The MAVTV+ 50-Day Countdown to the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship hits 2015, as we go over each year of the series’ history, beginning with 1972. As much as 2014 had been touted as being wide open, despite the supercross commander-and-chief Ryan Villopoto still being present, 2015 actually seemed like it could be what the previous year had been hyped up to be, as Villopoto had stepped away. Turns out things weren’t quite so wide open, thanks to a Ryan with a different last name.
Ken Roczen, now on a Suzuki, came out of the gate hard, just like he’d done in 2014, and won the opener. He and Eli Tomac would put on a tremendous battle the following week in Phoenix, with Tomac taking the win (his first in 450SX), but Roczen would fire back, winning again at round three. Roczen’s win that night would get somewhat overshadowed, as the big news was Chad Reed getting black flagged. Trey Canard had jumped into Reed, who then showed his displeasure by purposely bumping him off the track after the two remounted. Canard’s season would later end when he broke his arm in Detroit. Jake Weimer was also injured in the incident and missed the rest of the year.
Canard/Reed at the Anaheim 2 Supercross:
Getting back to Roczen. As good as he looked early on, things started to come apart in Oakland, where he came up incredibly short on a triple. It didn’t seem so at the time, but in retrospect, this would mark the point where Roczen’s unraveling started. He later crashed hard during practice in Atlanta and dropped completely out after hurting his ankle in practice in Daytona.
Roczen's crash at Oakland:
Roczen's crash in Atlanta:
Davi Millsaps, who looked to be back to his winning ways after taking the Monster Energy Cup, suffered from Epstein-Barr Virus early on and was eventually let go from Monster Energy Kawasaki late in the season after the team discovered a restricted substance in his locker. Millsaps never failed any drug tests, but the mere presence of whatever was found in his locker was enough for Monster Energy Kawasaki to part ways with him. And speaking of drug tests, James Stewart was nowhere to be found in 2015, as the two-time 450SX champ was serving out a suspension after testing positive for Adderall, which had apparently been prescribed to him, but he had failed to report.
Not surprisingly, it was the rock solid Ryan Dungey who successfully navigated the carnage to be the last, and fastest, man standing. Dungey, who’d teamed up with Aldon Baker, was extremely strong in 2015, only missing the podium once and wrapped up the season in Houston. His margin of victory was 85 points over Tomac, and he won eight of 17 rounds to claim his second 450SX championship.
In the 250SX West Region, Cooper Webb and Tyler Bowers stole the show. Bowers didn’t have the speed to consistently challenge Webb, but that didn’t stop the two from getting into multiple on-track dustups, with the craziest instance taking place when Bowers came into a corner hard, slamming his elbow into Webb’s helmet even harder. Intentional or not, it was a big deal, both in the media and in the stands. But what people will most remember (and rightly so) was how dominant Webb was that season. The Yamaha rider manhandled his way to six of eight possible victories, most of them with huge leads, and wrapped up the title a race early.
Bowers vs Webb:
In the 250SX East Region, Justin Bogle faced the task of defending his title against hungry competitors Jeremy Martin and Marvin Musquin, but unfortunately he wasn’t as prepared as he needed to be, having come into the season dealing with shoulder problems. He didn’t have a bad season by any means—he won in Detroit and only finished off the podium once—but he was just no match for Musquin, who’d managed to find another gear in 2015. The Red Bull KTM rider won six of eight races on his way to the title.
With Dungey, Webb, and Musquin making supercross a bit of a snooze in 2015, everyone was looking forward to motocross. Unfortunately, things went wrong for Roczen before the first gate even dropped. He’d injured his back before Hangtown and boy oh boy did it show in the first moto of the season. The defending champ could only muster 19th in the first moto. An epidural kicked in for the second moto, in which he took fifth, but the opening round set the tone for Roczen’s outdoor season in 2015.
As big of a deal as that was, another story was overshadowing it. Tomac was incredibly fast, which doesn’t sound like anything out of the ordinary these days, but he was winning by face-melting margins. Twenty-two seconds over Dungey (who beat third-place Jason Anderson by nearly a minute) in the first moto and an astounding minute-and-a-half in the second. That is not a typo. A MINUTE-AND-A-HALF!! OVER Ryan Dungey!!
Eli Tomac Simon Cudby Ken Roczen Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the Hangtown Motocross Classic. Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the Hangtown Motocross Classic. Simon Cudby Roczen and Dungey at the Thunder Valley National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Thunder Valley National. Simon Cudby Roczen at the Thunder Valley National. Simon Cudby Barcia and Dungey at the RedBud National. Simon Cudby Barcia at the Spring Creek National. Simon Cudby Barcia at the Spring Creek National. Simon Cudby Dungey and Jason Anderson at the Spring Creek National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Spring Creek National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Unadilla National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Unadilla National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Unadilla National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Utah National. Simon Cudby Dungey at the Utah National. Simon Cudby
The beatings continued at Glen Helen, and the first moto of round three at Thunder Valley. Tomac’s rampage came to a sudden stop when he went down all by himself while leading the second moto, however, and the resulting shoulder injuries would spell the end of Tomac’s year. He was just on another level that, arguably more than we’ve ever seen from him, which is a lot considering how great Tomac has been since. To put things in perspective, at the end of the season Tomac sat third in the laps-led category, with 76, behind Dungey (153) and Roczen (81), despite racing less than a quarter of the summer.
Tomac’s gnarly crash that ended his season early:
We mentioned Roczen’s problems at Hangtown, which seemed to go away almost as abruptly as they surfaced, but unfortunately new ones arrived. Rumors of the team struggling to find a good setup were constant, and although he won the overall at High Point, the champ never really found the same pace he’d had the year before, and it was Dungey who took firm control of the championship after Tomac’s misfortune. Challenges would come from Justin Barcia, who won a pair of overalls, but nobody really came close to loosening Dungey’s grip on the ‘ship. The Red Bull KTM rider would log the best year of his career to date, winning both titles and earning 937 of 1,025 total combined (SX and MX) available points. In other words, he scored 91.41 percent!
Defending 250 champ Jeremy Martin was the heavy favorite for the title but had his gloves full fending off attacks from Musquin. The challenges that were expected to come from Webb and Cianciarulo never materialized, as Webb re-aggravated a leg injury at Hangtown and Cianciarulo hurt his shoulder before RedBud, right when it seemed like he was regaining his top-shelf form.
Although Musquin and Martin rarely met up on the track, the points battle swung wildly from race to race, even moto to moto at times. After splitting moto wins with Martin at Hangtown, Musquin was perfect at Glen Helen and emerged from the second round with a nice lead after a Martin had mechanical issues on the gate in moto one and crashed in moto two. But the next week Musquin gave all those points back when he crashed at Thunder Valley while leading the first moto! It went on like this all season.
The nature of the duo’s back-and-forth summer was characterized by what happened at the second-to-last round, held in Utah. Martin led Musquin by just two points. Musquin won the first moto while Martin charged to third after a horrific start. Martin was aided when RJ Hampshire crashed mere feet from the finish line on the final lap. In the second moto Martin came through to win and take the overall while his teammate, Webb, got between him and Musquin, so the two title contenders somehow left Utah with zero change between them in points. This is exactly how the whole season had played out!
Unfortunately, the two didn’t get to put on a final slugfest for all the marbles at the finale, as Musquin's bike developed mechanical trouble early in the first moto that destroyed the two-time MX2 Champion’s shot at winning a 250 National Championship in what would be his final year aboard a 250.