be_ixf;ym_202111 d_29; ct_100
Eli Tomac at the 2018 Supercross stop in Seattle, WA

Monster Energy Masters the Mud in Seattle

Apr 082018

The greatest equalizer in Monster Energy Supercross is Mother Nature, and on Saturday night in Seattle some of the muddiest conditions in recent memory produced a truly unpredictable and wild night of action where survival was paramount. Virtually no rider was spared from adversity as the track continued to change and deteriorate throughout the evening, but when all was said and done the Monster Army emerged as the masters of mud. Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac took his sixth 450SX Class win of the season, while Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger added to his West Region point lead with a 250SX Class victory.

It was the fourth time in 2018 that Monster Energy riders swept the top step of the podium across each class, and the success was magnified by strong outings from the rest of the Monster squad. A total of three Monster riders finished inside the top six in both divisions, highlighted by a pair of podium finishers in the 250SX Class.

450SX Class

Despite the treacherous conditions Tomac never looked out of his comfort zone in the premier class. A limited amount of track time leading into the night show meant the field was wide open, and Tomac showed his poise immediately with a comfortable heat race win. As his fellow rivals faltered, Tomac stayed focused on keeping his Kawasaki on two wheels and soldiered home to the checkered flag.


Tomac took that same tactful approach into the Main Event, but any hope of victory would hinge entirely on his ability to grab a good start. When the gate dropped the 22-rider field aggressively stormed into the first turn, which Tomac entered first, but his wide arc allowed both Jason Anderson and Marvin Musquin to slip underneath and jump ahead, while Tomac started to do work from third.


Musquin held the lead briefly before Anderson literally jumped his way into the lead and opened a gap. That left Musquin to gradually fall into Tomac’s clutches, and during his first attempt at a pass for the position Tomac nearly had everything go awry when the rear tire slipped out. A spry Tomac was somehow able to step off the bike and walk through the bobble, and although he lost the position he still gave up little ground to Musquin. Tomac regrouped and closed back in on the Frenchman, taking over the position for good on Lap 2.


History repeated itself during Tomac’s pursuit of the lead as Anderson threw away control of the race and a 10-second advantage by crashing on Lap 5. Tomac slipped by and effectively took control of the remainder of the race with the same strategy – keep it on two wheels.


It wasn’t pretty, but Tomac’s slow and steady approach allowed him to continue to pull away as Anderson’s desperation to get back to the front forced additional mistakes and prevented him from gaining any ground on Tomac. Before long Tomac was mired in lapped riders, which further solidified his lead over Anderson.


Tomac had lapped all the way through eighth place when he rolled across the finish to take the checkered flag for his championship leading sixth win of the season, 9.6 seconds clear of Anderson in second.


"It's just one of those tracks where you just have to either ride it and have fun or you're just in misery, and today we were having fun. That was, by far, the craziest supercross moments I've ever been in. It felt like I was in the backyard just having fun and riding in the mud, and that's how you had to treat it."


While Tomac led the way for Monster Energy, he was accompanied by solid outings from both Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cooper Webb and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Tyler Bowers. Both Webb and Bowers were forced to overcome less-than-stellar starts and patiently battled through the conditions and through their fellow competitors to secure fifth and sixth-place finishes, respectively. It was Webb’s third-best result of the season and Bowers’ best-ever finish in the premier class.


In addition to the best collective effort from Monster Energy’s full-time competitors, the Monster Army celebrated the return of veteran Josh Hill, who made his first start since 2015 at his home race. Hill showed tenacity in his one-off ride with Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing and made his presence felt in both the heat race and Main Event, but he was one of several riders affected by the mud and finished 21st.


Tomac’s triumphant effort moved him into third in the 450SX Class standings. He sits 68 points behind Anderson and 31 points behind Musquin for second. Webb remains eighth, while Bowers stepped up to 15th.


450SX Class Results

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

2. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna

3. Marvin Musquin, KTM

4. Broc Tickle, KTM

5. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

6. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki

22. Josh Hill, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing


450SX Class Standings

1. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna – 288

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 251

3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 220

4. Justin Brayton, Honda – 213

5. Blake Baggett , KTM – 209

8. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 180

13. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 113

15. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 107

18. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 83 

250SX Class

Seattle also signified the anticipated return of the full West Region field, which hasn’t competed since San Diego, six rounds ago. Unfortunately, less than ideal conditions welcomed the riders back into action, but one rider who was never fazed by the mess Mother Nature provided was Plessinger, who fittingly sat in control of the championship. The Ohio native has made a name for himself in arduous conditions, which stems from a combination of his long 6’2” frame and wealth of experience riding through the woods in Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) competition.


A sign of the dominance to come from Plessinger began with the heat race. After jumping out to the early lead the Yamaha rider absolutely checked out and ended up winning by nearly a full minute on the rest of the field. If he was able to put his Yamaha out front one more time when it mattered most in the Main Event, there was little doubt anyone would be able to keep pace.


To the chagrin of his fellow competitors Plessinger did exactly that, prevailing with the holeshot from which he immediately established some distance on the field. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy, Plessinger’s main championship contender entering the race, started second, but as he looked to settle in Savatgy’s Kawasaki veered off track and into a precarious spot in between lanes that would severely hamper his night.


With his closest rival out of contention, Plessinger simply needed to continue doing what he had done all night, which didn’t appear to be a problem. While virtually everyone behind him suffered through the tough terrain, Plessinger kept himself clean and out of harms way, and looked exceptionally comfortable doing so. With the win in hand, the attention shifted to other Monster Energy riders who made their presence felt.


Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo had a tough journey to the Main Event when a DNF in the heat race forced him to spend additional time on track in the LCQ. That poor gate selection didn’t help his cause to start the Main Event, and he was forced to work his way from 10th on the opening lap. Likewise, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Mitchell Oldenburg, who crashed out of the lead in his heat race, was mired deep in the field to start the Main Event when he went down on the opening lap and started in 14th.


The adversity faced by both riders ultimately worked in their favor as they showed tremendous patience and methodically worked their way forward while others faltered along the way. Soon enough Cianciarulo found himself in the top five with a shot at contending for a podium, while Oldenburg followed just a few positions back.


Out front, Plessinger posted an utterly dominant wire-to-wire victory and took his fourth win of the season 33 seconds ahead of runner-up Chase Sexton. While most of the field appeared to be grateful the mess was over, Plessinger seemed like he was ready for more.


"That was fun. That was a sick race; it reminded me of a lot of GNCCs, so it was good to get out there and have some fun and rip some ruts. There were some times where the ruts were two feet deep, and you just had to pick a good line. I knew I could do it here. I love Seattle. I love all these fans here; they make it exciting."


A wild final two laps put Cianciarulo in a position to seize a spot on the podium, and following a path throughout the evening in which a top-three finish might have seemed like a long shot, he prevailed with his third consecutive podium result.


“I really want to get my first win of the season, but on a night like tonight I’ll take a podium. We get another couple weeks off and my goal is to finish strong. We’re 17 points back and we’ll do everything we can to be in contention at the end.”


Oldenburg rebounded from his early misfortune to finish sixth in his first race back since he missed three races with an injury. Savatgy fought valiantly as well to bring home a 12th-place effort.


Another win puts Plessinger in control of his own destiny in the West Region Championship, where he now holds a 17-point advantage over Cianciarulo, who surpassed Savatgy to move into second. Savatgy sits an additional seven points back in third to keep Monster Energy 1-2-3 in the standings.


250SX West Region Results

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

2. Chase Sexton, Honda

3. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

4. Shane McElrath, KTM

5. Justin Starling, Husqvarna

6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha 

12. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki


West Region 250SX Class Standings

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 177

2. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 160

3. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 153

4. Shane McElrath, KTM – 146

5. Chase Sexton, Honda – 132

12. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 75

31. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 14