The United States Motocross Championships have been up and down over three rounds thus far and it’s anyone’s guess who will win the day when racing resumes with round four at Mount Morris in Pennsylvania this weekend.
After a weekend off, the AMA motocross nationals spark back into life on Saturday (Sunday NZ time) for the second quarter of the season. With tons of drama and unpredictability at the first three rounds, the stage is set for more great racing at High Point and this time with the additional interest of having current Australian motocross champion Dean Ferris joining the mix.
One of the factors that has made this US season so entertaining has been the number of different race winners so far. In both the 450 class and the 250 class, six motos have been run, and five different riders have scored wins. That sort of parity doesn’t come around very often.
In the 450 class, Marvin Musquin, Eli Tomac, Blake Baggett, Jason Anderson and Justin Bogle have all won motos so far. There aren’t any immediately obvious contenders to join them (perhaps Cooper Webb at some point?), but absolutely no one was picking Bogle to win a moto at Thunder Valley in Denver, so anything could happen.
But while a new 450 winner would be surprising, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the trend continue in the 250 class. So far Zach Osborne, Alex Martin, Jeremy Martin, Joey Savatgy and Dylan Ferrandis have all notched moto victories this year, but the field of contenders goes even deeper. Adam Cianciarulo and Aaron Plessinger each have a pair of podium finishes, and Austin Forkner has three. Forkner was also extremely fast at Thunder Valley and pressed for the win in moto one.
Both classes have been exciting.
Tomac was the presumptive 450MX favourite entering the season, but the dominance he’s flashed at various points in his career (including earlier this year in supercross) has yet to show itself. Bad starts and bike issues were his undoing at Glen Helen, but Tomac was simply outraced by Baggett at Thunder Valley. As a result, it’s Musquin holding the red plate with a 17-point lead over Tomac.
And just two points behind Tomac is Baggett, who established himself as a title contender after catching fire at Thunder Valley. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to keep the momentum going at High Point. When he was racing in the 250 class, Baggett had 1-1 sweeps at this track in 2011 and 2014.
It would also be too early to rule Anderson out of this title chase. The Rockstar Husqvarna rider sits 15 points back of Baggett and 34 points back of Musquin right now. He has a bit of a hole to dig out of, but that’s mostly the result of taking a fluky rock to the eye in the first moto of the season. Already with one moto win under his belt, Anderson has proven that he can hang with the frontrunners – but can he do it more consistently now?
There is similar intrigue in the 250 Class as Osborne begins to feel the heat from the Martin brothers. After riding through sickness at Thunder Valley, Osborne saw his championship lead shrink to nine points over Alex and 18 points over Jeremy.
While those three are in the top tier right now, they have not yet pulled away from the rest of the field when it comes to championship points. Savatgy, Forkner, Colt Nichols, Cianciarulo and Plessinger are less than 25 points back of Jeremy Martin. In the case of all those riders except Nichols, they have been buoyed by strong podium results but dragged down by one DNF each. In the case of Nichols, he’s been consistently solid with top-six finishes in all but one moto, but a dearth of podium results has kept him from entering that next tier.
To illustrate how crazy things are in the 250 Class, we turn to the “Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Stat of the Week”:
Zach Osborne currently has 119 championship points. Through three rounds, that’s the lowest total for the points leader in the lites class since 2005, when Mike Brown also had 119.
And in case you’re wondering about the 450s, Marvin Musquin currently has 127 points. That’s the lowest total for the premier class’s red-plate holder at this point of the season since 2010, when Ryan Dungey’s 126 points topped the field.
Add to all this the fact that Aussie hero Ferris is coming back to the US – for one week anyway. You may recall that Ferris was signed to the Red Bull KTM team back in 2014, but injuries ended his supercross season early and he didn’t race Lucas Oil Pro Motocross. He then returned overseas the next year.
Ferris spent 2016 racing in his home country, where he won the MX1 title for the Australian Motocross Nationals. He is once again the MX1 points leader in that series this year, but with the series on hiatus for a few weeks, has decided to come back to the US to race at High Point.
To Ferris, there is some unfinished business to attend to.
“America didn’t work out great last time and I never got to race outdoors,” he said.
“I think going and doing that will be a good achievement. For anyone that races bikes, it’s a dream to race an AMA outdoor and it’s a cool track – it gets rutty and rough – so I’d like to see where I’m at and test myself against the best guys there on an outdoor track.”
Ferris will compete in the 450 class.
Also confirmed for High Point is Christian Craig, who missed the previous round with a hand injury. He had two holeshots in the first four motos of the season, led a few laps and was briefly in position for an overall podium at Glen Helen before his second-moto crash.
© Photo by Andy McGechan, www.BikesportNZ.com
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