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Images from the 2018 Motocross Washougal

Another Monster Energy Performance

Jul 312018

Just when you thought Eli Tomac had laid down one of the most impressive rides in recent memory at the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, he goes out and leaves everyone’s jaw dropped yet again at this past weekend’s Washougal National. Despite what the points say, it is very clear that Tomac is in a league of his own in the premier 450 Class. The way he is able to attack the track, lay down blistering lap times on a consistent basis, and make any deficit seem possible is nothing short of amazing. We’re still in the very early stages of Tomac’s career, and the amount of titles he’s bound to amass has just begun. But based on what we’re seeing him do this summer, it doesn’t feel premature to say that at times Tomac does things better than anyone else ever has aboard a dirt bike.

Sure, it’s easy to argue that at this point Tomac can’t even hold a candle to the likes of recent legends like Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, Ryan Dungey, and even Ryan Villopoto, but he’s sure making a compelling debate out of it. Despite the rash of injuries that have taken out big names, Tomac is still forced to deal with perhaps the two most formidable challengers in Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen. And in the case of both of those riders, he’s made them look astonishingly slow for back-to-back races.

At Washougal, Tomac overcame a bad start, a tip over, and a deficit of more than 10 seconds in the final moto to catch and pass both Musquin and Roczen for his second straight 1-1 effort. That’s not to be taken lightly. We’ve seen Tomac overcome seemingly insurmountable deficits on several occasions this season, but on a daunting track like Washougal in which a deceptively slick base and the gnarliest shadows in the sport make each lap a hair-raising journey, it’s nothing short of god like.

Tomac made mincemeat out of Washougal. He bombed down the massive hills, obliterated ruts, and dropped the hammer in a way we’ve never seen before. It was an epic ride, and it even further showed his rivals that they’re going to need to rely on Tomac getting in his own way for any shot at success the rest of the summer. It’s time to start taking Tomac seriously as an all-time great.

450 Class Moto 1


To no one’s surprise, Tomac set the tone for the day by logging the fastest lap of qualifying. Temperatures were expected to be some of the hottest in recent memory at Washougal, so there was a level of uncertainty as to how things would play out in the motos. Ultimately, the riders and the crowd caught a break and while there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, the heat was more than tolerable, briefly reaching the upper 80’s.


When the gate dropped on Moto 1, Tomac parlayed a good start into a spot inside the top three behind Justin Bogle and Justin Hill. Tomac went into immediate attack mode and wasted little time putting pressure on Hill for second. He made the move and set his sights on the lead, with Musquin in tow. Tomac wasted little time in surging past Bogle to seize the lead on Lap 3 and take advantage of the clear track to open a gap. He moved out to an advantage of over three seconds after leading his first full lap and never looked back.


While Tomac ran away out front, fellow Monster Energy rider Justin Barcia was going to work. Barcia had a solid start out the gate aboard his Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing machine, but he fell and lost considerable ground on the opening lap. He came around in 18th, but put his head down and made an impressive march through the field. It took Barcia just five laps to break into the top 10, where he then worked his way around teammate Cooper Webb. From there, Barcia continued to gain spots and found himself in the top five with just three laps to go.


Tomac went unchallenged to cruise to an easy moto win, 11.6 seconds ahead of Musquin, while Roczen fought his way up to third. Barcia rebounded to pass 13 riders for fifth, while Webb sat just a couple spots behind in eighth. In his first start of the season, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Grant helped put all four Monster Energy riders inside the top 10, but that would be the end of Grant’s day.


450 Class Moto 2


Tomac found himself buried to start the second moto and was well outside the top 10 before clawing his way up to ninth by the completion of the opening lap. To make matters worse, both Roczen and Musquin enjoyed strong starts, which effectively put them at an advantage in the overall classification. Roczen quickly took control of the moto, while Musquin needed just a couple laps to move into second.


With no time to waste, Tomac amped up his aggression and made a push to the front. He slotted in right behind Barcia and together the Monster Energy duo sliced their way through the field, picking off riders one-by-one. Together they both fought their way into the top five, which is when Tomac made his move to get around Barcia. Soon enough, Tomac found himself in third and closed in on Musquin for second before he tipped over and dropped a spot behind Barcia. The champ regrouped and started a new charge that wouldn’t end until the checkered flag flew.


It took Tomac just two laps to catch and pass Barcia for third, which moved him into a tie with Roczen for the overall win. At this point more than 11 seconds sat between Tomac and Musquin, while another handful of seconds separated Roczen from his rivals. It was at this point when the Tomac magic unfolded. He dropped his lap times by more than two seconds and posted the fastest laps of the moto over back-to-back laps. These laps were upwards of four seconds quicker than Musquin and Roczen, neither of who even came close to entering this realm of lap times throughout the entirety of the moto.


Before you knew it, Tomac was all over Musquin. After a series of over-under moves Tomac set up the Frenchman perfectly and forced a slight bobble that allowed him to storm past and effectively gain sole possession of the overall win.


Tomac could have settled, sure, but when you’re riding as well as he was at that moment there was nothing that could keep him from bearing down on Roczen. Tomac wanted it all, and not even his pants falling down was going to keep him from catching and passing the German. With the crowd losing its mind over what they were witnessing, the two former champions raced side-by-side through Washougal’s infamous whoops to take the 2-laps-to-go board. Tomac gained the advantage and pulled away in the closing stages to win by 2.2 seconds over Roczen, with Musquin third. Barcia finished just off the podium in fourth, while Webb overcame a terrible start to battle his way from 24th to seventh with a truly resilient ride.


Monster Energy put three of its four riders inside the top 10 in the overall classification, while Tomac moved out to a 15-point lead in the championship. Barcia now sits in a tie with Roczen for third.


450 Class Results

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki (1-1)

2 Ken Roczen, Honda (3-2)

3. Marvin Musquin, KTM (2-3)

4. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (5-4)

5. Blake Baggett, KTM (6-5)

6. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (8-7)

14. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki (10-DNS)


450 Class Standings

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 401

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 386

3. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 330

4. Ken Roczen, Honda – 330

5. Blake Baggett, KTM – 301

12. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 106

37. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 11 

250 Class Moto 1


Entering Washougal championship leader Aaron Plessinger was on a tear, and moving closer towards his first-ever national title. The Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha rider had won back-to-back races in dominant fashion and was in control of a commanding point lead. While he didn’t enjoy the best of days at Washougal, Plessinger still did enough to emerge victorious and become an even clearer favorite to take home the championship.


As has been the case or most of the season, Plessinger’s Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha teammate Justin Cooper posted the fastest lap of qualifying, but when the gate dropped on Moto 1 it was the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Joey Savatgy and Austin Forkner who jumped into the early lead. Plessinger, Cooper, and their teammate Dylan Ferrandis all started inside the top 10.


The highly motivated tandem of Savatgy and Forkner were both looking to turn around the fortunes of Pro Circuit, which has endured some bright spots and a rash of heartbreak this summer. Neither rider had any interest in doing anything but winning the moto, and it showed in their incredible battle up front. A determined Forkner forced the issue a bit in his pass for the lead on Lap 5, but he was able to put some distance between he and Savatgy after doing so. Meanwhile, Plessinger had worked his way up to fourth and was desperately trying to keep the leaders in sight.


Forkner controlled the middle portion of the moto, but Savatgy came on strong in the closing laps. He returned the favor on Forkner with an aggressive pass to retake the lead on Lap 12, and quickly sprinted to enough of a lead that carried him to what was shockingly his first moto win of the season, and just the second for Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki this season. Forkner was 1.9 seconds back in a Pro Circuit 1-2, followed by Jordon Smith in third. Plessinger followed in fourth, with Cooper sixth, Ferrandis 11th, and Colt Nichols 15th.


250 Class Moto 2


Things got interesting almost immediately in Moto 2 after Savatgy went down in the second corner and was mired deep in the field. Out front, Plessinger grabbed the holeshot but was forced to settle into second after Shane McElrath took the lead. Forkner was right behind in third, along with Ferrandis, Nichols and Cooper all inside the top 10. Savatgy completed the opening lap in 24th.


That same lap, disaster struck for Forkner. As he looked to mount a challenge on Plessinger, a slight miscue going up the infamous Horsepower Hill sent Forkner to the ground hard and ended his race. That allowed Ferrandis to take over third, with Nichols slotting into fourth.


Things soon stabilized up front, with McElrath maintaining a comfortable lead on Plessinger and Ferrandis. As a result, all eyes focused on Savatgy to see if he could salvage a positive result. The veteran rider made huge gains to get all the way up to 11th place by the halfway point of the moto, and shockingly it was enough to put him back into contention for the win.


A mistake by Plessinger sent him to the ground a short time later, and handed second to Ferrandis. This added even more drama in the battle for victory as Savatgy had broken into the top 10 and needed to make just a couple more passes to secure the overall.


When all was said and done, McElrath enjoyed a stress-free moto win, while Ferrandis secured second just ahead of Plessinger. Despite his best efforts Savatgy was only able to muster a ninth-place finish. A total of five Monster Energy riders landed inside the top 10, with Nichols fifth and Cooper eighth.


When the overall results were tallied, Plessinger’s 4-3 scores barely edged out McElrath and Savatgy, who finished in a tie for second with identical finishes. Ferrandis put three Monster Energy riders in the top five in fourth, while Cooper finished seventh.


It wasn’t pretty, but Plessinger’s win was effective in the battle for the championship as he was able to add another 10 points to his lead, which officially sits at more than one full race (+59 points) with three rounds to go. Cooper remains locked in third.


250 Class Results

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (4-3)

2. Shane McElrath, KTM (9-1)

3. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (1-9)

4. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (11-2)

5. RJ Hampshire, Honda (10-4)

7. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (4-3)

12. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (15-5)

13. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (2-29)


250 Class Standings

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 371

2. Alex Martin, KTM – 312

3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 267

4. Shane McElrath, KTM – 251

5. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 238

9. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 214

10. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 204

17. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 102

19. Garrett Marchbanks, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 87