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Monster athletes at Glen Helen Raceway in California for the 2017 AMA Motocross Championship
NEWS

Monster Energy Glen Helen National Motocross Race Report

May 282017

The California swing of the 2017 AMA Motocross Nationals finished up with four motos run under the shadow of “Mt. Saint Helens,” the nickname of the huge hill that serves as the centerpiece for a track world-renowned for its elevation changes, and respected for its high-speed layout. Glen Helen Raceway, just outside of San Bernardino, California, has been a SoCal staple for decades, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Josh Grant has been putting in laps around the facility since well before puberty. Now 30 years old, and coming off of a solid 3-3 performance at the series opener last week at Hangtown near Sacramento, Grant was looking for big things at his home race.

450 Race Report:

 

In timed qualifying, Grant ended up second, less than two tenths of a second slower than his teammate and points leader Eli Tomac. Behind them came Marvin Musquin, Monster Energy/Yamalube Yamaha’s Cooper Webb, Jason Anderson, and 35 other racers.

Musquin took the lead to start moto one over Cole Seely and Christian Craig. Grant soon joined them, and then fought his way into second over the next few laps. Eli Tomac started well outside the top 10 and passed his way by Seely at about the halfway point, then did likewise a few laps later with Craig before setting his sights on his teammate in second. With only two laps to go, Grant seemed to slow significantly, which allowed Tomac to catch and pass him, and at the finish it was Musquin over Tomac, Grant, Craig, Anderson, Dean Wilson, Seely, Blake Baggett, Monster Energy/JGR/AutoTrader Suzuki’s Weston Peick, and Webb.

 

Although it’s often the case that Tomac can win races almost without regard for where he starts, he acknowledged between motos that he was going to need to start better than he did in moto one if he was going to end up winning the Glen Helen MX National.

“[I need] to stop being buried going up that second hill,” Tomac said. “No excuses, though. We have the long start here, so it was all on me that time. Marvin got out front and ran away with it. So, I’ve got to be closer the next race to compete with him. I was feeling good as the laps were going, but like I said, too far back...”

 

Grant’s reason for slowing late in the race became apparent when his team switched out his motorcycle’s engine between motos, reportedly citing an unknown transmission problem. They swapped out Tomac’s engine as well, just to be safe.

 

“Obviously we’ve got to get a good start, but I’m just glad to be in front of all my hometown fans,” Grant said after his fourth podium finish in a row, going back to the Las Vegas Supercross at the beginning of the month. “It’s pretty rad to hear everybody screaming and all the banners and stuff. It’s awesome to be able to do this for how many years I’ve been doing it and still have that support. It feels good.”

 

Craig got the holeshot to start moto two, and he had Baggett all over him right from the start. Anderson soon joined them out front, and the pair fought their way by Craig, who eventually went down and broke his hand. The crash handed third to Musquin.

However, things fell apart for Tomac and Grant on the opening lap. Grant was running near the front when he made a mistake and went down, and his gas cap came undone in the crash, forcing him to pit for more fuel just to be safe since he had no idea how much he actually lost. That put him well behind. At exactly the same moment in the same turn, Tomac also went down, but his fall came from a front-brake malfunction that seemed similar to the one he suffered at the Dallas Supercross earlier this year. He stopped in the pits, and just as at the Dallas SX, his team ended up cutting his brake line and sending him back out to face the Glen Helen hills with only a rear brake.

 

Out front, Baggett held Anderson off for a while, but Anderson eventually found his way by down the start straightaway to take the lead and score his first-ever 450cc MX moto win. Baggett was second in front of Musquin, Broc Tickle, Justin Bogle, Peick, Wilson, Seely, Martin Davalos, and Monster Energy/JGR/AutoTrader Suzuki’s Justin Barcia.

Musquin took the overall win with a 1-3 score over the 5-1 of Anderson and the 8-2 of Baggett.

 

Grant and Tomac fought their way through the field valiantly. Grant caught up as far as 17th despite having to repeatedly tighten his gas cap throughout the race, only for front-fork issues to eventually put him out of the moto. To even get around Glen Helen without a front brake would be difficult for even experienced riders. Tomac was passing professional motocross racers without a front brake. On the last lap, Tomac found his way by Monster Energy/Team Kawasaki’s Dakota Tedder for 19th, where he would finish, salvaging two crucial championship points.

 

Musquin now leads the championship by 15 over Tomac as the series heads to Tomac’s home state for round three next weekend.

250 Race Report:

 

Consistency has been at a premium in the 250cc class lately, and that trend continued at Glen Helen. In the first moto, former two-time champ Jeremy Martin snared a massive holeshot and then just took off, winning the moto over Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy, Aaron Plessinger, and round-one winner Zach Osborne, who came from midpack to snatch fourth in the moto.

 

Behind Osborne Colt Nichols, Alex Martin, and Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, who came from nearly last after a lap-one fall to grab seventh. Michael Mosiman took home eighth in the opening moto, just in front of Frenchman Dylan Ferrandis (who started well outside the top 20), and then rookie Sean Cantrell.

Savatgy said he changed up a lot after a lackluster performance at Hangtown in order to have such a strong opening moto at Glen Helen.

 

“[We changed] a little bit of everything,” Savatgy said. “Me, the bike... I was out here all week with the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team, and my Dunlop tires got me off to a great start. It was a good turnaround. We struggled last weekend, but that’s why I’m glad we race every weekend. We have a chance to redeem ourselves. So we’ll go out this next moto and try to do it again. I can’t thank the team enough. They’ve been sticking behind me. The last month or so has been rough, but we’ll keep our head down and keep grinding, keep believing in what we do. We’re going to be up here a lot this summer...”

 

In the second moto, Jeremy Martin grabbed another massive holeshot, but then later on the opening lap, he hit a watered spot and went down, remounting last. Ferrandis took over the lead, in front of Osborne, and then slowly and surely pulled away to win his first AMA National moto. Cianciarulo came through from the tail end of the top five to finish third in the moto.

 

After his second-place in the opening moto, Savatgy started poorly in the second one and caught up to an impressive seventh place with plenty of laps still to go when his bike quit on him, leaving him dejected. Jeremy Martin ended up taking the seventh spot.

Osborne’s 4-2 gave him the win, just in front of the 1-7 of Jeremy Martin and the 9-1 of Dylan Ferrandis, and Osborne now leads Cianciarulo by 21 points heading to Colorado.

“It was a great day for me,” Cianciarulo said. “Unfortunately, the first moto, I fell on the start and had to come through the pack. I definitely used a lot of energy, but I felt good today. To walk out of California going into Colorado and the rest of the series with two top-fives, you can’t ask for too much more than that.”

 

Next Saturday, June 3rd, will see these racers take to the Thunder Valley racetrack in Lakewood, Colorado, at power-robbing altitude, but with cool weather (and possibly moisture).

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