The state of Florida welcomed United States motocross nationals racing back for the first time in 22 years on Saturday, as WW Ranch Motocross Park made its debut as the newest venue to host a round of the prestigious series.
This fifth round of 12 in the series presented the most challenging conditions of the season, as a difficult sand track and hot, humid temperatures combined to push riders to the limit. At the end of a pair of gruelling motos, Frenchman Marvin Musquin claimed his first overall victory of the season in the 450 Class, while Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing’s Justin Cooper emerged to take the first professional win of his career in the 250 Class.
It is interesting to note that Australian Dean Ferris finished the day eighth overall in the 450cc class with 10-7 results and he’s now ninth overall in the series standings.
The opening 450 class moto saw Cooper Webb surge to his class-leading third holeshot of the season over Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen.
The spirited foes went at it over the course of the opening lap, with German rider Roczen attempting several passes that were ultimately defended by Webb.
Webb was able to keep the championship co-leader behind and complete the opening lap with the lead, but Roczen continued to attack and soon seized control of the moto. As this captivating battle unfolded, fellow championship co-leader Eli Tomac was mired in 18th and had to make a series of tough passes in the opening laps just to break into the top 10.
Once in the lead, Roczen was able to assert himself at the front of the field while Webb began to lose ground to his team-mate, Musquin. The Frenchman sensed the opportunity to pass Webb for second and wasted little time in taking advantage of the first opportunity he got to drop his teammate to third. From there, Musquin set his sights on Roczen.
Soon enough the former MXGP rivals were duking it out for the lead. Musquin searched for every possible line in his quest to find a way around Roczen, but the German consistently countered those moves. Musquin’s relentless pressure on Roczen almost led to a crash from the Frenchman, but he saved it and never let up, eventually making the pass stick shortly after the halfway point of the moto.
The clear track allowed Musquin to storm out to a comfortable lead over the field, while Roczen settled into second. With about 10 minutes left in the moto the battle for third heated up between Webb and Jason Anderson.
The race’s top qualifier appeared to be quicker than Webb, but he was unable to make the pass happen as Webb responded by picking up his pace. Anderson didn’t give up, however, and regrouped for a couple laps to prepare for one final push, quickly closing back in on Webb’s rear fender before making an impressive pass for the position. Anderson’s late surge pressed on, and with two laps to go he found himself mere bike lengths behind Roczen. However, the German stepped up in response to the pressure.
Musquin was dominant en route to his first moto win since the 10th round at Unadilla last August, crossing the line 7.7 seconds ahead of Roczen, with Anderson right behind in third. Webb soldiered home in fourth, while open class rookie Zach Osborne was fifth. Tomac never made his presence felt in the moto, but battled through the field to finish seventh.
No doubt disappointed in his first moto effort, Tomac seized the moment to start Moto 2 and took his first MotoSport.com Holeshot of the season ahead of Osborne. Anderson slotted in behind his teammate in third, while the KTM’s of Musquin and Webb, along with Roczen, gave pursuit. With a clear track ahead of him Tomac sprinted in the opening stages in an effort to build a margin that he could manage as the moto continued. Anderson applied pressure on Osborne and made an impressive pass to take over second. Osborne attempted to fight back, but to no avail.
Tomac needed just over a lap to storm out to nearly a five-second lead, which left everyone else to battle for the remaining spots on the podium. Anderson gave chase from second, while Osborne was left to deal with Musquin for third. The rookie held off his training partner for a while, but the Frenchman utilised alternate lines to make the pass and move into third.
The field stabilised through the middle portion of the moto, with multiple seconds between each rider in the top five. However, the big-picture battle in the championship changed after Roczen went down while running fifth. Roczen and Tomac entered the race tied atop the point standings, but Roczen began the second moto with the upper hand. Roczen remounted in seventh, but continued to lose positions. As this unfolded, Anderson’s pace dropped dramatically and he dropped from second to fourth, moving Musquin up to second and Osborne up to third.
Musquin managed to get Tomac in his sights late in the moto, but the reigning series champion responded. As the moto wore on, Musquin’s pace dropped. He lost touch with Tomac and then lost considerable ground to Osborne in third. With just three laps to go, Osborne made the pass on Musquin to take over second.
Tomac managed a perfect moto to take his fifth checkered flag of the season, 4.1 seconds ahead of Osborne. Musquin held on for third.
Musquin’s 1-3 scores carried him to the eighth overall win of his career and ends a six-race winless streak. Despite his slow start to the afternoon, Tomac’s win in the final moto vaulted him to the runner-up spot in the overall classification (7-1), while Osborne’s late pass on Musquin landed him third (5-2).
“I tried [to catch Tomac]. I knew I had the overall, but winning both motos is the best,” said Musquin. “I just kind of ran out of energy there at the end. I’m a little disappointed. I didn’t see Zach coming [from third], but it’s still good. I salvaged third place in the moto, and that was good enough to earn the overall.”
Tomac leaves Florida with a six-point lead in the 450 Class standings over Roczen, who finished sixth (2-10). The win allowed Musquin to climb from fifth to third, 31 points out of the lead.
“The difference from Moto 1 to Moto 2 was the result of a bad start in the first one. Not sure what happened there. I got a much better Moto 2 start and had a better feel on the bike,” explained Tomac. “I’m happy to get through the heat today. The sand was a serious challenge and it changes things up for us, but overall it was a good day.”
The 2019 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will reach its halfway point next Saturday, June 29, with the MB Tractor & Equipment Southwick National from New England’s legendary The Wick 338.
Photo courtesy Simon Cudby
Find BikesportNZ.com on FACEBOOK here
RESULTS AND STANDINGS:
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (1-3)
2 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (7-1)
3 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna (5-2)
4 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna (3-4)
5 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (4-5)
6 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (2-10)
7 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha (6-6)
8 Dean Ferris, Australia, Yamaha (10-7)
9 Fredrik Noren, Sweden, Honda (9-8)
10 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (8-9)
450 Class Championship Standings
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 215 points
2 Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 209 points
3 Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 184 points
4 Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Husqvarna – 182 points
5 Zach Osborne, Abingdon, Va., Husqvarna – 182 points
6 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 166 points
7 Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., Yamaha – 129 points
8 Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM – 117 points
9 Dean Ferris, Australia, Yamaha – 114 points
10 Justin Bogle, Cushing, Okla., KTM – 99 points
250 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish)
1 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (2-2)
2 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (4-1)
3 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (5-3)
4 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., Husqvarna (3-5)
5 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (8-4)
6 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki (7-6)
7 Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (9-7)
8 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Honda (6-11)
9 Jacob Hayes, Greensboro, N.C., Yamaha (13-8)
10 Jordan Bailey, Orlando, Fla., Husqvarna (10-12)
250 Class Championship Standings
1 Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 222 points
2 Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 204 points
3 Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 187 points
4 Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 159 points
5 Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 152 points
6 Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., Husqvarna – 148 points
7 Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 142 points
8 RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Honda – 129 points
9 Alex Martin, Millville, Minn., Suzuki – 116 points
10 Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., KTM – 79 points