It was a long time coming, but Eli Tomac’s big San Diego win, his first of the season, also put him in possession of the red plate as the 450SX Class’ championship leader. That meant the target was on the back of the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider in a season that has seen incredible parity and a hot-potato-like rotation of point leaders. The Colorado native was undefeated inside US Bank Stadium, so it was easy to think the trend of dominance that has defined Tomac’s last two seasons of supercross competition would continue now that he was in control of the championship.
However, with the aforementioned track conditions making it difficult for riders to gain ground and make passes, a poor start for Tomac proved to hinder his chances at a repeat victory, and took his hold of the points away with it. While this put a bit of a damper on things in the premier division, Minneapolis proved to be the coming out party for Monster Energy Kawasaki rookie Joey Savatgy.
Things got off to a hot start for the Kawasaki duo after they posted the top two times in qualifying, where Savatgy led the way. Fellow Monster Energy riders Justin Barcia and Aaron Plessinger were ninth and 14th, respectively, aboard their Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing machines.
Tomac and Plessinger were featured in the first Heat Race, where both riders took advantage of strong starts to post top-four finishes. Tomac was forced to settle for second, but he kept Cooper Webb within reach throughout the entirety of the race. Plessinger’s fourth-place finish was an improvement after starting fifth.
In the second Heat Race Savatgy was unable to capitalize on his first gate pick and ended up starting in seventh, just a couple spots behind Barcia. While Justin Brayton controlled the entirety of the race out front, it was Barcia and Savatgy who turned heads. Despite the difficulty passing, both riders’ aggression carried them to the front, where Barcia finished in second and Savatgy fought his way up to third.
With all four riders posting top-four finishes in their Heats, the Monster Energy foursome was poised for a strong showing in the Main Event, but that success would be predicated on their ability to get out of the gate. When the 22-rider field stormed across the stadium and into the first turn, Savatgy was barely edged out by Webb for the holeshot. However, the rookie was relentless and fought his way to the front for the first time in his 450 career. Behind him, Barcia started in sixth, while Plessinger and Tomac were mired in 15th and 16th, respectively.
With the opportunity to lead, the confidence that carried Savatgy to the fasted time of the afternoon was on full display. While Webb, Ken Rozen, and Blake Baggett were breathing down his neck, Savatgy continued to hit his marks and maintained his hold of the lead with the poise of a veteran. He was virtually unflappable, and while he was unable to break away from his challengers, he showed no issue keeping them at bay. As this continued to unfold, Tomac was making a slow, yet methodical climb through the field. It was difficult for the point leader to surge forward in the track conditions, but he bided his time and took advantage of opportunities as they presented themselves.
Out front, Savatagy started to make small mistakes that allowed Webb to really apply the pressure, but none of them sere significant enough to give Webb an opening. On Lap 14, Savatgy bobbled and was thrown off the ideal line in a rhythm section, which allowed Webb to slip past. Savatgy made a couple more mistakes in the ensuing laps and soon dropped off the podium. His teammate continued to move forward and in the late stages of the race Tomac found himself just outside the top five. Barcia and Plessinger fought valiantly as well to maintain their spots inside the top 10.
Webb’s late pass carried him to victory, with Roczen and Musquin completing the podium. While his career-best fourth-place finish was bittersweet given how great he was riding, leading 14 of 26 laps, Savatgy was still the story of the Main Event with a breakout performance. Tomac did well to recover from a terrible start and finished sixth, salvaging extremely valuable championship points. Both Barcia and Plessinger helped put all four Monster Energy riders inside the top 10, finishing ninth and 10th, respectively.
While Tomac lost control of the point lead, he’s still very much in the thick of the title fight, just two points out of the lead in a tie for third. Barcia sits on a solid sixth, with Plessinger ninth. Savatgy’s result moved him up to 14th, where he continues to fight back from a missed race earlier this season.
450SX Class Results
1. Cooper Webb KTM
2. Ken Roczen, Honda
3. Marvin Musquin, KTM
4. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki
5. Justin Brayton, Honda
6. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki
9. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing
10. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing
450SX Class Standings
1. Ken Roczen, Honda - 125
2. Cooper Webb, KTM - 124
3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 123
4. Marvin Musquin, KTM - 123
5. Dean Wilson, Husqvarna – 95
6. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 88
9. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 79
14. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 59