Monster Energy Kawasaki's Eli Tomac has won the penultimate round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Budds Creek to extend his lead over title rival, KTM's Marvin Musquin.
The first moto delivered some drama right away, with the two championship contenders having drastically different starts. Marvin Musquin grabbed the holeshot ahead of Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia, but Eli Tomac was nowhere to be found among the lead group. A poor start put him outside the top 10 — never a good spot to be in, but particularly bad considering that the point difference between first place and 11th place is 15 points. Fortunately for Tomac, he made a number of quick passes to move himself into seventh before he started to encounter heavier resistance.
Meanwhile, out front, Roczen caught Musquin by the end of the first full lap and was able to take over the lead. From that point on, the moto featured two simulatenous points of intrigue: Roczen’s attempt to hold off Musquin and win the moto, and Tomac’s attempt to pick up as many positions as possible.
The first rider to present a problem for Tomac was sixth-place Benny Bloss. The two riders went side-by-side through the track for several turns before Tomac finally secured the position. Tomac then got Nicoletti for fifth place, followed by Jason Anderson around the midway point for fourth place.
As the countdown clock got under seven minutes, a battle for the lead reignited between Roczen and Musquin, who had both pulled away from the rest of the field by this point. Musquin was right up on Roczen several times but struggled to make anything stick. While this was going on, Barcia and Tomac were locking horns in a battle for third place. By the time Tomac got around Barcia on Lap 12, the top two were about 19 seconds clear of him.
In the final laps of the moto, Musquin fell off the pace. That allowed Roczen to cruise to a 13-second victory and his second moto win of the year, while Musquin (second place) would have to settle for only picking up two points on Tomac (third place) instead of what could have been five points.
Anderson and Blake Baggett, who fell earlier in the moto, both made late passes of Barcia to finish inside the top five. Barcia finished behind them in sixth.
Phil Nicoletti took the holeshot but had many of the usual suspects behind him. By the end of the first lap, he’d dropped spots to Marvin Musquin, Justin Barcia and Ken Roczen and had the tandem of Blake Baggett and Eli Tomac not far behind. Barcia soon made a challenge for the lead, but Musquin was able to fend him off. Neither one of them would be able to hold off Roczen though — the Honda HRC rider passed Barcia about five minutes into the moto, then took an inside line around Musquin to move into the lead shortly before the midway point of the race.
Meanwhile Tomac was doing what he often does — charging through the field. After getting around Nicoletti and Baggett, he closed in on Barcia for third place. Barcia handed over that spot thanks to an error that put him on the ground. Then Tomac went on a tear in the final ten minutes (plus two laps) of the race.
Once he had Musquin in his sights, Tomac used an outside line to make quick work of his championship rival. And four minutes later, he passed Roczen for the lead without too much of a struggle. Tomac immediately began to gap the field once he had the lead, but the struggle was just beginning for his European rivals. That’s because Baggett started making a charge of his own in the final laps — a charge which benefitted Tomac in the process. Baggett picked off both Musquin (which helped Tomac pick up a few extra points) and Roczen (which swung the overall victory from Roczen to Tomac) to earn his best moto result of the season, a second-place finish behind Tomac. Roczen, Musquin and Barcia rounded out the top five.
All the changing fortunes on those final laps gave Tomac his 15th overall win and eighth overall win of the season. He also extended his championship lead over Musquin from 15 to 20 points.
Roczen (1-3) tied Tomac (3-1) in points for the day but lost the tiebreaker (better Moto 2 finish) to Tomac. That put Roczen second overall, and Musquin (2-4) rounded out the overall podium ahead of Baggett (5-2).
Despite a fourth-place finish in Moto 1, Jason Anderson did not line up for Moto 2.
450 OVERALL RESULTS
1. Eli Tomac (3-1)
2. Ken Roczen (1-3)
3. Marvin Musquin (2-4)
4. Blake Baggett (5-2)
5. Justin Barcia (6-5)
6. Phil Nicoletti (7-6)
7. Cooper Webb (8-7)
8. Benny Bloss (9-8)
9. Dylan Merriam (12-10)
10. Weston Peick (14-9)
450 POINT STANDINGS
1. Eli Tomac, 493
2. Marvin Musquin, 473
3. Ken Roczen, 403
4. Justin Barcia, 394
5. Blake Baggett, 370
6. Weston Peick, 291
7. Phil Nicoletti, 282
8. Benny Bloss, 278
9. Kyle Cunningham, 159
10. Cooper Webb, 156