Red Bull-sponsored Team HRC Honda rider Ken Roczen won two of the three all-important finals races at Sam Boyd Stadium yesterday, but he crashed out of the other while leading and it was Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac who finished 2-1-4 and won the first Monster Energy Cup Championship of his career yesterday and took home the $100,000 prize.
Smartop MotoConcepts Racing’s Cameron Mcadoo swept both Toyota holeshots in the Amateur All-Star Class and walked away with a brand new Toyota Tacoma and the overall win. Kawasaki’s Stilez Robertson outdueled the competition in a dramatic finish to win the Supermini Class.
Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM’s Blake Baggett was quick out of the gate and grabbed the Toyota holeshot by leading the star-studded field through the opening turn of the first Main Event in the Monster Energy Cup Class. Roczen was in hot pursuit, followed by Tomac, Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey and Smartop MotoConcepts Racing’s Mike Alessi. Roczen instantly attacked Baggett and made quick work by taking over the lead on the opening lap.
Once into the lead, Red Bull rider Roczen set a blistering pace and began to distance himself from the competition that battled for the remaining podium spots behind him. Tomac used the entire course as he searched for a way around Baggett, eventually making the pass stick on lap two. On the ninth lap, Roczen went through the joker lane, a slower section of the track that every rider must take at least once after the first lap, but maintained his lead as Tomac followed him through.
Roczen held on to grab the first chequered flag of the night, followed by Tomac and Dungey in second and third, respectively. Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin charged hard to make several passes for fourth, while early race leader Baggett settled for fifth.
“It was a good first race with the HRC Honda Team, I’m happy with how the bike worked on the start and on the track,” said Roczen. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the night and seeing what we can do.”
The second Main Event witnessed Roczen jump out to the early lead by grabbing the Toyota holeshot, narrowly edging out Tomac, Reed, Dungey and Alessi. As the lead duo pushed one another at the front of the 18-rider field, Dungey made an aggressive pass to overtake Reed for third on the opening lap.
Roczen continued to set the pace at the front, but Tomac kept him within striking distance, however, disaster struck for the defending Monster Energy Cup Class Champion and Roczen suffered a horrendous crash on lap seven that forced him to retire from the race early. Roczen’s misfortune allowed for Tomac to inherit the lead.
Tomac cruised to win the second race of the night with Dungey second and Musquin third. Reed was credited with fourth, while HRC Honda’s Cole Seely rounded out the top five.
“I came in with a little bit too much momentum on the start and it cost me the holeshot,” said Tomac. “It was unfortunate to see Ken [Roczen] go down, we laid down a quick pace early and yoyo’d each other back and forth.”
Reed powered his way to the to the Toyota holeshot in the third and final Monster Energy Cup Class Main Event of the night, while Alessi, Roczen, Seely and Musquin gave chase. Alessi gained control of the race early and Reed made a critical mistake on the opening lap that saw him hit the deck and move Dungey into the top five. Tomac was buried in the pack and circulated the opening lap in 10th place.
Alessi rode brilliantly as he clicked off lap-after-lap, opening a small lead as the competition swapped positions behind him. Roczen began to slowly chip away at Alessi’s lead and eventually made the pass for the lead on Lap 4. Musquin bumped his way into second, followed by Dungey just one lap later. Tomac was on a mission as he carved his way through the talented field and moved into fourth on lap six.
As Roczen continued to lead, the battle for the overall win was shaping up to go down to the wire between Dungey and Tomac. On Lap 7, a slight bobble by Dungey allowed Tomac to jump to the inside and make the pass for third. Roczen and Musquin elected to take the joker lane on the ninth lap, while Dungey and Tomac waited until the final lap. Dungey was hot on Tomac’s heels and made the pass towards the end of the final lap to retake third.
Roczen impressively rebounded from his crash earlier in the night to cross the checkered flag for his second race win of the night. Musquin took second, just ahead of Dungey, Tomac and Alessi, who rounded out the top five.
Tomac edged Dungey out by one point for the overall win (2-1-4) on the night. Dungey was second (3-2-3) and Musquin third (4-3-2).
“It was a crazy race and I did not make it easy on myself with a terrible start,” said Tomac. “I knew going into the race that I just needed to finish behind Ryan [Dungey] and I was able to catch up to him and have a good battle before settling on the last lap. I’m really happy with tonight’s performance and looking forward to the next season.”
The best Freestyle Motocross Riders from around the world made a special appearance as they competed in several high-flying competitions throughout the day. Despite strong winds, the athletes put it all on the line and Taka Higashino used a back-flip lazy boy to emerge as the winner in the FMX High Rollers Contest. Aussie Jared McNeil led the way in FMX QuarterPipe Big Air, while Tom Parson took the top honoirs in the Dirt Shark Best Whip contest.
Photo courtesy Simon Cudby
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Monster Energy Cup Class Results
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (2-1-4)
- Ryan Dungey, Clermont, Fla., KTM (3-2-3)
- Marvin Musquin, Corona, Calif., (4-3-2)
- Cole Seely, Sherman, Oaks, Calif., (6-5-6)
- Mike Alessi, Hilliard, Fla., Honda (8-6-5)
- Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., KTM (5-7-9)
- Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Honda (1-21-1)
- Chad Reed, Dade City, Fla., Yamaha (7-4-12)
- Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, MO., KTM (9-8-7)
- Vince Friese, Cape Girardeau, MO., Honda (11-12-8)
Amateur All-Stars Class Results
- Cameron Mcadoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Honda (7-1)
- Challen Tennant, Willis, Texas, Yamaha (2-6)
- Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Kawasaki (6-4)
- Dylan Walsh, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha (9-3)
- Jayce Pennington, Walnut Hills, IL., Kawasaki (11-2)
- Lorenzo Locurcio, Cairo, Ga., Yamaha (5-8)
- Sean Cantrell, Newbury Park, Calif., KTM (3-10)
- Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (4-13)
- Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., Yamaha (13-5)
- Ramyller Alves, Coconut Creek, Fla., Yamaha (10-9)
Supermini Class Results
- Stilez Robertson, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (2-1)
- Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Honda (3-2)
- Aiden Tijero, Ripon, Calif., KTM (4-5)
- Joshua Varize, Perris, Calif., KTM (9-3)
- Jace Kessler, Eagle, Mich., Husqvarna (6-6)
- Max Miller, Springfield, Ore., KTM (10-4)
- Devin Xindaris, Copperas Cove, Texas, Kawasaki (5-12)
- Juan Valderrama, Cairo, Ga., KTM (11-8)
- Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki (1-18)
- Tyson Johnson, Ripon, Calif., Kawasaki (12-10)