Hangtown Motocross Breakdown Report 2017


The winners of the 49th annual Hangtown Classic were victorious with dominating 1-1 rides, both huge turnarounds from their 2016 performances. Eli Tomac finished 3rd overall in the 2016 450 race but with 4-4 scores. Zach Osborne, the 250MX winner, didn’t even break the top 10 in 2016 (11th).

As always, the Hangtown course was rough and rutted, the temperature in the mid-90s and the use of the word “gnarly” by the riders outnumbered the sun-scorched fans in attendance.

450 Class

For the first time since 2009, not a single defending champion was on the starting gate. In fact, only three former winners (Eli Tomac, 5; Justin Barcia, 2 and Josh Grant, 1) were on the line.

Tomac’s Hangtown win was no surprise but the way he dominated the first moto of the year should put the rest of the 450 class on edge. After finishing the first lap in fourth place, Tomac was in the lead on lap four of 16. Here are the need-to-knows from 450 moto one:

  • Tomac’s fastest lap time was 2:07.207, nearly three seconds faster than Marvin Musquin (2:10.071) who set the second fastest lap.
  • But Tomac didn’t lay down just one blistering lap. He had five laps under 2:10 in the first half.
  • Tomac won the first moto by over 15 seconds, and that’s after he lost 10 seconds in a cross-rut endo on lap 13.
  • Surprise ride: Dean Wilson finished the first lap in 24th place after tangling with Jason Anderson (who took a rock to the goggles and was trying to get off the track). Wilson caught up to 10th.

The second moto offered a glimmer of hope for those hoping to see great racing the rest of the summer. Even though the lap chart doesn’t reflect it, Tomac and Musquin’s multiple lead changes prove that the competition isn’t going to roll over when number three charges by. Musquin was finding lines that didn’t exist in order to stay in front of Tomac but ET was too strong and when he finally made a pass hold, he put a big gap on Marvin, finishing 8.7 seconds ahead at the finish. Tomac lapped through 14th place.

Tomac was eighth place after the first lap and was still seven seconds behind Musquin at the halfway point. He had the fastest lap of the moto (2:11.013) and was nearly 1.5 seconds faster than his teammate Josh Grant and Dean Wilson, who had the second and third fastest lap times. The important number was Tomac’s average lap time, a full second quicker than second place, Musquin.

It was evident that Tomac expected himself to be up front, especially in his Freudian slip during the TV interview. When explaining his poor start and his slow march to the front he said, “Made the charge on Marvin and he held me up, held up a good fight, I should say, for a few laps there.”

Here are need-to-knows from 450 moto two and the overall:

  • Tomac’s win is the 6th 450MX victory of his career.
  • Tomac led 17 laps at Hangtown. He led only 37 laps in all of 2016.
  • Tomac said he made a small change to the bike between motos and noticed immediately that it wasn’t a good fit.
  • Josh Grant’s 3rd overall was his first Pro Motocross podium since July 2013 when he earned 3rd at Red Bud. Coupled with his 3rd place at Las Vegas two weeks prior, it’s the first time since Jan. 2009 that Grant has earned two consecutive podiums in the 450 class racing. He’s never earned two straight podiums in the 450MX class.
  • Wilson showed what he was capable of and finished 4th in moto two. It was the first top five overall on a 450 in motocross for Wilson.
  • Anderson lined up for moto two despite requiring stitches in his left eye and finished a very quiet 6th after starting 12th.
  • Cooper Webb was 7th overall with 5-9 scores but could have finished 5th if he had been one spot higher in moto two. He was part of the triple tie (28 pts.) for the final top five spot with Broc Tickle and Blake Baggett. Webb wasn’t displeased, calling it a “decent start” but that he has some work to do.
  • Cole Seely’s 4-12 was decent considering he was on the comeback from a left thigh injury (abductor) and then crashed hard in the second practice at Hangtown when he tucked the front end and cartwheeled. He banged up his right hip and was actually on the fence about racing at all.
  • Stat to keep in mind: In the 20 seasons that Hangtown has been the opener, the winner has won the title only eight times.

Random Notes

  • Only 52 riders were on the entry list, down from 58 in 2016 and way down from the 72 in 2013.
  • How does Cooper Webb’s 450MX debut stack up with other high profile rookies? Jeremy McGrath: 6th (1994, MC raced the 125cc class in 1993) Kevin Windham: 8th (1998) Ricky Carmichael: 1st (2000) Ryan Villopoto: 1st (2009) Ryan Dungey: 8th (2010)

    Eli Tomac: 3rd (2014)

Poor Josh Grant. A great 3-3 ride (holeshot and led 7 laps of the second moto!) and the first question he gets asked in the press conference is how does it feel to be the oldest guy in the class. Keep in mind, he’s only 30 (turns 31 on June 20).

The 150-ft. triple was a letdown this year. Grant came up short and crashed on it on press day and nobody was jumping it on race day. Riders said the dirt in the leading corner was too soft and the face of the jump was too steep.

250 Class

Zach Osborne came into round one with very conservative expectations. He didn’t even test leading into Hangtown, opting instead to run the same bike setup he used at the end of the 2016 motocross season. Osborne, who took his first overall win at Budds Creek in 2016 (penultimate round) was just hoping for a top five. Seems ridiculous? It’s not. Osborne’s career at the Pro Motocross opener has not been stellar.

  • 11th in 2016
  • 12th in 2015
  • 15th in 2014
  • 5th in 2013
  • (DNR, 2009-2012)
  • 39th in 2008
  • 23rd in 2007
  • 15th in 2006

Adam Cianciarulo led the first six laps of moto one before being passed by Osborne who went on to win by 5.3 seconds. He didn’t have the fastest lap time of the moto. That honor went to Yamaha's Aaron Plessinger who started fourth and ended third. In fact, Osborne’s fastest lap (2:09.522) was a tenth off Colt Nichols’ (fifth place). Osborne’s laps were much more consistent. He rattled of 2:10 after 2:10, only slowing in the last two laps when he knew the moto win was his.

  • Jeremy Martin’s Honda inexplicably quit on lap 12 while he was running sixth. He started seventh, dropped back to ninth and was slow to catch up.
  • The rookie, Sean Cantrell (four-time Loretta Lynn’s champ) had a solid debut with 12th overall. He ran in the top three for a few laps but it was evident that the pace was something he needs more exposure to.
  • Austin Forkner had bike issues worked his way up to 11th. He pulled into the mechanic’s area more than once and raced back from dead last.
  • Dylan Ferrandis had worked his way up from ninth to fourth when he crashed on lap 12. He didn’t line up for the second moto.

In moto two, Joey Savatgy and Osborne battled for a couple of laps at the beginning and Osborne was relieved that Savatgy showed no signs of wanting to retaliate for the altercation in Las Vegas two weeks earlier. On his second pass for the lead on lap two, Osborne made it stick and had a four second lead after three laps.

Osborne cruised unopposed (eight seconds ahead after 20) but there was great racing behind him. The best pass of the day was Alex Martin’s move on Savatgy when he stood on the pegs and floated across the row of ruts in a left hand uphill corner. It’s rare to see a rider square up a corner full of ruts and charge through it like that.

Forkner and Jeremy Martin, who started seventh and ninth, gave a preview to how strong they’re going to be this summer. Respectively, they laid down their fastest lap times on lap 13 and 14 of the 16-lap race. The two caught Alex Martin late in the race to take second and third.

  • Forkner, floppy rear fender and all, had an average lap time that was half a second quicker than Osborne.
  • 4-4 was an odd way to wind up second overall but Alex Martin was happy, considering he was returning from a back injury.
  • Plessinger was the most consistent rider next to Osborne. He qualified 4th, started 4th (in both motos) and finished 3-5 for third.
  • Cianciarulo drifted back to eighth place by the end of the moto for fourth overall. Had he been able to get at least sixth, he would have landed on the podium. He has only finished on the podium once in motocross (Thunder Valley, 2015, 3rd)

Random Notes

  • Osborne gave Husqvarna its first ever win at Hangtown.
  • Only 41 riders were on the 250MX entry list and all 41 were granted entry into the motos. (This is way down from the 61 riders who registered in 2016, 64 in 2015 and 82 in 2013).


Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Round 1 of 12 Red Bull Hangtown Motocross Classic Prairie City SVRA - Rancho Cordova, Calif.

May 20, 2017