SOUTHWICK, Mass. (July 8, 2017) - The seventh round of the 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, witnessed the world's best riders encounter the sandy soil at The Wick 338, which ultimately served as the most physically demanding track of the season thus far. Points leader Eli Tomac continued on his recent hot streak by putting his Monster Energy Kawasaki atop the podium for the third straight round, and fourth time this season, to extend his championship lead. In the 250 Class, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Zach Osborne emerged with his second consecutive 250 Class win.
The opening 450 Class moto saw RMATV/MC-WPS-KTM rider Blake Baggett power his way down the sandy start straight to capture his second Motosport.com Holeshot of the season, just ahead of teammate Dakota Alix and TMM KTM's Isaac Teasdale. While rounding the opening corner, Alix lost his momentum, which caused Baggett to make contact that soon took several riders to the ground. The incident put Baggett into the lead and allowed Teasdale to slide into second, with Autotrader/Monster Energy/Suzuki/JGRMX's Weston Peick in third. The blistering pace at the front proved to be too much for Teasdale and at the end of the opening lap it was Baggett, Peick, and Tomac.
While Baggett quickly put his head down out front and began to open a small gap, the battle for second started to heat up as Peick and Tomac went bar-to-bar. Tomac used every inch of the track as he desperately searched for a way around the Suzuki rider, eventually making the pass stick on Lap 2. Once into second, Tomac dropped the hammer and wasted no time latching onto the rear fender of Baggett. On Lap 3, Tomac got an excellent drive down one of the long straightaways to pull alongside Baggett and ultimately take over the race lead. Monster Energy/Yamaha/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha Factory Racing rider Cooper Webb then began to apply pressure on Peick for third and would find his way by for the final podium position.
Shortly after taking the race lead, Tomac was all business as he clocked the fastest laps of the race in an attempt to distance himself from Baggett. As Tomac stretched his lead, Baggett searched for smooth lines on the bumpy circuit and soon began to distance himself from Webb in third.
Tomac remained unchallenged as he crossed the checkered flag for his seventh moto win of the season, with a 15.9 second advantage over Baggett in second. The rookie Webb held onto third to capture his first 450 Class moto podium. After falling on the opening lap, Team Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Marvin Musquin put in a spectacular come-from-behind ride to finish fourth.
Musquin launched out of the gate to lead the field and take his second Motosport.com Holeshot award in 450 Class Moto 2, followed closely by Baggett and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Martin Davalos. Autotrader/Monster Energy/Suzuki/JGRMX's Justin Barcia was on a tear to start the race as he made the pass on Davalos for third and had Baggett within striking distance. Musquin had already opened a small cushion when he crossed the line on the opening lap, as Baggett and Barcia gave chase.
While Musquin relied on his silky smooth riding style to navigate the treacherous conditions on the track, the battle began to intensify for the remaining podium positions. On Lap 2, Barcia made a big mistake that sent him crashing to the ground, which helped Tomac slide into third. Once into third, Tomac demonstrated incredible speed and began to close in on Baggett for second. On Lap 4, Tomac carried his momentum down one of the rough hills and dove to the inside of Baggett to take control of second and instantly mount his charge on Musquin.
As Musquin continued to hit his lines out front, Tomac began to reduce the deficit and moved within bike lengths. With Musquin protecting the inside lines, Tomac was using the longer outside lines in an attempt to find a way around, pulling alongside Musquin for the lead several times. Despite Musquin upping his pace, Tomac was relentless and made a brilliant pass around the outside to take over the lead on the sixth lap. Shortly after being bumped to second, Musquin had a massive crash that launched him off the side off the track in the air and sent him to the ground, which soon forced an early retirement from the race. The Frenchman's misfortune moved Baggett into second and Webb into third.
Similar to the first moto, Tomac was putting on a riding clinic as he broke away from the field and opened a commanding lead on his fellow competitors. As Baggett remained in control of second, Webb made a mistake that cost him several positions and allowed Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Dean Wilson to move into the final podium spot.
Tomac crossed the line with a 21.1 second margin of victory to take his eighth moto win of the season, and his fifth in a row. Baggett finished strong in second, followed by a career-best ride by the Scotsman Wilson, who earned his first moto podium result in third.
The 1-1 effort by Tomac gave him his ninth career 450 Class overall win, and back-to-back wins in Southwick. Baggett, who fought through a thumb injury from a crash last weekend at RedBud, finished second overall (2-2), while Wilson's strong second moto was good enough to earn his first career 450 Class overall podium result (6-3).
"We only have one really good sand track of the year and that is here at Southwick," said Tomac "It seems most guys either love or hate this track, but I'm a big fan of it and enjoy coming here. I think we're in a good spot points wise. We're not really fighting anything on the motorcycle and it's nice to head into the off weekend on a good note."
Tomac's win added an additional six points to his lead in the championship standings, which now sits at 19-points over Baggett in second. Despite his misfortune and a 12th-place finish (4-38), Musquin moved into third in the standings and is 72-points out of the championship lead. Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson entered the day third in points, but was unable to compete due to an injury suffered just days before the race and was shuffled back to fourth, just three points behind Musquin.
"I rode the best I could today with the injury [thumb] and salvaged points", said Baggett. "This isn't my favorite race of the year, so I was just looking forward to getting through it. I'm going to get an MRI on Monday and we will have to see what the results are. Worst case we will have to get a small operation and hope that it heals in time for Millville."
As the first 250 Class moto rounded the first corner, it was Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM rider Alex Martin who emerged with his third Motosport.com Holeshot of the season, with Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Aaron Plessinger and GEICO Honda's RJ Hampshire in tow. Hampshire made quick work of Plessinger to successfully make the pass for second and began to set his sights on the race lead. When the 40-rider field completed the opening lap, it was Martin, Hampshire, and Plessinger out front.
Despite Martin facing a clear track ahead, Hampshire was on fire as he carried his momentum around the fast sweeping turns and closed in for the top spot. Hampshire used a strong drive down one of the straights and out-braked Martin to become the new race leader on Lap 1. Just one lap later, Hampshire lost the front end through the rolling whoops, which took him to the ground and allowed Martin to retake the lead. Hampshire's misfortune allowed Plessinger to move back into second, just ahead of Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha teammate Dylan Ferrandis. By Lap 3, the Yamaha duo paced one another and started to reduce the gap that separated them from race leader Martin.
Plessinger made a costly mistake while stalking Martin for the first and hit the ground hard as he got sideways over one of the tracks jumps, which prematurely ended his race. Martin continued to lead out front, while Ferrandis and Hampshire took advantage of Plessinger's mishap to control second and third, respectively. On Lap 7, Ferrandis was hot on the heels of Martin, eventually finding his way around to make the pass stick. Ferrandis made a mistake and tipped over just turns later, moving Martin back into the top spot as Ferrandis quickly remounted in second.
With Martin and Ferrandis setting the pace out front, Osborne, who started seventh, started picking riders off one-by-one and overtook Hampshire for third. Ferrandis had no problem brushing off his tip over from a few laps prior and looked to have his sights set on the race lead once again. On Lap 9, the Frenchman aggressively blitzed his way around Martin and back into the lead. Osborne started to find his flow and closed in on the defensive Martin for second before making the pass at the end of the lap.
Ferrandis rode flawless during the final laps to score his second moto win of the season, with 6.9 seconds to spare on Osborne in second. Martin, who led more than half of the race, would complete the podium in third, narrowly edging out his brother and GEICO Honda rider Jeremy Martin in fourth.
In Moto 2, Osborne edged out Alex Martin and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki's Joey Savatgy to take his second Motosport.com Holeshot of the year. First moto winner Ferrandis was just behind the trio and made short work of Savatgy to move into third, which then led to him making the move on Martin for second just a few turns later. At the completion of the opening lap it was Osborne, Martin, and Ferrandis who paced the field.
Osborne was in full sprint mode as he attempted to break away from Ferrandis, however, the Yamaha rider had different thoughts as he pushed hard to keep the championship leader in sight. On Lap 2 Osborne had company with Ferrandis in hot pursuit, battling side-by-side as the thousands of fans cheered them on. Osborne was able to shut down each attempt that was thrown at him by Ferrandis, while Martin was not far behind with a front row seat to the action.
As rain began to fall on Lap 5, Osborne gradually started opening a small lead on his rivals by charging the whooped out sand rollers that were scattered across the track. Martin refused to give up as he went back and forth with Ferrandis and continued to match the Yamaha rider's lap times throughout the 30-minute-plus-two-lap moto.
Osborne took his sixth moto win of the season with an 8.6 second advantage over Ferrandis, who held onto second. Martin fought hard until the very end, finishing just 2.8 seconds behind Ferrandis for third.
The 2-1 scores by Osborne helped him capture his fifth career victory, and his better second moto finish prevailed in the tiebreaker with Ferrandis (1-2). Martin finished third overall (3-3) for the second consecutive week.
"It was another good day for me and I'm happy to finish on a strong note heading into the break," said Osborne. "I caught a little bit of a break having Dylan [Ferrandis] as the guy up there battling with me. If it had been anyone else who is closer in points, I might have felt forced to push the issue a little bit more, especially in the first moto. The track was definitely deeper than last year, I thought it was really good and it got really whooped out today."
Osborne continues to hold the red plate and control the championship standings with a 45-point lead over Alex Martin, who sits in second. Jeremy Martin used his fifth-place finish (4-6) to maintain third in the standings, trailing his brother by 14 points.
"I'm generally pretty good in practice, but I just kind of felt like my bike setup was off all day," said Alex Martin. "Despite searching for a comfortable setting, I was able to get off to two great starts and that is really key on a track like this that can sometimes funnel down to just one line. I knew that it was going to be a long and hot day, so I tried to pace myself a little bit, but the rain saved us and helped cool it down in the second moto. I'm excited to go racing at my home track in Millville [Minnesota] after the break."
The 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship will take a break from racing next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, July 22, for the eighth round of the season at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minnesota. First motos of the Spring Creek National can be seen live on MAVTV at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET. The second motos will air via tape delay on NBC Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. PT / 11:00 p.m. ET.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship Red Bull Southwick National The Wick 338 - Southwick, Massachusetts
July 8, 2017