PHOTOS | Swanberg

The 2017 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship is in the closing stages, but there’s plenty of fight left in the field. When the series arrived at the 2017 Washougal MX, the ninth round of the summer, there was a feeling of excitement and uncertainty in the Pacific Northwest air. After four down to the wire motos, we came away with an even better appreciation of the rider’s skills but even more uncertainty of who will finish where on any given weekend.

250 Moto One

A pack of Yamaha YZ250F bikes led the field through the fast first turn, with Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger at the very head of the group. As the field filed through the first sections of the track, Plessinger managed to put a bit of distance between himself and the competition, an early attack that ultimately paid off. Within a few laps, AP23 was ahead by over six-seconds and with a practically perfect moto, was able to ride to the checkered flag completely unchallenged.

A very good start by Sean Cantrell broke the Yamaha stranglehold on the 250 class, as the Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull/KTM clicked off quick laps in the early stages and fended off the fight from more experienced riders. Eventually, a hard push by Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo shuffled the running order and then Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis passed by as well.

The time it took to pass Cantrell and Plessinger’s early advantage were Cianciarulo’s biggest issues in moto one. Although he posted laps quicker than the Plessinger, the pace the two ran was virtually identical and made it impossible for AC to shrink the gap. With that, he settled into a safe second place over Ferrandis at the checkered flag.

A poor start buried incoming championship leader Zach Osborne in moto one, as he was scored outside the top-twenty on the opening lap of the race. Undeterred by the problem, the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna rider climbed through the running order quickly and by the closing laps had worked back to inside the top-five. His final and most impressive pass came at the very end of the race, when he edged Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Mitchell Harrison for fourth place at the finish line by 0.149 seconds.

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy had an up and down moto. Things started well for the winner of the previous round, but a problem in the middle of the race dropped him to the bottom of the top-ten. After finding his flow in the final stages, Savatgy claimed seventh place at the finish, a result that would ultimately be huge in the day’s results.

Total Race Time | 35:41.254 minutes, 16 Laps Margin of Victory | 10.333 seconds Fastest Lap Time | Adam Cianciarulo – 2:13.822 minutes

Laps Led | Aaron Plessinger – 16

250 Moto Two

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy and GEICO Honda’s RJ Hampshire started off a friendly fight for the top spot the moment the gate hit the dirt. Savatgy held the early advantage, thanks to a holeshot and clear track, but Hampshire clicked off quick laps that put him onto the rear fender of the leader within minutes. With wide lines and higher speed, Hampshire managed to nab the lead away from Savatgy within the first ten minutes of the moto. This was not something that Savatgy let go by unnoticed and after a few laps of following the leader and learning his lines, the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider decided that he could make a move in the turn after Horsepower Hill. One attempt, although mistimed, proved that it was a possible passing point and one lap later Savatgy used an inside line to muscle Hampshire wide.

Adam Cianciarulo kept the leaders in sight through the early laps of the race and even pressed Hampshire for second at one point. But when the two leaders upped the ante, Cianciarulo hung back in a safe third place. With a second place finish in moto one and Aaron Plessinger much further down the order in moto two, it seemed like the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider was a lock for the first overall victory of his career. That idea came apart in the final laps of the race, as Zach Osborne and Dylan Ferrandis both pushed by Cianciarulo and into the top-five. The pass by Ferrandis greatly impacted the results on the day: Savatgy then became the overall winner and although Osborne/Ferrandis/Cianciarulo tied for points on the day, the better second moto finishes by Osborne and Ferrandis bumped Cianciarulo from the podium completely.

Jeremy Martin had a very quiet day altogether in Washougal, although it was much better than his season ending visit to the circuit in 2016. The GEICO Honda rider went 9-6 in the motos for seventh overall and with his brother Alex absent from the event, moved to second overall in the championship standings.

Total Race Time | 16 Laps, 35:47.425 minutes Margin of Victory | 2.854 seconds Fastest Lap Time | Zach Osborne – 2:14.357 minutes

Laps Led | Joey Savatgy – 12, RJ Hampshire – 4

450 Moto One

An exceptional reaction to the gate drop and a direct line through the first turn put Marvin Musquin in lead at the start of the race. The Red Bull KTM rider came under fire on the opening lap, first from RCH/Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Justin Bogle and then Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna’s Martin Davalos, but he was able to fend off both riders and retained the lead. With no one around to pressure Musquin or dictate the line choices, he pulled away from the pack.

A good start put Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac near the top of the running order in the early moments of the race. It was clear that Tomac was eager to keep sight of Musquin in the early laps, but Davalos, who put up an impressive fight for second place, momentarily halted the championship leader’s efforts. Once around the veteran racer/450 class rookie, Tomac reeled in the leader with some of the fastest lap times of the field and closed the gap Musquin made early on in the race. Within minutes the two competitors were going all-out on the technical track and the differences in their lap times were just hundredths of a second on the stopwatch. A very small lapse by Tomac at this key moment marked the end of their battle, because Musquin upped the intensity and pulled away by a few more seconds. From this point the two riders rode alone to the checkered flag, with Musquin ahead by 10.681 seconds at the finish.

Davalos only allowed two riders in the field, Tomac and Team Honda HRC’s Cole Seely, to slip by him during the race and he claimed fourth place at the finish.

Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/WPS/KTM’s Blake Baggett overcame a so-so start to challenge AutoTrader.com/Monster Energy/Toyota/JGRMX/Suzuki’s Weston Peick for sixth place in the race, but an injured thumb and issues with lapped riders ended his momentum. This worked out in Peick’s favor, though, because he pushed to pull clear of Baggett and then closed in on Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna’s Dean Wilson. At the finish Wilson and Baggett were split by roughly half a second, with Wilson taking the spot.

Total Race Time | 16 Laps, 35:11.085 minutes Margin of Victory | 10.681 seconds Fastest Lap Time | Eli Tomac – 2:11.456 minutes

Laps Led | Marvin Musquin – 16

450 Moto Two

Martin Davalos blasted his Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna bike off the small berm in turn one to take the holeshot and early lead over the 450 filed in the final moto of the day. This would be a huge help to Davalos, as the early advantage and quick pace kept him high in the running order for the full length of the moto. Just behind Davalos was the very talented trio of Blake Baggett, Marvin Musquin, and Eli Tomac, a grouping that had many hoping for an all-out battle between the top riders in the series. Baggett did his best to match the moves of Musquin and Tomac in the early laps but it soon became evident that his thumb injury was a huge factor on the choppy track. With laps three and five seconds faster than anyone else, Musquin and Tomac worked their way by Baggett, then Justin Bogle, and finally Martin Davalos for the top two spots on the track. Tomac had a small delay getting by Davalos and that small break in time was all Musquin needed to break free with a big lead, and ultimately, his fourth straight moto win.

Davalos hung onto third place up through the finish of the race, which paired with his first moto result, put him on the overall podium for the first time in his 450 career.

Total Race Time | 16 Laps Margin of Victory | 11.714 seconds Fastest Lap Time | Eli Tomac – 2:11.573

Laps Led | Marvin Musquin – 13, Martin Davalos – 3