Washougal - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good: RJ Hampshire | 5th Overall
Gradual progression has been the name of the game for RJ. He's looked better every weekend, and he's started to poke his head up front recently and challenge the top guys in the class. He's finally starting to show us what we all expected to see when he turned pro in 2014 after going undefeated at Loretta Lynn's. Injuries, bike problems, and some flat-out poor performances prevented him from landing on the podium before now, but now he's done it with a second in moto two, and I expect to see him do it again soon. Heck, maybe we'll see him even win a moto sooner rather than later. He did take over the lead for a bit in the first moto at Southwick. Anything can happen when a rider who clearly has the skills to win gets a huge boost of confidence, and I'm thinking RJ will be looking to finish out the season with at least a couple of more podium finishes.
The Bad: Jeremy Martin | 7th Overall
My oh my, what in the world is going on with Jeremy Martin? He's a former two-time champ, guys. He's not just a former winner or title challenger; he's a multi-time champion. So what is going on? Besides a couple of great performances at Glen Helen and RedBud, it's been a challenging year for GEICO Honda's number one rider. I mean, even on a mediocre day you'd expect to see him challenging for podiums. But he hasn't for most of the season, and at times he's struggled to even get inside the top five. Sure, he could be somewhat frustrated with the bike, but take away any sort of grievances there, and he still doesn't look like the Jeremy Martin of 2014-2015 to me. I don't doubt that he's in shape and absolutely ripping during the week, but at most of the races this year he has not looked like himself. Definitely not as aggressive, and he hasn't been charging hard late in the races like he used to. It's just weird. Hopefully he gets the train back on the tracks before the end of the year and at least snags one more moto win. Otherwise, it's going to be a long off-season for the number six.
The Ugly: Alex Martin | DNS
Ugh, we hate it enough when a top rider is forced out of competition with an injury, but it stings a little bit more when the rider is second in points. And you know Alex had to be especially pissed about missing Washougal because he won there last year. Not only that, but he missed out on running Troy Lee Designs' special edition bike graphics! So he's a former winner of the event, and he was going to be riding one kick ass looking bike? Dang, I feel even more sorry for him now. Unfortunately, we're not exactly sure when Alex will be back racing, but of course we'd like to see him back at Unadilla. Heal up, Alex.
The Good: Martin Davalos | 3rd Overall
My golly, Marty got a podium! It's no secret that Martin has been absolutely killing it lately on the 450, but a podium still seemed to be a bit out of his reach. Well, not only did he get a moto and overall podium, but he did it in convincing fashion. Halfway through the second moto I was thinking that while he was riding great, he'd probably fade back to fourth or fifth by the end of the race. Nope, he held on for third and was never really in danger of losing it. Tomac may be winning the championship and Musquin may be dominating right now, but Davalos is quickly becoming one of the big stories of the summer. You'd think that these impressive rides would help land him a ride for 2018, but he said in the press conference that he still has no idea what team he'll be on next year (word is he will not be returning to Rockstar Energy Husqvarna). Kinda crazy, eh? I wouldn't get too worried if I were Marty, though, because if he keeps riding like he is a team will come calling soon enough.
The Bad: Justin Bogle | 9th Overall
Ninth overall...that's not too bad, right? On paper it's not, but lately Justin Bogle has looked like he's been struggling in some of the motos. For example: during the second moto at Washougal, it looked like he was rolling around in most of the sections. No fight, no aggression. He looked done. And he looked the same in the second moto at Spring Creek. He ended up pulling off in that race, but a few laps before that he was just cruising around whenever the broadcast showed him. Of course, we don't see these guys the entire race so maybe he's been having a bit of a crash-fest recently and we've been seeing him post-crash, but assuming that isn't what has been happening something is definitely off with him. Possibly some extreme arm pump? I'm not sure, but he'll certainly be looking to bounce back at Unadilla.
The Ugly: Justin Barcia | DNS
One thing you never want to see in this sport is a rider lying motionless on the track, but that's what we saw after Justin Barcia went down hard during qualifying. The practice was red-flagged and the medical staff was huddled around him for a long time before carting him off of the track. He ended up going to the hospital and getting released a few hours later. Luckily, it sounds like he didn't sustain anything serious and will be perfectly fine. It was a bummer to not see him on the gate, but I'm just glad that he's okay. But man, this was just another hit to the 450 class. We were already missing seven factory riders coming into Washougal, and then we lost another before the gate even dropped. As usual, injuries are taking a toll, and it's definitely affecting the racing a bit. I sincerely hope that no one else gets injured before the season ends. We've seen enough guys go down this year.
Words by Grant Dawson
Photos by Steve Giberson