Tomac looks to increase his lead at Glen Helen
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. (May 20, 2015) – The opening weekend of the 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, featured assertive starts to the summer from GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac in the 450 Class, as well as Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin in the 250 Class. On Saturday, May 23, the world’s most prestigious championship will head to the heart of the motocross racing industry in Southern California to visit arguably one of the toughest racetracks on the planet for the FMF Glen Helen National in San Bernardino, kicking off Memorial Day Weekend.
Heading into last weekend’s season opening round at Hangtown many considered Tomac to be the breakout rider of the 2015 season, and the Colorado native proceeded to confirm to prospects by enjoying his most dominant performance in the premier division. Tomac was fastest in practice and went on to lead every lap of competition across two motos, earning his second career 450 Class victory. The tipping point of Tomac’s effort was the 91-second margin he carried over the field in the final moto. Not since 2008 during James Stewart’s perfect season had a rider won by more than a minute, with Stewart doing so at Spring Creek MX Park with a gap of 70 seconds over Tim Ferry. The only margin on record that was larger came from Ricky Carmichael, who lapped the entire field during the second moto at Spring Creek MX Park during the 2006 season.
As a result of his dominant performance, Tomac will carry the red number plate for the first time in the 450 Class as the championship leader. The last time a Honda rider led the 450 Class standings was in 2011 when Chad Reed won the first two rounds during his inaugural season under the TwoTwo Motorsports banner.
A rider looking to make sure Tomac doesn’t match Reed’s season-opening efforts from that year is Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey. While he missed out on his first ever win at Hangtown, it was as good a day as Dungey could ask for, posting back-to-back runner-up finishes to stay within six points of Tomac heading into the second round. If anything, Dungey has the advantage this weekend as the defending race winner at Glen Helen, which he earned with a memorable last-lap pass on then teammate Ken Roczen. Dungey is the only rider in the 450 Class field to have a Glen Helen victory to his credit, which in theory gives him a great opportunity to respond to Tomac’s initial surge. Moreover, Tomac has never raced at Glen Helen as a professional, missing last season’s race with an injury.
Another rider many will keep an eye on this weekend is Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson, who made the manufacturers return to the championship a memorable one with Husqvarna’s first 450 Class podium result since 1979 when Mike Guerra finished second at Moto-X 338 in what was then known as the 250cc/250MX class. Anderson is one of three extremely talented rookies that are expected to challenge for podiums all season and could potentially even contend for an overall win. Another one of those rookies, Blake Baggett, is arguably the rider most eagerly awaiting Glen Helen, his hometown track. The Grand Terrace native and Team Yoshimura Suzuki rider grew up mere miles from the raceway and is looking to build off an impressive fifth-place debut last weekend, tying in points with another Southern California native Weston Peick, who earned the best finish of his career in his Pro Motocross debut with the Joe Gibbs Racing-owned Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha effort.
While several riders were able to get their 2015 seasons off to a strong start, defending champion Ken Roczen finds himself in a unique and uncertain position heading into Glen Helen. This week the German titleholder revealed he is suffering from a stress fracture in his spine, which ultimately had a major impact on his 19-5 moto scores at Hangtown that landed him 12th overall. The RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy Johns/Suzuki Factory Racing rider undoubtedly possesses the will of a champion by even attempting to race through the injury, and his 14-position improvement from Moto 1 to Moto 2 surely provides hope for the future, but he faces an uphill battle in his quest to defend the 450 Class title, already 32 points behind Tomac.
Before the first gate even dropped on the 250 Class season, many believed the battle for the championship was wide open amongst a handful of talented young riders. While both Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo and Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha’s Cooper Webb made their presence felt at Hangtown, misfortune cost both riders a shot at victory. Instead a pair of familiar faces rose to the occasion with both Martin and Musquin trading moto wins to enter Glen Helen deadlocked atop the early championship standings.
While Martin is no stranger to having the red plate, carrying it through all but one round of the championship a year ago, Glen Helen will be the first time ever that Musquin has the coveted distinction. The Frenchman is in his final season of 250 Class competition and appears ready to make the most of it following the best effort of his career at Hangtown.
Despite the misfortune experience by Cianciarulo, who was fastest in practice and led five laps of the opening moto, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki was still at the front of the field thanks to rookie Chris Alldredge. In his first professional race at Hangtown, the Oregon native looked like a rider with years of experience, landing on the podium for the first time in just his fourth start. Alldredge’s career-best day was one of several throughout the top 10 at Hangtown, as Alex Martin (CycleTrader.com/Rock River Yamaha), Anthony Rodriguez (Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha), and Aaron Plessinger (Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha) all either tied or earned career-best finishes.
As the defending race winner at Glen Helen, many will look to see if Jeremy Martin can duplicate his efforts from a year ago when back-to-back overall victories at the start of the season carried him to the eventual title. He’ll arguably have more challengers than ever this time around, setting the stage for yet another wild afternoon of 250 Class competition.