Through the middle part of the 2022 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship, Eli Tomac has been nearly flawless. The Monster Energy Yamaha/Star Racing rider had won four straight 450SX main events entering the 12th round on Saturday night in Seattle, Washington, and had also watched his championship points lead balloon out to a nearly insurmountable advantage. With the championship picture taking such a dramatic turn, a lot of focused has switched to Tomac’s pursuit of some history in the record books.
After his win last weekend in Indianapolis, Tomac sat fifth all time in 450SX victories with 43 but was just one behind Chad Reed’s mark of 44 wins. With the roll Tomac has been on, it seemed inevitable that he would catch Reed’s tally, but the opportunity came quickly, and Seattle would be Tomac’s first opportunity to equal the Australian for fourth all time.
When the gates dropped in the main event, Tomac rocketed out to the holeshot and early lead. Tomac has not been known to be a great starter throughout his career, but they have been very solid in 2022 and it seems the confidence he’s carrying into the racing each week is helping him off the gate.
Once things settled in and Tomac led around a train of Justin Barcia, Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, and Malcolm Stewart, the front five essentially held their ground for a significant portion of the race. Tomac withstood some early pressure from Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas’ Justin Barcia in the first half of the main event, but a large crash for Barcia around the halfway point spelled the end of any close challengers.
Once Barcia’s crash happened, Tomac found himself with more than a 10 second advantage on Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson who assumed second place. The racetrack was technical with a few large options in the rhythm lanes, but that didn’t deter Tomac from continuing to go 4-3-3 in the second rhythm lane and bust the technical triple onto the table out of the first corner as well.
All in all, it was a rather simple race for Tomac who controlled it from the front from the gate drop and eventually cruised to his fifth straight win of 2022. Win #44 was now his and a tie for fourth all-time has arrived for the Colorado native. A jubilant Tomac was excited at the record-equaling win after the race.
“My main focus was putting the hammer down,” said Tomac. “Justin was putting the pressure on me there those first few laps and we were putting on a heater pace and I just kept going and was really good that first part. Once he made that mistake, I had a big gap. It was tough. It was like, ‘Alright, let’s focus. This track is breaking down a lot.’ These past few tracks have been very gnarly to get through those 20 minutes. So, I was focusing on being mistake free and it’s unbelievable what we’ve been able to do.”
With Tomac backing down the pace late in the race, Jason Anderson did eventually close the gap down towards the end but never really threatened Tomac for the victory. Second place on the night was a great step for Anderson who has had a fair share of misfortune at the prior three races where he put 9-21-6 scores on the board.
Though the championship seems well out of reach for Anderson who now moves back to solely second place in the standings at 54-points adrift, Anderson admitted he really needed a solid night under his belt to right the ship. Now with a solid main event to land on the box heading into the lone break on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule, Anderson eyes to come out swinging for the final five rounds.
“I’m just going to try and get as ready as I can,” said Anderson of his plans for preparing for the final five rounds. “That track out there was brutal. I wasn’t riding the best all day, but I was able to salvage that and coming out second was nice. The AMA didn’t even cost me three points or $3000 to get by Barcia, so it was a good night!”
Third place on the evening for the second week in a row was Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. The Frenchman struggled early in the main event, particularly to figure out what to do in the lone set of whoops on the racetrack, but he did eventually find a jump-line that worked and actually clawed Anderson back into his clutches late in the main event.
He would settle for third, but these podiums have been tough to come by for Musquin in 2022, so the opportunity to land on the box is certainly a welcomed one for the KTM man.
“To get on the podium tonight is huge!” said Musquin. “My speed was good today and my starts were good too. I didn’t have the pace in the first few laps, but I tried to focus on myself. Malcolm was there behind me until the last lap, so I had to stay really focused and charge really hard. I closed the gap a little bit, but that track was super tough so I’m pretty happy to be healthy and moving to the next round having a weekend off.”
Malcolm Stewart ended the evening in fourth place, though he was very close to a podium as well. It appeared he spent nearly the whole main event slowly reeling in Musquin ahead of him only to go down right when he got close. The crash set him back a little ways but not enough to drop his fourth place position.
Amazingly, Justin Barcia was able to remount from his big crash and round out the top five on the night. Barcia drifted just enough to the right-hand side of the track one lap when popping the four into the second rhythm section to land on a sequence of Tuff Blocks. He was lucky to escape as he nearly shoulder checked the face of the next single jump but just rolled over the top of it. His bike was a little bent up when he got up and going again, but ultimately, he found a nice groove with it and held on for fifth.
He wasn’t quite riding by himself in that position though as Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb was hot on his heels. Webb got a terrible start in the main event and slowly picked off riders one by one as he made it into sixth place. He caught Barcia for fifth with about five minutes left in the main event but couldn’t quite find a way around the #51 machine. Eventually, he made a couple mistakes late and would settle in for sixth place.
Those top six riders were the only ones who remained on the lead lap after the 26-lap main event came to a close. As mentioned, riders will not be greeted with their one weekend off in the schedule this next weekend where it doesn’t seem like anyone will really be relaxing. With Lucas Oil Pro Motocross just two months away, the grind is fully expected to be on in the coming weeks as outdoor prep truly begins.
|26 Laps||0:47.931||Cortez, CO||Yamaha YZ450F|
|2||Jason Anderson||+08.615||0:48.755||Edgewood, NM||Kawasaki KX450SR|
|3||Marvin Musquin||+10.094||0:48.983||La Reole, France||KTM 450 SX-F|
|+22.723||0:48.879||Haines City, FL||Husqvarna FC 450|
|5||Justin Barcia||+26.657||0:48.365||Monroe, NY||GasGas MC 450F|
The 250SX West Regional Championship was back in action this weekend in Seattle as well. After a five-week hiatus following the Anaheim 3 Supercross in mid-February, the likes of Christian Craig, Hunter Lawrence, and Michael Mosiman were back on the racetrack on Saturday night to contest the seventh round of their championship.
As a refresher, Christian Craig entered the Seattle Supercross boasting a 28-point championship lead over Michael Mosiman. After Hunter Lawrence’s DNF at Anaheim due to a crash in the whoops, Craig saw the whole championship dynamic change heading into the five-week break. Seattle would be the first test we’d see of Craig to know whether he’d consider going into management mode or keep the throttle on and try to keep winning races.
Qualifying throughout the day turned into another heated lap time war with Craig and Michael Mosiman going back and forth. Amazingly, Mosiman’s time that put him P1 in the 250SX class was also the fastest time anyone ran all day long between bot the 250SX and 450SX classes. Clearly, the West riders were fired up to be back in action.
Off the start in the main event, Craig found his way into the lead right away. He brought Mosiman with him in second as Lawrence, Jo Shimoda, and the rest of the field sorted it out behind them. Craig led the first two laps, but Mosiman was not in the mood to wait around behind the Yamaha man.
Just before the end of the third lap, Mosiman came down the inside before the finish line jump and bumped Craig to the ground. The contact left Mosiman with a bent rear brake rotor and left Craig in a heap as he scurried back to his bike in time to remount in sixth place. While Mosiman began ailing a bit out front as he managed the loss of his rear brake, Honda HRC’s Hunter Lawrence smelled blood in the water.
After reeling Mosiman in for several laps, Lawrence jumped at the opportunity for the lead when Mosiman missed the inside rut in the off camber on the eighth lap of the race. Lawrence shot by and was able to put some distance between himself and Mosiman quickly.
All the while, Craig was picking riders off one by one in his march back to the front and it wasn’t long before he was on Mosiman for second. With the championship in mind, it seemed retaliation for the earlier contact would be unlikely, and sure enough, Craig made a pass on Mosiman in the same spot Lawrence did three laps before that when Mosiman missed the inside rut again in the off camber.
The second half of the race then came down to if Craig could catch Lawrence. He would gain some time here and there, but Lawrence would pull it back. Lawrence did have a big moment in the whoops on one lap but pulled it together to keep the gap at a steady three seconds mostly for the rest of the main event.
When the checkered flag waved, it was Lawrence who prevailed for his second win of 2022 and his first in a non-triple crown format. Lawrence seemed very pleased with his riding and overall performance on the heels of his violent crash just five weeks ago in Anaheim.
“I’m just so focused on every day,” said Lawrence. “Honestly, the team saved my ass. We were struggling with the bike during the whole day show and we made some calls where if we got it wrong, we could be screwed. I just had complete trust in my team. Honestly, I’m glad tonight was great because I’ve got a golf tee time on Monday, and I really wanted to bring some good momentum into that on Monday. I’m looking to shoot low.”
Craig was left to settle for second on the night which was still a great result when you consider his soil sample early in the main event. Still though, Craig was none too thrilled to end up on the ground again at the hand of another rider and he made it known after the race.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m sour about how that all went,” said Craig. “I did what I did. I started out front, and yeah, Michael was a little faster in the beginning. That’s three times now that I get cleaned out and I’m sour. I was able to once again salvage, get up and put a charge on to second. It is what it is. It’s racing. That’s aggressive racing but we’ll just trying to take this break and these two weeks and come back swinging for the East-West Showdown.”
The big picture still looks great for Craig who does watch his championship lead shrink from 28 down to 26 as Hunter Lawrence reassumes second place in the championship. With just three races remaining in the West Championship and two of them being East-West Showdowns in Atlanta and Salt Lake City, eyes will remain on how Craig chooses to handle both situations given his ideal positioning in the championship.
Back to the action on track from Seattle, Mosiman was able to salvage third despite his brake issue. Some late pressure and even a pass from Jo Shimoda nearly shuffled Mosiman off the podium, but he fought back on the last lap of the race to hold onto the position.
It ended up being a night of what could have been for Mosiman who certainly had the pace to win but was ultimately hampered by the rear brake issue of his own doing. But Mosiman was still thrilled to be back on the podium and happy that his riding was solid throughout that day in Seattle.
“It was going really good for me,” said Mosiman. “I made some good solutions. I had a rough start in qualifying today and in the heat, but I ripped one [holeshot] in the main and I was really proud to be right up there with Christian. I really think I had something for him tonight. I made an aggressive move going for the championship and ended up bending my rotor. That’s what happens when you try to make aggressive passes.”
As mentioned, Shimoda did make a few runs at Mosiman but was left to settle with fourth on the night. It was an up and down main event for Shimoda who was in third place right off the start but seemed to lose some flow or pace in the middle stanza of the main event.
He regrouped well to catch back up to Mosiman late and even passed the GasGas rider right before the whoops on the last lap of the race. If not for a bobble in the whoops just after that pass, he may have stood on the podium at the end of the night. Alas, he did make a mistake which allowed Mosiman back by and an attempt to repass for third in the last corner ultimately failed.
Rounding out the top five as SmarTop/BullFrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda’s Vince Friese who also picked up a heat race victory in Seattle. Friese rode a quiet race to come home fifth, but a solid one at that. Garrett Marchbanks spent a lot of the main event closing the gap on Friese, but never could get close enough to make anything happen. In the end, Friese bookended the top five crossing the line just shy of 30 seconds behind race-winner Hunter Lawrence.
Now the 250SX West contingent are faced with a weird schedule flip where they have another two weekends’ off in their series before the East-West Showdown at Atlanta Motor Speedway in mid-April. Either way, it’s an off weekend for everyone coming up as Monster Energy AMA Supercross goes on hiatus before we’re back in action in two weeks’ time in St. Louis. We’ll see you there!
|1||Hunter Lawrence||19 Laps||0:49.365||Landsborough, Australia||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Christian Craig||+01.430||0:49.199||Temecula, CA||Yamaha YZ250F|
|+11.305||0:49.011||Sebastopol, CA||GasGas MC 250F|
|4||Jo Shimoda||+16.948||0:50.051||Suzuka, Japan||Kawasaki KX250|
|+28.020||0:50.504||Cape Girardeau, MO||Honda CRF250R|