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Monster Athletes compete in the 2017 Red Bud MX

Monster Energy Race Report: RedBud MX

Jul 032017

Even before the Hangtown opener to the 2017 AMA 450cc Pro Motocross Championships, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was favored to win the title. After Hangtown, where he went 1-1 in dominant fashion, very few even figured it would be close. But in the races following that, he seemed unable to put two motos together for one reason or another. Sometimes, it was mechanical (such as his front-brake malfunctioning at Glen Helen), and sometimes it was unforced errors, but things were going wrong in at least one moto every week.

Well, with now three moto wins in succession, and a resumption of the championship points lead following the RedBud MX National, it looks like Tomac may have finally put his demons behind him.

In moto one, Christian Craig got the holeshot over Justin Bogle, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral Yamaha’s Cooper Webb, and AutoTrader/JGR/Monster Energy Suzuki’s Weston Peick, but Webb lost the front end exiting the first turn and went down big, taking Peick, Broc Tickle, Martin Davalos, and many others down with him.


After the carnage, Craig held the lead over Bogle, Marvin Musquin, points leader Blake Baggett, and then Tomac.


Musquin took the lead from Craig and at around the same time, Tomac snatched third away from Baggett, then made quick work of Craig and set out after Musquin. Baggett took almost an entire lap to get Craig, and then seven more laps just to catch and pass Musquin. That’s how they would finish, with Baggett gaining on Tomac in the final laps but coming up 1.5 seconds short at the finish. After moto one, Tomac narrowed the points gap from four points to one point.


“Right now, they mean everything,” Tomac said of the moto wins at this point in the series. “We’re racing for the points and I think at this point we’re within a point of the lead. It’s all we can do right now. That was some good battling there early on. I was like, ‘Man, we’re only halfway’ once I got by those guys, so had to just grind it out. Track was gnarly. It was tough to hit all your lines the whole time and the lines move around a lot too. Got to go out there the second moto, get another good start and try to get another win.”


About 30 seconds behind the leading pair, Musquin came across in third, followed by Jason Anderson, who was among the racers caught up in the first-turn crash. Behind him came Craig and Cole Seely, and then Peick’s teammate Justin Barcia, Dean Wilson, Bogle, and Tomac’s teammate Josh Grant.


Baggett got the holeshot to start moto two with Anderson right behind him, but Barcia came screaming around them both going into the third turn of the race to take the lead in commanding fashion. A few turns later, on a rough downhill where Baggett was going to the outside into the following right-hand off-camber all day, he went to the outside as he battled with Anderson, and as the two lines came together, Anderson took Baggett’s front wheel out. Baggett went down and remounted last.


Barcia led the early part of the race over Anderson, and then Tomac caught them and went around Anderson, and just as he was beginning to pressure Barcia, Barcia lost the rear on his Suzuki and went down, remounting fifth. From there, Tomac cruised to the moto win, 15 seconds in front of Anderson, and then Musquin, Peick, and Grant, who grabbed a top-five in the moto.


“This is a perfect situation for us,” Tomac said. “I’ve never won here. This is the first win for us. Now we’ve got the red plate. Man, what a good day. Finally, a mistake-free day. Man, I want more of those...”


Interestingly for Grant, on the Thursday before the race, his team sent out a PR announcing he wouldn’t be at RedBud due to injuries suffered in a big crash a week earlier in Tennessee. Less than an hour later, Grant posted a picture of himself with a skeptical look on his face and a caption asking if anybody thought he was really going to miss the best track of the year. He went 10-5.


Behind Grant came Barcia, Bogle, Wilson, Seely and then Baggett.


Tomac now leads the title chase headed to the sand of Southwick, Massachusetts, where he won last year. Baggett now trails by 13 points, and Anderson sits a further 12 points back, 15 points in front of former points leader Musquin in fourth.