Pivotal. Crucial. Decisive. Pick any adjective of this nature and it absolutely applied to the championship picture for multiple riders in both classes as the gate was about to drop on round five of Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross at RedBud. Jeremy Martin had won the last three overalls, the last three motos, and held a 12-point lead over Dylan Ferrandis. Zach Osborne, the 450 championship leader, was also coming off a perfect 1-1 day, and held a 26-point lead over Marvin Musquin. Another day of perfection for either leader could prove to be a difficult obstacle for other contenders to overcome as the series enters the back stretch, while a misstep is just what the competition needed to get right back in the thick of the points chase. But what happened? Did Osborne and Martin twist the screws tighter, or did the competition crack things wide open again? Let’s jump right into this special, Monday edition of Saturday Night Live to find out.
In the 250 Class Dylan Ferrandis is considered by many people to be the title favorite. He didn’t have the points lead coming into RedBud 2, having lost it several days prior at RedBud 1, but that didn’t seem to matter. His incredible speed has been jaw-dropping this season, and so far, nobody has been able to match it straight up. So with that in mind, it didn’t come as a big surprise when, after stalking Martin for several laps in the first moto, Ferrandis tried to sneak up the inside in an effort to maneuver past his title rival. It didn’t go to plan, however, and Ferrandis faltered, got into Martin, and they both went down. Martin was visibly upset and threw his hands up in the air at Ferrandis before reaching down to pick up his own machine. Ferrandis was able to recover for fifth in the moto, but Martin never regained any forward momentum and finished eleventh.
“I’m not going to deny it, I was pretty pissed off,” Martin said later. “I know Dylan and I are in this championship and I have a ton of respect for the guy. I knew it was coming, I knew he was going to start to get aggressive, but I didn’t expect it going down the straightaway like that so I guess it’s just game on for the rest of the year. We had a terrible first moto today, but I’m in this thing and you’re not going to be able to break me. I’ll go to the ends of the Earth, pretty deep. I remember laying in that hospital bed and what that felt like. I’m willing to suffer. May the best man win.”
“The incident in moto one with Jeremy was unfortunate, I can’t explain what happened,” Ferrandis said. “We both want the championship and I went inside and we came together. It was unfortunate.”
In the second moto there would be no run-ins between the two. Ferrandis got a horrible start and was never anywhere near Martin, who took over the lead when Ty Masterpool crashed. From there Martin, who changed shocks between motos and was much happier with his bike, rode to a largely uncontested win to get back some of the points he lost in the first moto. He didn’t get regain much ground though, as Ferrandis put on one of his patented, furious charges and passed RJ Hampshire on the final lap for second in the moto, handing him second overall. He now trails Martin by nine points with four rounds remaining.
“I was just trying to get maximum points,” Ferrandis said of his second moto. “I had some pain in my shoulder again, but I dealt with that. I only had two days to recover and on the gate I wasn’t really present in the moment. I missed both starts and had to come back from behind, I’m used to that now, I’m doing it every weekend. I gave it everything I had to try to save this championship. We cannot give up. I hope to recover for the next round and rebound with some wins.”
We mentioned Hampshire above, but it’s time we mention him again. Although he didn’t win a moto, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider did win the overall, which likely made getting passed by Ferrandis on the last lap of the second moto much easier to swallow. Hampshire was fantastic today, and was actually in a position to win the first moto before he made a mistake, went off the track, and nearly hit a tree. The error ultimately allowed Shane McElrath and Jett Lawrence to get by, but Hampshire recovered and got back past Lawrence. He made a run on McElrath, but wasn’t able to get the spot back before the checkers flew.
“That was super frustrating. I made the same mistake like three laps in a row. I had that moto,” Hampshire said immediately afterward. “I’ll just go back, regroup, and not make the same mistake again. Super frustrating, I can’t be doing that.”
Not surprisingly, his tone improved dramatically after winning the overall, although it took him a few moments to figure out if he’d indeed won.
“I wasn’t sure until I saw Zacho [Osborne] and he was like, ‘Yeah you did it!’ I didn’t know how far back Shane [McElrath] was. Man that was special,” Hampshire said. “I was trying to hang onto second there at the end, but Dylan was coming fast. It was either go outside and he goes inside, or I go inside and hopefully get the drive out but he got me. But man, this is special. I’m going to celebrate with my family tonight. There have been a lot of ups and downs but I’m stoked to be here on top.”
If you’re McElrath you’ve got to be happy about winning the first moto, but bummed about the missed opportunity in the second. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider got a terrible start and was only able to work his way up to tenth, although it was good enough for third overall.
“As soon as we took off the gate I spun and I knew right away, I was a wheel behind,” McElrath said. “I knew it was going to be a long race. It’s so hard to pass out there, there’s really just two lines—all the way inside and all the way outside. The outside is twice the distance and it’s hard to take a different line to pass someone. I tried that, then someone would go by me and it was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ To end up on the podium, I can’t believe it. It was pretty disappointing—I don’t know what place I got in that second moto, I just knew I was far back. It was hard trying to pick people off, everyone was going the same speed in front of me and I couldn’t change lines. To end up on the podium, that’s a miracle. Two podiums in a row. Third place isn’t what we want, but we’ve come a long ways too. We’re going to keep going and we’re getting better. The top two guys in points are out there, but we just need to keep clicking off race wins and that will give us a good shot.”
Some good mixed with bad for Ty Masterpool. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was once again brilliant with starts and led more laps than anyone, but crashed while leading the second moto and later crashed again, ruining an otherwise fantastic showing. Even still, he ended up going 4-13 for an extremely solid eighth overall.
|1||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL||2 - 3||Husqvarna FC 250|
|2||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon||5 - 2||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Shane McElrath||Canton, NC||1 - 10||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Jeremy Martin||Millville, MN||11 - 1||Honda CRF250R|
|5||Mitchell Harrison||Lansing, MI||6 - 4||Kawasaki KX250F|
In 450 action a green Kawasaki found its way up front to kick off the first moto, but it wasn’t Tomac’s machine, it was Adam Cianciarulo’s. The rookie, who crashed during the first round of qualifying and hurt his finger, was brilliant in this moto, and even when Eli Tomac got on his rear fender Cianciarulo demonstrated incredible poise, especially in the final three laps when Tomac cranked up the pressure to an ungodly level. Historically, Tomac has been victorious in these situations, Cianciarulo wouldn’t crack.
“The first half of the race I was basically just managing my vision, I was getting roosted the whole time,” Tomac explained after the first moto. “I had to back off and stay out of roost range. I made a push and got Zach and was doing what I could, but that main line is so fast right now and Adam was riding really well. I couldn’t really do anything different and second is what we had.”
Osborne held second most of this moto but gave up a pair of positions near the end—one to Tomac and one to Marvin Musquin, who put in a superb showing. Despite getting booted off the track early by Justin Barcia, the Frenchman dug deep and fought back to eventually take third in moto one. Afterward he remarked about what a crazy race it had been for him.
“I went outside before LaRocco’s Leap and Barcia came out of nowhere and took me out. I was very surprised, but I tried my best to come back. The track was really fast and the pace those guys up front were able to do was very intense. You were trying to pass the guy in front of you, and someone was behind you trying to pass you!”
Musquin took fourth in the second moto to garner fourth overall.
The second moto was somehow just as wild as the first, especially in the closing phases, although the faces up front were different at the end. Initially, Cianciarulo found himself up front and leading once again, and just when it seemed like he had total control over the moto his line converged with a lapper’s and he went down. It wasn’t a hard crash though and he was able to remount in third. He wasn’t able to reel Osborne or Blake Baggett back in, but his 1-3 was still good enough for the overall win, the first of Cianciarulo’s 450 Career.
“It’s hard to put this into words,” Cianciarulo said of his win. “I felt a lot more comfortable out front after leading wire to wire in the first moto, but unfortunately I had a little mishap with a lapper. To be honest, I wanted to go 1-1. That didn’t happen but I was happy I was able to get up and regroup. I felt great even at the end there. I’ve been really grinding and putting in a lot of time. I couldn’t be prouder of the whole team, my trainer Nick Wey, my mom, dad and sister, my whole family is behind me always. I’m so, so happy that I’ve been able to repay such a great team with a win. And for myself, I’m proud. You’re always going through ups and downs in this sport. Just a few weeks ago, after the first Loretta’s, I got back to the rig and I was throwing my helmet, I was mad, and wondering what the heck was going on. Here we are three weeks later, we kept grinding, and we’re on top. I love this sport.”
As the moto drew to a close Baggett was all over Osborne, but try as he might, wasn’t able to get around Osborne. Then, in a surprising move, Baggett seemed to tap his brakes early, dove to the inside behind Osborne, then hammered the throttle and jumped out of the turn ahead of Osborne and took Osborne’s line away. It was a move that, had Baggett told you ahead of time it’s what he was going to do, you would have laughed at him and told him he was crazy. But it worked, and it resulted in a win for Baggett.
“It seems like the days you try so hard you’re in the back of the pack and are lucky to get a top ten,” Baggett said. “It was just coming to me, and I’m going to take it for sure. It feels good to get a moto win. I’ve been around for a long time, I’m getting older, and I’ll take every one I can get toward the end for sure. Things were just connecting, I have to give it up to the whole team. I was starting to doubt myself a little bit, I haven’t been up front in a long time. I have speed and I’ve qualified good, but I haven’t been able to put it together. I had a little devil on my shoulder that was doubting me, but once I got there things were happening and they started to happen slower and slower. I knew when I got that feeling, when things start happening slow, you start going fast. I was like, ‘All right, maybe we can get this done and get back up there.’ It feels good to get a moto win, and wherever I finished overall. I’m just glad to be up here. I’ll take this one, and we’ll keep racing.”
For Tomac the second moto was absolutely disastrous. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider went down in the first turn and got going again way, way back. He made a lot of passes early, but once he got up to seventh his forward progress stopped. This led him to give back the points he gained on Osborne in the first moto. Tomac went 2-7 for fifth overall and with less than half the season remaining, trails Osborne by 47 points.
|1||Adam Cianciarulo||Port Orange, FL||1 - 3||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Blake Baggett||Grand Terrace, CA||6 - 1||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Zach Osborne||Abingdon, VA||4 - 2||Husqvarna FC 450|
|4||Marvin Musquin||La Reole||3 - 4||KTM 450 SX-F|
|5||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO||2 - 7||Kawasaki KX450|