Momentum swings come and go with every season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. It’s a common talking point among the paddock that when a rider is on, he’s on. That momentum looked to be hugely in the favor of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne entering the third round of the season this Saturday at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Osborne had won the first two rounds of the championship and held a commanding 19-point lead over Marvin Musquin.
Crucially, defending champion Eli Tomac sat 40 points back of Osborne after two mechanical failures caused a large drop in points for the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider from the second round. In an already short series of just nine rounds, the time for Tomac to recover from such a rough weekend was even shorter than normal as just seven rounds remained for him to claw it all back.
But as with any conversation that includes Tomac’s name in it, the oddities float to the surface. Tomac nearly broke the record for largest points deficit overcome to win a Monster Energy Supercross title as he fell narrowly short of championship in 2017. The man simply breaks the mold of what to expect week in and week out.
Expectations shifted further after Tomac qualified 13th for the day at Ironman. Then Colorado native turned it all around when the race started, as he nearly holeshot the first moto from his mid-pack gate selection. Tomac stalked Marvin Musquin for the entire 35 minutes of the first moto ultimately just falling short. It was in the second moto, however, where the Eli Tomac we all know came to play.
Despite dealing with a barrage of attacks from the likes of Justin Barcia and Zach Osborne, Tomac methodically worked his way around teammate Adam Cianciarulo to take the lead, and then he held it to the end of the race. The 2-1 gave him the overall. It was a breakthrough, much needed for Tomac, pulled him right back into discussion as he gained 13 points on Osborne in a single day.
“All we can do is try to do what we did today,” continued Tomac. “Got to try to be the guy at the top at the end of the day with the most points. I’m feeling good about the future tracks. Most of the time, they’ve been pretty good to us, and they’re tracks I like.”
Starts have been Tomac’s main issue in the past, and Saturday’s action saw a few surprisingly good starts out of the green machine. The ability to get up front early afforded Tomac the opportunity to fight for the win.
“We had much better starts,” continued Tomac. “We were top three pretty much every start. That pace the second moto was pretty unbelievable. I had relentless pressure from Justin there. Both of us made a huge push after halfway there, that’s what it seemed like. We got the front two, and after that you had to be mistake free. Justin was really, really on me there. This track is always super deep, so you’ve got to be mistake free.”
With the win, Tomac jumps from eighth to fourth in the championship. While he's closed the gap to Osborne, the familiar face of Marvin Musquin is building himself back into a familiar problem for Tomac to deal with. Musquin was able to capture an emphatic first moto victory at the same track that left him sidelined for nearly a year with a knee injury. After all the time off from racing, Musquin appears to be more relieved than anything with his early season success.
“I feel amazing,” said Musquin. “I put in a lot of work and like you said, a year without racing is not normal for me. I’ve been racing every year and haven’t missed a lot of time. To miss a whole year was tough.”
Musquin ended the day second overall but actually closed his points gap to Zach Osborne down to just 14 points behind. If a championship fight is on hand for the Frenchman, he looks to build on the early success and not get too far ahead of himself.
“It’s a step better,” Musquin said of his overall finish. “I’m pretty happy where I’m at. I’m competitive and I just want to be more consistent.”
Third on the day was Adam Cianciarulo who watched his first career overall victory slip from his grasp late in the second moto when Eli Tomac, Justin Barcia, and then Zach Osborne all steamrolled by on the same lap. With the potential 3-1 scores, Cianciarulo controlled his own fate and just fell short of the mark when the flag waved.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating. I mean, we’re here to win,” said Adam Cianciarulo. “I can’t be too frustrated with myself because I know what I put into it and I gave it everything I had in that moto. So, that’s the name of the game. I think my speed was great today. Honestly, I think I was one of the fastest guys. But that wasn’t the problem, just didn’t have the strength there at the end of the moto.”
Cianciarulo admitted his injuries from supercross hurt his motocross training, and he got tired at the end of the second moto after going all out to try to hold the lead. Still, his second-straight overall win gave him a jump in points as he now sits 33 markers down in fifth in the standings. As he and Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton continue to dispute top rookie in the class, Cianciarulo has more often put himself out front on the starts which could be a difference maker if the Florida native hopes to contend for the title.
After Justin Barcia’s maniacal ride in the second moto, even Eli Tomac was left astonished by the pace. Barcia had a bad start in moto one but was fast, once again putting two solid motos together. He also remains close in the title contention as he continues to impress in a contract year.
“I knew I was strong today,” said Justin Barcia. “I felt good, had the good speed. My fitness was definitely good today on this track. It was super rough. But blood was in the water today and I tasted it. Eli was right there, and we were battling so hard. I told his dad John that if felt like the old days battling as amateurs. It was a really cool feeling. Good clean racing and I was right there but I just couldn’t make it happen. Eli rode a great race.”
Barcia also gained points as he sits third in the championship now just 26 points behind Osborne. As for Osborne, it wasn’t the ideal day, but it could have been much worse. While running third in the first moto, Osborne hit a lapped rider that put him down on the ground. Cianciarulo and Chase Sexton both went by but even after Osborne remounted, he lost most positions to Blake Baggett and Barcia as well. A rebound for third in the second moto was a strong finish to an up and down day for the points leader, although Tomac and Barcia were able to get by him when a lapped rider slowed him.
“The first moto was just really bad for me,” said Zach Osborne. “I made some mistakes, ran into a lapper, had some arm pump, so it was just a little bit of a mess. Bounced back in the second moto for third. I didn’t have the pace there to win, but I felt really good on the bike, a lot better than the first moto. So, I’m positive going into RedBud. I get to keep the red plate for another week, and I’ve got to just keep charging.”
Other notables included Sexton and Baggett who both had reasons to be happy with their days. Sexton put his Honda inside of the top five for both motos but ultimately ended up sixth overall. Whereas Baggett had a much better week in general putting together 5-7 scores for seventh overall on the day.
Tough luck for Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Suzuki’s Max Anstie who not only lost the engine in his bike at the very end of the first moto dropping him to 14th but crashed heavily in the second moto as well. The likeable British rider was at first thought to have a broken jaw, but later reported that he was indeed hurting, but the jaw wasn't broken.
|1||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO||2 - 1||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Marvin Musquin||La Reole||1 - 6||KTM 450 SX-F|
|Port Orange, FL||3 - 4||Kawasaki KX450|
|4||Justin Barcia||Monroe, NY||6 - 2||Yamaha YZ450F|
|5||Zach Osborne||Abingdon, VA||7 - 3||Husqvarna FC 450|
The 250 class contingent squared off for their third round as well at Ironman on Saturday. Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis held the points lead by a narrow six points on GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin after the latter claimed his first overall win a week ago at Loretta Lynn’s 2.
In what is slowly becoming a two-horse race for the championship, Ferrandis and Martin once again found themselves out front in the first moto on Saturday. It was the first real chance we had to see the duo square up out front. But Ferrandis ended up squaring up the timing sheets instead as the Frenchman laid down a blistering pace to cruise to a commanding first moto win.
Things were not nearly as easy for Ferrandis in the second moto, however, as a fall on the start left him well down the order. Martin grabbed the holeshot this time and mimicked Ferrandis’ first moto performance with a moto win of his own. The win was enough for the second overall in two weeks for Martin and he was plenty happy with how things are looking in this young season.
“Last week was a special moment, but let’s be honest, I didn’t win a moto,” said Martin of his second consecutive overall win. “That made it a bit more special obviously just get a good start and ride my own race to get the moto win. Dylan was going really fast in that first moto and all I could think about was, ‘Dude, you’ve got to pick it up. You’ve got to think of something you can do to be better.’ The best thing for me was to just get a good start and ride my own race.”
The win for Martin was somewhat overshadowed but the astonishing performance put on by Ferrandis in that second moto. After falling on the start and getting up dead last, Ferrandis sliced his way forward with impunity.
At one point in traffic, Ferrandis was clearly the fastest rider on the track and it became a question of how far he could get up in the running order before long. With a few minutes left in the moto, he caught and passed first Jett Lawrence for fourth and then Brandon Hartranft for third. His overall 1-3 scores on the day were plenty good enough for second overall and he also only lost two points to Martin in the championship as he retained the red plate for another week.
“It was not that hard,” said Ferrandis. “I just ride as fast as I can, pass the most riders that I can, and I think I was dead last at the start. Nothing to lose, just wanted to come back the best I can. I wish I could have more laps. It’s the way it is. It’s a big disappointment to not win this second moto because I felt like I was on it today. The crash on the start was really stupid. It’s racing, we can’t win everything.”
Both Ferrandis and Martin led third place Alex Martin in the standings by over 30 points just three rounds into the series.
Completely lost in all of this was an impressively solid day for Brandon Hartranft. The Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM rider has not started his 2020 campaign on the right foot by any means but his 3-4 scores on the day were a huge step in the right direction.
“I’ve been looking for this day,” said Hartranft. “I’ve just been struggling here lately but during the week I just keep my head down and keep pushing. Today is what it’s all about so you will see me up here more often.”
Another man who experienced a much better time at the races than he had been having through two rounds was Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper. He took second in moto two, much better than the previous races this summer.
“I broke my hand the Thursday after the last supercross race,” said Cooper. “It’s just been a struggle to get back. I’ve been a little bit off mentally and it’s been hard to get the fitness back. I haven’t had much testing on the bike. So, I’ve kind of just been playing it with my teammates, running their setups, and I made a big change after Moto 1 and felt really comfortable out there. Good improvement, I just need motos under my belt. I’m getting the fitness back slowly and each time out is bettering me.”
Tougher days at the office were had by the aforementioned Alex Martin and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s RJ Hampshire. One week on from both riders claiming a moto win at Loretta Lynn’s 2, Martin struggled with starts while Hampshire fell in both motos. The end results saw Alex pickup sixth overall while Hampshire could only manage 12th.
Ahead of them, GEICO Honda’s Jett Lawrence had a strong day earning fifth overall with 4-5 scores. In both motos, Lawrence was headed towards the front and seemingly got stronger as the races went on. After turning a lot of heads in supercross, the 17-year-old Australian continues to impress in the outdoors.
That puts Ironman behind us but it’s a shorter wait to drop the gate this week as we’re back at RedBud in Buchanan, Michigan on September 4 for the first of two rounds at RedBud. The first Friday National in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross history will be immediately followed by the first Monday National ever with RedBud 2 running on September 7. We’ll see you then.
|1||Jeremy Martin||Millville, MN||2 - 1||Honda CRF250R|
|Avignon||1 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Brandon Hartranft||Brick, NJ||3 - 4||KTM 250 SX-F|
|Cold Spring Harbor, NY||8 - 2||Yamaha YZ250F|
|Landsborough||4 - 5||Honda CRF250R|