Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac’s last two visits to RedBud MX in 2018 didn’t go as planned.
At the 2018 RedBud National, he DNF’ed in the first moto due to a mechanical problem and finished 36-9 for 15th overall as he lost the points lead to RedBull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. At the 2018 the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations in October, he finished 4-7 as a member of Team USA, who finished fifth overall. However, yesterday, Tomac changed his luck at the historic track.
Tomac finished 1-2 to take the overall 450 Class win, his third of the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, and extended his points lead to 34 points over Musquin. He put in a great first moto where he led by over 15 seconds. He had the outside lines working early and was able to use his raw speed to move his way to the front.
“It was good. [I had] Good starts,” Tomac said. “I had some better lines, I felt like, in the first moto versus the second moto. Those outsides didn’t work for me in moto two there, so I spent some more time on the inside.”
Musquin faced adversity early on when he washed out the front tire of his KTM 450 SX-F in the turn following LaRocco’s Leap (with only one more turn until the finish line jump) and was trapped under his bike for several seconds. An Alpinestars medical team member and a track crew member were able to flip the bike off of Musquin, who was not injured—only stuck—and the RedBull KTM rider wasted no time before taking off again.
He began his second lap in 38th position—second to last. However, he managed to work his way to a seventh-place moto finish.
“The first lap I was trying to charge hard, and I followed another rider around the outside and it was a little soft. I just tucked the front,” he said. “It happened so fast. I went over, and then the bike ended up laying on me. I was basically just waiting on someone to come and help me and get the bike off me. Obviously when you’re in the moment it felt like forever. I got back out there and I kind of knew the only best result I could have done is around seventh.”
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Big thanks to these two persons ! I tried to move but I couldn’t get out, so I knew I just had to wait for help. I was worried I was gonna get burnt, or when they would pick up the bike the rear wheel spinning would hit me. They were quick to react even tho it feels forever when you hear all the other guys going around you, and You can see the med crew pushing on the button to turn off the bike before to pick it up. This is why we are thankful to have the @alpinestars medical crew at the races. They are trained to help us. And thanks to them I wasn’t hurt or burnt ??| ? @davezielinski
Musquin commented similar occurrences to Saturday’s happened too often.
“I felt like that too many times where I crashed the first lap and the group of six of seven guys are already ahead and it’s too late,” Musquin said. “They have too big of a gap. I came up to seventh. That’s all I had.”
Musquin bounced back in the second moto to pass Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen for the lead about halfway through the moto before taking the win. His first moto score hindered his ability to win the overall (with the way the other riders finished) and his 7-1 scores placed him in third overall. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson snuck into second overall after 2-4 moto finishes.
In the second moto, Anderson was doing a great job of picking up the pace and holding off Tomac, who was unable to pass his competitor for a majority of the race.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m pretty much a road block,” Anderson said in the post-race press conference. “I’m trying my best to just stay up there and trying to get closer. [Tomac] passes me and I try and hold on, but I’m just a little bit off towards the end. Maybe it’s intensity or whatever it is.”
Anderson has missed a lot of time since winning the 2018 Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX Championship, as he was injured early in the 2018 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship and in the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. He said it hasn’t been easy coming back to race form, even seven rounds into the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship.
“I am getting better every weekend,” he said. “For me taking basically all last outdoor season off and all this supercross season off, getting back to racing is a shock to the system. I’ve basically been on vacation for the last two series. So getting back to being top notch and battling with the top guys, they’re no joke. I’m just trying to get better and hopefully at some point I can get a win and hopefully get a couple of them.”
After being held off for about eight laps, Tomac was able to make a pass on Anderson, and he left the Husqvarna rider in the dust as he made his way up to Roczen, who was running in second. Tomac was able to pass Roczen and finished second behind the hard-charging Musquin.
Roczen, who has been struggling in the second half of the motos since Florida, didn’t fade as hard yesterday. However, we didn’t see the usual aggressiveness come out of him in the early few laps. The 94 suddenly slowed for several seconds in the first moto in the middle of a battle with Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS’ Blake Baggett, who easy gained the position as a result. Maybe he was pacing himself a little more this time around; Roczen remarked at the end of the day that he had thrown up in the first moto and had to take it easy for a minute afterwards.
“Obviously I haven’t been myself, but I go out there every weekend—I want to leave it all on the table,” Roczen said.
With Anderson’s second overall, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna squad had good and bad news.
The good news was the Dean Wilson made his 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship debut. Wilson returned from injuries suffered at the end of supercross to finish 12-7 taking ninth overall. After qualifying, he said he has been putting in 30-minute plus two lap motos and was excited to be back racing. However, once the gate dropped in moto one, Wilson went down twice on the first lap and had to fight his way back through the field.
The bad news was Zach Osborne, who in a practice crash on Thursday, injured his SC joint (this is the connection between the collarbone and the chest) and was unable to race at RedBud. He tried to give it a go in qualifying but the team decided it was better for him to rest instead of overdoing it. Osborne earned his first moto win in the premier class last weekend at Southwick when he won the second moto and finished second overall after earning third in the first moto. It’s got to be a bummer for Osborne and the team that he missed a race after arguably his best weekend of the year. Fortunately, the team reports Osborne’s injury isn't too serious and should not require surgery. With an off weekend next week, the team expects Osborne to return on July 20 at the Spring Creek National. Through six rounds, Osborne sat fourth in the 450 Class points standings. After missing RedBud, Osborne fell to sixth in the points standings. We’ll see how Osborne and the team handle the off week.
RedBud - 450
RedBud MX - Buchanan, MI
|1||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO||1 - 2||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Jason Anderson||Edgewood, NM||2 - 4||Husqvarna FC 450|
|3||Marvin Musquin||La Reole, France||7 - 1||KTM 450 SX-F|
|4||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC||3 - 5||KTM 450 SX-F|
|5||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt, Germany||6 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
In the first 250 Class moto, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo had a few off-track excursions. The first came when his line and the line of Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis came together coming out of a turn into the rough single. Cianciarulo, who was in the lead, took the outside line of the turn and Ferrandis opted to go inside, but the two lines came together on the takeoff. Wanting to avoid contact and a possible collision, Cianciarulo aimed towards the outside of the track, but overcompensated, landing off the track. Instead of immediately cutting right back onto the track, Cianciarulo continued for three seconds before reentering the track at the takeoff of the uphill triple.
Later in the race, Cianciarulo went outside on the finish line turn as JGR/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing’s Alex Martin took the inside. Cianciarulo slipped at the take-off of the jump and the two whipped away from one another. When Cianciarulo landed off the track, this time on the downside of the finish line double, he ran through a repeater banner, getting on the outside of it, but not did not let off of the gas. Cianciarulo shot the gap between that repeater banner and the next one, right in front of Joey Crown, who was behind him before the incident occurred. Cianciarulo was docked two positions for not decelerating when leaving the track. The decision came a lot quicker than it did at Thunder Valley, as this time ruling was announced by the end of the moto. He finished the moto in third but was officially awarded fifth place.
“I felt that the first time I went off the track on the first lap, Dylan kind of came from the inside and he kind of gave me a little bit nowhere to go,” Cianciarulo said. “I was already kind of completely jumping in the air. It was kind of a toss-up. My argument there when they said I shouldn't accelerate going off the track, I’m like, okay. So instead I shift down to second gear right there then I hop back on the track while everybody else was going 60 miles an hour, to me that’s not going to end too well.”
“With that being said, I understand that I need to stay on the track,” Cianciarulo continued. “I don’t think that I can just go wherever I want out there. I got sketchy jumping that on the first lap, but I’m just out there trying my best. I’m definitely not looking to try to cheat or anything like that.”
While he had the opportunity to plead his case, he understood the officials’ decision.
“They saw it how they saw it. I didn’t agree. It is what it is. I felt terrible. I just kind of grinded it out in survival mode out there and ended up with a third. It’s frustrating to get the news that you got pushed back a couple spots and worked really hard for these points.
After everything that went down in the first moto, Cianciarulo returned to the gate knowing he had to focus on his goal—taking this season race by race, moto by moto. He was able to do just that, as he rode hard again in the second moto, finishing second.
“I was happy to kind of put that behind me and not let it frustrate me because I could have let it ruin my day,” he said. “I could have gone out the second moto and rolled around and got seventh or eighth. But I put it behind me, did my best. It’s unfortunate.”
Cianciarulo said he understands how he’s closely watched, following what happened in the Thunder Valley National.
“Of course after Colorado and everything that happened there—I still felt like I did it right there,” he said. “But obviously you’re going to be under the microscope. That’s just how it sits.”
Outside of Cianciarulo’s off-track excursions, it was Ferrandis’ work on the track that was the talk of the day. Ferrandis qualified fastest in the 250 Class—for the first time in his career. On the podium after the second qualifying session, Ferrandis said he would have to get good starts if he wanted to be able to use his speed in qualifying and the motos. Well, that’s just what he did. Although he didn’t get the holeshot in the first moto, he was able to fight his way into the lead by the time he completed his first lap. In the second moto he was third through the first lap.
Ferrandis said his late win, like in the first moto, is partially due to the way it plays out, partially strategy.
“It’s a little bit strategy too but it’s also the first few laps everybody is fresh, everybody can go really fast,” he said. “After when you get somebody behind you, puts a lot of pressure, it’s always tough physically and mentally…Sometimes it’s easier to wait, look at the line, just take your time and you pass the guy. I know physically I can finish the moto.”
Ferrandis said the biggest change in his starts has been his mentality.
“I think a little mentally,” he said in the post-race press conference. “Maybe more confidence in myself that’s helped. Also with all the people around me, we try to understand what’s happening. They all help me a lot. My wife is with me for the start. It sounds really crazy…Looking forward to the next start and try to be out front in the first corner.”
Not only were his starts great, but he was flawless for the entirety of both motos. Usually he is able to charge up through the pack when he gets an average start, but on the days where he puts himself in a great position in the first few laps, he just runs away with the win—as his displayed by winning the first moto by 18 seconds. With his 1-1 moto finishes, Ferrandis gained maximum points on the day, making up some ground on Cianciarulo in the championship standings. Going into the day, Ferrandis was 37 points behind Cianciarulo and 14 points behind his teammate Justin Cooper. With AC going 5-2 and Cooper going 3-6, Ferrandis (282 points) moved around Cooper (281 points) to take over second place and the Frenchman is now only 25 points down—or one moto—from Cianciarulo (307 points). If he can continue this momentum late in the season like he did for Monster Energy AMA Supercross, this championship could play out differently than we all expected it to after the first half of the season.
As for Cooper, on paper his results don’t standout, but he had a solid day. He was second fastest in qualifying and was near the front pack early in the first moto—although his standards usually reflect him as being the first or second rider across the holeshot line. That wasn’t the case but he wasn’t buried deep. He was with Ferrandis, Cianciarulo, and Alex Martin going into a downhill, off-camber turn only a few turns from the start but he tipped over. He went to the very inside of the turn and the deep ruts almost tipped his bike over. Luckily, he fell to the right onto the built-up inside of the turn but he did lose a lot of positions and time on Ferrandis and Cianciarulo and the rest of the front leaders. He came through the first lap in 11th and managed to make his way up to third come the checkered flag. In the second moto, his team knew he was close to getting onto the overall podium so they gave him the message to get one more. Then the next lap they gave him the same message. And the lap after that they gave him the message for a third time.
“I kind of just kept getting the pit board, ‘You need one more, you need one more.’ Then I was a good for a second and then I needed another person,” he said in the post-race press conference. “So I put my head down. I was struggling the whole moto. I just picked it up the second half and just started doing what I had to do to make up points as many as I could.”
While Cooper might not have had the weekend he wanted, he still managed a third overall on the day.
That’s a wrap on Independence Day Weekend from round seven of the 2019 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. The championship will take a break next week but will continue on July 20 at the Spring Creek National.
RedBud - 250
RedBud MX - Buchanan, MI
|1||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon, France||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Adam Cianciarulo||Port Orange, FL||5 - 2||Kawasaki KX250F|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||3 - 6||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL||2 - 8||Honda CRF250R|
|5||Hunter Lawrence||Australia||8 - 4||Honda CRF250R|