We've seen this pass before: One rider leads another the whole way, only to let his guard down in the very last turn, or make a mistake under pressure, or just leave the door open. With HRC Honda's Ken Roczen and Red Bull KTM's Cooper Webb, it's now happened three times where the #94 led Webb into the last turn, only to get passed by his rival. The first time—at the 2019 Anaheim 2 Supercross—it was for a Triple Crown race win; the second time—at the 2019 Arlington Supercross—it was for the 450SX main event the win; this time for runner-up honors and valuable championship points. But Roczen isn't the only rider to have been blitzed at the bitter end...
2000 Motocross of Nations
Great Britain's James Dobb leads much of the first 125/Open moto on his big KTM thumper, with Team USA's Ryan Hughes in tow on a Honda CR250. On the very last lap, and in the very last corner at the St. Jean D'Angely circuit in France, which was an uphill switchback to the left, Dobb stalls the KTM. Ryan surges past, as the checkered is just a few feet further down the track. It's stunning win that helps catapult Team USA to the overall win.
Dutch rider Gerrit Wolsink leads much of the 45-minute moto, with the late-charging Heikki Mikkola in tow. Wolsink is a factory Suzuki rider and then-three-time 500cc World Champion Roger De Coster's wingman. Mikkola, the Husqvarna rider from Finland, is the man who will be king. But he needs points badly and flashes inside of the Dutchman right before the checkered flag. Wolsink crashes into the outside bank at the checkered flag and ends up on his butt, but somehow holds on across the finish for the win.
1984 High Point 125 National
Team Honda's Johnny O'Mara leads Team Kawasaki's Jeff Ward the whole second 45-minute moto, and appears to have the win in hand as he races down into the braking bumps just before the old last turn, which was a left-handed hairpin with a wooden wall as the outside berm. But then O'Mara's right hand comes off the bars, he bounces to the outside and Wardy blitzes by on the inside to steal the win and the overall.
1977 Atlanta Supercross
Team Honda's Jim Pomeroy was racing in his first AMA Supercross since returning from the 250cc Grand Prix wars, where he'd spent four years pursuing his dream of becoming the first American World Champion. Waiting for him at the first round in Atlanta was the red-hot Bob "Hurricane" Hannah. Cycle News' Charlie Morey described what happened in the last turn at the old Fulton County Stadium this way:
Pomeroy appeared to have it made. Not a sizable lead but he seemed capable of holding Hannah off. But there was one last twist. On the final turn of the last lap—not 40 feet from the flagman—Jim Pomeroy stopped.
"They were two lapped riders ahead of me. Both were taking the high line on the banked turn, so I just went under them. Then one cut down! I grabbed the brakes—locked everything up—but I stalled," said a frustrated Pomeroy to Morey.
"While Pomeroy restarted, Bob Hannah rolled in, an easy winner...."
And in typical Hannah fashion, he just shrugged afterwards and said, "I thought I was lapping him."
2010 Freestone National
Dean Wilson is headed to his first-ever overall win in the AMA 250 Nationals, and spots his teammate Tyla Rattray closing on him. Wilson assumes Rattray is a lapped rider and waves his teammate by so he can get in another lap and gain more positions...but Rattray is actually on the lead lap and in a battle for second with Broc Tickle! He blasts past Wilson, as does Tickle, and suddenly Dean drops to third, costing him the overall. The win for the day goes to Wilson’s other teammate, Christophe Pourcel, who goes 1-5.
If you start watching around the 36:22 mark you’ll see what happens.
1991 Orlando Supercross
This race marks the debut for Mitch Payton's now legendary Pro Circuit squad (known as Team Peak Honda then, and today's Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki). In the 125 main event, Kawasaki's Ryan Hughes is in a battle with Pro Circuit's Brian Swink. It comes down to the final straight before the finish, and Swink out races Hughes through the whoops to make the pass just inches before the checkered flag. The victory makes the Pro Circuit team a winner in its very first race.
2011 Steel City National
Ryan Villopoto and Ryan Dungey are battling for the AMA 450 Class Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship title, and Steel City marks the next-to-last race. Dungey leads Villopoto for the entire way in moto one, until Villopoto sneaks inside and steals the win in the last corner. That permanently shifts momentum Villopoto's way—he wins the second moto, and leaves with enough of a points cushion to where he doesn't need to beat Dungey at the finale at Pala Raceway in California.
Watch at the 1:57 mark to see the final move.
2011 Motocross of Nations
Not long after their intense battle at Steel City in 2011, Villopoto and Dungey got together again, only this time on the same team—Team USA. They dominated the last moto of the '11 MXON, with Villopoto out front the whole way, and Dungey moving up into second. And when it came time to cross the finish line, RV slowed so that RD could get next to him and ride across the finish line together for a Team USA win, their seventh in a row... Hard to believe that we've lost eight in a row since! (Fast forward to 4:30 to see the finish in France.)
2000 Anaheim 2 125 Supercross
In one of the closer—and cleaner—finishes like this of all time, Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Tallon Vohland led FMF Honda's Danny Smith for much of the late stages, but then on the very last lap Smith used a massive quadruple to get right up on behind the veteran Vohland, who had last won a 125 SX a decade ago. Smith then used an inside line to cut in under Vohland and take the lead in the very last corner... For about 1/2 a second. Vohland used the space Smith graciously left him to cut back under Smith and retake the lead at the base of the finish line jump, then out-gunned Smith on the face to win. Check it out right here beginning at the 1:06:26 mark to watch the final lap (along with the great race call by Art Eckman and David Bailey).
2005 Hangtown Motocross Classic
Grant Langston on Mike Alessi crime. Langston gets second in the first moto and is running second in moto two behind Mike Alessi. Langston is in a position to take the overall since Alessi was sixth in the first moto, but that wasn't enough for the aptly named Zulu Warrior. Langston went crazy in the last couple laps, eviscerating Alessi's once seemingly insurmountable lead, and as the two entered the final turn Langston was just out of striking range. That didn't stop him from forcing the issue though, and when he did, his bike seemed to pop out of the rut and launched into Alessi, leaving both bikes in a heap. Alessi was wildly unpopular at the time and the big, Northern California crowd roared ravenous approval. Langston remounted and won the moto, and overall, while Alessi struggled to refire his bike. Alessi finally tried to push his bike over the finish line jump, fell over, and lost even more spots. When he finally crossed the line he was 15, taking ninth overall. It could be argued the joke was on Langston, however, as he sustained an ankle injury that would take him out of action while Alessi was able to go on to stage a decent championship effort that would ultimately come to an end at the final race of the season, which is another story altogether.
You can see exactly what happened at the 38:10 mark.
2010 Jacksonville Supercross
GEICO Honda rider Trey Canard had been moonlighting in the 450SX Class in 2010 and had been doing very well. Not just for a 250SX rider testing the riders, but very well period, racking up multiple podiums. His success in Jacksonville, however, came at the expense of his teammate Kevin Windham when Canard was able to zap Windham in the final turn, poaching the final podium spot. Windham was extremely angry. Not at Canard, but at himself for allowing it to happen. So incensed was K-Dub that the normally calm and relaxed rider neglected to return his transponder afterward, and instead rode directly back to the truck and ghost rode his bike into the GEICO pits.
1989 Dallas Supercross
A classic battle between two classy rivals, Jeff Stanton and Jeff Ward. This Dallas race was one of their best, as Ward looked to have the edge on Stanton after some early dicing, until the last lap, when Stanton unleashed some fury, hung it out, and started making moves. This was about as aggressive as you’ll see Stanton get, making some contact to make the pass. At one point they launched over a double side-by-side and nearly collided! After that move, Stanton appeared to have the win in hand, but as he exits the next-to-last turn, he makes a mistake and loops out his CR250R! Ward cruised past him to retake the lead and the win. This is about as good of a race-long battle as you’re going to get.
2017 Las Vegas Supercross
No list of last-lap action can be complete without this one, the 250SX season-finale at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 250SX East Region Championship is essentially tied between three riders, Jordon Smith, Zach Osborne, and Joey Savatgy. Osborne goes down in turn one, Savatgy crashes a few moments later, and then Smith crashes out of the race altogether! Savatgy is left to try to just bring it home, but Osborne puts on the charge of a lifetime from the back, closing to within sight of Savatgy on the last lap. Zacho sends it through the whoops and block passes Savatgy with one turn to go, stealing the position and the title. This one happened in the next-to-last turn, but it’s arguably the most dramatic ending to a supercross championship in history.
1993 Gatorback 125 National
We will end this list not with a last-corner pass or gaffe, but rather a remarkable moment of motocross history. It was the second moto of the 1993 Gatorback 125 National and Honda of Troy's veteran ace Erik Kehoe was leading young Jeremy McGrath in the waning moments. McGrath was looking for what would be his first AMA Pro Motocross win while Kehoe was looking to hold on to what would be his last. Both railed the righthand hairpin turn at the bottom of the Gator Pit, then went into a full-on sprint up the last hill to the checkered flag. The determined Kehoe went full-send, holding McGrath off at the line, but also launching himself way, way up in the air. The moment was captured by the legendary Paul Buckley, and has been talked about and bench-raced over for the past 28 years. In fact, our colleague Brett Smith wrote a terrific piece about the whole moment—the near-pass and the full-send, as well as the uncertain landing.