Last weekend at Spring Creek Motocross Park in Millville, Minnesota, we saw the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship battles tighten in both the 250 and 450 classes. Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis retook the points lead in the 250 Class by a small margin and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Zach Osborne saw his 28-point lead to second place cut in half to 15 by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo. However, today’s seventh round (of nine total in this shortened season) produced two winners that are trying to indicate exactly where they want the rest of the season to go.
Ferrandis proved last weekend that he is nowhere near done with letting Jeremy Martin claim the 250 Class title—and he showed that with a statement ride on J-Mart’s home track. Today, Ferrandis proved himself again with his second consecutive moto-sweeping day (his third 1-1 this season). He said after qualifying that the goal today was all about saving the body. In what would be the hottest day of the season in terms of temperature and weather, on a rough track, he knew how important it was to get two good motos in.
“It’s awesome but I know it’s going to be difficult, a really challenging day,” Ferrandis said on taking the top qualifying position.
When the points-paying motos came, the veteran executed exactly what he wanted and needed to do: get a start, get out front, get a gap and conserve energy. Starts have been a problem for Ferrandis, but he was with the lead group immediately on this day.
“I think getting a good start and be out front early was a key today,” Ferrandis said after taking the win in the first moto. “I wanted to take the lead, put a gap in and save my legs. …So stoked to get a good start, manage to get the win. It’s awesome.”
“Every race are important but it’s good to bounce back with two races in a row of double moto wins,” Ferrandis said on the podium after the second moto. “Today was a difficult day but I made a job. Really happy. My start was much better.”
Jeremy Martin’s day was not ideal as he ended up losing 10 points to Ferrandis. He started behind Ferrandis in both motos and didn't have the speed to rage to the front like his title rival.
“It was a heck of a battle all day today for me coming through the pack,” said Martin. “I came up on Shane [McElrath] there in that second moto and I tried to get him, tried to get him, and I couldn’t get him. So, I was like, let’s just get him when he’s tired. I’m sure we all got tired today, but I tried to pounce on him with two laps to go and was able to get him. Then I just got a little gap and went 3-3 on the day.”
After a solid day Justin Cooper stepped on to the overall podium for the first time this season in seven events—which seems weird to type knowing how impressive his first two years of Pro Motocross were. An injury before the season slowed his progress, and only now are we seeing him at his usual level. Cooper got good starts in both races and stayed strong to the end, much better than some of his races at the start of the campaign.
"It’s been an up and down season, I’ve been waiting to put together two good motos like this and today was the day," Cooper said on the podium. "This place definitely brings the heat. …man it just feels good when you’re expected to do this and it hasn’t come in so long and to finally get it down is just, [I’m] grateful.”
With Ferrandis making the jump to the 450 Class in 2021, Cooper said recently he knows he will take over as the team’s main championship guy until he moves out of the 250 Class.
“The season is coming to a close and definitely want to finish it off strong, don’t want to go into the off-season feeling like I was under par. …this was a good rebound for us,” Cooper said.
Just behind J-Mart on the overall podium was Jett Lawrence. The youngster just missed out on his first overall podium yet again but he has to be stoked on his results, especially with a career best moto finish today. His first moto was strong, as he passed his teammate Martin en route to second. His start wasn't as good in moto two and he found himself once again just off the podium.
Other riders to note in the 250 Class are Shane McElrath and RJ Hampshire. McElrath faded significantly in the first moto but rebounded well to hold off a tough Jeremy Martin charge for the longer part of the race. His first moto hindered his overall finish but he was a lot stronger in the second moto. Hampshire was in the mix with the top five in the first moto but suffered a wild crash late in the race. Hampshire must have hit a kicker on the face of the jump because his FC 250 took a sudden dive on the jump that probably sends rides the highest upon takeoff. Hampshire jumped off of his bike mid-air and somehow walked away from the crash uninjured. He got up, ran to his bike that was maybe 20 feet away, grabbed his bike, and went to continue the moto but his bike was mangled too far to continue the race. It was simply miraculous that he was unhurt and even came back to race moto two!
The team completely rebuilt his bike for the second moto, he lined up, and finished sixth (35-6 for 12th overall officially). Not the way he saw his day going when he was fighting inside the top three during the early parts of the day.
|1||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon France||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||4 - 2||Yamaha YZ250F|
|Millville, MN United States||3 - 3||Honda CRF250R|
|4||Jett Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||2 - 5||Honda CRF250R|
|5||Shane McElrath||Canton, NC United States||7 - 4||Yamaha YZ250F|
In the 450 Class, Zach Osborne needed to stop the roll Adam Cianciarulo had built over the last two rounds. He did just that. Cianciarulo and Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton battled for first and second in the first 450 Class moto until 30-year-old Marvin Musquin and now 31-year-old Zach Osborne played spoiler to the rookie battle. Osborne put his head down and charged, making late passes on both Sexton and Cianciarulo to snag a huge moto win.
“This was definitely the most important moto for me of the entire season so far,” Osborne said on taking the moto one win. “Mr. momentum was trying to change his address on me and I kinda had to put a stop to it. So I knew that was important. I was under a lot of pressure. I felt it today. The red plate carries that weight for you.”
Cianciarulo finished second. Meanwhile, Musquin—who suffered a gnarly crash during qualifying that could have ended his day early—seemed stuck in fourth place all race. Sexton then crashed on the last lap, which cost him the final spot on the podium, handing it to Musquin. Osborne claimed his fifth moto win of the year and probably his most impressive to date after running down too hot rookies late in a race.
In the second race, AC was out front again and a closely lurking Musquin (again) would not go away. Eventually, the two collided when they both went for the same line: Musquin took over the lead as Cianciarulo dropped outside the top five (more on this later). Osborne put his head down and got Musquin to get the win, earning his second 450 Class overall moto sweep in impressive fashion—especially since he he had to fend off a hungry hulk (more on that later as well).
“It was a really good day for my Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing bike,” said Osborne of his trust in the machine beneath him. “I owe this one to the boys. I did not see them last weekend in the mechanics area and I felt really bad because they felt like I had lost some trust in them or that I felt like they couldn’t do it fast enough. So, apologies to them but thank you to them as well. This is an amazing way to bounce back from all of us.”
It is two weeks in a row now that Musquin has had a big crash and he said he is lucky to walk-away from uninjured. Last week he escaped from a crash down Martin Mountain that cost him a better finish in the second moto, but luckily not much more than that. Today he walked away from a qualifying crash where he landed headfirst after his bike swapped out from underneath him.
“I can’t believe I’m standing up right here in second place,” Musquin said after the second moto. “I gotta be happy…If you look at the overall of the day, the week…I’m lucky I’m not injured again….I didn’t give up, even though it was super hard standing on the line for the first moto.”
That hulk we mentioned? Eli Tomac made an Eli Tomac beast mode appearance in the second moto. He busted out one of those late-race charges we have been accustomed to seeing from the Colorado native. Tomac was using all sorts of outside, wild, rough lines as he blasted his way around the track, mowing through the field and getting all the way to Osborne on the last lap in a bid for the moto win.
“I’ve just been in a funk,” Tomac said on his results this season. “Just put myself in bad positions off the start and just really not bringing anything to the table. I’ve been struggling to have those motos where I do come through the pack this year. There’s more talent, more speed I think this year. Past weekends, I’ve been searching. Nice to know I can be up there again.”
“It was pretty deep mentally and physically,” Osborne said on the digging deep to hold off Tomac’s charge. “…He’s pretty lethal. I was just hammer down to the end. Really good day. …Here we are with two rounds to go. It’s on.”
Osborne now has two rounds to go and a 29-point cushion on Cianciarulo before he can claim his first ever premier class title. The championship is not over just yet but with a statement ride from Osborne today, he remains in complete control.
After Musquin and Cianciarulo collided, the rookie said he was a little banged up from the crash—specifically his collarbone he had plated after breaking it during Monster Energy AMA Supercross earlier this year—and had to nurse his Kawasaki through the finish line the best he could.
“I think I put myself in good positions today,” Cianciarulo said. “I put my best foot forward, I can’t be bummed on that. I’ve had a really good last couple of weeks so it’s easy to look at this result and be bummed out. Unfortunately, I came together with Marvin there. It was just kind of a weird deal. I didn’t get a good drive into the rollers and he kinda had a line and we both went for the same line and man, it was violent, like I came to a stop and I hit where I had my collarbone plated a couple months ago. …Had to nurse it home, I couldn’t do too much.”
“That’s unfortunate but I tried my best today so I can hang my hat on that but hopefully bounce back next week and get another win,” AC continued.
This morning, Sexton put in the fastest time in qualifying. He had a mistake during last week’s first moto (crashing while in third before finishing the moto eighth) that cost him a shot at the overall podium. Today was going differently for the Illinois native. He was fighting for the moto win with Cianciarulo in the first moto until a crash cost him a spot on the podium. Then a surge from Osborne and Eli Tomac threw out his chances of being on the overall podium. He was not able to take a step forward in results today, but he did put in two solid races. Although today was not the day, Sexton is due for a breakthrough here soon.
We will head to Colorado next weekend for the penultimate round of the championship at Thunder Valley Motocross Park. Will Ferrandis and Osborne solidify their positions atop their respective classes or will the competition make a last-ditch effort for a title of their own? In a year for of so much unknown, it is great to know that we will indeed be in for two more rounds of great racing—no matter who takes the checkered flag.
|Abingdon, VA United States||1 - 1||Husqvarna FC 450|
|La Reole France||3 - 3||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||6 - 2||Kawasaki KX450|
|Port Orange, FL United States||2 - 7||Kawasaki KX450|
|La Moille, IL United States||4 - 5||Honda CRF450R|