Passes & Crashes Decide The Results Of The 2018 Southwick Motocross
IMAGES | Davis & Octopi Media
The outcomes of the 2018 Southwick Motocross were decided by late-race moments in each of the motos. Riders were challenged from all angles at the sixth round of the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, from the rough and rugged sand of the Massachusetts track to the sweltering summer heat to the crafty passes by their competition, and those that managed to overcome the obstacles were greatly rewarded.
250 MOTO ONE
Shane McElrath's moto started off well as the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider nabbed the holeshot and held the lead through the early laps over Jimmy Decotis and Justin Cooper. While the rest of the field diced for spots and ducked the sandy roost, McElrath motored away with a clear track and established a sizeable gap over the competition in just a few moments. A bit further back, attention turned to Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider Austin Forkner, who had made a number of moves in the opening laps to climb from deep in the top-ten to second place. Forkner used one area of the track repeatedly in his surge up the running order, as he was able to launch into a sweeping turn and slip by riders upon exit, a move that benefitted him most when he passed Cooper for second place. Once Forkner managed to get to second place, his attention turned to cutting down McElrath's lead, a feat he managed to do with a series of swift laps on the sandy track. With ten minutes remaining in the race, Forkner took over the top spot with a wide pass on McElrath.
Alex Martin benefitted greatly from the mistakes of others in Moto One, as the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider was up to third place after crashes claimed Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton. These moves allowed Martin to catch a tow on Forkner's pursuit of McElrath and shortly after Forkner took over the lead, Martin made a move on his TLD KTM teammate for second place. These passes set the stage for a thrilling fight to the finish, with Forkner, Martin, and Aaron Plessinger all within a few seconds of each other in the closing laps. Plessinger was the first to fall out of the battle, as he was unable to match the pace and was regulated to third place, but Forkner and Martin stayed close until the checkered flag. Both riders had strong and weak points on the track and these issues kept the two near each other until the final lap, when Forkner pulled out a win just over a second.
250 MOTO TWO
Shane McElrath snagged the holeshot in Moto Two but his time at the front was cut short by a pass from Austin Forkner in the first lane of track and another move by Alex Martin. Although it seemed like the two were going to pick up their battle from Moto One right away, Forkner managed to stay well ahead of Martin and the rest of the field through the opening half of the race. Although there was no real battle for the top spot at that time, there was plenty to watch throughout the pack, including a charge by Dylan Ferrandis that took the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing rider to third place. Once these three riders were in the top spots, the anticipation mounted for a battle in the final laps.
With five minutes left in the moto, Martin pulled nearly even with Forkner for the lead. It was a near copy of their earlier duel, as Forkner controlled the lines and Martin hung close in hopes of an opportunity to make a pass. Martin saw a possible place to pass opened a few moments later after Forkner swung through the middle line in a turn and left the inside open, a small space that Martin figured he could force his way through. Unfortunately, the two collided at the apex of the turn and went down; Forkner landed headfirst into a sand berm while Martin rolled to a stop. Although both managed to remount their motorcycles, Forkner's chance at the race was over due to the time he spent on the side of the track to collect his composure and Martin had lost a number of positions to Ferrandis, McElrath, and RJ Hampshire. Although Martin would pass Hampshire back, the crash ended his shot at the overall.
The collision greatly benefitted Ferrandis, who was just a few feet away from the riders when they went down and threaded his way through the bikes and bodies to take over the top spot. Once in the lead, Ferrandis clicked off the closing laps with McElrath on his rear wheel, a battle that although close never included a pass attempt. With this, Ferrandis crossed the finish line less than a second ahead of McElrath to take the moto win and when paired with his fourth-place finish in Moto One, claimed the overall victory. McElrath, meanwhile, was able to score third place overall on the day thanks to his second-place ride in the race.
Martin's ability to rejoin the race in a top position was key to his day's performance, as the fourth-place finish in the race gave him second overall on the day and helped him chip away at Aaron Plessinger's lead in the championship standings (Plessinger went 3-7 for fifth overall).
450 MOTO ONE
Justin Bogle aced the start in his return to competition from injury, as the AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing rider nabbed the holeshot. Ken Roczen wasted no time getting to the top spot and a pass on Bogle put the Team Honda HRC rider into the top spot. Justin Barcia, Marvin Musquin, and Blake Baggett all got to the front of the field in the early moments of the moto, while Eli Tomac made a number of moves to climb from outside the top-ten to seventh on the opening lap.
Roczen's lead came under fire ten minutes into the moto, when Justin Barcia made a pass on Roczen and took over the spot. Roczen attempted to retaliate when Barcia made a mistake soon after, but the Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing rider managed to prevent Roczen from getting by. This was the first of three passes that were made on Roczen in a single lap, as Musquin and Tomac both went by moments later for second place and third place, respectively. Things got interesting at the halfway point of the race when Musquin and Tomac reeled in and passed Barcia, then diced for the remainder of the race for the top spot. Musquin held the advantage early in the battle, as his position in first allowed him to block and prevent Tomac's pass attempts. The two riders went through multiple corners and straightaways in a dead-even duel, with Tomac getting around Musquin with a close pass as they took the white flag. This brought the intensity of the moto to its peak, as Tomac attempted to break away and Musquin attempted to retake the top spot. Unfortunately for Musquin a small mistake moments later would send him into a soft spot on the side of the track and over the bars, which allowed Tomac to take off unchallenged to the checkered flag. Musquin would remount to finish in second place, while Barcia crossed the line in third.
450 MOTO TWO
Justin Bogle continued his run of holeshots in Southwick with a solid start in 450 Moto Two, complete with a no footer over the small drop-off in the following straightaway. Marvin Musquin, meanwhile, was determined to make up for his issue in Moto One and took over the lead with a flying pass in the same section that caused him to crash earlier in the day. Eli Tomac also made it a point to make as many passes as possible on the opening lap, as he went from outside the top-ten to second place in a short time. With Musquin and Tomac again at the front of the field, it looked as though the two were going to pick up their fight from the first moto and make it even better in the day's deciding race. Tomac had other plans, though, as he got around Musquin four minutes into the race and sped off to a sizeable lead in no time.
Just when it seemed like the moto was determined, Tomac made a mistake while speeding down a section of braking bumps and was ejected from his motorcycle. He managed to get up and going again without losing the lead, but his fourteen-second advantage over Musquin was erased and the controls of his bike were knocked out of shape. With this, Musquin caught a second wind of speed and spent the next few laps in pursuit of the leader, which then forced Tomac to make a mistake that resulted in another tip-over. This second incident was something that Tomac was unable to fully recover from and although he claimed second place, his shot at the overall was gone. Once in front, Musquin motored on without concern and claimed the race win by a fifteen-second margin of victory, a win that gave the Red Bull KTM rider the overall for the day. Barcia mirrored his third-place finish in Moto One, which confirmed his rank of third overall on the day.