Tempers flared and many things were said and read after Saturday’s Marvin Musquin/Eli Tomac last-lap dust-up in Foxborough. Block passes are this sport’s liberal/conservative debate, as in there are always two sides and each will fight to the death to make a point. In fact, you have probably already stopped reading this and have instead scrolled to the bottom to witness (or participate!) in more battling in the comments section. As a test, here’s some extra text for you: monkey, chicken, coffee, stones. Those words make no sense, but no one is reading this paragraph, so they do not matter.
Let’s get some info in here you really need. As the debate has raged, here are a few things that need to get back into the open.
- There have been complaints that Eli is mad about being on the receiving end of a block pass even though he has dished out several of his own. Examples include knocking down Dean Wilson in Seattle in 2012, knocking down Cooper Webb in Daytona this year, and the Las Vegas 2017 #Bunching against Ryan Dungey.
One thing to remember is that Tomac was responding in those scenarios—he did not start them. In Seattle 2012, Wilson hit him first. In Daytona, Webb crossed-jumped him multiple times, so Tomac admitted that he took him out in response.
It is impossible to accurately describe how angry Tomac and Monster Energy Kawasaki were that Musquin moved over for Dungey at last year’s East Rutherford Supercross. Tomac was absolutely incensed that it happened, so that convinced him to take the gloves off in Las Vegas. In Tomac’s mind, if KTM is going to try anything to win the title, well, he would do the same.
In each of these cases, Tomac feels he was evening the score, not starting it. This is why, in his TV interview, Tomac mentioned that he passed Marvin cleanly only to receive a full-contact pass in return.
- Eli was clearly super mad about the pass. He was slammed into and taken down by another rider. And he lost the win. The anger seems justifiable. It would be really strange if he wasn’t mad about this.
- Did Tomac leave the door open? It is literally impossible to enter that corner any tighter than Eli did and still make the corner with any speed. This is the brilliance of a bowl berm—block the inside at the start of the turn, and you open up the outside on the exit. If the second-place rider wants to force it and is willing to do the slamming, the leader can’t block it completely.
Tomac picked the tightest inside rut he could. If Tomac picked Marvin’s line even further to the inside, he would have missed all the ruts and turned so slowly that Marvin would have just cruised right past him. He probably wouldn’t have made the double after the corner, either. You can shut the door to a degree, but if someone else is willing to knock the door off its hinges, you’re in trouble.
- It’s true Tomac wasn’t going fast in that corner, but that’s because the inside rut was small and the line was very tight, which didn’t allow much speed. Tomac took that line to try to protect himself. Again, only so much you can do if the second-place rider is willing to use you as the berm.
None of this matters if you think Tomac is a crybaby and/or left the door open. We get it.
- None of this matters if you think Marvin’s a punk for pulling that pass.
- Marvin did at first “own it” in his TV interview, where he said, “It’s a 450 AMA Supercross win, so I tried!” At that point, his only defense was that it was a last-lap battle for the win and anything goes. Certainly there’s a case to be made there.
- Marvin expected Eli to use the fastest line through the corner, which was in a larger rut further to the outside. Contact was inevitable, but when Eli tucked further inside than Marvin anticipated, it made the collision even worse than expected.
- Later, at the press conference, Marvin got into the weeds by referencing other block passes from other races. He actually does have a point there—such passes do happen all the time. In fact, something much gnarlier happened in the 250 heat race between Ramyller Alves and Cody Vanbuskirk. This was a pass for the final transfer spot in the heat race, which, like battles for the last spot in the LCQ, everyone just laughs off as “doing what you need to do to make the main.” Alves is not getting any heat from anyone and is actually getting some praise….
Alves vs. Vanbuskirk. Last corner for the last transfer spot ... THEY BOTH GO DOWN! pic.twitter.com/RIDb3iuRsI— SPEED (@SPEED) April 21, 2018
This is the reaction you get if you’re Ramyller Alves (who goes by Ramy, by the way, and perhaps now for more than one reason).
If you’re Marvin Musquin or Eli Tomac, the spotlight is much brighter. If this were a pass for seventh place, or on lap seven, it wouldn’t have mattered as much. A last-lap pass between two superstars for the race win is going to attract MUCH more attention, good and bad. That’s what these guys are dealing with right now.
Now, back to the comments section!