Top Racers Put In Season-Defining Rides At The 2018 Washougal Motocross
Another round, another season-defining performance by top racers in the 2018 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Weeks of warm weather had an impact on the track at the 2018 Washougal Motocross, because the traditionally hard-packed clay became even drier and slicker than normal. Riders that managed to control their pace on the track without making mistakes around the course and through the dark shadows were rewarded with maximum points, while those that struggled lost ground in the series standings.
250 MOTO ONE
Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammates Joey Savatgy and Austin Forkner waged war against each other for the full duration of the moto. Savatgy snagged the holeshot over the field and rocketed up the famed Horsepower Hill away from the field. Forkner stayed close to Savatgy in the opening moments of the moto, despite the frenzied pursuit by Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing's Aaron Plessinger and Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM's Jordon Smith, and soon all four riders were in a tight battle for the top spot. Ten minutes into the moto, Forkner made a forceful pass on Savatgy in the backwoods section of the track and took over the top spot. Savatgy's pace seemed to suffer as a result of this move, as he fell into the clutches of Smith and Plessinger, but the Kawasaki rider managed to hold them off and restarted his pursuit of Forkner. The running order at the front of the field seemed set after this action, because no passes occurred among the top four for another twenty minutes. But just when it seemed like the field was set, Savatgy stepped up his pace in the final five minutes and closed on Forkner for the lead. The teammates raced precariously close up and down the Washington hills and it took a very pointed block pass by Savatgy in a tight turn to swing the race back in his favor. Once back in front, Savatgy slipped off and claimed his first moto win of the series by just under two seconds.
250 MOTO TWO
Much of the action in the day's deciding race took place in the early laps. Aaron Plessinger aced the start of the second moto, but his lead was cut short just moments into the race as Shane McElrath snatched the lead away after cresting Horsepower Hill on the opening lap. Although many expected a battle to develop between the two riders, McElrath motored away without a challenge on his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM. On lap two, Austin Forkner clipped the scrub-single jump at the base of Horsepower Hill with the front-wheel of his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and was thrown off of the bike and onto the ground. Although he managed to get off of the track under his own power, the crash marked the end of his day. Moto One winner Joey Savatgy experienced struggles of his own in the opening laps, as mistakes dropped him out of the top-twenty in the opening laps and forced him to fight through the field. He would ultimately race his way back into the top ten and ended the moto in ninth, which would be key to his overall result.
Midway through the race, Plessinger dropped the front-end of his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha Factory Racing bike in a turn and slid down the running order from second to third, because he was passed by teammate Dylan Ferrandis. Even with the mistake, Plessinger's consistency through the two motos compared to Savatgy's issues and McElrath's mixed moto scores gave the incoming championship leader the overall victory and added more points to his advantage in the points over Alex Martin, as the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider put in 8-6 motos for sixth overall.
450 MOTO ONE
Justin Bogle claimed control of the race in the early moments aboard his AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing machine. Bogle set the pace ahead of the field in the early laps, which included teammate Justin Hill, Monster Energy Kawasaki racers Eli Tomac and Josh Grant, and Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin. The intensity of the moto picked up at the five-minute mark, because both Tomac and Musquin made passes that put them into first and second, respectively. Although the two were relatively close together and had a clear track in front of them, a battle never developed because Tomac turned a series of laps that allowed him to drop Musquin and run to the checkered flag by over eleven seconds.
Ken Roczen's run to third place started a bit too late in the moto. The Team Honda HRC rider rose through the running order with a number of passes in the early laps, but the length of time it took to reel in and pass Hill for third place allowed the top two racers to get far enough out of reach that a battle was not possible. Still, the third place result put him in a good place for the day's second moto.
450 MOTO TWO
Another gate drop, another solid Justin Bogle start. The AutoTrader/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing rider tacked another holeshot to his record for the summer, but his lead was cut short by Ken Roczen's opening lap pass in the far section of the track. Roczen's early run up front was much different than Moto One, because competitors Eli Tomac and Marvin Musquin were shuffled back in the running order, with Musquin fifth and Tomac ninth on lap one. Musquin managed to make passes quickly while Tomac was slightly slower to get through, especially in his battle with Justin Barcia. Tomac eventually got by Barcia and begin a pursuit of Musquin on lap five until a simple slip-up in a turn dropped him off of the bike and allowed Barcia to get back around. The mistake didn't seem to deter Tomac much, because although he trailed Roczen and Musquin by over ten-seconds at the midway point of the race, he put in a number of very hard charge that cut the distance down to almost nothing in the final moments. The last laps were a frenzy of action, with Roczen doing all that he could to cut through lapped riders in a bid for his first overall win since 2016 and Tomac going even faster to take the win away. Things came to a head just as the two-lap card was displayed because Tomac launched off of the finish line jump and into the next turn, which blocked the inside line from Roczen and allowed the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider to take the lead. Once in front, Tomac kept a quick pace and again crossed the finish line in first place, a clean sweep of the day.