What. A. Day. The 450 title chase was over, right? At least that’s what we all thought. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac began the season with six straight moto wins and five overalls. He’d built a 32-point lead through six rounds and was in total control of the championship. Then, the first moto at RedBud, round seven of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, happened.
Tomac was crushing the rough RedBud soil and had built a more than ten second lead late in the first 450 moto. Then, his bike let go with three laps to go. A DNF cost Tomac a huge chuck of points and a led to a terrible gate pick for the second moto, where he’d find more trouble.
The bad gate pick led to a bad start. Starts have hurt Tomac this season, but he’s always found a way back toward this front. Today was different. After working into sixth, Tomac made a mistake and eventually had to pull into the mechanics area to get something fixed quick. He again worked back into the top ten, only to make another mistake and drop back to 11th. He eventually finished the moto ninth, but he lost 13 more points and is now facing a three point hole to Musquin as the series heads to Millville in two weeks.
When Marvin Musquin was lying on the ground at the start of the first moto, a result of tucking the front in the second corner, no way he’d thought he’d be leaving RedBud as the new points leader. Yet, here we are.
“Not expected to leave RedBud with the red plate,” he said in the post-race press conference. “The goal is to give my best every weekend and try to win and take a few points here and there on Tomac.”
It wasn’t easy for Musquin today. He had to battle back from nearly dead last in the first moto. Using precise lines, Musquin worked through traffic all the way up to third and then inherited second when Tomac’s bike let go. With Tomac’s DNF he cut a 32-point lead to just ten. In the second moto, he used a good start to take over the lead on the opening lap. He would lose the lead briefly to Ken Roczen early, but once he retook the lead for a second time, he opened a gap and took the moto win. With Tomac’s troubles, he gained 13 points and now enters Millville in two weeks with a three-point lead.
“I couldn’t believe when Frankie [Latham, mechanic] showed me second,” Marvin said about the first moto. “Obviously I saw Tomac on the side of the track. What a crazy day.”
Five hundred and thirty-two days after nearly losing his career—and his left arm—Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen was back in the winner’s circle today. It’s been a long road back for Roczen—slowed by a separate injury to his right hand in Monster Energy Supercross—who sustained a compound fracture and a dislocated elbow and wrist in a violent crash at Anaheim II in 2017. The injury, which required 11 surgeries, could have ended his career. Roczen is a fighter, though, and he was back for the Anaheim Supercross opener this January. Then, he got hurt again. He again fought back and returned for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross opener at Hangtown. He’s struggled at times, but he’s also shown flashes of the speed that made him a two-time 450 Pro Motocross Champion. And, sure, he got help when Eli Tomac’s bike let go with three laps to go in the first moto, but for Roczen this moment was special.
“I never thought about not getting back there,” he said post-race. “It was just a matter of time. Technically I’m on the new bike this outdoor season, even though I’ve been with them last year, but didn’t get to ride much. So, it’s really just learning and taking some of the pieces out.”
As we mentioned, Roczen briefly led in the second moto and stayed with Musquin early. He eventually lost touch, but had a strong grip on second until a hard charge from Justin Barcia late in the moto. Barcia caught Roczen and made pass stick on the final lap to grab second. Roczen’s 1-3 was still good enough to top Barcia’s 4-2 for second overall.
“I heard the [fans] throughout the entire last lap,” Roczen said of the first moto. “We kind of got lucky, but I’ll take it.”
Don’t be fooled by his first moto fourth, Justin Barcia was great today. Like Musquin, Barcia was down in the first turn (separate incident) and was dead last. He followed Musquin through the pack and turned in a fourth. His start was much, much better in the second moto and while he says he got tight mid-race, he put a late charge to pass Roczen for second.
“It’s interesting, this year was a little bit different conditions,” Barcia said. “There was sand. There was that really deep section after the mechanics’ area that was pretty gnarly. There was some rocks and hard pack that came up over near LaRocco’s Leap. We had a little bit of everything thrown at us today.”
More news and notes from the 450 Class:
- In case you didn’t know, Benny Bloss is good. Like, really good. Weak field or not, Bloss is impressing in 2018. In the first moto he finished third to grab his first career moto podium. He crashed in the second moto while running inside the top ten, which hurt his overall finish (11th), but still a nice day from the former Horizon Award winner.
- Another fast qualifying time from Blake Baggett, as he set the fastest time in the 450 Class. It didn’t translate into a podium though, as he went 5-5 for fourth overall.
- Justin Hill found the top five again in the second moto. It’s his first top five finish in a moto since the first moto at High Point.
- Phil Nicoletti had his best moto finishes of the season with two sixths. Nicoletti finished a season-high fifth overall.
- Former Grand Prix rider Jake Nicholls made his U.S. debut today and he put in a solid tenth overall finish via 8-11 motos.
RedBud - 450
RedBud Track 'n Trail - Buchanan, MI
|1||Marvin Musquin||La Reole, France||2 - 1||KTM 450 SX-F FE|
|2||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt, Germany||1 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|3||Justin Barcia||Monroe, NY||4 - 2||Yamaha YZ 450F|
|4||Blake Baggett||Grand Terrace, CA||5 - 5||KTM 450 SX-F FE|
|5||Phil Nicoletti||Cochecton, NY||6 - 6||Husqvarna FC 450|
|6||Justin Hill||Yoncalla, OR||10 - 4||Suzuki RMZ 450|
|7||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC||7 - 7||Yamaha YZ 450F|
|8||Kyle Cunningham||Aledo, TX||11 - 8||Suzuki RMZ 450|
|9||Weston Peick||Wildomar, CA||8 - 11||Suzuki RMZ 450|
|10||Jake Nicholls||United Kingdom||9 - 13||Honda CRF450R|
Motocross 450 Standings - 2018
|1||Marvin Musquin||La Reole, France||304|
|2||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO||301|
|3||Justin Barcia||Monroe, NY||264|
|4||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt, Germany||246|
|5||Blake Baggett||Grand Terrace, CA||232|
|6||Weston Peick||Wildomar, CA||193|
|7||Benny Bloss||Oak Grove, MO||176|
|8||Phil Nicoletti||Cochecton, NY||172|
|9||Cody Cooper||New Zealand||101|
|10||Kyle Cunningham||Aledo, TX||93|
It’s been an up and down season for Aaron Plessinger. When he’s good, he’s been really good. See his 1-1 finishes at Glen Helen and High Point. When he’s off, he’s been outside the top five. See his 6-9-7 moto finishes. Despite some recent struggles, he’d built a 23-point lead coming into RedBud. And today, he was good. Really good. He went 1-1 for the third time this season and extended his lead to 35 points.
“I think Muddy Creek messed me up when I went down after I got the holeshot. It kind of messed my confidence up,” Plessinger said. “I did a lot of testing this past week. I lot of starts. That was the biggest thing that was hindering me. At High Point I got really good starts and I finished really good. We practiced on those and that’s what helped me out today.”
There was some drama in the first moto. Two corners after losing the lead to Austin Forkner, Plessinger took the inside after the rollers and collided with Forkner. Forkner went down and did not finish the moto.
“He was riding really good and he got by me, then he took an outside line and I saw an opening and I went for it,” Plessinger said. “I don’t know if he didn’t let off or what, but all I felt was him hit my back tire and I had a 12-second lead. I don’t want to say did it intentionally, but a win is a win and I got to make it happen.”
Another luckless day for Forkner and the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. Moments after Forkner went down, Joey Savatgy, who was running in second, crashed after the rollers. He finished 17th. Garrett Marchbanks was the lone bright spot in moto one with a sixth place finish. It only lasted a moto, as Marchbanks was involved in a big crash on the start of moto two and finished 39th. The good news? Forkner was able to return for the second moto and finished second. Savatgy was back too and he took fourth.
Alex Martin has been thisclose to win this season. He’s thrown a couple chances away, but today Plessinger was just better. He wasn’t mistake free today, but he did put together solid 4-3 motos to take third overall.
“I’m kind of known as the consistent, hard-working guy,” Martin said. “This season I’ve uncharacteristically mistakes and crashes. Consistency is one thing, but today we were looking to go 1-1. Really struggled in the first moto. Couldn’t get a rhythm going. Couldn’t find my flow. Not sure how we salvaged fourth. Second moto that was mine to go battle with AP and we weren’t able to make it happen.”
Dylan Ferrandis was a beast down the stretch in both motos. He started outside th top 15 in the first moto and came all the way back to fourth. More of the same in moto two. He came from outside the top ten to capture third and third overall.
“Starts are not an excuse, but it can help a lot,” Ferrandis said. “We saw the last couple race… Muddy Creek I started top three and it was easier to win than when you start 20 or 25. I just need to start a little more in front.”
More news and notes from the 250 Class:
- Following a season-high second place finish in the first moto, GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire was also involved in that first turn crash. He received attention from the Alpinestars Medical Unit and was not able to finish the moto. We’ll provide an update on his status for Millville when we know more.
- Ryan Sipes was back again this weekend. This time he was on a 250F, not the 125. Sipes will ride a few rounds on Zach Osborne’s bike for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team. He went 16-13 on the day for 16th overall.
RedBud - 250
RedBud Track 'n Trail - Buchanan, MI
|1||Aaron Plessinger||Hamilton, OH||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ 250F|
|2||Alex Martin||Millville, MN||4 - 3||KTM 250 SX-F FE|
|3||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon, France||3 - 4||Yamaha YZ 250F|
|4||Shane McElrath||Canton, NC||5 - 9||KTM 250 SX-F FE|
|5||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||8 - 7||Yamaha YZ 250F|
|6||Chase Sexton||La Moille, IL||11 - 6||Honda CRF250R|
|7||Austin Forkner||Richards, MO||35 - 2||Kawasaki KX250F|
|8||Michael Mosiman||Sebastopol, CA||9 - 11||Husqvarna FC 250|
|9||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL||2 - 40||Honda CRF250R|
|10||Mitchell Harrison||Lansing, MI||13 - 8||Husqvarna FC 250|
Motocross 250 Standings - 2018
|1||Aaron Plessinger||Hamilton, OH||283|
|2||Alex Martin||Millville, MN||248|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||201|
|4||Shane McElrath||Canton, NC||198|
|5||Austin Forkner||Richards, MO||191|
|6||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL||176|
|7||Jeremy Martin||Millville, MN||176|
|8||Chase Sexton||La Moille, IL||166|
|9||Jordon Smith||Belmont, NC||163|
|10||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon, France||149|