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Sign of the (Lap) Times: Hangtown

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Hangtown Motocross Classic Rancho Cordova, CA Race Center: Hangtown Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship

The Nationals are back! After a riveting supercross season we are back outdoors and the series started at an incredibly rough Hangtown track. The track is already known to get choppy on the many downhills, but some extra water and prep leading up to the race created even larger bumps and more ruts.

The conditions didn't seem to phase Eli Tomac and Zach Osborne, though, who both came race ready and rode to 1-1 finishes to strike first in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

Let’s dive into the lap data to figure out how these races were won and lost with this week’s Sign of the Lap Times. First, our traditional lap time charts.

450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 2:07.207 4 2:12.017 Eli Tomac
2 2nd 2:10.071 3 2:13.168 Marvin Musquin
3 3rd 2:10.401 6 2:13.802 Josh Grant
4 4th 2:11.397 4 2:14.224 Cole Seely
5 5th 2:11.410 3 2:15.016 Cooper Webb
6 6th 2:11.556 3 2:14.771 Blake Baggett
7 7th 2:13.659 6 2:16.248 Broc Tickle
8 14th 2:13.784 3 2:19.314 Cody Cooper
9 10th 2:13.788 6 2:15.709 Dean Wilson
10 11th 2:14.357 8 2:15.828 Justin Barcia

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 2:11.013 6 2:13.456 Eli Tomac
2 3rd 2:12.489 4 2:15.746 Josh Grant
3 4th 2:12.581 4 2:15.573 Dean Wilson
4 2nd 2:12.712 9 2:14.480 Marvin Musquin
5 6th 2:12.970 5 2:15.875 Jason Anderson
6 5th 2:13.927 5 2:16.307 Justin Barcia
7 7th 2:14.012 4 2:16.581 Broc Tickle
8 8th 2:14.823 7 2:16.348 Blake Baggett
9 9th 2:15.036 5 2:17.704 Cooper Webb
10 10th 2:15.075 3 2:18.498 Justin Bogle

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 3rd 2:09.011 4 2:12.710 Aaron Plessinger
2 5th 2:09.479 3 2:13.273 Colt Nichols
3 1st 2:09.522 3 2:11.768 Zach Osborne
4 2nd 2:09.553 4 2:12.243 Adam Cianciarulo
5 10th 2:09.557 3 2:15.799 Sean Cantrell
6 DNF 2:09.570 4 2:11.149 Dylan Ferrandis
7 4th 2:09.831 3 2:12.841 Alex Martin
8 9th 2:10.571 3 2:14.793 Mitchell Harrison
9 6th 2:10.687 5 2:13.438 Mitchell Oldenburg
10 35th 2:10.720 5 2:12.344 Jeremy Martin

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1st 2:11.836 2 2:14.327 Zach Osborne
2 4th 2:12.506 4 2:14.844 Alex Martin
3 2nd 2:12.928 13 2:14.226 Austin Forkner
4 3rd 2:13.016 14 2:14.169 Jeremy Martin
5 5th 2:13.920 2 2:15.791 Aaron Plessinger
6 6th 2:14.059 8 2:15.884 Colt Nichols
7 7th 2:14.171 3 2:16.737 Joey Savatgy
8 8th 2:14.647 4 2:17.984 Adam Cianciarulo
9 11th 2:14.797 4 2:16.205 Mitchell Harrison
10 12th 2:15.277 3 2:18.557 Mitchell Oldenburg

Tomac's Hammer

There might have been some concern among the Tomac faithfuls about halfway through the second 450 moto, as it seemed like he wasn't able to move through the pack as quickly and easily as he did in the first moto. He got caught behind Dean Wilson who was riding well and later on in the race it took him a couple laps to get around Marvin Musquin for the lead.

Tomac's lap times were pretty up and down as he worked his way up to Musquin, but the key laps to look at here are 13 and 14. Those were the next two laps after Tomac got into the lead and you can see he was able to drop the hammer and put a nice gap in between himself and Musquin. Meanwhile, Musquin and Josh Grant continued to drop off their pace from earlier in the moto

There was lots of talk after the race about how rough the track got throughout the day. Cole Seely even said this after the race, "Yeah and if you look at the track right now, it’s just absolutely insane that we can make it around right now. It’s almost like there are cheater lines off the side because there are no more good lines, there’s no more room for good lines." 

The extra rough track caught many off guard because last year we saw a version of Hangtown that was smoother than normal. In 2016, the track crew was expecting rain leading into the event, so they cut back on the usual digging and watering. But the rain never came, so the track never got that rough. This year, it sure did. I decided to do a side-by-side of the first laps of both years so you can see the difference in the track conditions and speed the riders were able to carry through the corners. The tracks aren't identical in layout so don't pay too much attention to gap at the finish line between the two years. 

Osborne may have gone 1-1 at Hangtown and made it look easy, but don't hand him the title just yet. I went through the vault to see how often the overall winner at the first round went on to win the title in the 125/MX Lites/250 Class, and it doesn't happen as often as you would think. 

Since 2000, the winner of the first round has gone on to win the championship just six out of 17 times. That's only 35 percent.

Year Track First Round Winner Champion
2000 Glen Helen Stephane Roncada Travis Pastrana
2001 Glen Helen Grant Langston Mike Brown
2002 Glen Helen James Stewart James Stewart
2003 Glen Helen Mike Brown Grant Langston
2004 Hangtown James Stewart James Stewart
2005 Hangtown Grant Langston Ivan Tedesco
2006 Hangtown Mike Alessi Ryan Villopoto
2007 Hangtown Ben Townley Ryan Villopoto
2008 Glen Helen Austin Stroupe Ryan Villopoto
2009 Glen Helen Ryan Dungey Ryan Dungey
2010 Hangtown Eli Tomac Trey Canard
2011 Hangtown Blake Baggett Dean Wilson
2012 Hangtown Blake Baggett Blake Baggett
2013 Hangtown Ken Roczen Eli Tomac
2014 Glen Helen Jeremy Martin Jeremy Martin
2015 Hangtown Jeremy Martin Jeremy Martin
2016 Hangtown Joey Savatgy Cooper Webb

Forkner's Shortcut

Lastly, if you listened to our Fly Racing Racer X Review Podcast on Monday you probably heard Steve Matthes mention that in the first moto Austin Forkner cut a large portion of the track to get back to the mechanics' area to fix an electrical problem and wasn't penalized after the race. It caused quite a stir up in our comments section as it appears to be a continuation of the inconsistent penalties that were handed out during supercross.

I talked to Jeff Canfield, Race Director of MX Sports, to get some clarification on the lack of a penalty and he said that they decided to hold Forkner in the mechanics' area until all the riders had a chance to pass, instead of handing out a penalty after the race. So you can all lower your pitchforks for a little bit.

Below I've colored in the track map to represent Forkner's first lap. The area he rode is marked in green and the area he cut (to get into the mechanics' area) is marked in red. After timing Osborne for a few laps I've worked out that the amount of time Forkner cut off of the track is somewhere around a minute. After finishing the first lap in second to last place, Forkner eventually made it all the way up to 11th place by the finish.