Heading into the seventh round of the 2021 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Washougal MX Park on Saturday, a lot was on the line in terms of championship momentum for both classes. Though Washougal marked the start of the second half of the championship in terms of rounds, it would be the last round before a lengthy two-week break in the schedule as the usual Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National Championship “gap” comes a bit earlier this year. With that in mind, a win on the day or even a swing in championship points could be huge for riders heading into the break.
In the 450 class, the gap had opened up significantly from just a few rounds back as Ken Roczen’s moto one DNF at Millville ultimately lost him another 13 points in the championship to Dylan Ferrandis which compounded on top of Ferrandis’ three-win streak prior to that. Roczen needed to answer back at Washougal in a big way to tighten the championship.
Early in the day, it was the Red Bull KTM duo of Cooper Webb and Marvin Musquin who appeared to find something they had been missing all year as both riders fought for top qualifying honors. However, Dylan Ferrandis was able to take that as well with a solid time in the second qualifying session to just tip Musquin for the top spot.
When the motos started, it was actually Chase Sexton who roared out to the holeshot in the first moto. With teammate Ken Roczen right behind him, the KTM duo behind that, and a stacked list of talented riders all seemingly getting good starts, it appeared like we were in for quite the battle. But Sexton had other plans entirely and pulled out to nearly a 10 second lead on his teammate Roczen before Musquin came up and eventually passed into second place.
The gap stagnated there but Sexton was unheeded the entire moto to lead every lap and claim his first moto win of the 2021 season. Eli Tomac finished behind him in second place with Musquin ending up in third.
In moto two, it was Cooper Webb grabbing the holeshot, but Dylan Ferrandis made quick work to pass Webb for the lead by the fourth corner. If the rest of the season has been any indication, this seemed like a moto Ferrandis would run away with. However, Sexton, Aaron Plessinger, and eventually Tomac as well, kept Ferrandis honest nearly the whole way.
Tomac moved around Sexton for second place with a few laps to go, but Sexton remained in a position to win the overall so long as Eli Tomac couldn’t run down Ferrandis for the lead who was four seconds up. Tomac put down two of his best laps of the day right near the end to close up on Ferrandis, but the Frenchman was able to hang on for the second moto victory. That meant that Chase Sexton’s 1-3 was good enough to claim his first overall victory of the season.
“I got off to two pretty good starts, and that was pretty much the difference,” said Sexton. “My riding was pretty much the same, but it feels so good. After a rough start to the season, to get this win. Yeah, we’re going to celebrate this one going into the break and come back swinging for the last five.”
Eli Tomac’s crazy second moto charge did eventually earn him 2-2 scores on the day for second overall. Tomac had been struggling with putting two motos together which was keeping him off the top step of the podium despite winning three second motos in a row. The consistent scores left Tomac quite happy with his performance and he felt like he left everything out there for the day.
“The overall was right there, I mean it was right in front of me, I just didn’t quite get it done,” said Tomac. “I found a line really late in the moto in the back. It ended up being an outside to outside, that’s how I got Chase. I tried it on Dylan there and got so close, but not quite enough. But it was an awesome day overall. I left everything out on the track.”
Dylan Ferrandis’ second moto win not only earned him third overall, but he also now commands a 47-point lead in the championship after Ken Roczen couldn’t seem to put either moto together. Roczen started near the front in both motos but faded backwards each time and Ferrandis’ 5-1 performance has fully tipped the championship in his favor. With five rounds left in the series when we come back from the break, it’s essentially Ferrandis’ title to lose.
“I think having the holeshot was a good saver for energy,” said Ferrandis of his second moto win. “I just tried to manage the gap enough to secure first place. I wanted to take a look to see if it was Eli or Chase, because I knew Eli would make a charge in the last lap. I tried to kind of manage my energy and I gave everything I had in the last lap.”
Fourth on the day was a resurgent Marvin Musquin who has not had the best of years for his standards. After just missing out on qualifying P1 on the day, Musquin went 3-5 for fourth and was efficiently making his way through riders in both motos. It definitely looked a lot like the Musquin we’d come to expect for the last four or five years, and finally the results showed it as well.
Rounding out the top five was Justin Barcia who followed up his Spring Creek National win with a 4-7 performance. Barcia’s shortcoming today was what worked so well for him last week: starts. Both motos he started around the top 10 but he started behind just about all the fast guys. He did well to make the passes he did and certainly looked fast as usual, but many of his charges ended when he’d move to a spot where the gap ahead was insurmountable.
As mentioned, Roczen’s day appeared to be a struggle as he went 6-10 and didn’t necessarily suffer from bad starts. Now with the points margin out to nearly two full motos, the Ferrandis and Roczen fight has certainly shifted with five rounds to go. Everyone takes two weeks off and then it’s back at it in Unadilla.
|La Moille, IL United States||1 - 3||Honda CRF450R|
|2||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||2 - 2||Kawasaki KX450|
|3||Dylan Ferrandis||Avignon France||5 - 1||Yamaha YZ450F|
|La Reole France||3 - 5||KTM 450 SX-F|
|Monroe, NY United States||4 - 7||GasGas MC 450F|
In the 250 class, the amazing trend of no repeat winners through the first half of the season was still the talking point heading into Washougal. We’d already seen Jett Lawrence, Justin Cooper, Jalek Swoll, RJ Hampshire, Hunter Lawrence, and Jeremy Martin take home overall wins, so who would be next? Names like Michael Mosiman, Jo Shimoda, and Colt Nichols all seemed to have at least a chance and that’s just to name a few.
Justin Cooper was now the points leader this week as well after finishing third overall at Spring Creek a week ago and finally surpassing Jett Lawrence in the points. The gap was still small between them though and this final round before the break was looked at as a potential to really see the momentum swing that could decide the championship.
Cooper was the first to fire on the day after he qualified fastest and put himself in prime position to get another great start, which he has had many of them this year. When the gates dropped in the first moto, it was actually a surprise holeshot from Carson Mumford, but Cooper took the lead by the third lap and held off pressure the rest of the moto to take the win. Meanwhile, Jett Lawrence had an awful start and had to fight through the field to eventually finish seventh which opened up the championship another 11 points in Cooper’s favor.
In the second moto, Cooper was poised to take another chunk of points in his favor along with winning the overall and becoming the first two-time winner on the series. Instead, a crash going up horsepower hill with just two laps to go while running in second place pushed him down to eighth spot in the second moto. The mistake cost him the overall and nearly all the championship points he had gained on Jett in the first moto as Lawrence came home second in moto two.
The win then went to Jeremy Martin. Martin was already on his way to the second moto win when Cooper crashed, but Cooper’s 1-2 would have beat Martin’s 3-1. Instead, Martin became the first two-time winner on the circuit and followed up his 1-1 performance from Millville in emphatic fashion. Though Martin is a ways down in the championship hunt after missing High Point, he was still very happy with the victory.
“I know I got a little bit of a gift,” said Martin. “It was a bummer to see JCoop go down. You don’t want to see anybody go down like that. But I’m just really happy to be here… This one feels good.”
Second overall on the day eventually went to RJ Hampshire who was second in the first moto and third in the second. Hampshire seemed to potentially have the speed in both motos to maybe even win, but a few small mistakes ultimately put him just too far out of reach of the leaders by the end. But the consistent results on the day were also a nice reward for Hampshire, who did not finish the second moto at Spring Creek after being collected in the massive third lap pileup.
“It’s been my whole career, always bouncing back from something,” said Hampshire on his rebound this weekend. “We don’t cut corners and we’ll continue to work. We want to be here every weekend and clearly, we haven’t. But just stoked on the day, pretty positive both motos.”
Justin Cooper collected himself from the crash enough to still bring his Yamaha home in eighth in that second moto which also salvaged an overall podium for him. Though the result wasn’t ideal from what could have been, Cooper was lucky to escape from the high speed crash up horsepower hill that had the potential to be a lot worse.
“I was trying to make a push to Jeremy, and I just didn’t have it,” said Cooper. “I don’t know, I got a weird kick. I’d have to watch it back if they got it on film, but I didn’t see it. It was kind of in the shadows. I saw it the last lap because I was wondering what happened. There was an edge and I caught it wrong, and it spit me off. I almost hung onto it but it’s too high speed and too much G force and I got out of control.”
Jett Lawrence’s 7-2 was good enough for fourth and he did well to limit the damage on the day. His second moto start was much better, but it’s tough to compare when his title rival is nearly getting the holeshot in every moto. The good news for Lawrence is that the title is still very close between he and Cooper heading into this break and now he gets to recharge the batteries and try to come out and win this title in the last five.
Fifth on the day belonged to Pierce Brown, who along with Hampshire, did not finish the second moto at Spring Creek and was banged up a bit. What a difference a week makes though as Brown put two consistently solid motos together for 4-6 scores which also is his best career results in Pro Motocross. Brown was very pleased with the day and feels this was a big step towards running up front more consistently.
All in all, Washougal provided a lot of twists and turns in the 250 class on the day, but the championship picture remains almost the same. Justin Cooper and Jett Lawrence seem like they will be set for battle with five rounds to go when we return to action again in mid-August at Unadilla. It should be a lot of fun, and we’ll see you then!
|Millville, MN United States||3 - 1||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||R.J. Hampshire||Hudson, FL United States||2 - 3||Husqvarna FC 250|
|3||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY United States||1 - 8||Yamaha YZ250F|
|4||Jett Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||7 - 2||Honda CRF250R|
|Sandy, UT United States||6 - 4||GasGas MC 250F|