As the homestretch of the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship began on Saturday at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota, championship battles were all the talk. With just four races remaining on the schedule, time is running out for anyone in either class to make a big push for the 2020 title. That statement was even more true in the 450 Class entering round six as Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne had opened up a 28-point lead on Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. Osborne had also snagged three of the first five overall wins of the season and looked to bring that same level of speed and consistency into Spring Creek.
Fresh off his first career 450 Class overall win just 12 days ago, Adam Cianciarulo was poised to make a big statement in the second half of the season. The rookie Monster Energy Kawasaki rider sat a massive 42-points down of Osborne in the title fight, but that didn’t stifle his determination.
Cianciarulo fired the first shot of the day in qualifying as he went nearly a full second faster than anyone in the first qualifying session. Though he would be outdone by fellow rookie Chase Sexton in the second qualifying session, it has been the starts where AC has really shined this season. Just like in both motos at the previous round in Michigan, Cianciarulo was right to the front in the first moto at Spring Creek.
Those good starts fared well for him on a track that seemed to produce close lap times and thus difficulties passing. Cianciarulo spent most of the first moto withstanding heavy pressure from Musquin at first, and then eventually Baggett in the latter half of the race. But Baggett just couldn’t quite get by and Cianciarulo grabbed his second moto win of the season.
The second moto was much of the same as he and Baggett fought for the holeshot before Cianciarulo initially took off with the race lead. Baggett would catch him a couple of times but never quite got close enough to make the pass for the lead in again. The end result, a perfect 1-1 performance for Cianciarulo for the first time in his career.
“I was just kind of tunnel vision all day,” said Cianciarulo. “I’ve never gone 1-1 before, even last year when I won the championship on a 250, I never went 1-1. Can’t say enough good things about the team, the bike’s really good, and I’m just feeling really confident in my riding. In supercross and even the first round of outdoors, things were starting to tumble out of control and I’m like, ‘Man, what am I doing?’ and just continuing to grind and put one foot in front of the other and here I am with two wins in a row. It’s crazy.”
The true crazy part in all this is the misfortune experienced by Osborne. On a day where Osborne looked set to cruise in a couple top five results for a podium on the day, a flat front tire left Osborne with 10 minutes of the second moto to run and a choice to be made.
As he nursed the bike around, riders were passing him, and the points were slipping away. For several laps, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team was waving at Osborne to bring him in for the front wheel change. However, Osborne continued to circulate for the final third of the moto to bring home a frustrating 16th. Championship damage had been done.
“I honestly didn’t see them,” Osborne said of his team waving for him to come in. “I thought they had changed position and gone back to get a wheel or something so I didn’t see anyone, and I just kept hammering and trying to manage what I could which was quite tough in some places. I almost went down quite a few times. You know what, this Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team has been down before. We’re still not down, we’re still leading the championship. Things just got a little bit tighter. So, it’s a little clearer what we need to do now. There’s no managing it, it’s just trying to build the gap again.”
Osborne is now left to regroup from a rough outing and get back after it at the Florida National next week. Meanwhile, riders like Cianciarulo and Baggett, who went 2-2 on the day, are full of confidence on the heels of two great weekends at the races and nothing to lose. Baggett sits much further back in the championship still at 45 points down, but Cianciarulo just went from 42 back to just 15 back in one race.
It’s not out of the question that Baggett still has something to say about this championship down the stretch and he certainly has the recent pace to suggest he will be a spoiler in the fight at the very least.
“I’m giving it everything I’ve got,” said Baggett. “RedBud spiked it and reminded me I’ve got it in there and I can do it and just carrying it through. Really, I’m just enjoying it, enjoying being a dad, and trying to put it up front so when he looks it up on YouTube, I was worth something a little bit. The goal is to be there at the end. If I don’t win like today, 2-2 is awesome, but at the same time I was so close to being able to pull it off. At least they knew I was coming and that’s all that really matters.”
The opportunity sat ripe for the taking for Marvin Musquin as Osborne ran into his troubles. Musquin had closed two more points closer to Osborne in the first moto and was looking for a huge point haul on Osborne as he sat inside of the top five of the second moto as well. But just a few laps after Osborne’s tire went flat, Musquin fell and dropped down the order as well.
“I was doing great in Moto 2 until having a mishap at the very top of the mountain on the left-hander before you drop off,” said Musquin of his second moto troubles. “I lost the rear just a little bit and it got sideways even more while I was flying in the air so when I landed, I was still sideways, and it hooked, and I had a big crash. It was hard to get back up, but I was able to get some points with 10th. I’m super disappointed because I was looking forward to getting a podium today but I’m very lucky right now to not be injured.”
Quite sneakily, Justin Barcia put 5-4 scores together for a podium overall on the day. Barcia described his biggest problem after the race is that his starts have not given him any favors this season. Once again, Barcia was left to slice through the field in both motos and did a solid job of salvaging good points towards the championship as well.
While Barcia sits 41-points away from Osborne still, he is inching up on Eli Tomac who grabbed 6-5 scores on the day for fifth overall. Tomac is still not the same rider we’ve seen the last three years that resulted in three consecutive Lucas Oil Pro Motocross titles. Despite the rough day for Osborne, Tomac was on of the few riders to not make a huge jump in points as he’s still 39 points down with just three races to go. For Baggett, Barcia, and Tomac, this championship is looking out of reach. But the Osborne problems have certainly ignited a whole different discussion coming down to the final third of the season.
|Port Orange, FL United States||1 - 1||Kawasaki KX450|
|2||Blake Baggett||Grand Terrace, CA United States||2 - 2||KTM 450 SX-F|
|Monroe, NY United States||5 - 4||Yamaha YZ450F|
|La Moille, IL United States||8 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|5||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||6 - 5||Kawasaki KX450|
Three rounds ago in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Dylan Ferrandis voiced his frustration at being consistently one of the fastest riders on the track and not being able to convert that into race victories. His tone changed drastically just six days later when a rough fall in the first moto at RedBud 1 left him battered and bruised. After wild RedBud 2 that saw neither he nor championship rival Jeremy Martin claim the victory, Ferrandis sat just nine points back of the GEICO Honda rider heading into Spring Creek.
Spring Creek MX Park is owned by the Martin family and as such, Jeremy and older brother Alex have turned many laps on the hallowed grounds. But Ferrandis was having none of it and was determined to get his championship back on the right track. Two solid starts on the day was a huge help in that, but Ferrandis was very methodical in his approach to pass RJ Hampshire for the lead in the first moto.
After taking that first victory, the second moto was a carbon copy in that he needed to be patient to pass teammate Justin Cooper for the lead. The key difference in this one was that Jeremy Martin was hot on his heels the whole way through. For the first time this season, both Ferrandis and Martin clawed for every tenth of a second out of the track they could find as the two opened up a sizable gap out front and battled for the win. It was Ferrandis who prevailed and with it took the points lead again. After the rough three rounds Ferrandis had leading into round six, the 1-1 performance was everything he needed.
“It’s a big relief,” Ferrandis said. “The past few races have been hard for me with a lot of up and down, more down. I injured my shoulder. It was not ideal, but we regrouped during the weekend off and tried to recover the best that I can. We did the job today.”
Ferrandis was very candid of his thoughts on championship rival Martin following their hard fought second moto. Despite the previous run-in between the two at RedBud 2, the respect is still there for both parties.
“He’s such a nice guy, always been nice,” Ferrandis said of Martin. “When I came over from Europe, I think he was the only one to always say hello every time and he’s always been a nice guy with me. On the track, we both have a race to win and championships to win. But when we take off the helmet, I think it’s good to have a good relationship. I really like Jeremy. He’s a two-time outdoor champ so he’s not someone who you can play with. I think we gave you guys a good show.”
Though Martin leaves his home track with a second-place trophy and the red plates being removed from his bike, he can take solace in something else. Martin has credited Ferrandis many times this year as the man to beat and Martin gave quite the challenge today to that statement. At one point, Martin was even in the lead for a brief second on the last lap only for Ferrandis to close him back off. The win puts Ferrandis three points clear of Martin in what is sure to be a great fight down the stretch between the two.
“I didn’t know it was for the points lead,” said Jeremy Martin. “I mean, obviously I got a fifth in the first moto so that was quite a bit of points gained. I just knew for Moto 2, I saw the 14 on the back of the jersey, and I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get this cat.’ And I was doing everything I could to get that GEICO Honda up there. I don’t like coming in second but that was probably one of the funnest motos I’ve had all year. Between supercross and motocross, that was cool. We raced each other hard, we raced each other very clean, we got close. We’ve got three rounds left but if we have battles like that, that’s going to be a blast.”
It was a unique day for the Martin family even if a victory was not in the cards. JGRMX/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Alex Martin rounded out the podium as the brothers were able to share some of the hometown glory together.
Alex had qualified fastest, and his 4-4 performances were a step in the right direction coming off the RedBud doubleheader. Martin didn’t quite have the rides he hoped for at rounds four and five and was much more pleased with his result this time out.
“It was pretty cool to qualify first in practice,” said Alex Martin. “I haven’t done that since like Unadilla 2016. So, that was a good feeling for sure. But it wasn’t an easy day. I felt like I was scrapping for every second, every position, all day long. First moto battle I was in a GEICO sandwich between Jett Lawrence and my brother. And then second moto, it’s just like different guys. The class is so competitive that it’s just like Eeny Meeny Miny Moe every weekend.”
So close, yet so far again for GEICO Honda’s Jett Lawrence who just missed the podium by a single point today. For the second round in a row, Lawrence was able to finish third in the first moto but just couldn’t put the second moto together again and his sixth was just enough for Alex Martin to pip him for the spot.
It was a turnaround day for Justin Cooper in a sense as we saw a glimpse of the Justin Cooper we saw in 2019 once again at Spring Creek. Good starts was a big help for him on the day but even leading a good chunk of the second moto and settling into third was a good step in the right direction. For both Lawrence and Cooper, WW Ranch next week could be considered a good opportunity for them as the rough and sandy surface was kind to Cooper last year and could be a bit more familiar to Lawrence coming from the EMX250 class.
As just three rounds remain in the series, both championship fights are as tight as ever and clearly nothing is decided in either class. In one weeks’ time, we get to see how it all plays out as Lucas Oil Pro Motocross heads to WW Ranch in Jacksonville, Florida for round seven of nine. We’ll see you there.
|1||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon France||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|Millville, MN United States||5 - 2||Honda CRF250R|
|Millville, MN United States||4 - 4||Suzuki RM-Z250|
|4||Jett Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||3 - 6||Honda CRF250R|
|5||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||9 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|