Eli Tomac’s road to perfection is over—sort of. While his streak of moto wins ended at six today in the first moto at High Point Raceway, host of round four of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, Tomac kept his overall win streak alive with a brilliant performance down the stretch in the second moto.
If was never easy for Tomac today. The track was brutal, huge ruts developing early in the day. “There was no lack of ruts today, that’s for sure,” Tomac said post-race. Tomac looked “off” in the first moto. Yes, that’s hard to say when the guy still finished second, but he certainly didn’t look like the same guy that started the season with six consecutive moto wins.
“It was a combination of both,” Tomac said when asked if it was setup or line selection that he struggled with in the first moto. “Just not feeling comfortable and Marvin [Musquin] was on it. He just caught up to me and rode right around me. Went back and changed a few things… it’s crazy what that does.”
Marvin Musquin just clicks with High Point. The rolling hills and off chambers just match the Frenchman’s precise and technical style. He won here twice in the 250 Class and pushed the points leader all afternoon. Following a slow start to the first moto, Musquin caught fire midway through the moto. Musquin erased Tomac’s five second lead and finally pulled the trigger on a pass on lap 11, railing the outside to take over the lead. He went on to win the moto by 5.4 seconds, ending Tomac’s win streak at six.
“Justin [Barcia] got around me in the first lap, and I see Eli leading. I was like ‘I better make it happen,’” Marvin said of his slow start in the second moto.
The second moto was an absolute slugfest between the two title contenders. Seriously, if you have yet to watch it, go do it. Now. It was an instant classic.
From laps 10 to 18, Tomac’s lead never exceeded more than a second, Marvin breathing down his neck the entire second half of the moto. Tomac held strong, hold off all of Marvin’s advance. Musquin did make a last ditch effort on the final lap, the two going side-by-side up the hill, but Tomac shut the door again and held on for the win.
“I knew the last two laps it was going to be game on,” Tomac said of the second moto. “At the same we were both darting through traffic and lappers, and that was a whole other game to play. It was like playing a game of chess. I knew if I could get to the top of this hill up here it was pretty one lined down through the ruts. It wasn’t easy to play defense, but you could here because some of the inside ruts were so dominant.”
Justin Barcia’s third place overall finish was overshadowed by the battle up front. After moving around Musquin early in the first moto, Barcia eventually lost track of the lead group and finished third. In the second moto, he said he lost his front brake early when he hit another rider. He went down later in the moto and ended up fifth.
“This is probably one of the hardest tracks to ride without a front brake,” he said post-race. “It was really difficult. I went down because I didn’t have a front brake and [Weston] Peick got around me. It took me forever to get that flow riding without my front brake.”
An up and down day for a lot of riders due to the massive pileup in the first turn in moto one. Ken Roczen got his rear wheel clipped and it start a chain reaction that gathered Weston Peick, Benny Bloss, Blake Baggett, and more. Roczen rebounded to take third in the second moto and fourth overall. Peick took fourth in the second moto and sixth overall, while Blake Baggett and Benny Bloss finished seventh and eighth overall, respectively.
It was a good 450 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross debut for Autotrader/Yoshimura Suzuki’s Justin Hill, who put in solid 4-6 moto scores to grab fifth overall. In six 250 motos in 2018, Justin Hill scored zero top tens. In two 450 motos, he’s scored two.
|1||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||2 - 1||Kawasaki KX450F|
|2||Marvin Musquin||La Reole France||1 - 2||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Justin Barcia||Monroe, NY United States||3 - 5||Yamaha YZ450F|
|4||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt Germany||7 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|5||Justin Hill||Yoncalla, OR United States||4 - 6||Suzuki RM-Z450|
Just when you thought the craziness was over, the second 250 moto delivered another jolt. After a rough Thunder Valley, Aaron Plessinger bounced back big in the first moto. After passing early leader Justin Cooper on the opening lap, Plessinger took off for a dominating moto win. The second moto didn’t start well for AP. He started around fifth, but couldn’t seem to get anything going. Meanwhile, Jeremy Martin, who finished second in the first moto was taking off. It appeared Martin was going to take the moto win and overall, as he had around a 12-second midway through the moto. Then, tragedy struck. Shades of 2016, when his bike blew up at High Point while with Star Racing, had to be creeping through his head as he suffered a mechanical, ending his day early. At this time, we don’t know exactly what happened. We hope to learn more later this week.
Plessinger took full advantage, darting to the lead and never looking back, completing a 1-1 sweep. He entered High Point eight points behind Martin and he’ll leave with a 20-point advantage.
“It doesn’t really change anything,” Plessinger said when asked if his points lead will change the way he approaches the championship. “I’m still coming in to win. Maybe if I get a little bit bigger of a lead and we pass the halfway point maybe I’ll start taking into consideration a little less risk taking and a little more smart riding.”
Following a slow start to the season, Austin Forkner bounced back in a big way at High Point. He picked up a fourth in the first moto, and held off Star Racing teammates Justin Cooper and Dylan Ferrandis late in the second moto to secure second in the moto and second overall on the day for his first podium of 2018.
“We passed each other a lot,” Forkner said of his battle with Cooper in moto two. “He had that outside figured out at the bottom of the hill before I did. I was taking that inside to guard it but the outside was faster and I think he got me there twice. It was really just about not making mistakes.”
Cooper continues to impress in his first full season in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. The rookie grabbed both holeshots on the day and battled near the front in both motos—even holding two-time 250 champion Jeremy Martin at bay for much of moto one.
“I’m here to be up front and it was pretty sick feeling to get both holeshots today,” Cooper said. “I put myself in a good position and was able to run up front and get some more experience up there. I’m feeling more and more confident and feeling like I belong up there now.”
Dylan Ferrandis was impressive in his first race since Atlanta Supercross in March. He battled tooth and nail with Forkner in the second moto and took fourth overall on the day ahead of RJ Hampshire. Hampshire was the bright spot for GEICO Honda, who otherwise had a tough day. In addition to Jeremy Martin’s mechanical, Chase Sexton also had a mechanical DNF in the second moto while running up front.
Garrett Marchbanks had a big crash in the first moto through the rollers. He was holding his knee on the side of the track and did not race the second moto. We’ll have an update on the rookie later this week.
|1||Aaron Plessinger||Hamilton, OH United States||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Austin Forkner||Richards, MO United States||4 - 2||Kawasaki KX250F|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||3 - 4||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon France||8 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|
|5||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL United States||7 - 7||Honda CRF250R|