The MAVTV+ 50-Day Countdown to the 2022 Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship enters 2016, as we go over each year of the series’ history, beginning with 1972. This year, we started to see a new generation of riders climb to the top of the heap, with one member of the old guard still there to fight for it.
The old guard was repped by Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, and the new crop was repped by Ken Roczen, now of Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John’s RCH Suzuki, and Eli Tomac, now of Monster Energy Kawasaki. Dungey held off the kids in the #whosenext 2015 season, winning both the Monster Energy AMA Supercross and Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championships. With his old rival Ryan Villopoto now retired, could Dungey keep fending off the kids in ’16?
In supercross, he sure could. If anything Dungey was even sharper in 2016 than 2015. Jason Anderson collected a win at the season-opener in Anaheim, Dungey was second and then ripped off three-straight wins to open up an early points lead. Although Roczen got his Suzuki in a better place and started challenging Dungey for more wins as the season went on, the title was never in doubt. Dungey topped Roczen by 60 points to win the crown for the second year in a row, and third time in his career.
The story would change in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. A year earlier, Roczen struggled in his transition from KTM to Suzuki, but he absolutely had the bike dialed by 2016. From beginning to end, Roczen was dominant and made it look way too easy. Even Dungey had trouble hanging with him, only taking a moto and overall win at Glen Helen when Roczen’s forks broke. At round three, Dungey crashed at Colorado’s Thunder Valley. He still finished the moto, but then complained of neck pain. Turns out the defending 450MX champ had suffered a broken neck, and that would mark the end of his season, and in fact, mark the last Pro Motocross race of Dungey’s career…until his recently announced comeback for 2022.
Roczen just kept on romping. Tomac was expected to give him a challenge, but the nearly unbeatable Eli Tomac from the start of 2015 looked diminished in 2016. Either he wasn’t gelling with his new Kawasaki, or his shoulders were still not up to full strength, or both, but Tomac had to settle for second behind Roczen quite a bit, until they got to Southwick, and Tomac ruled the sand. Also, on a very slippery Washougal track, Roczen chose to ride smart for points, and Tomac took the win. That was about it, as Roczen won an astonishing 20 of 24 motos, one of the more underrated seasons of dominance. It won’t register alongside the 24-0 seasons from Carmichael (twice!) and Stewart, but it was a blowout, nonetheless.
Ride along with Roczen at the Tennessee National:
Eli Tomac and Justin Barcia at the RedBud National. Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the High Point National. Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the High Point National. Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the RedBud National. Simon Cudby Eli Tomac at the Undilla National. Simon Cudby Ken Roczen at the Ironman National. Simon Cudby Ken Roczen at the Ironman National. Simon Cudby Ken Roczen at the Ironman National. Simon Cudby Ken Roczen at the Tennessee National. Simon Cudby Ken Roczen at the Tennessee National. Simon Cudby Marvin Musquin at the Budds Creek National. Simon Cudby Marvin Musquin at the Budds Creek National. Simon Cudby Marvin Musquin at the Budds Creek National. Simon Cudby Roczen, Tomac, and Broc Tickle at the Tennessee National. Simon Cudby
Speaking of Stewart, he was still racing in 2016, although it wasn’t going well. After missing all of 2015 due to a WADA suspension for testing positive for a banned substance (thought to be Adderall, for which Stewart was later granted a therapeutic use exemption), many expected Stewart to return to racing more fired up and motivated than ever. It didn’t turn out like that, as he struggled through the season and eventually called it after the Washougal race. At this point one of the fastest riders to ever throw a leg over was relegated to battling outside of the top ten. It was time for Stewart to step away from racing, although he did not actually announce his official retirement for several more years.
The 250 class in motocross looked more predictable. Jeremy Martin had won the 2014 and 2015 titles for Star Racing Yamaha, and one of his main competitors, teammate Cooper Webb, was coming into the season with a broken wrist. A third-straight title for Martin looked easy, but something seemed off right from the start for Martin, though, and Webb, riding through the injury, actually looked okay. The early rounds actually became to domain of Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy and a third Star Yamaha rider, Martin’s brother Alex. They put on some big battles, and Savatgy held the early season lead.
Jeremy Martin would later admit he was riding with Epstein-Barr Virus, which was going to make for a long summer. Webb’s wrist was healing, and he was getting faster. By mid-season he had Savatgy in his sights, and after winning at RedBud, Webb began to take over the series. Savatgy also cooled off from his torrid start, and in the end, Webb won the title over Alex Martin by 73 points. Webb had also won his second-straight 250 Supercross Championship. He was headed to the 450 class, now anticipated as the next-big-thing in the sport.
2016 250 Class Overall Points
2016 450 Class Overall Points
Webb did have some business to attend to at the end of the year. The FIM Motocross World Championship (MXGP) series came to America to run two races, one at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina, and another at Glen Helen in California. Tomac absolutely dominated those races in the 450 division, winning all four motos with ease. Webb raced MX2 (for 250s) in Charlotte, facing off against Europe’s 250 dominator Jeffrey Herlings. Herlings caught and passed Webb to win moto one, but Webb came back with a vengeance in moto two, coming through the pack to catch and pass Herlings for the overall. Webb didn’t race Glen Helen, but Jeremy Martin, now feeling healthier, showed up, but now on his new GEICO Honda ride. He looked pretty sharp, but was no match for Herlings, who went 1-1.
Then came the FIM Motocross of Nations, where Webb moved to a Yamaha 450, and Alex Martin would take the 250 spot. Jason Anderson would take the other 450 spot for Team USA. Here’s the thing: the Americans, frustrated for several years with lackluster rides and results, had the speed this time. Anderson punctuated it by winning a duel against Herlings to win a moto overall. Seconds later, as he rolled the finish line jump, he was landed on by a lapped rider. Just like that Anderson was knocked out of the event and would not be able to race the final moto of the day. Team France prevailed to win the event again.
Watch as Anderson gets landed on after winning his moto:
2016 Motocross of Nations Results
|Romain Febvre||1||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MXGP||Yamaha|
|Gautier Paulin||3||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||Open||Honda|
|Romain Febvre||4||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||MXGP||Yamaha|
|Benoit Paturel||10||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||MX2||Yamaha|
|Gautier Paulin||11||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||Open||Honda|
|Benoit Paturel||14||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MX2||Yamaha|
|Jeffrey Herlings||1||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||Open||KTM|
|Jeffrey Herlings||2||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||Open||KTM|
|Glenn Coldenhoff||6||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MXGP||KTM|
|Glenn Coldenhoff||7||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||MXGP||KTM|
|Brian Bogers||14||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||MX2||KTM|
|Brian Bogers||20||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MX2||KTM|
|Jason Anderson||1||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||Open||Husqvarna|
|Cooper Webb||4||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MXGP||Yamaha|
|Alex Martin||9||Race 2 (MX2 + Open)||MX2||Yamaha|
|Alex Martin||9||Race 1 (MXGP + MX2)||MX2||Yamaha|
|Cooper Webb||10||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||MXGP||Yamaha|
|Jason Anderson||Race 3 (MXGP + Open)||Open||Husqvarna|