This wasn’t just a mud race where anything can happen, this is one where everything happened. Just a wild, nutty day in the mud with Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, and one with extra-large championship implications considering the series is shorter than usual. Consider, for example, that the rider who looked most doomed from a championship perspective at the start of the day ended up not only winning the race, but extending his points lead in a massive direction over his rival. From beginning to end, this one was high drama.
So, let’s start with the early goings of the Motosport.com Loretta Lynn’s 2 National. Zach Osborne’s Rockstar Energy Drink Husqvarna quit and would not restart as the lone qualifying session began (the first qualifying session and the Last Chance Qualifier were both cancelled to preserve the racetrack, leaving only one qualifying session). As Osborne’s team spun wrenches hurriedly to track down an electrical problem, the session went on without the series points leader. He ran out of time, however, and instead rode the other 450 “B” group session, generally for riders who have not scored series’ points (due to two of the three routes to qualifying being cancelled, it was deemed legal for Osborne to switch to the B group to qualify). He then made it into the show (Riders in the top ten in points must complete one qualifying lap to compete in the motos). Osborne earned the 10th qualifying spot with his B group time, then suffered through a rough first moto in the mud with a goggle problem and a tip over, and only a late charge allowed him to salvage a fifth.
At that rate, it sure didn’t look likely that Osborne would have been grabbing the his second-straight overall win trophy by the end of the day, but yet that’s what happened, as more chaos in moto two saw Osborne take the win while everyone who did well in the first-moto stumbled. Thus his 5-1 unlocked an overall win on a day it looked like he might not qualify!
“If you told me I would have had a 5-5 on the day, I would taken it,” joked Osborne. “It’s awesome to get back to back wins especially with the day we had. From the get-go, green flag dropped, and my bike stopped, took them awhile to fix it, it was just an electrical issue and it takes a long time to troubleshoot. First moto was less than stellar from the start, I was so far back, my tear off pulls broke, I had to stop and kinda fix that, I was like 35th. To salvage a fifth from that, then second moto felt super comfortable at the halfway mark, four a flow, to come back and win again was super nice.”
Just as wild as Osborne’s bad-turned-good day was a good-turned-bad-day for three-time and defending 450 Class champion Eli Tomac. On a day that stressed all bikes to the limit, Tomac’s Monster Energy Kawasaki quit running before the end of both motos. He still was credited with ninth in the first moto because his bike quit on the last lap, and he had lapped far into the field (Tomac was running fifth when the bike quit). Then the bike let go again in moto two with two laps to go and Tomac running eighth! He ended up 24th in that one, meaning Tomac scored just 16th overall, and now sits a whopping 40 points down on Osborne with just four motos complete this season—but only 14 to go due to the shortened schedule.
The rest of the 450 podium was also wild. Justin Barcia completely dominated the first moto on his Monster Energy Yamaha, winning by a minute! He was quickly up to fourth in moto two and looking to control the overall when he crashed, and then didn’t finish the moto due to bike problems, leaving him with a heartbreaking 1-32 for seventh overall. At one point, Adam Cianciarulo had a shot at the overall by sitting on 3-3 scores, but Adam went back to fifth in moto two, his 3-5 gave him second overall. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin logged a serious charge on the final lap of moto two, as he attempted to pass Osborne, which would have vaulted him to the overall win with … 8-1 scores! Instead his 8-2 left him third overall.
“I’m pumped to be back on the podium for the second race, it’s been a while,” said Musquin. “The conditions were tough, so it was my goal to be up front battling and I was able to do that in the second moto. I would have liked to be more consistent in both motos but that’s racing, everybody was having issues and crashing. Also, you have to save the bike and my bike was running well today, I had no issues.”
Also of note was Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki’s Max Anstie, who led much of the second 450 moto before getting held up by a lapped rider just as Osborne was launching a charge to the front. Anstie had a plan to get Osborne back, but Musquin spoiled the party.
“Yeah crazy, I had a lot of fun,” said Anstie, racing full time in the U.S. for the first time since 2010. “I didn’t know what to expect coming into the first Loretta’s, new bike for me, and I was coming in from an Achilles injury and I wasn’t sure how I would feel racing. Testing in California at Glen Helen or Pala, I came to this track and it was completely different. Obviously, I raced GPs and raced conditions like this, but I just wanted to make small steps. First moto, I got out and I wasn’t too bad, and I was in eight or something. That first moto was really, really tough for my foot (Achilles), when you’re dragging your legs everywhere, I hadn’t done that, I was quite nervous. Second moto I pulled the holeshot, the bike worked, I kept a relatively good flow, I kept my goggles clean, my bike didn’t get too hot. I felt good, and one of these lappers was just coming completely across the track at me. So, I had to stop, that was a shame because Zach got by me. I was fast in the sand near the finish, that was my spot to set Zach back up near the finish…. but Marv came out of nowhere and messed up my plan! But I was like, okay, it was good for the team to lead some laps and get on the podium. It will be nice next week if we get better conditions and go from there.”
Anstie was fifth overall with a 15-3. Just ahead in fourth overall was Monster Energy Yamaha’s Broc Tickle with a 2-9.
“Yeah, first moto was awesome got off to a good start and honestly just rode pretty conservative,” said Tickle. “Hit my marks, didn’t hurt the bike. Came home second, I felt like maybe I could have pushed more, but I haven’t raced outdoors in three years, and being out in SoCal for so long, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable. But for the most part it’s good to be back racing, I’m stoked on the crew I have around. I’ve worked with a lot of these guys before; it almost feels like a welcome home. Getting close to the podium is great, but I want to do it in dry conditions also. I want to be in the mix, obviously the class is pretty stacked, but I still think I have what it takes to be in the mix.”
|1||Zach Osborne||Abingdon, VA||5 - 1||Husqvarna FC 450|
|2||Adam Cianciarulo||Port Orange, FL||3 - 5||Kawasaki KX450|
|3||Marvin Musquin||La Reole||8 - 2||KTM 450 SX-F|
|4||Broc Tickle||Holly, MI||2 - 9||Yamaha YZ450F|
|5||Max Anstie||Newbury, England||15 - 3||Suzuki RM-Z250|
Right as the 250 Class first moto was about to get underway is when the rain returned, changing the status of the track from improved significantly after qualifying to “Now there is standing water everywhere, this is going to get interesting.” And that it did.
When the gate dropped on the first race of the day, RJ Hampshire struck gold. Hampshire wasn’t the fastest qualifier but in the first moto, he did what he had to do. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider got out to an okay start (on the inside, within the top ten) but he took advantage of the few turns to put himself into the top five. Then, as the mistakes from the riders ahead of him started to add up, Hampshire continued to avoid mistakes himself to put stay in position to take over the lead from Cameron Mcadoo. The rest of the moto wasn’t perfect for Hampshire but he managed to hold on for the race win—and he did so by riding with the latter half of the race without goggles and with a fast-approaching, fresh-goggled Dylan Ferrandis seeking a win of his own.
“It was a brutal track today but I was pumped to hold on in moto one to get my first moto-win with the team,” Hampshire said in a team statement.
But as we mentioned above, everything that could happen today, did happen today. At the start of the second moto, Hampshire was nowhere to be found. He had made contact with another rider and crashed in the first turn. After crossing the first full lap in 30th, he had a lot of work ahead of him in order to get inside the overall top ten. Hampshire was charging through the pack. Into the top 20, then 15. Several laps later, he was on the verge of breaking into the top ten. Until he got stuck momentarily. But with a little assistance from Brandon Hartranft (who’s bike gave out on him only seconds before as he was running in fifth place), Hampshire would eventually crack into the top ten.
Then Hampshire’s bike suffered a mechanical failure of its own, ending his moto early with a few laps to go. And just as quickly as he was making moves, it all went away.
“After going down in the first turn, I put on a charge and climbed as much as I could but the bike ended up letting go with a lap and a half to go,” said Hampshire, whose 1-18 earned him sixth overall. “It’s not the final result we wanted but I’m looking forward to battling up front some more this season.”
About the only constant thing all day was Alex Martin putting his JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki Factory Racing RM-Z250 out front—and splashing everyone behind him. Just as he had in the first moto, A-Mart put himself out front at the start of the second moto. Only this time he didn’t give up the lead with a crash. Behind him was little brother Jeremy. The Martin bros ran off out front as chaos ensued behind them. Section after section riders were biking up their bike here after a tip over or they were trying to push their dead bikes off the track over there.
In the post-race press conference, Alex, Jeremy, and Ferrandis all acknowledged the importance of saving their bike through the brutal conditions to bring it home through the finish line. While Ferrandis did manage to conserve his Yamaha YZ250F through both motos, a change the team made after the first moto left the Frenchman frustrated after a horrible start and a long, rough second moto.
“That really make my moto worse than anything," said Ferrandis on a bike change the team made between motos that lead to discomfort during moto two. "I’m kinda frustrated for that. It’s important to at least finish. Glad I finish. It’s not what I wanted but we still on the box and we still have a championship to manage, so we’ll see next weekend."
"So I was not happy with the second moto...2-4 was still a good day," he said. "So we leave with the red plate which is the goal. Two down, seven to go."
The good thing for Ferrandis is that he said there has not been any pressure on him to guarantee he will deliver a championship to the team this summer. He said in the press conference he is taking each round week by week.
"There is no pressure," Ferrandis said. "We work really hard during the break and my physical training and off the bike program is really good and that’s what gives me the confidence."
Alex Martin said in the press conference late in the race he got the message “+2” from his mechanic and he wasn’t sure what it meant so he put in a charge to the end. A-Mart ended up taking the moto win (his first with the JGRMX/Yoshimura Suzuki team) by over a minute. He also said the second moto was the first race of the season that he hadn’t crashed in. When he went down in the fist moto and lost over two minutes trying to get going again, he said in the press conference how taxing the track was—especially after crashing and having to pick up a mud-packed, extra heavy bike.
“I think my lap time was in the area of about five minutes,” Alex Martin said on his bike getting stuck and needing assistance from an MX Sports Pro Racing Official. “You could have given me and hour to pick up the bike and I couldn’t have done it.”
He was right, his lap time on the 12th lap of the race was a 4:59.773 when the typical lap was around a 2:30-2:45 range.
With Ferrandis buried about 20th of the start and his brother leading the race with a great pace out front, two-time 250 Class champion Jeremy Martin said he knew he couldn’t catch his brother for the win so he had to conserve the bike as best as he could. And he did, even though for a few laps towards the end it appeared his bike had no chance of staying running (especially as his GEICO Honda teammate Carson Mumford suffered a bike issue of his own). With his 3-2 finishes he knew—well, he said later he was pretty sure—he had the overall win in the bag. Jeremy's bike held on to come through second. His math checked out, he had done it: he had won his first overall since suffering his injury in late June 2018.
That was the big question entering the year: could Jeremy Martin return to his old form, be a race-winner, and contest for the championship? If so, he could make for great competition for title favorite Ferrandis. An overall win in the mud at Loretta Lynn’s Ranch does not guarantee the “old Jeremy Martin” is back and he will claim his third championship this year, but it means with that first monkey (first win post-back injury) is off his back he is one step closer to the “old,” race-winning Jeremy Martin.
“I was able to get the overall, not a win today as far as a moto win but I got the overall and that was a big deal,” he said in the post-race press conference. “It’s been a long road to get back to the top step of the podium.”
“I got a pretty good start…wow, I tell you what that was a nail biter, my bike was smoking from halfway," J-Mart said on the podium after the race. "…I did everything I could, I went so much slower to try conserve that engine. And thank God it worked. So I’d like to thank the man above, my mom and dad, they’ve been with my during the week, watering the track so I can come here on the weekend and hopefully win."
Martin got choked up thanking his parents, who have not wavered from his side through the ups and downs of his career.
“I didn’t expect to get my first win this soon, but I tell you what, we’re doing to enjoy it tonight,” he said.
|1||Jeremy Martin||Millville, MN||3 - 2||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon||2 - 4||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Alex Martin||Millville, MN||7 - 1||Suzuki RM-Z250|
|4||Cameron McAdoo||Sioux City, IA||4 - 5||Kawasaki KX250|
|5||Shane McElrath||Canton, NC||8 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|