Talking Point: Tomac leaving Kawasaki for Yamaha
It’s the unexpected end of an era for Kawasaki and Eli Tomac. After a three outdoor titles (and the chance another this summer) and one supercross title, Kawasaki have confirmed that their latest supercross champion, Eli Tomac, will no longer be riding green despite that period of time being the best of his career.
On the face of it is is a surprising move. Tomac has had considerable success and Kawasaki is, along with KTM, arguably the best team to ride for in America. Over the last 20 years they have had and won with the biggest superstars in the US. Carmichael then Stewart then Villopoto all won before Tomac came in and did the same. They know how to get the job done with the best riders in the sport and Eli is walking away from all of that to ride an unproven bike for a 450 team that is only one year in to racing in the premier class.
Now, according to US media, Tomac has actually not been totally happy with his Kawasaki set-up despite the success and while the Star Yamaha initially pointed towards a money motivated deal and maybe a nice last big payday before retirement, it looks like this was still motivated by the desire to find more comfort from a different bike. Star Yamaha’s suspension guru came from Geico Honda who Eli knew when he rode red and former team Honda manager, Dave Arnold, who was a big part of Honda’s two decades of success is now a consultant at Star Yamaha. That could also have been a motivating factor, Arnold is a very smart man and could be a key part of the puzzle Tomac is trying to put together.
Tomac is approaching 30 now so the question has to be asked, now that he has won the supercross title, has the motivation waned slightly or is age catching up with him after such an intense career? Maybe riding for a new team is Eli’s way of bringing something new to the game again and giving him that new motivation to go for another year or two with a spring in his step to claim another title or two before he retires.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how Tomac adapts to an unproven (in terms of title winning) Yamaha and a very different bike to the Kawasaki. It remains to be seen if he can find the sweet spot in the off-season to go right into 2022 and contend for the title against Cooper Webb, who has all the data and experience he needs to go for his third supercross championship.
It’s a big acquisition for Star Yamaha too, the pressure is on and although they have shown good things this supercross season in their first year with Stewart, Ferrandis and Plessinger, having a title contender is next level and they have to deliver quickly – it’s going to be huge off-season for Tomac and the Star Racing team!
The other side of the coin is Kawasaki and Adam Cianciarulo. It’s now time to step up for Adam. He came in with the hype and showed he has the speed to win the 459 division but now it’s his big chance, as a Kawasaki career rider, to show he can lead the team to a 450 title and take over where Eli Tomac left off.
Yes, there are rumours that Kawasaki are looking at Jason Anderosn to join Tomac and Austin Forkner to eventually be the long-term replacement for Eli but Cianciarulo is young enough, with enough speed to become the main guy there. With Eli Tomac’s departure this is Cianciarulo’s time to shine, it’s a clear pathway now and this is his golden opportunity make himself the number one rider, even if Anderson is on the team, and become the guy he has dedicated his life to being – Kawasaki’s next 450 supercross champion.
Article: Jonathan McCready
Images: Octopi media