. I’m looking forward to the Romain Febvre/Tim Gasjer/Tomac battles coming up at the USGP’s and glad Roczen’s not going to be there.
5 34 Phillip Nicoletti Cohocton, NY Yamaha YZ 450F 4 6- Phil had a great day at Budds and he’s been very good the last few races. We’ve got a rivalry going with Dean Wilson as well, because I guess in some video Dean said that “guys like Phil” shouldn’t be beating him. Which is fine for Wilson to say, I get it (remember a few weeks ago when I said some 450 dudes couldn’t believe Bloss was beating them? Yeah, same deal) and he was just speaking his mind. Still, Phil enjoyed beating Dean-O at Budds. Let the battle begin!
6 15 Dean Wilson United Kingdom KTM 450 SX-F FE 5 5- Wilson was bummed on social media that Neil Prince, the Great Britain MXdN manager, didn’t let him know whether he was on or off the team until the team was announced despite Wilson texting and emailing. I think Wilson’s got a point: he’s ridden well for his country for a number of years and put in some effort so maybe a text back to say “sorry bro” would’ve been nice. Prince said in an MX Vice interview he didn’t know he had to contact Dean and by law, he didn’t I suppose. I think Dean deserved a text or telegram or something saying, “Thanks, but no thanks”.
7 43 Fredrik Noren Sweden Honda CRF450R 8 7- Nice work again by Fast Freddie who I have to admit I didn’t notice all that much during the day. But he did his usual “Fast Freddie” thing.
8 29 Andrew Short Colorado Springs, CO KTM 450 SX-F FE 7 9- Shorty and I watched the first 250MX moto from the announcers’ tower. I pointed out to Andrew that the gate drop time doesn’t change because of a TV schedule that has to be adhered to. So I said to count the 250 gate drop with the timer in front of us, and then count to the exact same amount of time to know when the 450MX gate will drop. Sure enough Shorty goes and pulls second place starts in first and second motos and I’m positive he took my advice and I deserve all the credit in the world. Afterwards he said he forgot about my pep talk, which is BS. I think he just doesn’t want to give me any credit.
9 167 Benny Bloss Oak Grove, MO KTM 450 SX-F FE 11 10- I was bugging Benny that after a career best fourth last weekend and a deal with BTO KTM for 2017, he was resting on his laurels and just riding for a paycheck now.
10 48 Anthony Rodriguez Venezuela Kawasaki KX 450F 10 11- Moving up to 450s has been great for A-Rod. That’s big because when something like this happens, and let’s say Tony Archer, the rider that was on A-Rod’s bike but had to go down to the 250s wasn’t happy with it (NOT saying he was, I have no idea), you’ve got to see the other guy step up to justify the move. Well, Anthony took the bike and puts in rides that the other rider couldn’t do so at least the team knows the bike is capable of something. Good results always give teams great morale.
11 21 11 32 Matthew Bisceglia Tualatin, OR Suzuki RMZ 450 9 12- If Matt has a good day this weekend in Indiana he can move into fourteenth in the final standings which isn’t too bad for a guy that raced only half the series.
12 68 Cole Martinez Rimrock, AZ Yamaha YZ 450F 14 14- I was very happy with Cole’s ride at Budds because I had picked him for this spot in Moto Dynasty.
13 28 Weston Peick Menifee, CA Yamaha YZ 450F 35 8- Peick crashed and broke his clutch perch in moto one and then rode up from around twentieth to eighth to get something positive happening on the day. JGR’s got a spot open and I think they’ll bring Peick back to fill it, but probably at a bit of a pay cut.
14 72 Hayden Mellross Australia Yamaha YZ 450F 16 13- Mellross was one of the guys I noticed was moving forward at the end of both motos which is a good thing. Top privateer this week for Hayden, which is always good.
15 11 Kyle Chisholm Valrico, FL Honda CRF450R 13 16- Chiz wasn’t happy with himself after his moto and he usually does better at Budds if my memory is correct.
16 96 Noah Mcconahy Spokane, WA Husqvarna FC450 15 1
17 99 Heath Harrison Silverhill, AL KTM 450 SX-F FE 12 20- Harrison had a nice day going as he was running thirteenth or so in the second moto before the heat got to him. It was all he could do to stay in the top twenty. An awesome day went to a good day just like that.
18 90 John Short Pilot Point, TX Yamaha YZ 450F 20 17
19 175 Paul Coates United Kingdom Honda CRF450R 17 36
20 903 Tyler Medaglia Canada Husqvarna FC450 33 18- Hey, look, a Canadian! T Dags was inside the top twenty late in moto one as he worked up from a ways back before something happened and he DNF’d. Second moto the Canadian MXdN member again rode into the top twenty. Medgalia qualified very well also, which was a bit of a surprise.
More news and notes
Want some silly season rumors? Okay, fine! It’s just crazy what you hear from people in the know. Word for a couple of weeks was that Justin Brayton to SmarTop/MotoConcepts is done and he’ll ride a Honda. But just the morning of this column someone called me and said that Brayton’s deal is not done and Mike Genova, owner of MCR, is going to get James Stewart. Which is SO a Genova thing to do, right? I could actually see this happening! In my mind, I think I’d bank on the Brayton thing happening and the Stewie thing being chalked up to a good rumor. But it would be so “Genova-ish” to sign Stew that it COULD happen.
If RCH comes back, I would think Broc Tickle would stay there, they like him, he likes them and he put in some good results. Perhaps Bogle goes there if his price does down a bit. Dean Wilson? No idea. And don’t forget that Malcolm Stewart is still looking for a ride. Wow. Lots of riders, so few spots.
Thanks for reading everyone, good times indeed! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to chat about this or anything else really.