Saturday’s Spring Creek National marked the halfway point of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship as the sixth round of 12. It would also mark a couple of twists in the championship fight for both the 250 class and the 450 class. As for the 450’s, a new name was added to the list of winners in 2021 joining Ken Roczen and Dylan Ferrandis, though it came from a rider who hasn’t collected an overall win since 2018.
The day started with Ken Roczen and Chase Sexton qualifying first and second overall in the 450 class, which seemed to start the Honda HRC team off on the right foot for the day. Unfortunately, both riders ended up down together just a few hundred feet into the first moto. Roczen had a fairly good start but was quickly getting funneled into the first corner and then some slight contact with Adam Cianciarulo and a quick slip of the front end sent the German into the dirt in front of 30 other riders. Chase Sexton was the first to hit Roczen and appeared to run Roczen’s chest over. Joey Savatgy also was collected in the crash, but Roczen was left laying on the ground and ailing.
Eli Tomac also got held up behind the melee and was one of the last riders to go around the chaos. Roczen laid there for almost two minutes before finally getting up onto his knees and eventually walked slowly to the Alpinestars medical mule. It appeared Roczen’s day was done as he was being carted off and attention quickly turned to the leaders.
Out front was Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas rider Justin Barcia who was coming off a podium at Southwick. Barcia had Adam Cianciarulo right behind him and the duo worked on trying to sprint away from the field. As the moto progress, Dylan Ferrandis then caught the two out front and they were starting to engage in a three rider battle before Cianciarulo tucked his front end in the second corner. Cianciarulo remounted several spots down but eventually pulled off the track and would not start the second moto. No status report further on Cianciarulo, yet.
Back to the battle out front though and one Monster Energy Kawasaki replaced the other as Eli Tomac was suddenly on Ferrandis and Barcia for the lead. Each rider played cat and mouse for the remainder of the race as Ferrandis would catch Barcia but then Tomac would catch Ferrandis and they ran nose to tail for the last 10 minutes. Eventually though, Barcia prevailed with his first moto win of 2021 and the first-ever U.S. pro motocross moto win for the GasGas brand as well.
For the overall win, It still appeared though like Ferrandis and Tomac may have had the speed advantage on Barcia and could turn the tides in the second moto with good starts. However, Ferrandis fell on the opening lap in moto two and Tomac got another so so start that put him mid-pack and neither rider could make a dent on Barcia who started out front again. Justin Barcia then claimed his first overall win since the 2018 Ironman National, and the first for GasGas.
“I felt good all day and my confidence was up,” said Barcia. “I’ve been working on my starts and everything, and it all came together today getting two holeshots and being able to get out front quick and ride my own race. The first moto was wild, lots of pressure, and second moto I made a push behind Kenny and tried to get him but he rode a good race. I’m stoked for the whole team, it’s great to get this win and we’re definitely going to be looking for a lot more.”
Despite Tomac’s start hampering him in moto two, he still was quick to work his way forward. He did seem to hit a wall, proverbially speaking, at the midpoint of moto two and couldn’t get around Chase Sexton for third. It likely wouldn’t have mattered for the overall win anyway, as Barcia and Ken Roczen (yes you read that right, Roczen was back) were gone already up front. Still for Tomac, he was able to hold steady with a fourth place finish which was good enough for second overall on an otherwise wacky day.
“I gave it all I had today,” said Tomac. “Not quite enough in moto two. I was trying hard and the front guys had a good pace. I just didn’t quite have the zip that I had the first moto. So, I probably spent too much energy in that first one by I tried and fought and that’s all we can ask for.”
The true salvage of the day in terms of the championship might have been Dylan Ferrandis’ second moto. Ferrandis crashed twice in the opening few laps and was outside of the top 20 when he did so. For a rider who had not finished off the podium in any moto all season long, this one appeared to be the one that would do some damage. Somehow, Ferrandis managed to pick off rider after rider and work his way all the way back to fifth place by the end of the moto which actually tied him with Tomac on points for the day. Though Tomac had the better second moto and thus the tiebreaker for second overall, the third overall on the day was a welcomed sight for Ferrandis who had to dig deep to haul back some valuable points.
“I’m a little disappointed but just to myself,” said Ferrandis. “The mistake I did on the first lap was not really smart. I crashed alone down the hill. Then I restarted and crashed again, alone. So yeah, not a good moto. I dug deep to come back so I think we saved some good points, but yeah, I’m kind of disappointed to be third.”
Undoubtedly the talking point was Ken Roczen. Just an hour after he was gingerly carted off with what appeared like some sort of season ending injury, the Honda HRC man snagged a gate nobody had selected with his 40th gate pick and turned it into a fourth place start. By the end of the Millville sand rollers he was in second, and in the turn prior to Mt. Martin, he completed what will likely be the pass of the year around the outside of Justin Barcia before the first lap was even halfway over.
Roczen then sprinted away to the best of his abilities, but Barcia did enough to keep him close and eventually reeled Roczen back in. Still though, the fresher fitness of Roczen, who did not race a single lap of the first moto, was enough to push back away from Barcia and win the second moto. Roczen had gone to the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit and was checked “from head to toe” and cleared of any broken bones somehow. The miraculous return also helped salvage the day as he only lost 13 more points to championship leader Dylan Ferrandis in the end.
“It was definitely a hard one in the first moto,” said Roczen. “I got banged up pretty good and really had to make sure that my ribs weren’t broken. So, I’ll be really sore tomorrow but as soon as I checked myself, there was no question in my mind that I was going to come back out here and give my best. I knew I didn’t have the best gate pick but I got lucky and made it work. Obviously, I had a little bit of an advantage fitness wise not racing the first moto, but at the same time, I was pretty banged up. I’m just glad I could finish and I did all that I could for what it was. To come away with a first place in the second moto, I’m happy with how we ended it.”
|Monroe, NY United States||1 - 2||GasGas MC 450F|
|2||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||3 - 4||Kawasaki KX450|
|3||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon France||2 - 5||Yamaha YZ450F|
|La Moille, IL United States||7 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|5||Christian Craig||Temecula, CA United States||4 - 6||Yamaha YZ450F|
In the 250 class, parity was the story entering Millville. Five different winners in the first five rounds had claimed overall victories and focus was on whether that trend could continue. Riders like Jo Shimoda or Colt Nichols certainly wanted something to say about it, but the biggest threat undoubtedly would come from literal home track favorite Jeremy Martin.
Jeremy Martin’s parents own the Spring Creek Motocross Park and both he and older brother Alex grew up riding and racing at these hallowed grounds. The tough part was that Martin was still dealing with recovering from a broken scaphoid and other ailing issues that was keeping him much less than 100 percent entering this weekend. He even admitted he tried to ride during the week prior to today and was not feeling too great about it.
But when the gate drops and the hometown crowd roars to life, so too did Martin. Justin Cooper grabbed the holeshot in the first moto but Martin quickly passed Max Vohland to get into second place and worked to keep Cooper close. Michael Mosiman also was in the mix early and was actually putting some heat on J-Mart for second for a while. By the halfway point though, Martin found that extra push he needed. He ran down his teammate Cooper for the lead and ignited the Millville hillsides by snagging the victory. It was the third moto win for Martin on the season, but the first since his big crash in the second moto at Thunder Valley.
But could he do it twice? Obviously his pain and fitness levels would be tested, but it was a test Martin was prepared for today. The second moto saw him start out front, stay out front, and finish out front to complete the 1-1 sweep. With it, he became the sixth different winner in six rounds to start the year which is unprecedented.
“It feels really good,” said Martin. “I’ve been through the ringer this year and one thing I’ve learned is that sometimes the cards always ideal but you’ve got to push through it. To be out here and I’d suffer any day to see the crowd like this and to hear you guys cheering me on, it’s a real big motivator.”
Second on the day actually came in the form of Michael Mosiman, who has really turned the corner since coming back from injury at RedBud. Combining with Justin Barcia’s victory in the 450 class, it was an all around great day for the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas team as they saw two of their three riders land on the podium.
“So stoked for GasGas,” said Mosiman. “It was good to run up front and secure a double-podium for the team! This is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and I think it showed today. I felt good all day and the bike was super-fast and handled really well. I’m excited and looking forward to building on this momentum.”
The big shake up in terms of the championship for the day though came from a strange pileup in the second 250 class moto that involved Pierce Brown and RJ Hampshire colliding before the finish line jump and eventually bringing Jett Lawrence, Jarrett Frye, Stilez Robertson, and Garrett Marchbanks with them as riders scattered around.
The crash left Jett Lawrence with a lot of work to do, which he did a good job to salvage, but coupling a first moto fourth with a sixth in moto two was enough for the championship lead to change hands. Justin Cooper threw 2-3 scores on the board today to finally pull all of the points back to Lawrence and take over the championship lead at the halfway point.
“We’re at the halfway point and we’re going after this championship,” said Cooper. “That’s my mindset. Honestly, I rode pretty mediocre today. I left a lot on the table I feel and just not that comfortable so I’m going to take the blame on this one. I’ve got to be better and I felt like we could have been battling for the overall win today, but we’ll take it. We’ve got the red plate and we’ll keep grinding at this and simply just got to be better. I can’t afford to leave anything on the table and that’s what it’s going to take to win this championship.”
Jett Lawrence did still manage to earn fourth overall on the day as he just edged out brother Hunter Lawrence by a single point with Hunter going 5-5 for fifth. Not an ideal day for either Lawrence brother after Hunter was fresh off a 1-1 performance at Southwick that clawed him closer into the championship picture. Now Jett sits six points down with Hunter 33 back of Cooper out front with still six rounds of racing to go.
The second half of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship commences next Saturday at Washougal MX Park in Washougal, Washington. We’ll see you there!
|Millville, MN United States||1 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Michael Mosiman||Sebastopol, CA United States||3 - 2||GasGas MC 250F|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||2 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Jett Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||4 - 6||Honda CRF250R|
|5||Hunter Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||5 - 5||Honda CRF250R|